[personal profile] musesfool
I am not at all sure where this three-day weekend went - I mean, I know I spent yesterday and part of today at my sister's or traveling to/from there - but I keep thinking today is Sunday and I have tomorrow off, neither of which is true. Sigh.

I have done no writing and no answering of comments, though I did just manage to get the recs update posted:

May 2016 recs:

[personal profile] unfitforsociety has been updated for May 2016 with 29 recs in 6 fandoms:

* 12 Avengers (includes CACW spoilers) and 2 Daredevil
* 8 Star Wars
* 5 The Raven Cycle (including TRK spoilers)
* 1 Check, Please! and 1 DCU

Read, love, feedback!

***
[personal profile] rachelmanija
By the author of National Velvet, which if you’ve never read it is a quite unusual book with a distinctive prose style and atmosphere that I find quite lovely, especially at the beginning. It doesn’t read at all like your typical girls-and-horses book, though it is that as well.

A Diary Without Dates is Bagnold’s memoir of nursing soldiers during WWI. It’s also written in an unusual, distinctive style, with an unusual, distinctive atmosphere, both gritty and impressionistic. She captures fleeting moments of beauty or horror or unexpected humor, and the sense of how fleeting those moments are, in a way that reminds me a bit of Banana Yoshimoto, of all the unlikely comparisons. I’ve read a number of memoirs by WWI nurses, and this is by far the most interesting on the level of literature. It’s not so much a diary as a record of memorable moments, thoughts, and feelings.

Though it’s not about therapy, it’s one of the books that comes closest to capturing what doing therapy feels like for me. Bagnold delicately and precisely observes the odd mixture of intimacy and distance between nurse and patient, in an institutional setting with inhuman rules against which intensely human dramas are played out, and how you can share a person’s greatest agony one hour, and then walk outside and be moved by the beauty of a flower or annoyed by the next nurse over, and have all those moments be equally real and deeply felt, though some seem trivial and some profound. But to Bagnold, they're all profound because they're all real moments of life, and life itself is profound. A few other works that have that feeling to me are the Tove Janssen's The Summer Book and Anita Desai's The Peacock Garden, and the WWII movie Hope and Glory.

Though it’s not particularly an expose, Bagnold writes rather unflatteringly about some of her bosses and some of the rules at the hospital where she worked. As a result, she was fired when the book came out. So she went to London and became an ambulance driver. I think she must have been quite an interesting person, and reading her diary, I wished that I could have known her. I think we might have had a lot in common and a lot to talk about.

Note: Contains some of-the-period racism and other isms. Not a lot and it’s typical of books written in that period by white people (as opposed to being more racist than usual), but there’s at least one instance though I have now forgotten the details.

A Diary Without Dates (Free on Kindle; the print version almost certainly has better formatting, though the free version is readable.)

Public Service Announcement

May. 30th, 2016 11:04 am
[personal profile] malkingrey


vpxiGayHead LightApplications for  the Viable Paradise Writers’ Workshop are still open for this year, but the door shuts on June 15, so if you’re interested, better get your submission ready soon.  Viable Paradise is an intensive one-week residential workshop for science fiction and fantasy writers, held annually in the autumn on the New England island of Martha’s Vineyard.


Full disclosure:  Himself and I are instructors at the workshop.  So are several other really fine people.  And instead of getting us one after the other like a parade, you (if you’re a student) get all of us at once, interacting not only with your fellow students but with each other – “This story is the wrong length; it needs to be shorter!” one instructor will say.  ‘’This story is the wrong length; it needs to be the first chapter of a novel!” another will respond.  (From which the takeaway lesson is usually that your story is indeed the wrong length, but it’s up to you to decide which way to fix it.  Also, that short story writers tend to think that problem stories need to be shorter, while novelists . . . you get the idea.)


Reposted with slight editing from my editorial blog
[personal profile] lannamichaels


Title: But All The Thorns Remain. (On Archive Of Our Own)
Author: [personal profile] lannamichaels
Fandom: Star Wars
Rating: G
A/N: The title is from To Hope by Charlotte Smith.

Summary: Ben Organa died during the destruction of Luke Skywalker's Jedi Academy. Ten years later, a man arrives on Coruscant, claiming to be Leia Organa's son.


The flowers fade )

(no subject)

May. 29th, 2016 03:20 pm
[personal profile] telophase
A Buzzfeed writer tries to follow the dress codes of 7 different high schools across the US and runs into trouble.

You know what makes me laugh at the trouble she had? The dress code I went to school with WAS STRICTER THAN 6 OF THESE. It was very, very close to school #7, with a few differences: we could wear shorts as long as they hit the knee, and the rule was that if you knelt on the ground, skirts had to touch the floor. Luckily, it was the mid-80s, the height of Jams fashion, and everybody wore baggy shorts.

I had a friend who almost got sent home for wearing two different color shoes--she wore one white and one red Ked sneaker, and a white sock with the red shoe and a red sock with the white shoe. The only reason she didn't get sent home was that it was the first day of school, and the assistant principal allowed it because it was "fun" for the first day, but she was warned very strictly about doing it again.

We could wear T-shirts with designs and pattern on them as long as they weren't advertising "adult" stuff like alcohol, cigarettes, the Sex Wax surfer shirts that were popular then, etc. Spuds McKenzie, the Bud Light dog, got so incredibly popular, though, that they gave up on sending kids home for wearing Spuds McKenzie shirts and allowed them if we put masking tape over all mentions of Bud Light.

NOTE that the CHEERLEADERS and the dance squad wore their uniforms all day at school on pep rally Fridays, which consisted of micro-mini flippy skirts with matching panty-style shorts and sleeveless waist-length crop tops. We all thought it was bullshit that they could wear that and we had to wear knee-length skirts and shorts with sleeved shirts.

Toby's school was even more strict than mine, but he went to a Jesuit school and was responsible for the dress code being changed the last year he was there to specify that you could not wear a black shirt with your black blazer and black tie.
[personal profile] sovay
I aten't dead. I just aten't sleeping, either.

The HFA is indeed screening the complete filmography of Robert Aldrich starting in June! The descriptions are starting to go up now. Between that and the Brattle's noir of the 1950's, I should at least have a lot of things to distract me that month. Even odds on whether I'll have the intelligence to write about any of them.

I am delighted by the concept of a sea sponge the size of a minivan. All I could think of was Peter Falk in The In-Laws (1979): "They have tsetse flies down there the size of eagles."

I would love to know how the Lorenz teleprinter recently bought by the National Museum of Computing got into the seller's garden shed. I hope the motor turns up soon.

(no subject)

May. 29th, 2016 11:26 am
[personal profile] skygiants
The Rest Of Us Just Live Here has a really cool concept that is really hard to effectively pull off. The idea is that the book is about the other kids in the high school at Sunnydale/Forks/Beacon Hills/wherever the high school is where the Chosen Teens are fighting off some massive world-destroying supernatural force -- the kids who are aware of but not involved in the shenanigans, and mostly just want to make it through to graduation. The way Ness structures this is by having a paragraph header at the beginning of each chapter that describes what the heroes of that other book about the world-destroying supernatural force are doing, and then dives us back into the head of our narrator Mikey, whose concerns include a.) his massive crush on his friend Henna; b.) his rising OCD and anxiety disorder; c.) his older sister's eating disorder; and d.) the fact that he and his friends will soon all be leaving for college in different places, with e.) the rash of mysterious teen deaths and the weird flashes of blue light plaguing their town coming in down around fifth on the concern-o-meter. Mikey & co. are perfectly well aware that this kind of stuff happens occasionally, but it always happens to the 'indie kids' and everyone else is usually fine, at least until the epic conclusion.

The worst kind of failure mode for this book would be 'you're writing about the normal kids instead of the foreground stuff, and it turns out the normal kids are just boring.' This is a hurdle that in my opinion Ness easily clears! Mikey occasionally drives me up a wall with his teen jealousy issues, but he and his friends are not boring and I finished the book largely in a sitting.

The part where the book stumbles for me is in the genre commentary -- it just makes a number of choices that I wouldn't have made. I'm not entirely sure why Patrick Ness went with 'indie kids' to define 'people who are just kind of protagonist-y,' but trope-wise I don't really associate 'trendy kids with unusual names and a large friend-group who are just a little too cool for school' with 'standard teen protagonists'? Maybe I'm behind the times of recent fictional trends, but I feel like usually the protagonist-y kids in fiction are the shy insecure kids with intense backstory/family issues and perhaps a narratively convenient small tight friends-group, which ... honestly seems to describe Mikey & co. way more than it does Satchel, the alt!heroine of that other story where the protagonists are off protagonist-ing.

And OK, we don't know very much about Satchel & Co other than that Dramatic Things Are Happening to Them And Also There's A Love Triangle, but the thing is that Ness names like twenty different 'indie kids' who interact with Satchel at various points in the story. This means that the indie kids actually appear to have a social circle that way more resembles my high school reality, in which, for ex., I was best friends with A and B, A and B were also close with C and D and E who I got along fine with but only hung out with in a group, E was good friends with F who was also a good friend of mine although F didn't get along at all with A or B, G and H and J were all kind of part of the friends-group because they were collectively all in love with D, and then I also hung out separately with L and M who were neither of them part of this friends-group at all. And, like, I would in no way say that my high school experience was overwhelmingly typical, but I do think most kid's lives and social circles are much more complicated than you tend to see in high school fiction.

And of course I don't think any author is narratively obligated to try to describe this kind of 'more realistic' social structure -- there are good story-telling reasons for these 'tight group of three or four friends!' narrative conventions -- but in this particular case it did make me sort of uncertain about what Ness thinks are the distinctive markers of 'real' kids vs. 'protagonist' kids, and what exactly he means the book to say.

I guess basically I think it works as a story but not as meta-commentary, which is definitely less of a failure mode than the other way around, so.

Heh

May. 28th, 2016 10:37 pm
[personal profile] telophase
Toby is still getting used to the complicated controls in Witcher 3, so that it's at times hard to get Geralt to draw his sword.

Which is why Toby just attempted to punch a bear to death.

Sent from my Apple ][e

Ladies love titles, right?

May. 28th, 2016 08:59 pm
[personal profile] telophase
(I posted a previous Murderface writeup today. If you want to avoid spoilers, for whatever godforsaken reason, you might want to go back and read it first before you read the next paragraph.)
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So! Murderface has had a lot of things happen at once to him! Last time, he whacked an orphanage owner on the word of an escaped orphan, discovered how dating and marriage work in Skyrim, and was abducted by the leader of the Skyrim assassins before he had a chance to put it into practice.
Read more... )
[personal profile] musesfool
I realize that fluid dynamics is a thing, but anyone who has ever baked will agree that somehow cake batter seems to defy the laws of physics in the places it ends up when you are beating it.

All of which is to say I have cupcakes in the oven for tomorrow's bbq, though not cheesecake ones, since my sister was skeptical about their ability to travel well in the heat. And I thought about it, and also how much work they are, and made one-bowl vanilla cupcakes instead. I hope they're good. They're from "One Bowl Baking" by Yvonne Ruperti. I'm planning to frost them with some chocolate ganache.

I was in the kitchen when it happened, but holy crap, Syndergaard getting tossed without a warning is some bullshit. That pitch was behind Utley! I do like that Syndergaard seems to have some of the '86 team's toughness though.

Ugh, fucking Utley with the homer. I hate this guy.

Earlier I watched Steven Universe: Barn Mates
spoilers ) I haven't watched the other episodes that aired in France already, so please don't spoil me.

Orphan Black: The Antisocialism of Sex
spoilers )

I also rewatched the Umbara arc of The Clone Wars, which I hadn't done before because I find it a super depressing story, given the givens, and oh, Rex. And Jesse and Tup and Hardcase (he sure makes an impression for how little time he's actually around) and FIVES. Also, I didn't realize Appo was in this the first time around, or that the other clone squad commander in "Carnage of Krell" was Waxer. It's just... a lot of clone feels, you know. I still think I guess this is a spoiler )

Gosh, every time I think about the possibility of Rex in Rogue One and how that is not happening, I get sad all over again. Sigh.

***

Signs of Summer

May. 28th, 2016 04:41 pm
[personal profile] malkingrey
It is sunny today, but humid and oppressive. I have opened the window over the kitchen sink, and opened the front hall door so that we can get a breeze in through the exterior screen door.

And we have the first fly hatching of the season. The first summer we lived up here, I thought at first it was just us. Then I saw the racks of fly strips that had appeared at the local grocery store and other venues, and realized that nope, it wasn't only our problem.

In other news, the timber sale paperwork arrived today. Naturally -- Monday being Memorial Day -- we can't get it signed, notarized, and sent back until Tuesday. And lord knows how long it will take the lawyer to actually get the money in hand and get it out to us. But one can hope.

(As always, the timing will undoubtedly work out for maximum inconvenience, given that I had to wring the household money-sponge dry in order to pay the town property taxes on time . . . that being what I had originally planned to do with part of the timber money, back last autumn when we first got the offer.)

Witcher 3

May. 28th, 2016 02:38 pm
[personal profile] telophase
A link to the promised Witcher 3 video on Tumblr (13 seconds, no need for sound).

That occurred as Toby was running Geralt around and around the herbalist's cottage examining stuff, trying to get used the the way the controls are set up on the game. And of course you run the character into various obstacles to see how he reacts. :)

Also note: he has semi-long, semi-loose hair RIGHT NEXT TO CHAIN MAIL. That's got to be getting caught ALL THE TIME.

NiF fanwork recs

May. 28th, 2016 02:24 pm
[personal profile] colorblue
Since [personal profile] troisroyaumes asked me for english NiF recs:

For this fandom I am heavily biased towards fluff. My favorite so far has been Alaceron's the very first words of a lifelong love letter, an utterly charming AU where the Meiling plot fails. It's currently unfinished, but already at 31k, and the author updates frequently.

I've also enjoyed:

Practice by ginnywrites ~2k

Sweetheart by kaolinite ~1k

And I have to mention banafria's nirvana in fire drawings here again. Even though that's not fic, it is my favorite fanwork in this fandom, and has become my head canon for when the cast was younger.


ETA: Also, linked to me by Tari: Mr. Su Goes to the Zoo.

Riften, here we come!

May. 28th, 2016 02:27 pm
[personal profile] telophase
So, after kitting out his brand-new house, Murderface decided that something was missing, but he wasn’t sure what. This time he is, yet again, heading towards Riften to fulfill a hit contracted by a kid.
Read more... )

A note on Skyrim

May. 28th, 2016 01:39 pm
[personal profile] telophase
I'm going to try to get a few writeups posted in the next couple of days, because I'm 5 or 6 play sessions ahead of the writeup. :) So look out for Murderface spamming you.

Also, something I forgot to point out in the Skyrim Home And Gardens tour of Murderface's newly decorated digs:



This is the table in his second-floor reading nook. The plate beneath the sweetroll is missing because Murderface accidentally picked it up when he was trying to read the book. Also, the designer that the Dragonsreach steward hired to put all this stuff in the house has an odd aesthetic sense, because that is a DECORATIVE BOWL OF POTATOES.

(Also: be on the lookout for an amusing short video I took of Witcher 3 last night that proves Toby and I are both twelve at heart. I'm just waiting for Tumblr to decide whether or not it wants to auto-delete it. it's loads easier to just upload video directly to Tumblr and link here than to upload it from my phone anywhere else or transfer it from my phone to my computer.)

The Millionaire Next Door

May. 28th, 2016 01:40 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
My foray into personal finance books continued with The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D. Now, this book is copyright 1996 so I expect whole segments of it, such as the recommendations on likely-to-be-lucrative careers, to be out of date. Nevertheless, I found some useful bits in here.

The premise of this book is that the authors decided to survey actual millionaires and find out more about who they are and how they got that way. (CAVEAT: I have no training in science or statistics, so I cannot critique their methodology.) They were surprised to find that many wealthy people (according to their definition) did not, in fact, go around sporting expensive Rolexes and drinking fine wines, but rather believed in frugality and living below their means--in other words, this was how they became wealthy in the first place. In general, high-consumption lifestyles, even for people who made what I consider staggering incomes, turned out to be a trap because those people weren't accumulating wealth but rather spending it away.

Let me save you from having to read this book (unless you want to! I found it pretty interesting). The main points that I came away with was that to accumulate wealth, even on a relatively modest income, one should be frugal. The authors identified two ways of getting to wealth, what they called "a good offense" (making a high income to begin with) and "a good defense" (being frugal and saving/investing money wisely). Successful accumulators tend to do both, and also to budget and know where all their money is going. Many opt out of the high-consumption lifestyle by buying modest (sometimes used) cars, not living in the swankiest neighborhoods, and generally not having to keep up with the Joneses. Obviously, this is easier for some professions than others. The claim is that the majority of wealthy people are "unglamorous" business owners rather than the high-flying investment banker and lawyer types you see on TV. I can't evaluate this claim but it sounds possible?

Beyond that, the most interesting section of the book was the one on "economic outpatient care," which looked at family dynamics and how wealthy parents related to their children. "Economic outpatient care" appears to be the money equivalent of helicopter parenting. The conclusion the authors reached was that bailing one's (adult) children out, paying for them to live a high-consumption lifestyle they couldn't sustain on their own income, and shielding them from economic shocks tended to weaken those children's ability to become frugal and accumulate wealth in their own right; instead, said children became dependent on their parents' cash handouts and tended to consider themselves entitled to wealthy or upper-middle-class lifestyles. This is making me think about how to approach money with my daughter--who is only twelve, but it's never too early to start. (I have enlisted my mother-in-law's help in teaching my daughter financial management. My mother-in-law is good with money, whereas I grew up in a household where money management was not talked about. I want my daughter to have the financial education I didn't receive.) In any case, this makes sense. Although I never thought about it in such terms before, I have seen the results of helicopter parenting when it comes to academics (I used to teach high school math).

Meanwhile, my favorite anecdote from the book is this one, in which one of the authors recounted his experience with a woman schoolteacher who came to look over one of his cars that he was selling. The woman came with her husband, a cotton farmer, and convinced the author that she was frugal about car-buying. But it's the husband's comment that amused me and made me think:

One comment he [the husband] made was of particular interest to me: "My wife works with a woman who drives a new, comparably equipped Mercedes-Benz. She leased it for sixty months, $600 per month. Do you know how much cotton you have to grow to make those payments" (137)


Anyway, an interesting read. I wouldn't mind seeing updated research for the economy as it is today. The authors do not think highly of people who live with their parents because it serves as an economic crutch, for instance, but I am strongly under the impression that the (US) economy was much friendlier to younger people striking out on their own in the mid-1990s than it is today.

[cross-post: Patreon and DW]

"Feed the hungerbeast"

May. 28th, 2016 01:10 am
[personal profile] rosefox
Now that we're starting Kit on solid foods, I'm trying to figure out when to give them food, and how to include them in mealtimes. I don't think they've ever really seen us eat! J and X leave work at 6 and have ~45-minute commutes, so usually J cooks while X and I put the baby to bed, and then the adults have dinner around 8 after Kit's asleep. And mornings are such a rush; I'm not awake then, but I think J and X usually grab a quick breakfast during Kit's morning nap. So I think for now, solid food will have to happen on the baby's schedule, and I guess once they're old enough to stay up until 9, they can have dinner with us at 8. (I was always a night owl and perfectly comfortable eating on an adult schedule, so the whole "kids have early dinner" thing totally baffles me.)

Parent-type friends, what do/did your young kids' mealtime schedules look like? How did you manage this transition?

looking for a fic

May. 27th, 2016 09:26 pm
[personal profile] cofax7
Feh.

I read an HP story a while ago, a post-DH story in which a bunch of the characters, including Malfoy & other Slytherins, were treated for PTSD by a Muggle therapist. IIRC, Hermione sets up the treatment and one of the women at the clinic is a former friend or lover of Susan Bones (?).

I cannot find this in any of my bookmarks; anyone know what story this is? I thought it was by Vera Rozalsky, but I can't find it on her FFN page.

Hah!

May. 27th, 2016 10:31 pm
[personal profile] telophase
We just started playing Witcher 3, and spent an inordinate amount of time seeing if we could make Geralt ride his horse up a flight of stairs.

Answer: yes, but we couldn't get it to make a 90-degree turn or go back down again so we abandoned the horse to respawn later.

Also Toby is still getting used to the controls for this game, so Geralt is reminiscent of Murderface in the way he bangs into walls, and he just ran a lady off the road with his horse.

Sent from my Apple ][e

More Fallout 4 Tobyisms

May. 27th, 2016 09:01 pm
[personal profile] telophase
Aimed and shamed!

Oh that's a head on a pike. I was Awesome! He's not moving! But, crap.

No no stay there stop moving. Damn.

Yes! That was a head shot! That was a helluva head shot!

Are these guys still pissed off at me? Of course they are. Yeah, nobody here but us chickens, Steve.

Oh fine, leg, leg, arm, arm, you're not going to survive that long.

(aiming) Oh...just your gun arm.



Sent from my Apple ][e

Gratitudes

May. 27th, 2016 05:44 pm
[personal profile] kass
1. The lilacs are blooming. (See dw icon.)

2. I picked up two cheap tin outdoor candle-holders at Target, so I can light Shabbat votives on the deck and hopefully the breeze won't blow them out.

3. This is a week to which I will not be sorry to bid farewell when I kindle said Shabbat candles. Just saying.

4. There is mango lemonade in my fridge and it is tasty.

5. I had reason to reflect earlier today on how far I've come in a year. I've come a damn long way. Go me.

The Richest Man in Babylon

May. 27th, 2016 03:23 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
I'm slowly making my way through Niall Ferguson's The Ascent of Money, which I'm loving but which is also a dense read, not helped by the fact that I sometimes need to pause and wait until my husband gets home to ask him questions so I can make sure I understand the text. In the meantime, I checked out a bunch of personal finance books from the public library.

Personal finance is not something I am good with. Of my parents, one was not good with money, while the other could make a penny scream; neither talked much with us kids about financial management, I believe due to a well-intentioned desire for us to avoid stressing out about money. While I understand where they were coming from, I wish they'd explicitly taught me about the subject instead of leaving me to flail about. Also unhelpful is the fact that I have bipolar disorder. My husband and I learned early on that the bipolar person should not be in charge of the finances. He's the breadwinner anyway, but to this day he manages the household finances.

Nevertheless, I have student loans that I have steadily been paying off and that I would like to be gone even faster, and I wanted to become better educated on the subject. I also want my daughter, now twelve years old, to be better prepared for the world than I was. To that end I am hoping to enlist the aid of my parents-in-law, who are wise and sensible about money, in teaching their granddaughter the basics.

One of the books I got out from the library was The Richest Man in Babylon, adapted & edited by Robert B. Goodman & Robert A. Spicer, from an original story by George S. Clason. It is in fact a children's book that took me under ten minutes to read. My daughter read it first, summarized its lessons, and told me she thought it was good, so naturally I tried it too. I wish I had come across this book much earlier in my life, or even in high school or college.

The Richest Man in Babylon is a beautifully-told story about a wealthy man in (guess!) Babylon, Arkad, who throws a party for his friends. His friends, less prosperous, want to know what good fortune gave him such wealth. He explains that it wasn't good fortune but wisdom, sometimes painfully earned. Because he was determined to become wealthy from a young age, Arkad bargained with a money lender: in exchange for doing some scribe work, he asked the money lender for advice in how to accumulate wealth. The money lender, Algamish, was pleased by Arkad's interest and gave him a simple piece of advice: "A part of all you earn is yours to keep."

But of course it's more than just saving a tenth (or more) of all you earn. Arkad recounts how, in the four years that follows, he has to recover from making a bad investment, learn not to blow his savings every year, and use his savings and the earnings from those savings to earn yet more money by investing wisely.

While I've pretty much spoiled the story for you here, the prose is lovely, and it's worth a look--maybe there's a kid in your life who would enjoy and benefit from something like this. If only I could go back in time and give this to myself! But it's not too late to start.

[cross-post: Patreon, DW]

Dragon’s Luck, by Lauren Esker

May. 27th, 2016 12:56 pm
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Note: This was written by Sholio, a friend of mine, and I was one of the betas. The sphinx ship was my suggestion.

A gecko shifter secret agent joins forces with a dragon shifter gambler to fight crime aboard a ship shaped like a giant sphinx, while also playing in an underground, I mean illegal, high-stakes poker match. Cue hijinks and every trope ever.

A charmingly over the top fantasy adventure with a bit of romance, but definitely action with romance rather than the reverse. Great action, great characters, utterly cracktastic, and really, really funny. Part of a series about shapeshifter secret agents, but the books are all standalones and you can easily start here. If you liked Marjorie Liu’s Dirk & Steele series, you will like this.

The heroine, Jen Cho, is an adrenaline junkie caffeine addict gecko shifter secret agent who enjoys rock climbing in her spare time and spends much of the book clambering over unlikely places in both human and gecko forms. Jen is hilarious and her unflappable POV is the best.

The hero, Lucky, unsurprisingly has the power to influence luck, which is one of my favorite mutant powers and is played out in consistently entertaining ways. (He can apply it with a purpose, but unless he’s trying for something vey specific, he doesn’t know how it will work. For instance, “Leave the window open” will make the window get left open. But “help me win this fight” could do just about anything.) He is also a dragon shifter, but the way this works is pretty original and clever, not to mention often quite funny.

I don’t want to ruin the hilarity of their meet-cute, but it is truly hilarious. I’ll put it behind a cut, but if you think you might want to read the book, don’t click.

Read more... )

Most of the book is set aboard a giant floating sphinx on which a secret, illegal, incredibly high-stakes poker game is being played. Despite the total ridiculousness of this, so much thought went into the details of how all of that might actually work that it feels weirdly credible.

The supporting cast all feel like real people with lives and motives of their own, down to ship workers who appear in one scene and have two lines.

During the climax, almost everyone aboard the ship is high as a kite for plot reasons, and while the heroes and villains are having their dramatic final battle, they keep having to dodge random people attempting to pet their hair or tell them all about the pretty pink bubbles.

Fluffy and delightful. Definitely a read-in-one-gulp type of book.

Dragon's Luck (Shifter Agents Book 3) is only 99 cents on Amazon!
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll

Members of the 118th (North Waterloo) Battalion leaving the Berlin train station for training in London, Ontario. Photograph by Denton, Ernest (1883-1957), 1916. P000488. Waterloo Historical Society Collection


15 May 1916: Colonel Lochead’s open letter to Berliners
[personal profile] musesfool
So I've begun poking at the Rey & Finn's Epic Space Road Trip (feat. Force ghost Anakin Skywalker) wip and it's made me step back and rethink how to write a road trip when there probably isn't a lot of arguing about music/comics/pop culture. I mean, there could be, under other circumstances? But I don't see either Rey or Finn being too up on whatever the TFA-era equivalent of "Would the Hulk beat Wolverine in a fight?" or whatever is (and Anakin's references are very dated, which is, hopefully, as funny in execution as it is in my head). Though I guess they might be familiar with variations on various car games.

There is the plot, such as it is. I mean, at least this story has one? Sort of. There's an end goal in mind anyway, they're not just on a random road trip for vacation, and I have a list of things that I'm hoping to include (if you've ever read a story by me, you can probably guess what some of those are), but it's making me think about what the important parts of a road trip story are, and how some of them might translate (e.g., what is the GFFA equivalent of punchbuggy? are rest stops still liminal spaces in space travel?).

We're heading into a holiday weekend here and technically we start our 'summer Friday' hours today - getting out at 2:30 pm, though whether I will be able to do so depends on whether or not I get some materials I've been waiting for, which I was told I would, but they have not materialized as of yet, so who can say?

eta: and I just sent out the stuff at 3:15, so I can go home now. Whew.

I have a bbq on Sunday, but am otherwise unfettered by plans, so there could definitely be some writing and some answering comments in there, in addition to possibly making some kind of cupcakes to take with me on Sunday.

And it's warm enough now that it feels like summer. Last night, I was defeated and had to turn on the AC instead of holding out for June like I was hoping to. But there comes a certain point when the only person I'm hurting is myself because I'm not sleeping properly and it can be solved as easily as turning on the air conditioning. I mean, I wish all my bouts of insomnia could be so easily solved! So not doing it when I know it will work seems...counterproductive, despite my desire to keep my electric bills manageable.

Anyway, boss2 keeps coming into my cube so I'll wrap this up for now.

***

Elementary, my dear Murderface

May. 27th, 2016 11:15 am
[personal profile] telophase
In the last episode, Murderface bought himself a house! Today, he takes up an additional line of work when he stumbles onto murder most dire and is tasked with investigating it. Because he’s so good at figuring stuff out.

Also: an ethical dilemma!
Read more... )

Give me your Harry Potter story recs!

May. 27th, 2016 08:22 am
[personal profile] oracne
Give me your Harry Potter story recs to read!

1. The long ones.

2. That do not in any way involve Voldemort in a romantic or sexual relationship with anyone.

3. Gen or adult.

4. AU or crossovers or post-series or whatever.

5. Bonus points for Hermione.
[personal profile] batwrangler
The End of the Sentence
by Maria Dahvana Headley & Kat Howard

Dear Ukelele Teacher

May. 26th, 2016 10:16 pm
[personal profile] mme_hardy
 We hit it off.  You're fun to talk to, you meet me at my level, and you've figured out what I want to learn and how to get there.  You're a good dude.  I look forward to learning from you.

"You don't LOOK disabled!" is never, ever an appropriate thing to say.

Toby again on Fallout 4

May. 26th, 2016 09:37 pm
[personal profile] telophase
Toby: Huh, the settlers at the Red Rocket are mad at me. Wonder why?

Me: They were probably attacked and now someone's dead because you didn't leave any fusion cores so they couldn't use the power armor.

Toby: It's *my* power armor! I don't want to clean it out after some wastelander leaves their stank in it! These people don't take showers!

Me: Who built the settlement? It's your fault they don't take showers!

Toby's playing Fallout 4...

May. 26th, 2016 08:36 pm
[personal profile] telophase
Toby is playing Fallout 4 again, cleaning up a few bits before he starts the Far Harbor DLC.

Here's some of the things he's been saying:

Let's go in here and see how many people are allergic to lead. Or lasers. Or, well, shit, railroad spikes. I'm not picky.

(After watching a Super Mutant Skirmisher's head explode) Heeheeheerheeeeeheeee!

That sucks. You can't shoot the can chains.

Hah, hah, hah, dumbass!

Now to make some drugs! (Sees Strong the super mutant standing at the drug crafting station) No, Strong! You are not allowed to make drugs! Ever!

(To the settler who crouches a foot above the ground, welding a corrugated iron sheet next to a cardboard box, who complains how her feet hurt) HOW DO YOUR FEET HURT? And you're welding a box. Oh, not the box. But you're about to set it on fire, dumbass.

Are you guys shooting at my fuckin' robot?

Really? All my Penetrator perks and I can't do that?

In the FACE!

(Spotting a robot through the scope) Ooh, Mark V! Nice! For me to poop on! (Shoots, it explodes)

Oh. Were you guys upstairs? Because I need to talk to one of you. With bullets.



Sent from my Apple ][e
[personal profile] sovay
Noir PSA! If anything in my January review of Too Late for Tears (1949) piqued your interest, please know that the film is now available on DVD from the Film Noir Foundation. It's their first foray into home media along with the even more miraculously restored Woman on the Run (1950), which I have not yet seen, and I should very much like to encourage them to do more of this sort of thing. In general, I approve of throwing money at film preservation and restoration, especially when it ends in nice new 35 mm prints. More selfishly, maybe these people can get me a DVD of The Reckless Moment (1949) sometime. Either way, check it out!

Scott

(no subject)

May. 26th, 2016 07:29 pm
[personal profile] skygiants
The Fifth Season is by far the most depressing of N.K. Jemisin's books and I think I like it best of all the ones I've read? Perhaps in fact because it is the most depressing, like, everything is certainly terrible and I and N.K. Jemisin wholeheartedly agree on everything that is terrible, which is a change from past N.K. Jemisin books where some things are definitely terrible and some things are just the author's id angling a few degrees off from mine in small but significant ways.

...I really want to emphasize that everything in The Fifth Season CERTAINLY IS terrible though. Like, a small child dies on the third page, and things go downhill from there. The apocalypse is kind of the least of it.

The Fifth Season is actually set in a world (which I suspect is probably far-future our world, but that's not confirmed) where smallish geological apocalypses happen every few hundred years and people have sort of learned to cope with them. In one strand of the book, a woman named Essun lives through the start of what's looking like an extremely epic apocalypse, but is not so concerned about that as she is about the fact that her husband has just murdered her small son and run off with her small daughter into the apocalyptic night.

Essun is a secret orogene, a person with the power to manipulate geological forces. Orogenes are considered highly dangerous; they're hated and feared by the general population, and, if discovered, are liable to be murdered by mass mobs unless sent for training to an official centralized location called the Fulcrum where they learn to do important geological work on behalf of the proper human members of civilization. This system is definitely not coercive, abusive, or exploitative in any way!

In the two other threads of the book (not taking place during the apocalypse) a little girl named Damaya discovers she is an orogene and is brought to the Fulcrum on a road trip that is no fun at all, and a young orogene named Syenite is paired up with an extremely powerful but kind of batshit orogene named Alabaster for another road trip that is no fun at all. Essun's murderous-husband-hunting post-apocalyptic road trip is also kind of by its nature no fun at all for Essun, but she does get a creepy possibly-inhuman child and an eccentric scholarly genius hobo as travel buddies, who are both WAY more fun than Alabaster. (Tonkee the hobo genius is my favorite character in the book, possibly because she spends the least amount of time being miserable; this is especially nice because Tonkee is a transwoman and frequently trans characters are narratively assigned to be the most miserable. Though admittedly Alabaster, who is very beautiful and very tortured and very gay, is there on the other end taking up significantly more than his fair share of misery. Which, again, is kind of impressive in a book that starts with a woman mourning the death of a child.)

Anyway. It's a very good book, a very dark book, and a very unflinching book which is deeply concerned with the consequences of treating people as not-people. I super want to find out what happens next, though I don't expect it will be much happier than what came before.
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll

Scientists using radar data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have found a record of the most recent Martian ice age recorded in the planet's north polar ice cap.

The new results agree with previous models that indicate a glacial period ended about 400,000 years ago, as well as predictions about how much ice would have been accumulated at the poles since then.

Con or Bust!

May. 26th, 2016 03:58 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
Con or Bust is open for bidding until Sunday, June 5, 4 p.m. EST (more or less; see site for exact rules about last-minute bids, which may extend a given auction's end time). You can find ARCs and rare books, chocolate, character naming rights, and more.

My offer this year is for a science fiction or fantasy novel critique up to 150,000 words; see post for details. There are also critiques by Nebula winner Alyssa Wong, Nebula winner Fran Wilde, and John C. Campbell Best New Writer (2012) E. Lily Yu, among others!
[personal profile] musesfool
So I normally sleep on my left side, but I also have what is likely bursitis in my left hip and so sometimes it becomes uncomfortable to sleep on that side and I have to roll over and sleep on my right, which I don't like, but whatever. Sleeping shouldn't be so hard. Anyway. Last night I guess I did something in the rolling over or the sleeping or the I don't even know part because my left hip and lower back area hurts and my right shoulder down through to my right elbow hurts. Just. I'm ready for my robot body now. I am just saying.

I did have a good dream where Thor lost his memory and showed up at some either Memorial Day or 4th of July event at the harbor (tall ships? fleet week?) because he knew we were at war and wanted to see the longships row off to battle. And I had to call in Steve Rogers to see if he could jar his memory (apparently in my dream, since Bucky, Steve has been the go-to person for that?) and Natasha was like, "Is he going to punch the memories back into him?" and I was like, "or they could oil up and wrestle..." and she was like, "We can only hope." :D :D :D

Also, smarter people than I said smart things yesterday about Marvel's dumpster fire of a Cap issue, so you can find the stuff I reblogged here.

I know there were other things I meant to say but work has been nonstop and people are just on my nerves and ugh, I am looking forward to the long weekend.

***

"Laws of Night and Silk"

May. 26th, 2016 02:31 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
- recent reading
"Laws of Night and Silk" by Seth Dickinson. I loved this beautiful, brutal, and ultimately hopeful depiction of a society that's losing a war, and which has turned to a terrible weapon. Mages in this world are bound by the logic they know. As a consequence, the less a mage knows of the world, the more powerful their magic, as they are more able to warp reality.

The people of isu-Cter take this to its logical conclusion and create abnarchs by locking children up in cells and feeding them on magic until they turn fifteen. Then, ignorant of the world outside, they are released and used as living weapons until they break down. Except one woman, Kavian Catamount, becomes an abnarch's handler, and she finds that maintaining the necessary detachment from the abnarch-child is difficult even if her people's survival may depend on it.
In the Paik Rede’s summit halls, past the ceremonial pool where the herons fish, catacomb doors bear an inscription:

We make silk from the baby moth. We unspool all that it might become. This is a crime.

Silk is still beautiful. Silk is still necessary.


This is how an abnarch is made. This is the torment to which Kavian gave up her first and only born.


By way of [personal profile] cofax7, a comparative review of various meal-in-a-box services. I once visited a friend of my sister's who was trying various of these out. He had Opinions. *wry g*

I use Indie Plate, which is a mixture of local produce/baked goods/meal kits and is local to my region (so, if you're not in Louisiana, so sorry...). They've been pretty great.

In the box

May. 26th, 2016 03:03 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
These always turn out much larger than I expect, so have a cut.

Read more... )

Not-Writing, Again

May. 26th, 2016 08:48 am
[personal profile] oracne
I was musing last night on why I haven't been writing for all these months, and though a lot of that can be attributed to increased stress and thinking-power being eaten by dayjob, maybe some of it is just being busy outside of dayjob.

When I wrote those three novels, I hadn't started going to the gym yet; I sat in chairs all the time and wrote. I went home from dayjob and wrote, and I wrote all morning on the weekends. I didn't see friends as often as I would like; I just barely squeezed choir in there.

I don't think I want to be in that place again. I like having free time. Sometimes, I don't do a lot with it, but I like having it anyway.

And I don't feel compelled to write. There is no story struggling to get out right now, so far as I can tell. I just...don't feel like writing. The only fiction I've written in the last couple of years were stories for friends who were editing anthologies.

I should start thinking on whether I need to do the whole tax thing for writing next year. I do still have a small income from PW reviews, but no Harlequin royalties for quite a while.

I started re-reading some old fanfiction last night, from my bookmarks list on AO3. I might be doing that for a while. I do want to read.
[personal profile] cofax7
So B&N published this list of 15 space operas to get you over Firefly (although, ew, Ringworld). Huh.

I stumbled across a discussion of Firefly on File770, and in reading the conversation, I realized something. I've always said that Babylon 5 was great storytelling with terrible dialog; I wonder if I can say that the inverse is true of Firefly: terrible storytelling with great dialog? Hmm. Not terrible, maybe, but: the world-building is vivid but highly inconsistent, the Western elements are shoe-horned in and make no physical sense (firearms on a spaceship?), the racism & sexism of various elements are widely acknowledged, and the overarching plot, inasmuch as there is one, doesn't make a ton of sense (although to be fair they ran out of time). And yet it's still endearing, for the charismatic characters and the dialog, which makes real people of them immediately and makes you care about them in remarkably short time. (Witness, by comparison, SGA, where even after a season, I knew less about the official lead than I knew about Mal Reynolds after 2 episodes.)

I'm mildly amused by this list of recommended authors for people waiting for the next GRRM. I mean, I concur these are all great writers (err, except for the last few McKinleys: I won't read anything written after DragonHaven, oy), but they are not exactly what I would point at if someone said, "I'm out of Westeros books, what should I read in the meantime?" I would have to ask, "Why do you like Martin?" and go from there. But I think I would recommend Joel Shepherd's Sasha novels; Kate Elliott's Crossroads series; Sherwood Smith's Inda sequence; maybe Elizabeth Moon's Paksennarion novels; Martha Wells' City of Bones and The Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy. (And, of course, Dunnett. But then I recommend Dunnett to everyone. Every once in a while it sticks.)

538 did a week on all those bacteria in your intestines. Yay?

I'm amused at Subaru's skillful use of subtext.

If you listen to as many podcasts as I do, you can't avoid the Blue Apron ads. This writer tested a bunch of different meal delivery services.

Holy cow, this archaeological find is amazing. SO COOL.

Oh, no, Jo Beverly died. I was on a Dunnett mailing list with her for many years. (Dunnetwork, natch.) She was very nice, and always had good stuff to contribute.

*

Reading Wednesday:

Just finished: City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett, which is supremely excellent. Seriously, it's like Alan Furst and Kate Elliott had a child and it was adopted by N. K. Jemisin. Fallen gods and reversal of empire and espionage and politics and lost histories and vikings and colonialism and the after-effects of centuries of oppression, with two excellent female main characters, set in a world using vaguely 19th/early 20th century technology (although no telephones, for some reason), but where the wreckage of the magical past continues to cause problems. I just really enjoyed the hell out of that.

Currently reading: I'm also still partway through Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, and I put down The Very Best of Kate Elliott to read the Bennett, because that's a library book and I didn't want it to expire.

Up next: Villette, finally. Although I'm very tempted to go find City of Blades...

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