melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-03-21 03:57 pm
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FMK #5: MEN who are MEN

FMK #4's F winner was "The Princess and the Goblin" by George MacDonald, at a v. reasonable ~200 pages, and I will be reading it tonight.

K was "The Pilgrim's Progress". I wanted to be good, I really did, but I opened it up just to see what it was like, and, like, two paragraphs in I realize this is the book that taught the world that Heaven is full of pretty girls in white dresses with golden harps, and also notice that some previous owner has hand-annotated my copy, and, look, I can't. But I did move it from the fiction shelf to the Penguin Classics shelf where it can keep company with its boring and elderly brethren, does that count?

I am realizing that the nature of the votes here is that we are going to disproportionately vote out timeless classics that people have Opinions on while all the ones that are just Bad and Boring stick around forever. Feel free to vote K just because you know nothing about it and don't know why anyone would own it!

How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)

Anyway, enough with courtesans and princesses and all that girly stuff. Today we are going to vote on MEN who are MEN.

Poll: Asimov, Avallone, Bester, Blish, Blum, Bova, Hale, Howard, Richards, Russ, Wells )
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-03-20 08:25 pm
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FMK: Kushiel's Dart

So! Kushiel's Dart.

That was not a one-night-stand book. That was, at best, a "mad weekend at a cabin in the mountains" book. By which I mean, it was long. I read fiction pretty fast, and it took me about nine hours of reading time to get through that. Probably I am spoiled by my reading speed, because most books I can get through in one sitting. Not Kushiel. Not unless I wanted to pull an all-nighter, and I'm too old for that now. Did I mention it is long? It's the longest book I have read since I started tracking reading on Goodreads. It is the fourth longest novel I own (and two of the three longer ones are Outlander.) It is tied for longest novel I have ever read (with Cryptonomicon. And Cryptonomicon I did read in one night of passion, but I was almost fifteen years younger and even then it didn't go real well for me.) (okay, Les Mis is technically longer, but Les Mis is also technically five books.) Kushiel's Dart is kind of long, even for an epic fantasy, is what I'm saying here. I don't think even the best courtesan in the Night Court can sustain a night of passion for nine hours.

I've been mentioning how long it is to people in RL all week, so I thought I'd mention it here just in case somebody missed that part. ^_^

It is also, however, a book I found compulsively readable, in a way not many books are these days. For people not familiar, it's an epic fantasy set in an alternate Late Medieval Europe where the Roman Empire happened differently: Britain is still Celtic, the North is still tribal, and France is [still] ruled by the descendants of Christ and the Magdalen. The main character is Ph├Ędre, who was born into a House of courtesans, and was purchased as a child by a nobleman to be trained as a courtesan and spy.
spoilers under cuts from here on )

Anyway, I really actively enjoyed the second half of the book, A++ would read another 900 pages of that, although tbh probably not the 1500 pages that is the next two volumes, at least not right away. But if the whole book was like the last half, or if the first half was about 350 pages shorter it would probably be getting a definite place on my "permanent favorites" shelf but tbh if I ever re-read I would probably start the re-read after the doomy thing happened.

But, of course, as everyone who has heard of this book knows, nobody cares about that because it is also an EROTIC fantasy full of KINKY PORN.

....except it really, really isn't.

Like, there are some sex scenes in it? Two or three of them rise to the level of mildly explicit rather than softcore or fade-to-black. And a few of them involve some fairly hardcore BDSM stuff, by mundane standards. But in terms of kinky-sex-per-page ratio, you're better off reading, like, Fahfrd and the Gray Mouser or something. They usually manage at least a couple kinky sex scenes per hundred-page novella, usually involving at least rat-girls or the Goddess of Pain in person, or something.

I wanted to say "Maybe if I'd read this book back when it first came out, before I knew about fanfic, I would have thought it was the most risque thing ever" except I realized it was copyright 2001, and I'm pretty sure I was already reading Harry Potter smut by the time it was out in paperback, so it still would've been too late. And by AO3 standards I doubt I would even give it the E for explicit for the sex scenes. In the second half of the book, I don't think there are *any* sex scenes that aren't fade to black. (It would get the major character death warning, the noncon warning, the extreme violence warning, and a provisional underage warning, though.)
Read more... )

Anyway, it gets a solid four stars for "If you like this sort of thing, it is the sort of thing you will like," and I like this sort of thing enough that it would be going on my keep shelf, except that instead the whole trilogy is being loaned on my recommendation to my friend with the hair who actively seeks out 900-page-per-volume fantasy series, and I will temporarily (?) get that foot of shelf space back \o/

ETA: Also, I am saddened and surprised there are so few Kushiel AUs on AO3 (not surprised that most of them are Sherlock, though.) And remain convinced that *someone* who wrote for Supernatural was a Kushiel fan because Castiel's origin story being "we can't name him Cassiel that would be too obvious" just kept getting more obvious as I went...
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-03-17 04:57 pm
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(no subject)

I was prepping a laundry load of newly thrifted fabric and recently finished sewing projects, and decided to throw in my pincushion, as it was getting kind of grungy.

This pincushion is the one I made as my first project in 6th grade Home Ec, by sewing together two small squares of cloth and then stuffing them. I've been using it for twenty years.

After pulling all the pins out, and then all the visible needles, and then squeezing it for awhile to get all the hidden needles, I threw my hands up, took out the stuffing, and went through it that way.

There were forty-five needles hidden in it.*

...has anyone yet invented a pincushion that doesn't eat needles?


Anyway, I am still working on Kushiel. This week's FMK poll is still neck-and-neck, so your vote could turn it! You have until I get back from the St. Pat's dinner in an hour or two. I took the first three weeks' K books to the thrift store today (where I bought the fabric that is being washed. And two more books shhh) so I can't chicken out, augh. I am now finding myself wanting to buy books just because they will fill out a good set for an FMK poll. No, melannen! Bad! Bad!

In preparation for writing my thoughts on Kushiel, here is a poll for you about evolving terminology in reviews:

What does the word 'rapey' mean to you? )

*I did not intend that as a metaphor for rape culture, and yet there it is.
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-03-14 08:42 pm
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FMK #4: Pre-Golden-Age SF

Okay, so FMK is going to be Tuesdays now. :P I forgot that on normal Mondays, a little distraction is good, but on busy Mondays I basically don't have time to sit down at the computer from Saturday evening until Monday evening, and that doesn't work so well. (and today was a snow day so I spent it sewing, it was excellent.)

Anyway, FMK #3 K winner was Tarnsman of Gor and the F winner was Kushiel's Dart. I, uh, haven't finished Kushiel's Dart. I'm 500 pages in! If it was a reasonably-sized novel, that would be done twice over! Anyway short version: I am enjoying it a lot although not ravishingly in love, have already recommended it to a friend who actively enjoys brick-sized books full of court intrigue, and keep getting Cassiel the Angel of Bromance mixed up with SPN's Castiel the Angel of... *ahem* "Bromance". I will post a fuller response either later this week or when I am finished, depending on which comes first.

I also started reading Tarnsman of Gor I know! I am breaking my own rules already! But I want to be able to make fun of it fairly, okay? And it's like, 20% the length of Kushiel. I did put the other two Gor books I inexplicably owned on the dump-unread pile, though?

This week's FMK theme: English-language SF written before 1930! here is where we find out who is voting entirely based on gendered author names

How FMK works: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Sunday Monday Tuesday.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)

Poll! Bennet, Bunyan, Burroughs, Eddison, Lindsay, MacDonald, Merritt, Nowlan, Polidori, Shelley, Smith, Swift, Tolkien, Walpole, Wells, Wilde, Wolf )
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-03-07 10:24 pm
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FMK #3: I heard there was some real kinky stuff in these, y'all*

Okay! Now that I have gone through all the paperbacks and have a better idea of what I actually have, this should be a fun one. :D

Results from last week's FMK.

How FMK works: I am trying to clear out my unread books piles. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away, immediately and with prejudice. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I am going to start officially closing the poll and picking winners on Friday nights because I don't always have time on Sunday to read a whole novel. (although not actually closing it probably, people can still vote.)

Link to long version of explanation (on previous poll)

Poll! Auel, Carey, Constantine, Cross, Gabaldon, Hamilton, Lichtenberg, Morris, Norman, O'Donohoe, Ringo )

*I may have heard wrong
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-03-07 03:31 pm
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FMK #2 F U: Grimspace

Okay, a day late on this week. In my defense, I had a busy weekend and the book you all made me read was not the grippingest.

So: K was Asher's The Engineer Reconditioned with five K votes. The first speaking female character in it is not a prostitute, she's a top xenologist, but she's also a sexy catgirl. Guess which of those we learned about (in detail) first!

It turned out that most of the others with a high K to F ratio were already missing from the collection - I must have weeded at some point and not marked it in the catalog. But Anthony, Barnwell, Bass, Bishop, Brush, Buckner go back on the shelf. Or in the boxes under the bed, if you're feeling literal. (The fiction inventory is now actually done, except the "search for the ones you didn't find" part, so all polls from now on will only include books I know the exact location of.)

F was actually a tie, but the Aguirre voters were the only ones who spoke up in the comments, so Grimspace won the tiebreaker. I'm pretty sure, having read it, that I had kept it in the previous weed because a) it is by a lady, b) there is a lady on the cover who is c) wearing comfy clothes and not in a sexy pose and d) could even maybe be a WOC if you squint. Having a rule to keep all unread books that fit those requirements still does not add that much to the size of the pile, and it has served me well with comics.

Also it is about telepathically bonded pairs of hyperspace navigators, which between Bran/Tru, "The Game of Rat and Dragon", Pac Rim, and so on, ought to be my thing. Unfortunately it is not a... good book. )

Regardless, it joins the others on the K pile after its last hurrah. Ann Aguirre seems like a lovely person though and I hope she rocks on and never ever reads this review.

And that got really long, so poll in next entry. I might keep splitting these up, we'll see. instead, here is a picture of a cat in a hat:

a blind kitten being dashing and heroic in an aviator cap
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-02-27 12:05 pm
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FMK #2: Assorted Unknowns A-B

Yesterday I went to see Rogue One for the first time at the second-run theater. I also finished reading my book on potato gardening and installed some new old bookshelves, resulting in a dream where a squad of valiant but doomed potatoes were defending a bunker against Imperial war machines. Then there was a series of tsunamis due to Death Star strikes, I was okay because I had a life jacket on but so many books got damaged in the flooding that we had to close the library.

Anyway, I think Monday will be FMK day. So 12 books go back on the shelf, Mists of Avalon goes on the kill list, and I read The Sunbird. Mary Stewart made a valiant effort to overtake it toward the end, though. I almost never see people online talk about Mary Stewart but she must still have fans! I am also curious what y'all have against Prince Valiant; that was the only other one that came anywhere near K winning. Is there something I don't know? I remember it mostly as one of the serials in my grandfather's paper that was impossible to follow when you only visited once a month, but otherwise inoffensive and with nice art.

The Sunbird by Elizabeth Wein is only Arthurian by courtesy and not a fantasy novel at all, despite selling itself as an Arthurian fantasy novel. It's a historical novel set in the kingdom of Aksum (modern Ethiopia) during the Justinian plague in the 6th century. ) It is definitely going on the keep shelf and the 'find rest of series' list. Would recommend. Glad I grabbed out of the 'deep clearance' bin at Ollie's.

This week's FMK: SF books by authors I know nothing about and have no idea why I own them, letters A through B.

How FMK works: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decided. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

Long version. )

The poll! Aguirre, Anthony, Asher, Barnwell, Barth, Barton, Bass, Bishop, Boyce, Brush, Buckner )
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
2017-02-20 09:33 am
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FMK#1: Arthuriana

OK! I should have all the fiction sorted and reshelved by tonight, so WE'RE DOING THIS. If I manage to do this weekly we should be done in only a year!

Here's how it will go: I will post a list of 10-20 unread books that I own. Sometimes it will be themed, sometimes it will just be random. It will be a poll, and you folks will get to vote F, M, or K for each book.

F means "melannen should have a single night of ill-considered passion with it and then decide whether to turn that into a long-term thing or dump it with prejudice."
M means "melannen should commit long-term and continue to keep the book in her bedroom indefinitely."
K means "melannen should dispose of it posthaste."

This may remind people of a certain familiar game. Unfortunately I don't think DW polls have any way to force a three-way choice like in the game, so it's a free vote for each title. (Also I don't think I could agree to give up 1/3 of my books anyway.)

I will read the book with the most F votes, hopefully within the next week, and then post about it here.
I will dispose of the book with the most K votes, *if* there are enough total K votes on all titles to make a quorum (i.e., if only one person votes K in the whole poll, I don't consider myself bound to their vote.)
All other titles, I will think about very hard and take your votes into consideration!

Feel free to vote even if you only have a vague idea about the book or author. Or even if you've never heard of it but think the title is cool. That's why I bought most of these, after all.
Feel free to vote F on terrible books just because you want to make me read them.
Please leave comments with more information on the book or justifying your votes if you do have things to say!

Anon/no account votes and comments are on. Some background on me and my library if you wander here from far away: I am an SF fan and aspiring SF writer (emphasis on "aspiring" rather than "writing" rn). I would like to keep books that are a) good and/or b) important or foundational texts in the genre and/or c) help balance the proportion of books not by/about white dudes in my library.

Got that? Time to vote! )
(Books on the topic I have read and am definitely keeping: the Mike Ashley anthologies, Parke Godwin's Firelord, a mysterly Goldsmith "King Arthur" that is hilariously bowdlerized, Sutcliff's Arthur books, Twain's Connecticut Yankee, White's the Once and Future King, lots of pre-1860 retellings and sources, lots of "nonfiction".)