glass_icarus: (ofelia)
Now that I suddenly have a little less than 3 weeks left before moving (?!), I'm scrambling to check more items off my to-read list! It's been kind of slow lately, as I included some of my non-fiction list as well (much shorter than the fiction side, heh).

+ News for All the People, Juan Gonzalez & Joseph Torres: It took me the better part of two plane rides, a decent chunk of downtime in Taiwan, and a little post-trip jetlag adjustment attempt to finish, but I really appreciated this book! This history of race and the US media is fascinating, and pretty well encapsulates many of the reasons I find watching/listening to/reading mainstream US news so frustrating. The last chapter is about the rise of the internet and the net neutrality arguments, which I also found pretty enlightening.

+ While poking about on my goodreads page, I also devoured three excellent short stories:
- She Commands Me and I Obey, Ann Leckie
- Night's Slow Poison, Ann Leckie
- The House of Aunts, Zen Cho

I read the first two because scrolling past Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword gave me a sudden craving to revisit the Imperial Radch universe, and they did not disappoint! I thought She Commands Me was the stronger of the two- the layered politics and doublespeak were super powerful in that one. *___* My favorite ended up being The House of Aunts, though! The family shenanigans bits made me laugh so hard (AUNTIES BEING AUNTIES, omg best). I really enjoyed the slow unfurling of the story, piece by piece, especially that last big reveal. Heartbreaking and hopeful, all at once. ♥

Next in line: Juan Gonzalez's Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America! News for All the People was engaging enough that I thought I'd take another shot at Gonzalez, and I'm hoping to persevere before my probably-last library requests (fiction) arrive.
glass_icarus: (ofelia)
One of the many things I plan to do in this before-the-storm summer is read ALL the fun things, but I seem to have been slowing down on that lately for various reasons. I figured going back to booklogging would help with this problem, so here's what I've read in May so far:

An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir: I waited ages for my library request to be filled, and I enjoyed this quite a lot, though I'm not sure it was great enough to deserve a two-month wait. I think I'll be rereading it before I return it, just to process some more.

Grapefruit, Yoko Ono: The other thing I decided to do was tick a bunch of things off my to-read list on goodreads, so since I saw this was available, I borrowed it. :D I really liked this one, not as much for the language as for the processing it requires. Yoko's instructional poems are deceptively simple, you have to let them sit in the back of your head for a while before you realize how interesting the concepts are. As a result, I blew through the first half of the book in about 20 minutes before slowing down. I think it would have been even better if I'd read a few a day for a couple of weeks, but I'm a habitual book-binger and the return date was sneaking up on me, so. ^^;

Invisible Flower, Yoko Ono: This little story is also deceptively simple.

Season of Migration to the North, Tayeb Salih: I've definitely spent too little time reading non-academic things lately. I ended up being so confused by narrative chronology that I didn't really process everything this book had to say.

The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley: REALLY interesting concepts in this one! God's War had a much more visceral impact for me, though; in comparison, this book was less satisfying.
glass_icarus: (mango sliced)
Happy things:

♣ Successfully fought off a minor job-hunt meltdown today! (I am considering starting a Me vs. Imposter Syndrome tally just so I can say TAKE THAT every time I kick its butt. >.>)

♣ Recent booklog! Obviously influenced by you guys. *g*
+ Jasmine and Stars: Reading More than Lolita in Tehran, Fatemeh Keshavarz: Finally hunted this down! [personal profile] dhobikikutti recced it to me a couple years back, I think, and it is indeed fabulous and smart (and has a very nice section that breaks down "New Orientalism").
+ Coming Out Under Fire, Allan Bérubé: Also found this on [personal profile] thingswithwings's rec, which was quite interesting and informative.
+ Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie: Grabbed this on [personal profile] qian's mention; STILL SQUEAKING INCOHERENTLY. MULTIPLE IDENTITY(?) FORMERLY-A-SHIP PROTAG! Everything I did not know I wanted! ♥ ♥ ♥ *_____*
+ Maid Marian, Elsa Watson: Read in hopes that it would be better than Stephen Lawhead's Hood, because I was disappoint. Which it was, but I'm still looking for awesome Maid Marians!
+ These Old Shades, Georgette Heyer: Continuing my Heyer read-through (sparked by [personal profile] kate_nepveu's poll); this one was enjoyable, but not spectacularly so. I liked the cross-dressing, though!
+ One Piece v.2-4: As is frequently true, this one is [personal profile] inkstone's fault, though the sheer number of volumes is keeping me from blasting through ALL OF IT. Unlike Kuroko, which I inhaled at a truly ridiculous rate (and should really catch up on, sigh).

♣ I've uploaded In-Grid's Rendez-Vous album for [personal profile] littlebutfierce, but if anyone else happens to be interested, it is here. Some of it is quite tango-influenced, as you can see, but this remains my favorite song.
glass_icarus: (jasika nicole)
Un-hermit? Whatever. Trying to stay more in touch, anyway.

♣ Quick booklog! It's been a while since I've bothered to play catch-up, but here's what I've read in the past couple of weeks:
+ Shadows Return, Lynn Flewelling
+ The White Road, Lynn Flewelling
+ Casket of Souls, Lynn Flewelling: basically I picked up these three because I was rereading the Nightrunner series at the beginning of last month and realized there were more books! Definitely not the most intriguing in terms of plot or worldbuilding, but I wasn't in a state to process more complicated things at the time.
+ Claymore, v.1-4: I started the first volume and was like, monsters and monster-killing ladies, this is awesome in theory but idk why people love it so much? Then suddenly I hit the third one and went TERESAAAAAAAAAAA A:SDLKSJDF:LSDKFJ ♥ ♥ ♥ and okay, yes, now I get it. xD
+ Uraboku, v.6: This required that I backtrack through v.5 to remember character threads, lol. Cracktastic fluff remains fluffy and (so, so, so) cracktastic.
+ Kamisama Kiss, v.14: I love that Nanami never gives up. Also, aw, more backstory! ♥

(If you want to see what else I've been reading you can check out my 2014 shelf, but I leave almost no commentary on Goodreads.)

♣ A friend recently reminded me of the awesomeness that is Penn Masala via this video, and then I accidentally a not-so-mini vortex.

♣ Zouk earworm throwback! I hadn't realized that the singer was such eye-candy, heh. Gage- Pense à moi )
glass_icarus: (alek wek)
In the hopes that upping my fannish productivity will up my productivity in other arenas today, here is my quick review of Those Pricey Thakur Girls for [personal profile] deepad's Anuja Chauhan reading club!

Set in 1980s Delhi, the novel primarily revolves around Debjani Thakur (secretly her father's favorite of his five alphabetically-named daughters), a brand-new English newsreader at DD who keeps clashing with investigative journalist Dylan Singh Shekhawat. While Dylan's stubborn unwillingness to uphold "state-sponsored propaganda" quickly gets him into hot water, it's the convoluted Thakur family dynamics that really make this book.

Unlike Chauhan's other two books, in which personal lives are swept up in larger sociopolitical currents, Those Pricey Thakur Girls weaves larger issues like the 1984 Sikh Massacre and freedom of the press into an intensely family-focused story. I personally appreciated the change, because I think family dynamics are probably Chauhan's best narrative strength. Also, there simply is no humor quite like the wacky family hijinks kind. I did have a bit of trouble with the POV shifts and the sheer size of the Thakur family/friend network at first, but as the story arcs progressed, things got less confusing.

The family drama and perspective changes do make the narrative drive in this book less direct than Battle for Bittora and The Zoya Factor; multiple perspectives obviously require multiple character arc resolutions. I found this a feature, not a bug- a thing that's annoyed me about some other romances I've read is that the main characters get together and the "side" characters... go off and something? (Who cares knows! Obviously their development is less important, whatever.) But in this story, the presence of every friend and family member seems both necessary and felt, even the ones off-screen. A key part of Dylan and Debjani's romance is getting to know each other through family and friends, which is one of those true to life processes I really appreciate reading about that I wish more romance writers would spend time on. Ahem. xD

eta; If you happen to be interested in buying/reading any of these books, there's an Anuja Chauhan box set available on the Con or Bust auction site!

--

In other fannish news, I have:
- generated a KagaNigou (still unsubmitted because I'm still in tumblr avoidance mode... >.>)
- accidentally spawned a Dragon Age/KuroBase AU-verse solely on the basis of KagaNigou crackfic premises? Oops.

Things I have yet to accomplish: EVERYTHING ELSE. /o\ And now I'll be off to get on that (hopefully)...
glass_icarus: (freida)
Tomorrow I head off to parts Canadian for a few days, so the December meme posts will be on a brief hiatus. Feel free to keep jumping in on the previous posts if you like! :)

[personal profile] livrelibre asked about something I've read lately and/or an old favorite! Since I finished Battle for Bittora the other day, this post will also serve for [personal profile] deepad's Anuja Chauhan reading club.

Jinni Pande is a cartoon animator who comes from a line of Indian politicians. When her bossy, supposedly-retired grandmother ropes her into campaigning for the upcoming elections, she soon finds herself running for a Parliament seat against Zain Altaf Khan, a childhood friend from her hometown of Bittora.

As with The Zoya Factor, Chauhan conveys the feeling of being swept up in larger social currents incredibly well, but my favorite aspect of this book was the family dynamics. Jinni's relationships with her mother and grandmother were heartwarming and hilariously, believably complicated. Pushpa Pande is probably the most indomitable Terrible Old Woman I've ever had the pleasure to encounter in fiction, and I wanted more of her backstory with Jinni's grandpa!

I also loved Jinni herself- her sense of perspective, her self-awareness, her refusal to forget about the social problems other politicians keep glossing over during the campaign. It's easy to let cynicism about politicians and their motives become cynicism/fatalism about politics, but Jinni never slides into that, and I admire her for it. She's aware of the realities of campaigning, she isn't afraid to face dirty truths, and she wants to make a positive change, even though becoming an election candidate was never her idea in the first place. "Social responsibility" is an easily warped term, but I think a certain interpretation of it does describe Jinni's attitude pretty well: since she's running, she wants to stand up for the interests of all the people she's representing, not just the wealthy and powerful.

Jinni's romance with Zain was pretty adorable; friends-to-lovers and childhood sweethearts are narrative tropes I enjoy, and I thought the development of their relationship in the context of the campaign was very well done. One thing I really appreciated about Battle for Bittora and The Zoya Factor is that the romance is one thread in a larger plot arc, rather than the main (or at least singular) focus. Romantic relationships always happen in the context of something else, and I like them best when the "something else" is at least as big and messy and well-fleshed-out as the relationships themselves. Chauhan is amazing at doing exactly this!
glass_icarus: (ofelia)
Posting this as part of [personal profile] deepad's Anuja Chauhan reading club! I inhaled The Zoya Factor the same day I received it; predictably, it took me a while longer to gather enough brain to talk about it.

Zoya Singh Solanki was born at the minute India won the World Cup in 1983. When she's assigned to work with India's cricket team for a Zing! ad for her agency, the team starts winning whenever she eats breakfast with them, and her reputation as a "lucky charm" begins to develop. She also finds herself butting heads with the captain of the cricket team, Nikhil Khoda, who doesn't believe in superstition.

I don't often read chick lit, but Chauhan's narrative voice is incredibly entertaining. People who actually understand cricket may enjoy this even more, though I don't think understanding is necessary to enjoyment: I know nothing about cricket, and in fact am pretty uninvested in team sports of any kind (funny, given my narrative kinks). The feeling of being swept up in national fervor is something that Chauhan describes quite well, as are the commercial/social media/gossip rag aspects of society, which are very much in the forefront thanks to Zoya's career field. While these things are likely to annoy me irl, in the story they're addressed in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way that made me laugh and shake my head rather than roll my eyes. The toinnnnnggggg commercial, for instance, made me lose it and actually cackle on the bus.

Other things I liked, only slightly spoilery: )

--

PS: So excited for your prompts for December posts; keep them coming please! :)
glass_icarus: (junjou: akihiko hiroki [JR artbook])
Multifandom treat meme is still open! I haven't managed to fill anything yet since I have to prepare for a presentation this week, but in the meantime, prompt away! I'm just getting started, promise. :D

♣ This week's booklog:
+ Blade of the Immortal, v.1-2: I read these at Book-Off last week and it hasn't quite sucked me in (yet? haha), but I thought the mechanism of immortality was an interesting premise. Thoughts/opinions? Is this a series I should invest more time in?
+ Reader and Raelynx, Sharon Shinn: More interesting than the other Twelve Houses book that I picked up, definitely.
+ Troubled Waters, Sharon Shinn: I think this is my favorite out of all the Shinn books I've read so far. I loled at some "science what science" aspects of the worldbuilding, but since this is more on the fantasy side of SF/F, that was okay. Also, I found this setting much more intriguing than the Samaria or Twelve Houses ones.

♣ Found a new EP via angry asian man (soundcloud stream & free download at the link)! This has been a year of shiny new music for me; I'm quite enjoying Bright Vices. *___*

♣ Anyone interested in makeup blogs? Obviously tips and recs are never universal, but I spent an afternoon in a vortex of shiny pictures/etc. on sweet little place (mostly in French) and frmheadtotoe (thanks for the link, [personal profile] vi!).

♣ Random home remedy that my mom showed me recently: carve out the ends of an Asian pear, put it in a bowl, add some salt/rock sugar in the hole where the stem was, and steam it. The pear and its juices are supposed to be good for your throat/if you have a cough.

♣ And now for something completely hilarrible! Mandarin-speakers (I don't know if this also scans in Cantonese): 一只小白加一只小白是什麼?
glass_icarus: (katie coffee)
♠ So apparently, after this summer's two-trips-in-a-week to Canada, I'm considering making... another two trips to Canada in the next two months? Am I secretly Canadian? A bird confusedly migrating in the wrong season/opposite direction? IDEK GUYS, WHAT IS THIS. My Toronto friends are finally coming down to visit next month, but 3 trips to 1 (and 4:1, and 5:1, and 6:1) is clearly an uneven rate of exchange!

♠ Things I need to catch up on: Kuroko and Free! I have no idea why I haven't been in the headspace for these when I enjoy them so much; I guess the wedding I went to last weekend threw me off my pace in more ways than one. I'm more caught up with Free! than I am with Kuroko though- I've watched through episode 7 and it's GREAT. :D Bracing myself for the v. shiny back [personal profile] inkstone informs me is in episode 8!

♠ In related news, I need to start considering my Touch Pass assignment- it's been so long since I've written fic for anything, augh. Does anyone want to talk Kuroko characters with me or throw out some random prompts so I can get my hand back in? ^^;

♠ Finally, some booklog catch-up: Georgette Heyer, Li-Young Lee, Amit Chaudhuri, Divergent, Hikaru no Go, Agatha Christie, Catherine Coulter )
glass_icarus: (hp: sbp reason)
⋄ Ahahaha, JLin, never stop being adorkable! you've changed, bro )

♣ Finally managed to find someone to watch Fruitvale Station with me... if we can fit in the time. ^^; Wire fans, you might be interested in this Michael B. Jordan interview if you haven't already seen it. (... I still haven't managed to watch The Wire yet, sigh.)

♥ I signed up for Touch Pass after all! I'm still debating whether I want to add more requests, but I like the ones I have so far (super-short-form: Riko + Satsuki + Alexandra being awesome/terrorizing their players, Aomine + Kuroko relationship repair + preferably spectators loling forever, Riko + Hyuuga + Kiyoshi being their OT3 little selves). Now it's definitely time to play catch-up, I guess.

♠ Booklog for the week: Graceling, Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, Monkey High, Vampire Knight, One Piece, Loretta Chase, Shadow of the Templar reread )
glass_icarus: (stigma: tit)
+ The Pale Horse, Agatha Christie
+ War Dances, Sherman Alexie: I enjoyed Alexie's writing a lot, but I suspect I'm missing the point of some of these short stories? Maybe worth rereading when my brain is actually on.
+ The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood: I generally like retold myths and fairytales, but how something with so entertaining a premise can turn out so fluffily disappointing, idek. I liked the narrative voices, too! (Quick, someone point me to a fanfic that does it better. :P)
+ Postern of Fate, Agatha Christie: Usually I have little individual commentary on Agatha Christie, but this was the first book of hers that made me go meh.
+ Lady of Quality, Georgette Heyer: Much more entertaining than April Lady, but didn't make me breathless with glee the way The Grand Sophy did. (I misjudged my reading order- Sophy is a high bar to set!)
+ They Came to Baghdad, Agatha Christie
+ Devil's Cub, Georgette Heyer: So far it appears I enjoy Heyer best when she writes epic clashes of stubborn, ahaha. Mary Challoner vs. Vidal is hilarious!
+ Saints Astray, Jacqueline Carey: Finally picked this up! It was a fun read, but as a sequel to Santa Olivia I thought it was kind of odd? I dunno, spoilers ) wasn't where I thought this dystopic setup was going. I did enjoy Pilar's process of growing into herself, though.
+ Kamisama Kiss/Kamisama Hajimemashita, v. 10-13: Still ridiculous, still hilarious, Nanami and Tomoe are still my favorites.

In other news: Kuroko babble and/or prompts would still be appreciated! Or any prompts, really.
glass_icarus: (Default)
Continuing to booklog as opposed to properly bookblogging. Aside from being a fast reader, my rate of consumption is correlated to my job hunt frustration is correlated to my lack of critical/thinking brain! ^^;

Items read since my last book post: Agatha Christie binges, The Best of All Possible Worlds, some Anne McCaffrey rereads, Mushishi, Bayou, Darker than Black, Kamisama Hajimemashita, Georgette Heyer )
glass_icarus: (jasika nicole)
1. Things I've read in the last week or so (between an afternoon in Book-Off and a couple of library stints): Nabari no Ou, Hikaru no Go, Monkey High, Rurouni Kenshin, Tattoo, A College of Magics, When the King Comes Home, Magic Under Glass, Kotuku, The Stone and the Maiden, Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit )

2. While at the library, I also picked up Shaolin (because Andy Lau and Fan Bingbing!) and Painted Skin II (because REASONS, obviously) from their DVD collection. Since my thoughts on the latter are ASD:SLFJS:LDFJK *_____* ♥ ♥ ♥, here is my attempt at coherence for Shaolin: Pretty grim and manpain-y, and the three female characters were sadly auxiliary and spoiler/trigger warning ). I mean, it achieved its goal of ~heartbreaking wartime epic~, and I do enjoy martial arts action sequences, but seriously? It couldn't have done so without throwing the women under the bus (WARTIME epic! betrayal! power struggles! subthread of English people trying to advance their empire! etc.!)? Sigh.

3. I also discovered that the DVD section in the library has a HUGE Bollywood selection, so please to be throwing your recs at me! :D
glass_icarus: (ofelia)
In the middle of inhaling Paper by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani and OMG. I don't know if part of this lushness is because I haven't read fiction in far too long, but it's so pretty and so luxuriously tactile. Also I approve of what are basically endless odes to paper ♥ and sentences such as "She was like an orthographical error in a derivative script." :D

(I know, I know, this is a sad excuse for a bookblog post, pls excuse the brainless.)
glass_icarus: (sott: schadenfreude)
A reporter for the New Yorker, observing that people try to find an extra north-south passage in the too-long blocks between Fifth and Sixth avenues, once attempted to see if he could amalgamate a makeshift mid-block trail from Thirty-third Street to Rockefeller Center. He discovered reasonable, if erratic, means for short-cutting through nine of the blocks, owing to block-through stores and lobbies and Bryant Park behind the Forty-second Street Library. But he was reduced to wiggling under fences or clambering through windows or coaxing superintendents, to get through four of the blocks, and had to evade the issue by going into subway passage for two.

- Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (Chapter 9: The need for small blocks).

You guys, this book was originally published in 1961! It's amazing how many of her observations re: patterns of use of space are still valid 50 years later. LONG CROSSTOWN BLOCKS, BANE OF EVERYONE'S EXISTENCE!

Adding the reclist-of-doom tag because while the use of urban space is not a topic of interest to everyone, this book is extremely down to earth and uses very simple observations to tear down common notions of urban planning. Also, it explains the DULL AS DIRT problem of many housing projects and civic centers built for that specific purpose, requirements for vibrant neighborhoods, actual and not presumed street safety, and other everyday issues in plain and (to me, at least) entertaining words. Even if none of these topics interest you, if you are or have ever been a New Yorker, you may still want to pick it up and see how her observations match up with your own. *g*
glass_icarus: (saving face: wil train)
While I picked up The Arrival thanks to various glowing comments, I actually had a very ambivalent reaction to the book. Shaun Tan's artwork is lovely and fantastically strange, but I find the immigration storylines as presented problematic on many levels. [personal profile] oyceter and I spent about an hour gchatting about it a while back, so this post is going to be something of a rehashing of the points we bounced off each other in that conversation, with some expansion on my part. (I was really tempted to just c/p chat log excerpts, except that I meant this to be more digestible to people unfamiliar with my/our thought processes! *g*) Anyway, I suppose everything to follow counts as spoilery- both for general themes and specific panels/subsections- so, you know, fair warning.

Read more... )
glass_icarus: (bibliophile)
Some more belated notes! I definitely recommend all three of these, though they all have some potentially triggering moments (two of them deal with WWII).

1. The Interpreter- Suki Kim )

2. The Calligrapher's Daughter- Eugenia Kim )

3. When the Emperor Was Divine- Julie Otsuka )
glass_icarus: (saving face: ma)
So I finished Suki Kim's The Interpreter yesterday and was entirely blown away, but that book deserves its own post. Therefore, while I'm trying to do a proper write-up, have some bits and bats salvaged from stuff I read last year:

1. Spirits in the Wires- Charles deLint: )

2. A Live Coal in the Sea- Madeleine L'Engle [this one is a rant] )

3. Lucy- Jamaica Kincaid )

... oh! I also read Malinda Lo's Ash last night, and was fairly underwhelmed. I am a fan of retold fairytales and queering of the text and all, but it felt kind of lacking in depth? Maybe that's partially a worldbuilding thing, or maybe it's just that I'm tired of European-esque fantasy settings/settings that pretty much read as European-esque fantasy, I dunno. Granted that Cinderella is not my ~favorite fairytale of all time, and I probably would have liked it better when I was a kid, but still. *hands*
glass_icarus: (ofelia)
Enormous write-up post is enormous! But not as long as it was (and also not as detailed/spoilery as it could be), as I lost my first draft along with most of my notes and had to rewrite it. D: Sorry!

1. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress- Dai Sijie )

2. A Good Indian Wife- Anne Cherian )

3. Troublemaker and Other Saints- Christina Chiu )

4. After the Quake- Haruki Murakami )

5. Candy- Mian Mian )

6. Singer from the Sea- Sheri S. Tepper (reread) )

7. A Private Life- Ran Chen )

8. Raising the Stones- Sheri S. Tepper )

9. Paradise of the Blind- Duong Thu Huong )

10. Bonus manga! Bus Gamer: The Pilot Edition- Minekura Kazuya )

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glass_icarus: (Default)
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