cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Default)
[personal profile] cloudsinvenice
Close enough, I guess. But I've decided to give myself an amnesty on the backlog; there comes a point when it's just irrational to attempt to catch up on five months' worth of unwritten-up books.


The last book I read:

How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran. I nearly gave up on this on my first try because the first chapter felt like it was trying too hard to be funny, and gave me a bit of that disjointedness I sometimes feel when a work of fiction has so much in common with the author's life that you wonder why they wrote the thing as a novel. But then I got hooked into the emotional meat of it, which has 14-year=old Johanna (soon to reinvent herself as Dolly Wilde) in a pit of self-recrimination because she thinks it's her fault that her dad has been sanctioned by the DWP. It's a pitch-perfect evocation of the fear you can feel when your family's life depends on state benefits - Moran has written very powerfully on the real-life, present-day situation, and fictional 1980s Wolverhampton is no less grim. But there's also falling in love with a rock star, and becoming a journalist, and other non-shitty parts of growing up... read it if you loved My Mad Fat Diary.

Currently reading:

Bareback, aka Benighted, by Kit Whitfield. I came across this in a charity shop recently and remembered it for two reasons. Firstly, the author was on LJ back in the day and I read a few of her posts that friends had linked to back when she was in the process of publishing this novel, and back then it was a novelty to see someone from fannish circles publish original fiction. The premise sounded good and I always meant to get around to it. Secondly, "Barebacking" turned out to refer to condomless sex in the US, so for that market the book had to be renamed "Benighted".

I don't read much Urban Fantasy these days because I went through the rise and fall of Laurell K. Hamilton and her fandom/eventual hatedom, read a few derivative books and got sick of the glut of what had become the Paranormal Romance genre here, there and everywhere. But this story, in which werewolves (lycos in human form, lunes when wolves) are the vast majority and the few barebacks (born headfirst and never to turn) are seen as pitiable and despised freaks, speaks to me. Protagonist Lola Galley works for DORLA, the agency of ordinary humans whose job it is to capture the few, deadly lunes who aren't safely locked up on the full moon, and it's a whodunnit of the hardbitten-female-lead-with-physical-and-emotional-scars school. I'm 3/4 of the way through and the more I think about it, the more I realise the worldbuilding doesn't quite hang together (some of it you can write off as "nobody cares if society collapses on the full moon because only the barebacks would suffer", some of it, not so much), but the emotional notes it hits about marginalised minorities are just right. I saw (what I assume is) the (first) twist coming ten miles off, though.

The Life and Times of Mary Ann McCracken 1770 - 1866: A Belfast Panorama by Mary McNeill. Mary Ann McCracken (sister of the more famous Henry Joy) was pointed out to me as an extraordinary but neglected figure in (Northern/) Irish history, and I became very curious after reading the linked biography, and her rather more sparse Wikipedia entry, which described her as a significant liberal figure in a particularly powerful flowering of the liberal movement in Belfast which, frankly, I had not known existed. The Irish Rebellion of 1798 is one of the dark patches in my grasp of Irish history, so the book is proving useful for filling in that gap, too. I'm proceeding in fits and starts due to concentration issues.

Reading next:
I don't know; the bookcase is my oyster...

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cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Default)
"What can the cat-posters hope to gain?"

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