cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Default)
2017-01-27 11:07 pm

The Dark is Rising sequence - part one

I read The Dark is Rising (the novel) a few years ago because it seemed right up my street: Christmas, folklore, mythology, Christmas-specific folklore and mythology... you get the idea. My feelings about it were mixed (see below) and I gave away my copy, which I later regretted, so I was happy when R turned up a slipcase with all five books in the sequence. This Christmas I decided to read them all in order, and while my feelings are still mixed, I enjoyed the series more than I'd expected to, and it's given me a lot to think about.

To start with the first two books... )
cloudsinvenice: Tree silhouetted against a twilight sky, with full moon behind it (Twilight tree/moon)
2016-09-14 11:26 pm
Entry tags:

Wednesday Reading Meme

Finished:
Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders by Gyles Brandreth - This was very satisfying and fun: essentially, if you want to hang out with Oscar Wilde and his friends and solve mysteries, this is the book (and series) for you. And who doesn't want to do that? I'll continue to read these as I spot secondhand copies.

Doctor Occult - Dave Louapre, Dan Sweetman (Vertigo Visions, 1/1) - I hadn't come across Doctor Occult before (appallingly, I still haven't finished reading The Books of Magic; if he's an an issue I have read then I don't recall him), but it turns out he's another old DC character like the Sandman who was resurrected in a new form by Neil Gaiman. Doctor Occult and his partner Rose Psychic are, in this incarnation, aspects of the same being, and when Rose disappears, the Doctor must find her in a world of subconscious desires.

So it's a metaphysical, psychosexual journey where the plot is more character-driven than an ongoing series would demand - in other words, the sort of thing that Vertigo Visions one-shots were made for. The real-world background stuff shows its age a little, in that the gender fluidity of Occult/Rose is counterpointed by a trans interviewee on a TV talk show in a way that's played for 'extreme' value (they're a preacher and have transitioned more than once).

Overall, the comic's typical of Vertigo's attempts to push boundaries in storytelling at the time, and if you love 90s-style pencilling and colouring, the art will certainly be your bag. There's also a hilariously pithy summing up of the characters' adventures up to that point inside the front cover, which makes me want to dig around in our collection to see where else they show up.

Reading next:

A handful of DP7 comics we found in a charity shop.
cloudsinvenice: Medieval art: illuminated manuscript with a knight in gold leaf (semyaza illuminated)
2016-09-08 11:26 pm

Return of the book meme (still late)

First off, there's another Friending Friendzy post here in case you're looking. Secondly, here's a post from back in July: Why Imzy doesn't have ads, and what we're doing instead which has some stuff I hadn't heard before. I'm not altogether convinced all these ideas will work, but it's interesting anyhow.

Finished recently:

Dance of the Tiger: A Novel of the Ice Age, by Björn Kurtén. The author is an expert on Ice Age fauna, so it's interesting to read speculation rooted in deep knowledge, and his afterword, along with Stephen Jay Gould's introduction, really add to it. Since the book is a few decades old, I'd imagine that much then-current information has been superseded by new discoveries (we often seem to hear that we've underestimated the Neandertals, for instance), but the characters, situations and world are compelling enough for this not to matter. But the best pleasure of this book is a piece of narrative boldness: a third of the way through, we switch to hear the story from the antagonist's point of view, before returning to the protagonist for the last third. The only real problem for me is that the ending feels very rushed, which is a pity after everything else has been so cleverly set up and allowed room to breathe.

Currently reading:

Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders, by Gyles Brandreth. I thought that what I'd previously read was the first in the series: actually this is the first, and that was the second. It doesn't matter, though if you're looking for the series in America you need to know that some of the titles have been changed for that market. Here's a nice interview with the author, too, in which he theorises that Wilde may have been the model for Mycroft Holmes.

Good Kings Bad Kings, by Susan Nussbaum. So far this is very good, though harrowing at points. I'm very glad it was recommended to me.

Reading next:

Something digital in a waiting room, probably.
cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Default)
2015-10-15 08:45 pm

Back to the book meme

I can't believe it's been a month since I did this, but then it was a very busy one...

...and then I cleverly left in the filler text and had to edit the cut )
cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Default)
2015-09-11 11:30 pm

I can't resist list challenges, especially the ones about books...

...but this is an incredibly weird list:

http://www.listchallenges.com/books-youll-never-brag-about-having-read/

I mean, there are the obvious blockbusters that people love to mock, like Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey and The Da Vinci Code, but otherwise a lot of the significance escapes me; they seem to be American popular political/psychological hits, plus the odd work of Nazi propaganda that a lot of history students will actually have read because they're studying the period.

Anyway, I've read 12/100, and I've got Peyton Place on the shelf waiting for me to get round to it...
cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Default)
2015-09-03 10:52 pm

Reading Thursday, not Wednesday

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.

So, most recently... )
cloudsinvenice: Tony Stark removing his old arc reactor (Iron Man unplug)
2015-07-31 10:29 pm

Clearing out the bookmarks bar again...

The story of the women's history museum which mysteriously transformed (via the process, often contentious in British life, of getting planning permission) into a sensationalist-looking Jack the Ripper museum is making its way around the world. Here's a few interesting links:

- The Guardian: Jack the Ripper's victims deserve to be commemorated. But like this?
- [personal profile] londonkds: Fisking the Jack the Ripper Museum
- 38 Degrees petition to Tower Hamlets Council: Celebrate Suffragettes Not Serial Killers
- Protest at the museum opening on Tuesday 4th August! Women's history is not Jack the Ripper!

Other things:

- Jacqueline Wilson has written a new take on What Katy Did.
- Twitter, unable to grasp that endless growth might not be possible or desirable, considers being more like Facebook.
- [livejournal.com profile] arcadiaego informs me of the existence of a longstanding fan project at [community profile] read_lotr_aloud, where a small group of fans have spent most of the last decade building up a chapter-by-chapter audiobook. Sean Astin even reads the first section! Is anyone aware of other projects like this?
- [livejournal.com profile] ladysisyphus has an epic post on The Blair Witch Project and the movies that tried to emulate its impact without really understanding it. So delicious to see a good chunk of horror meta on LJ!
- In other news, shoestring film production company Mansfield Dark have come up with a beautiful 12-minute shadow puppet version of Count Magnus by M.R. James. You can see the trailer here and also find a link to buy the DVD, which comes with a lovely piece of art on the slipcase. Mine arrived this morning, to my considerable delight. The Mansfield Dark guys are both talented and ingenious, making everything from this gorgeousness to comedy to LGBT thrillers, so go check them out.
- A friend recommended browser extension FB Purity as a solution to the man ways in which Facebook is annoying. I haven't installed it yet, but perhaps some of you feel like trying it too.
cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Iron Man flying)
2015-07-13 10:52 pm

The great book meme backlog

I fell out of doing the Wednesday reading meme back in April, which is unfortunate because at the time I still had a backlog dating from the end of February to work on. So, nearly five months' worth of books...

...will certainly not be tackled in this one post, but I can make a dent in them at least. )

Well, this has taken me into April. I'm going to try and post another batch of these every day until I get to what I'm reading now...
cloudsinvenice: Tree silhouetted against a twilight sky, with full moon behind it (Twilight tree/moon)
2015-07-06 11:30 pm
Entry tags:

"A conspiracy of footnotes"

For a short time I felt a ridiculous sense of achievement: I'd finally tracked down the text of something I'd once seen being performed by Harry Secombe (90% sure it was him, anyway) on a BBC archive clip. The sketch consisted of him explaining that there's no such work as Paradise Lost, based on the assertion that none of us knows anyone who's read the whole thing. (I suspect a fair few of you would disprove that, but it was funny.) The Daily Mail (so it's good for something...) supplied the context that it had been written by Bernard Levin for Ned Sherrin's That Was The Week That Was, and I actually thought that I'd found the full text on the website of a literary magazine, The Foliate Oak, except that their poem on the subject (which I like very much) is credited to Mark J. Mitchell, and doesn't contain the quote that the DM article included.

Despite a YouTube search, the sketch 'There Is No Such Book As Paradise Lost' remains elusive...
cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (A woman's place is in the revolution)
2015-04-01 11:30 pm
Entry tags:

Wednesday reading

It's been a while, but the meme is back! Also, I see this is my first public entry in ages. I swear, potential friends, it's not a complete desert - there is more going on beneath f-lock...

Come for the books, stay for the books )
cloudsinvenice: text: "Armand Survivors Club" over a blender full of unappetising green goop (Armand Survivors Club: green goo)
2014-11-24 02:54 am

Prince Lestat: a gigantic multi-part recap: Part I

I've been meaning to do this for a while, but it was delayed by illness, work and sheer exhaustion. Brace yourselves, mes amis - it's the giant chapter-by-chapter Prince Lestat post! Or, to be honest, it's the first of several posts, because I want to get this thing rolling and not wait until I've commented on the whole thing. Also, I doubt that LiveJournal's post size limit can cope unless I split this thing up. I'll probably do it based on the sections of the book, but we'll see how things shake out.

Content note: sex, IVF, decapitation.

Spoilers! A warning which will be cut off when this crossposts to LiveJournal, since they don't let you have custom cut text anymore. Whatever. )
cloudsinvenice: Tree silhouetted against a twilight sky, with full moon behind it (Twilight tree/moon)
2014-09-18 12:15 am

Wednesday reading

It's been a while since I've done this, so here's about two months' worth of reading, or at least the ones I can remember:

I gave up on a lot of books in this period, but some stuck... )

Also interesting (and found via [livejournal.com profile] author_by_night): some people are organising a Harry Potter fandom reunion on LJ, for those who miss fandom as we did it in the old pre-Tumblr days, want to reconnect with the larger fandom, etc. etc: [livejournal.com profile] hp_reunion.

And here's a post from [livejournal.com profile] strannik01 about how LJ themselves seem to be doing some sensible outreach at long last - they've got a brand new ad on YouTube which does some smart stuff by focusing on how customisable privacy levels are, the comment threading and the strength of the site being discussion. Also, they underline the fact you can use any nickname and will never have to disclose your RL info if you don't want to; and the fact they will never filter your feed content (one in the eye for Facebook and, most recently, Twitter). I would love to see this working out for them, I really would, because while all the other social networks have strengths, LJ and Dreamwidth combine the greatest number of aspects I like with the fewest irksome aspects. And it's just the style in which I most enjoy interacting with people and having a -cough- online presence.
cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Default)
2014-06-18 07:46 pm

Wednesday reading

I owe the new people I met on the friending meme an intro post, so that will hopefully happen tomorrow. But for now, books!

Books finished:

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

spoilers; TW suicide and rape )

Books abandoned:

Sane New World: Taming the Mind by Ruby Wax

I raced through the first 90 pages during a particularly long session in a waiting room, but when I went to pick it up in bed that night I found I couldn't muster the will. What bothers me is that she veers so much between fact and opinion in a way that sometimes blurs the two - sometimes "millions of years" is used colloquially, other times literally. Often she's candid about something being her opinion, or a generalisation that won't necessarily apply to everybody, but then she'll make a sweeping statement about how none of our ancient ancestors had OCD, which leaves me thinking, "But how can we know that?" I can believe that human mental problems have changed with the social and environmental context in which we find ourselves, but it just makes no sense to bang on about how great neuroscience is and then make assertions you can't back up with it. It made me think I should probably just find a book for a lay audience that is specifically about neuroscience (your recs are welcome).

The Other, Darker Ned by Anne Fine

This is a story about the friendship between a young girl, and the student husband of her blind father's assistant. I like found family, and stories set during lazy, atmospheric summer days (hypocritically, I often enjoy them during actual atmospheric summer days in which I complain about the atmosphere; I was not made for heatwaves), and Anne Fine (one of our best modern children's/YA authors) was a mainstay of my bookshelf in my teens. But this turned out not to have aged well (it was written in 1979, and along with much of her ouvre, Fine has since updated it to reflect a changing society and her own tougher editing skills, a process she writes about interestingly, for adults here and for young readers here). While it's as sharply observed as any of her work, I prefer her more conflict-ridden books, and when Wikipedia confirmed that the success or otherwise of a charity jumble sale is the high dramatic point of the book, I decided to bow out.

Currently reading:

Romanitas by Sophia McDougall

The premise is that the Roman Empire never fell; today the world is (apart from the Independent South of Africa) divided between the Roman, Chinese and Japanese empires. The world map at the beginning of the book is terrifying to behold - vast swathes of the world under Rome's control, and as the cover picture suggests, crucifixion is still a punishment; one's life prospects are still defined by being either a slave or a freeman. So far, I love it - it's extremely well written, with subtle characterisation and inventive takes on the telepathy and healing powers experienced by two kids who are on the run...

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel

I adored Fun Home, and recently I got lucky and found a very cheap nearly-new copy of the sequel. Only a few pages in, but so far I love it, and R, who has a better eye for these things than I do, remarks that her style has evolved interestingly since the last book. Me, it just makes me want to draw, as her work always does. What a luxury to have another Alison Bechdel graphic novel ahead of me...

Reading next:

This is a bit of a joke, as since I began doing this meme I've noticed that listing a book here almost guarantees that I will NOT read it next. But for what it's worth, Morrissey's book is still hanging in there (technically I did read a little of it).
cloudsinvenice: Tree silhouetted against a twilight sky, with full moon behind it (Twilight tree/moon)
2014-05-28 10:26 pm

Reading Wednesday

I enjoy other people's Reading Wednesday posts, but I never seem to see them or think of making one myself until it's no longer Wednesday. But finally, I'm in the right place at the right time! The world is mine! Bwahahaha...

Finished reading:

The Bronte Project by Jennifer Vandever. (One day I will learn the Mac shortcuts for accents and actually use them...) It was very witty, though as it progressed it became less fun. I did pick up a lot of incidental knowledge about Charlotte's doomed correspondence with the man who would become the basis for The Professor, though.

Currently reading:

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. It's about a serial killer who uses a time portal to commit crimes and escape detection in a Chicago of different decades, and a girl he failed to kill who's determined to track him down with the help of a jaded journalist. The whole alternative girl plus middle-aged journo thing reminded me of the Millennium Trilogy movies I saw recently, but that's not a bad thing, and so far it's well written, though it's reminded me just how little stomach I have for reading about graphic murder scenes, particularly of women. (How does this reconcile with Hannibal fandom?! Maybe it's the fact that my mind lingers on written descriptions in a way that it doesn't over televised ones.) It reminds me a little of John Connolly's supernatural/crime blend in the Charlie Parker series.

Planning to read:

Tentatively, I would say "a few quick reads I can shove off to the charity shop soon, in order to clear the shelves a bit". Maybe also The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, just for genre contrast. Or I might pick up The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell again, because that's where I ran out of steam when I was chugging through the Saxon series last month. They're nice books, by the way - very good for scratching any medieval politics/grisly sword-fighting itch you might have while waiting for The Winds of Winter...
cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Default)
2014-01-11 02:40 pm

The Mark of the Beast, by Sydney Watson

Unusually, two posts in one day. This is something I've also posted on Tumblr, but I wonder if it won't get more discussion here...

'Her hair - what a wealth of it there was - was blue-black, finer than such hair usually is, and with a sheen on it like unto a raven's wing.' Of course it was. )

We found an old copy on a free bookshelf in town, and within minutes we were in raptures (sorry) over the writing, which at times resembles Ebony Dark'Ness Dementia Raven Way on acid, if Ebony Dark'Ness Etc. were inhabiting the body of a fusty early 20th century man determined to stop women... well, doing anything, really. Sydney Watson’s 1915 novel, The Mark of the Beast, is basically the granddaddy of novels about the Rapture. Without this book and its ilk, no Left Behind series.

It’s an odd mix of preposterousness, bigotry (mainly of the patronising anti-Semitism and vintage misogyny varieties), eugenics and incredibly purple prose. When he rails against modern books encouraging women to feel they belong to themselves, and free love, and all the rest of it, he’s bitching about the likes of H.G. Wells, who wrote socially progressive novels at the time.

It’s also a book so bad that even a Rapture-believing Christian complains in a particularly satisfying Goodreads review that, were they not reading it digitally, they’d feel the urge to fling it across the room… in fact, if you want to find out more about this stuff, you really need to look at Christian sources, where there is much eloquent eye-rolling over this book and its contemporaries...