|January Books (dispatches from the blanket fort)
||[Feb. 3rd, 2018|01:34 pm]
Freya Update: the dog went in for her six-week post-op x-rays, and the upshot is that she's been upgraded from crate rest to something called room rest. Hurrah. In practice what this means is that I have relocated us to a larger and more comfy blanket fort. |
As I spent the lion's share of January hanging out in the blanket fort of injured dogs I have read a fair few books:
The Radium Girls - Kate Moore
A Study in Scarlet Women - Sherry Thomas
A Conspiracy in Belgravia - Sherry Thomas
Dogs of War - Adrian Tchaikovsky
Her Body and Other Parties - Carmen Maria Machado
Fire and Fury: inside the Trump White House - Michael Wolff
Daughter of Mystery - Heather Rose Jones
The Mystic Marriage - Heather Rose Jones
Pirate Women: the princesses, prostitutes, and privateers who ruled the seven seas - Laura Sook Duncombe
The Witches of New York - Ami McKay
Women No. 17 - Edan Lepucki
Bluebird, Bluebird - Attica Locke
All Systems Red - Martha Wells
Now We Are Dead - Stuart MacBride
The Radium Girls is about women in the 1940s who were employed applying radium paint to watches and dials. The moral of it is twofold: 1) don't put radioactive paint in your mouth, seriously, don't, and 2) corporations are actual bastards who will hold you up in court for literal decades in the hope that you die a horrible death before they have to give you a penny.
It was amazing, and inspiring, and heartbreaking, and simmering with quiet, righteous anger. I read it weeping into my dog's fur. It was, ahem, explicit on the medical effects of having radioactive matter in your bones and teeth in ways that made it extremely difficult to read in places. But even so I can't recommend it enough. There's a right gut punch of an epilogue too, where after this happens in the 1940s and the companies are finally, finally forced to admit liability it all happens again in the 1970s, because see the above point about corporations being actual bastards.
Highly, highly recommended.
I can also wholeheartedly recommend Sherry Thomas' series about a female Sherlock Holmes. Just A Study in Scarlet Women and A Conspiracy in Belgravia thus far; I hope for more, I would read twelve of these.
Charlotte Holmes has to operate under the alias 'Sherlock' because the patriarchy, ugh. Charlotte is awesome - more Elementary!Sherlock than BBC!Sherlock, in that she is bad at being what society wants her to be but is not an actual sociopath, and being a woman Victorian society is pretty unforgiving of her failure to comply... hence, 'Sherlock'. Her partner in investigating is retired actress Mrs. Watson. The books are lovely, and charming, and quietly feminist, and I really liked them a lot.
In other news: I continue to be super predictable.
I can also, also recommend Dogs of War. Rex is a genetically engineered killing machine. He stands seven foot tall at the shoulder, can bite a man clean in two, and has a growl specifically designed to reduce the human bowel to liquid. Rex is also A Good Boy. All Rex wants is to be a Good Dog, but can he be a Good Dog if he has a Bad Master?
Feat. an artificial super intelligence that is basically bees, a bear in a lab coat, clones that aren't enjoying being used as cannon fodder thank you very much, humans being bastards, and one (1) Good Boy.
I think I want to climb inside Adrian Tchaikovsky's brain and just, like, bask in the gloriously weird cleverness.
Her Body and Other Parties is a collection of short stories with a distinctly feminist, queer bent. I rarely read short story collections these days, in part because fandom fulfils most of my short fiction needs, and in part because I read a bad run of them; ones that were one half baked novella and enough short stories dusted off from god knows where to bring it up to publication length. So major points to Carmen Maria Machado for holding my attention throughout. In particular there were two stories that I really loved and think will stick with me for a long time: the first is the tale of the end of the world by pandemic told through a list of all the lovers a woman's had in her life; the second is told through rejigged Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode summaries to make a queer, magical realism ghost story version of the show.
Yes, okay, Fire and Fury was a page turner. But by the time I got to it all the salacious bits had already been in the papers for days and days. Plus, it was only really new information to people who don't already think the current occupants of the White House are a shower of eejits, and people who don't think they're a shower of eejits probably weren't the audience for this book anyway.
The basic take away is that these people are too stupid to collude on what toppings to put on a pizza never mind to steal an election with the aid of a foreign governments, while simultaneously being so stupid that it's perfectly conceivable that they might have stumbled into collusion.
For ages my not infrequent whining about about wanting a regency romance with a lesbian couple front and centre has been met with: Have you read Heather Rose Jones Alpennia series yet?
Well I have now. My ambivalence towards them is more about me than them, because they're not f/f regency romances, what they are are fantasy novels set in a vaguely regency inspired fictional European principality where all the romances (back-burnered and G rated though they are) are between women.
I read Daughter of Mystery, and because what I wanted was the romance I found it difficult to care about the court intrigue or vague catholicpunk magic system, and actually I found it pretty hard to care about the romance too as I didn't really warm to either of the leads. And, anyway, what kind of name is Barbara for a Baroness in pretend magic Austria? I plugged on with The Mystic Marriage because, like with all good romance series, the romance was going to between two of the more intriguing characters from the first book. And the romance in this one did work for me. I wanted to read all about a noblewoman from a disgraced family finding love with a vicomtesse and recovering rake (what's the feminine of rake, I wonder?) nearly twice her age. Unfortunately there was slightly less time time spent on their relationship that there was on characters smelting metal (alchemy is thing in this universe now).
So, sorry Alpennia. It's not you, it's me; although, seriously, that was way too many pages to spend on smelting. And I'm still waiting for somebody to write the f/f historical romance that I really want. DON'T MAKE ME COME BACK THERE AND WRITE IT MYSELF, SO HELP YOU.
I wanted to like Pirate Women I really did. It's about. pirate. women. for fuck's sake. The author admits up front that there are very few historical sources for female pirates, but instead of milking those sources that do exist for all that they're worth, or extrapolating wildly, or just straight up writing historical fiction, the author mixes stories that have historical evidence up willy nilly with those that are admitted fiction. I failed O-Grade history but even I know that's not. on. There are chapters about women who never set foot on a ship or a boat. There's an entire chapter recapping the plot of the movie Cutthroat Island. I mean...
The main impression left was one of an author who really, really wanted to write a book about female pirates, and wasn't going let a little thing like not having nearly enough sources get in the way.
The Witches of New York. Late 19th century New York. Ghosts. Female friendships. Background Lesbianism. My jam.
Women No. 17. Sad rich people. Terrible heterosexuals. Not my jam.
Bluebird, Bluebird is about a black Texas Ranger investigating a racially motivated murder in rural East Texas, and you know those books that just have such a fantastically strong sense of place... The mystery itself was pretty good, but it was the atmosphere, the fact that even reading it in dreich and dreary Scotland I could all but feel the oppressive heat, and oppressive racial politics of the small town setting that really made it.
Assuming you've been hearing as much about All Systems Red as I have you'll know it's a novella about a misanthropic cyborg, called Murderbot, who breaks it's programming and instead of going on a killing spree just wants to be left alone to watch all of the television. We can all relate, I'm sure. I really enjoyed this, maybe not so much as I would have if the internet hadn't talked it up quite so much. But then 'your novella was merely very, very good, rather than totally mind blowing as people on the internet had led me to expect' is probably quite a good problem for an author to have. And I shall certainly return for the first full length novel.
Okay. A Scottish Noir novel written in the style of Winnie the Pooh seemed like a bit of an odd duck. And it is, because Now We Are Dead gives you chapter titles like In Which We Find Out What Happens When You Microwave a Small Yorkshire Terrier, and Tufty Has a Bath. Like, talk about a clash between tone and content. It also contains my new favourite fictional detective, DS Roberta Steel, a butch lesbian busted down two ranks for fitting up a rapist (and boy does that decision come back to bite her on the bum), who is pervy and irreverent, but also happily married and cares so much, and who occasionally addresses her sidekick as a DC of Very Little Brain. I was delighted to discovered that this is a series of 10 (yay), then bummed to find out that DS Steel is only a supporting character in the rest (boo).
I really got a kick of it, but all the trigger warnings because they really do microwave a small dog.
(January graphic novels:
Wonder Woman: The Lies
Wonder Woman: Year One
Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1
Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 2
I was told Rucka gave good Wonder Woman, and everyone was right. I loved Diana's origin story in Year One, more than the present day reality is broken story in The Lies, which I feel like is tied into some bigger DC reboot about which I care not a jot, so even though I thoroughly enjoyed reading these I'm not sure I'll pick up the next trade.
Also, wow, Steve Trevor takes his shirt off A LOT.
I'm not sure Jessica Jones: Alias has aged well. I didn't love either the story or the darker art style. The highlights for me were the bits where I could go: Hey! I recognise that panel from the show.
I guess when it comes to comics assume I am a small child who loves simple storytelling and bright colours.)
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