What Am I Reading Wednesday: July 19

Jul. 19th, 2017 07:26 pm
lebateleur: Sweet Woodruff (Default)
[personal profile] lebateleur
What I Just Finished Reading

The Seeing Stone – Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi
This book is much better as a full volume than divided into two as Goblins Attack and Troll Trouble, mainly because the fey we meet in the second half are far more engaging than anything we encounter in the first.

The Hacking of the American Mind – Robert Lustig
Lustig is genuinely dedicated to improving health outcomes, but his argument suffers for his devolving everything down to sugar intake. I agree with him that global sugar consumption is far too high and that dopamine reward systems are at the root of this problem. But I'd argue that how corporations use psychology to drive people's behavior, marketing to inflame their insecurities, and data analytics to customize approaches to drive individuals to consume more is a problem that extends far beyond sugar, and that any volume called “The Hacking of the American Mind” needs to delve into these issues to merit the title.

The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry
The best novels make it hard to pick up another book when you've finished reading because you just want this story with these characters to continue. The Essex Serpent is very well written and I enjoyed the ride, but it failed to grab hold of me the way the best novels do. I think some of this is to do with the fact that Perry devoted less of the narrative to the characters who intrigued me most. But the ending was satisfying indeed, and I adore how Perry avoided the pat and predictable outcome every. Single. Time. I'll be reading more by her.

India – Becky Stephens
This book was a good, albeit superficial introduction to the country, although it did try at times to put too much of a good spin on its major social ills.

What I Am Currently Reading

The Book of Three – Lloyd Alexander
When I read this as a kid, Gurgi and Eilonwy drove me nuts. They both still do, but all these decades later I have such affection for them it makes for an easier read.

The Infidel Stain – MJ Carter
Still truckin.' I still find it hard to believe Avery's opinions on the social order could have remained so retrograde after all his time in India and Afghanistan, but this somehow irritates me less this time through.

Preacher: All Hell's A-Coming – Garth Ennis
Herr Starr is such a glorious villain. And jesus christ, I'd forgotten how horrible Cassidy is, and how groundbreaking it was for Ennis to portray this stuff way back in '98 and '99.

The Tarot: History, Mystery, and Lore – Cynthia Giles
Hands down, still one of the best volumes on the cards out there. Why it isn't at the top of recent lists on the subject perplexes.

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet – Charlie Holmberg
With an additional fifth of the book under my belt, I'm less certain I've figured out the big reveal. The writing continues to sparkle, and Holmberg continues to write some of the freshest riffs on YA fantasy out there.

The Souls of China – Ian Johnson
Still truckin'.

Clariel – Garth Nix
Finally, rainstorms, and I could read more of this book. This week's chapters featured a ripping battle with a Free Magic spirit, and for personal reasons, Nix's portrayal of Clariel's affectionate but clueless and spineless father hurt. Also, it looks like everyone has an angle, and it is glorious.

Captive Prince vol.2 - CS Pacat
For reasons.

What I'm Reading Next
I'm about 1/7 of the way through my read-these-first shortlist, and will continue to pick volumes off in the coming week. Black and DiTerlizzi's Lucinda's Secret is currently at the top of the list.

naye: a picture of a path and the words "get over your hill and see what you find there" (get over your hill)
[personal profile] naye
Things we've been watching

We just finished March Comes in Like A Lion season 1 and I am so glad there's a second season coming because this show has shot to the top of my All Time Favorite list. (Which is hard to do! It's a crowded list!) It's so sweet and warm and genuine. It's a slice of life show about people who have suffered and been messed up and are dealing (or not dealing) in various ways and although there's a lot of heavy themes it has such amazing heart. Love it.

Skuld's been watching Master of None and I watch along. It's definitely hit or miss with me. The first season was fun, it has absolutely shining moments. The Thanksgiving episode with Denise coming out was powerful stuff, but the whole will they/won't they straight romance with a side of cheating is boring and hits Bad Buttons so I'm not too impressed with the second season overall.

Tour de Pharmacy (in UK: Pharmacy Road) a silly Adam Samberg HBO special docudrama thing that takes the piss out of cycling in general and the Tour the France in particular was funny. And exceedingly ridiculous. But also funny - and Daveed Diggs had a big part in it so extra love for that!

Twin Peaks: The Return continues to be a tour the force for Lynch & Frost. It's beautiful and unsettling and does things its own way for its own reasons and I adore it for that. We usually watch each episode twice, and in the hiatus after episode 8 we rewatched 1-7 again, so that's three viewings so far and I still don't get bored of it. (Frustrated, yes. Bored? No.)

And since we were on a Twin Peaks kick we finally got around to watching Mulholland Drive and. Yes. That is certainly... a film? I'm not sure what I watched, or why, but it's been a lot of fun discussing it with Skuld and reading/listening to analyses and theories. I'd actually like to rewatch it? Because while I didn't love it, I did find it a really interesting experience.

HOT FUZZ. Because we ran out of other things we were in the mood to watch and we both love this movie to bits. We put it on a random Tuesday night and were late to bed because Hot Fuzz. For all the reasons. Including, of course, the thing Edgar Wright summed up in his famous 2009 tweet:

@edgarwright Me and @simonpegg once wrote some Nicholas Angel and Danny Butterman slash fiction. It was called HOT FUZZ…(applause)

More from Twitter, with fanart )

Things I've read
The Girl with Ghost Eyes (Xian Li-lin, #1)The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson

Oh no! I really, really wanted to love this. And it had a bunch of ingredients I like. But... they never really came together for me. I think it's a me thing rather than a book thing, and I don't feel I can write a proper review. I mean: the books does have a lot of fascinating themes, Li-lin is an interesting character, and the world is quite vividly drawn. I don't know why it still fell flat for me.

What's next?
I've got new volumes of Vinland Saga and Princess Jellyfish manga to read, and I've got the latest Raksura and Queen's Thief books all queued up on my reader. I just need to find something that drags me back into reading, because with all the Real Life excitement recently my attention span has grown short and my anxiety looms large and it's making it hard for me to focus on words and other worlds...
lebateleur: Sweet Woodruff (Default)
[personal profile] lebateleur
...the first 13 minutes of last night's Raw.

Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. I have been waiting almost half a decade for this story arc and I did not think it would ever happen and it did. And it not only did it happen, but it happened as if ficcers had scripted it.

Oh my god. My little fangirl heart. It may not be able to take this.

naye: (new beginnings)
[personal profile] naye
There's so much to do for an international move. We've started looking at pet transport, moving quotes, new furniture... It gets pretty overwhelming when taken all at once. But it should be manageable. We can do it, little by little.

It'll get easier when (when, not "if", because I have to let myself hope) can confirm that we can get one of the apartments were're eyeing. They're new builds, which is why we have a shot without spending the usual 2-3 years on housing waiting lists before getting anything but a short-term sublet.

Apartment blathering )

So many things we want to start planning, and so many hopes pinned on this block of flats... and we just don't know if we'll get one. We literally don't know what is required to start a tenancy application. I emailed the landlord/builder rep, and of course they're on vacation now, because that's how Sweden rolls. So there's nobody in the office until the week before I go to the showing.

I keep having anxious moments when I'm sure they will be ALL OUT OF APARTMENTS and we'll be stuck chasing short-term second hand leases where we won't be allowed to bring our cats and it would be a total nightmare. I don't think that's true - they would hardly invite people for a showing if they didn't have any flats left to let - but what if. Agh. *fret fret fret fret*

There are just too many factors in this I can't control, and until those are settled my anxiety/stress levels will be unusually high and that's just. My life now. But fingers crossed?!

Another completely unrelated thing I can't control is the fact that Instagram's embeds don't work here. :/ I've logged a support request, but of course that's somewhere around priority #4987 for the Dreamwidth staff.

See, this is what shows up when I use Instagram's Embed:

Cut for waste of space )

But I've been wanting to share some of the pics I've been posting, and I won't let a giant technical issue I can't solve stop that. I... uh. I've been screencapping my Instagram posts and uploading them to DW...? It's the silliest workaround ever, but it gives me something to do that isn't obsess about how hard life will be if we can't get one of those apartments!


Some awkwardly crossposted Instagram pics )

Baby Driver

Jul. 15th, 2017 10:39 pm
naye: (the great elsewhere)
[personal profile] naye
I always love Edgar Wright's directing - Hot Fuzz is one of my all-time favorite movies - so now that he's got a new movie out I didn't even watch a trailer before buying tickets.

Baby Driver is a fun movie, with absolutely amazing directing. And not just "directing" in the sense of telling the actors what to do, but - the opening credits list a choreographer. Pretty much all the music is diegetic - it's heard and experienced in-universe. The same is true for the sound design.

It's such a joyful experience to watch a beautifully crafted scene where everything is integrated to the point of fight scenes where the guns go off in time with the background soundtrack, and the editing is as beautiful as anything in a high quality fanvid.

Here are the first six minutes of the film so you can see what I'm talking about:

Oh and one thing I really loved was seeing the main character speak a lot of sign language with his foster dad, who was a very sweet and sympathetic figure, and the ASL was just there no big deal. Very nicely done, and an unexpected and much-needed bit of representation. (The actor who plays the foster dad is Deaf, too.)

That said... It was not without issues, and I'm not as head over heels for it as a lot of other people.

Some more thoughts )

What Am I Reading Wednesday - July 12

Jul. 12th, 2017 10:00 pm
lebateleur: Sweet Woodruff (Default)
[personal profile] lebateleur
What I Just Finished Reading

10% Happier – Dan Harris
My opinion hasn't been changed by a second read-through: this is an excellent book that does a damn good job of introducing Buddhist concepts without resorting to anodyne BS.

Tarot 101 – Kim Huggens
This book is ultimately good as a reference for learning what sorts of systems and symbolism might be incorporated into any given deck; I was frustrated by how superficial most of the descriptions for any given element were. Perhaps I'm being unfair given that the book is titled Tarot 101, but I also feel there are other authors (e.g., Giles, Kaplan) that do a better job of actually providing basic introductions to said elements, versus saying “these elements exist” and never moving beyond that statement.

What I Am Currently Reading

The Book of Three – Lloyd Alexander
God. God. Alexander isn't using big words, or complex sentences, or pages of descriptive text. So how is this book so good? Whenever I reread him (or Katherine Paterson or Scott O'Dell or Jean Craighead George) I realise how much utter shit is out there, and how high my tolerance for it as grown.

The Seeing Stone – Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi
Early days for this one, but I'm enjoying the artwork.

The Infidel Stain – MJ Carter
Only read a few chapters this week.

Preacher – All Hell's A-Coming – Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon
Some of the humor is quite dated; I doubt as many people today would find “men had gay sex!” or “feminists exist!” to be guffaw-inducing punchlines as did in the late nineties. But the serious plot elements that pivot on gender roles are touching and pretty damn transgressive given how old this series is.

The Souls of China – Ian Johnson
Still truckin'.

The Hacking of the American Mind – Robert Lustig
Lustig is an entertaining writer, which is good, because he has a hobbyhorse—sugar—that he is flogging to death. That said, the science he uses to back up his concerns seems sound, and he does a better job than most pop science authors of explaining complicated phenomena in layman's terms. That said, I find myself wishing I'd retained more of all that stuff I learned in undergrad, because it would help me to evaluate his claims. I sense the thesis is going to be that corporations have used sugar (and possibly electronics) to addict people to consumerism-driven quick hits of pleasure at the expense of deeper, yet less exciting contentment, but I haven't made it far enough into the volume yet to be sure.

The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry
I'm still enjoying the book, but several major plot developments are being telegraphed from miles away, and I have the sneaking suspicion that the climax is going to be little more than “here is what happened to this group of characters over the course of a year.” Which isn't to say it's a bad or unentertaining book by any means, just that I though it would be something more, or else. I'm not exactly sure how to put it into words.

India – Becky Stephen
A quick easy read, but there's quite a lot of putting lipstick on pigs when it comes to issues of caste and treatment of women.

What I'm Reading Next
Because ongoing reading has gotten a bit out of hand, I have instituted a “complete this first” list that includes the seven “reading now” books above, plus Black and DiTerlizzi's Lucinda's Secret, Naomi Novik's Uprooted, and Alexander's The Black Cauldron. I also have The Strangler Vine and Midnight Riot going on audiobook, because why not?

naye: mihashi from oofuri with a confused look (?)
[personal profile] naye
Reading! Yoon Ha Lee's Raven Stratagem came out a couple of weeks ago and it was the only thing I managed to pick up and read during the Schroedinger's Job part of the ongoing New Job saga. But then I put it down again because although I'd read Ninefox Gambit in January, some of the details had faded a bit. And I love the characters so much I want to catch every single nuance of their world and words and everything else, so I went back and re-read it (and loved it just as much - if not more! - the second time around). Then I read all of Raven Stratagem really fast and now I'm sad I have no more Machineries of Empire.

My Goodreads review, cut for space )

Things that happened today:

After getting an email this morning I asked for two days off, booked flights & accommodation and made plans to go to our new city to look at an apartment August 16th, then meeting my new library colleagues on August 17th.

I am stressed/nervous/excited and hope so fiercely that the apartment situation will work out, because the rental housing situation in Sweden is lol nope and this seems like a really good opportunity. Really, really short version: demand hugely outnumbers supply when it comes to flats & getting a first-hand lease requires years of waiting for the right opportunity.

However! There are three new apartment buildings going up in our new town, and the builder-landlords are showing it tomorrow and again in August for tenants to move into November 1st... I have no idea how many people will apply for the available apartments, or how the selection process will work, but I'm going there in person to make a good impression and hopefully sign us up for a flat (I'd totally take one unseen at this point because that's how hard it's to find a place to live, but since I have vacation days to spare and access to cheap airtravel... it's a good idea to get as much information as possible in person.)

My new colleagues are excited for my visit - one of them is taking a break from her holidays to come show me around the library and introduce me to people. She's also offered to show me the best places in town to go for a run! So that's really sweet. ♥ (And so intimidating. Having to make an entirely new set of work friends... uuuuuuuuuuuuuh.)

But yes. Today I learned that it's literally cheaper to fly from Gothenburg to Stansted than it is to take the train from Cambridge to Gatwick. (I'm doing both.) Also: accommodation is really pricey!

So fingers crossed the whirlwind Sweden trip will work out (I'm flying the day of the showing, so if the flight's really late I'm SOL), and that good things will come of it.

Other Fun Moving Fact that's a whole post in itself: no pets allowed in the cabin on flights from the UK (stupid UK!), so we're going to have to hire a freight company to transport Meenie & Nora in the hold of an airplane to get to Sweden. [insert paranoid cat guardian panic & lots of £££ here]

A walk to the river

Jul. 9th, 2017 08:58 pm
naye: a dark street in Cambridge (Cambridge)
[personal profile] naye
The weather was lovely today, and there was a farmer's market on down by the river, so even though I'd already gone on an 8k morning run we headed out after a late breakfast.

As I have a new (refurbished) early birthday present-phone with an amazing camera*, I was finally able to snap some shots of things I've seen (or missed!) when passing through these streets on my usual morning run route.

Thought I'd share those pics here before life happens and I forget again...


Love this door!

More Cambridge details under the cut )

*The phone's a Samsung Galaxy 7S Edge, which I've been coveting since it was released last year, and I love it. It's waterproof!
naye: Small gray cat relaxed on human shoulder (shouldercat)
[personal profile] naye
It's been July for over a week?! What? How did that happen? How did this week happen?! One job offer, one job interview... Plus we went to London, and we hosted dinner for friends. And it was our cats' birthday! And I missed posting about it on the day of. I'll try to remember to spam with their adorable baby photos on the anniversary of the day we took them home. ♥

So for now, here's my catchup June Kitty Pic Post.

IMG_7749 IMG_7879 IMG_7883

Lots of snuggly soft cats )
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