Felicitations of the Day!

Happy: cupcake
Happy birthday, dear settiai!"

birthday cake for lynne

Hope your day is full of wonderful things! (Including lots of HEAT and HOT WATER and also CAKE.)
Miscellaneous: Starry Night
What I Just Finished Reading

The Family Tree, by Sheri S. Tepper. I reread this for the Worlds Without End “Read It Again, Sam” Challenge, which suggests
Pick 6 books that you've always wanted to re-read and see for yourself if they're still favorites. But be warned, many old faves won't stand up to a second reading - especially if it's been years since your first read.
Happily, this was not my situation with The Family Tree - it was just as enjoyable in the reread as the original. Yes, I couldn't recreate the utter delight of the AMAZING PLOT TWIST, but looking for hints to it was its own kind of fun. Part environmental allegory, part Quest adventure, all-out delightful.

What I'm Currently Reading

Again, for the “Read It Again, Sam” Challenge, Emma Bull's War for the Oaks. One of the original Urban Fantasy books, back when it was literally, fantasy in an urban setting, none of this foolishness about hot vampires or werewolves. There's war coming in the Fae world, with the Seelie and the Unseelie court battling over...Minneapolis? It's been some years since I read this, but I remember loving it (which is why I have an actual dead-tree copy). War for the Oaks was originally published in 1987, and I've noted a few details that were outdated, but I don't think they'll impact my enjoyment too much. Have any of you guys read it? Fancasting would be lots of fun!

Phouka: Anthony Mackie or, oooh, Samuel Anderson (Danny Pink from Dr Who)
Eddi: Jennifer Lawrence, or my new girlcrush, Anna Kendrick
Willie Silver: He's always been Orlando Bloom to me. Orli really has grown in to his beauty, hasn't he?
Carla: Hayley Atwell for the win!

Oooh, look! Here's a Very Low Budget Book Trailer made by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly! It's excellent (though, of course, FULL OF SPOILERS).

What I'm Reading Next

For both the “Read It Again, Sam”, and the “Fantasy Series Mini-Challenge”, Elizabeth Bear'sRange of Ghosts. I read this one when it came out, but didn't feel engaged enough to continue the series. We'll see if that opinion has changed any.

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Reading: Love My Kindle
Very cold dreary week. Great for reading!

What I Just Finished Reading

The Bees, by Laline Paull. From my Goodreads review: I was intrigued when I saw this book described as “Watership Down, but with bees!” But it isn't, really.

The heroine, Flora 717, is born into the lowest caste of bees, the sanitation workers. Even though she is usually large for her caste, and therefore subject to immediate extermination, a member of the priestess caste conveniently appears, as whisks her away for an “experiment.” (After finishing the book, oh yes, I understand now the political machinations involved!) Flora is allowed access to all parts of the hive, and given the opportunity to perform various functions, becoming a bit of a Mary-Sue-Bee in the process. When she becomes a forager, she is immediately the strongest and most resourceful of the foragers. When she meets the Queen, she becomes the Queen's favored companion and storyteller. When she is temporarily demoted back to sanitation worker, she is acknowledged by her coworkers as the best sanitation worker, and so they shield and protect her when she gets up to her illegal shenanigans. (Which include getting pregnant and producing eggs THREE TIMES. I'm not an expert on bee biology, but how is that even possible? I thought only – well, never mind.)

In a sense, The Bees is like Watership Down in that Flora acts as El-Ahrairah to her hive, ingeniously discovering new sources of food, warning the hive of attack, identifying the cause of sickness within the hive and rallying her sisters to eradicate it.

Though most of the prose was gratingly florid, some of it was really lovely:
The beech trees surged and shimmered in the wind. Far below, a vixen paused to stare up, then melted away. Stars burned tiny holes in the twilight and then a pale moon traced a slow silver arc through the sky.
But then the mood is spoiled (for me, anyway) by this:
Flora's heart burst with love for her lost egg, and only the shadow of the crow above stopped her sobs. To die without holding it again, or breathing its sweet and tender scent – and then when it hatched -


I do have to say, though, that the conclusion was pretty thrilling, and redeemed much of the book for me. But, still - Watership Down, it wasn't.


The Cloud Roads, by Martha Wells. Not even sure how to describe this one. Shapeshifting flying lizards? With a social structure similar to that of bees? An interesting contrast to The Bees, and definitely more readable and enjoyable. Great worldbuilding too. I'd love to read the other two books in the trilogy (plus two volumes of novellas) but they're ridiculously pricey for the Kindle, and not that much cheaper in the paperback secondary market. I'll just have to keep my eyes open for them.

Watership Down: Still just as wonderful as I remembered. Lovely, summery, a perfect cold-winter reread.


What I'm Currently Reading

Swordspoint, in bed. Wonderful. Why have we not written any of the romance!fic the night before Alec left? Some of that would be delicious right about now.

What I'm Reading Next

At the moment, no clue! I finished the twelve books of the "Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge", and may possibly opt for twenty-four. And then there's the "Read It Again, Sam, Challenge", and the Fantasy Series Mini-Challenge – it's all a lot like that "Back to Middle Earth Month" bingo challenge, with all the options, remember that? So many options!

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Happy: Happy Pig
(They are both in a fandom very few of you, dear F-listers, are involved in,The Scorpio Races, but still. I wrote two things!)

"First Guest" was written to a Yuletide prompt, and therefore is listed in the New Years Resolutions collection. Go me!

"Housewarming Gift" is a bit of cheeky humor. Why is there no contraception tag in AO3, I'd like to know? It's a pretty universal interest, I would think.

The piece I was hoping to write to the actual International Fanworks Day prompt, What does your favorite character—or your favorite pairing—get fannish over? is still eluding me, but I haven't given up yet. As to those other two bits from the WIP meme? Well, they are still WIPs.

Edited to add: Never mind! I finished it! Fan Art, a Swordspoint drabble!

But, still, I wrote things! Happy International Fanworks Day!

Edited again: Here's information on The Scorpio Races, a book which I VERY HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Especially the audiobook version, if audiobooks are your thing, and even if they'r not - the readers are SUPERB.

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Misc: Mosaic Owl
What I Just Finished Reading

The Hobbit: I reread this for the Read It Again Challenge at Worlds Without End, and I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed it, after disliking it for so many years! I was determined to keep an open mind this time. (I've not seen the films, except the first one, and so was free of their influence.) It was charming - much simpler, certainly, than LOTR, but the descriptive passages were delightful, and Bilbo was so much fun.

The Moon and the Sun, by Vonda McIntyre. I spent a long time wondering why this was considered a genre book - it seemed like your basic historical romance, of the "innocent maiden in corrupt royal court" (seventeenth century France) variety. The historical aspects were meticulously researched, and lovingly described - so much about the King's jewel-encrusted clothing. SO MUCH. Also, head-hopping, which is a pet peeve of mine. The genre part (a Sea Monster!), when it finally moved to center stage, was sort of interesting, but not particularly engaging. I really wish I could have liked this more than I did. I really did not realize there were so many stories about girls and their sea monsters out there.


What I'm Currently Reading

Watership Down - So much love for this book!

Swordspoint - I couldn't sleep the other night, so I curled up on the comfy couch with this (and the cat). So, so much love for this one, also. I'm glad I found the Read It Again challenge; it gives me the perfect excuse to indulge in these old favorites through these grey, dreary days.


What I'm Reading Next

The Cloud Roads, which I've had on my Kindle forever, or so it seems (and still haven't managed to start.) Nope! Looks like my hold of The Bees at the library has come in, so I'll pick that up tomorrow. Sorry, Cloud Roads (again.)

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Reading: Books and Tea
What I Just Finished Reading

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, which I enjoyed (is that the proper word for distopian fiction?) quite a bit. This was the second dystopian novel I've read in the past six months or so – hardly a trend for me, but both of them presented very plausible scenarios. In Station Eleven the dystopia is initiated by a pandemic, with a 99% mortality rate, with death occurring within 24 hours of the first symptoms. The surviving-the-dystopia scenes are interspersed with flashbacks: to the day before the pandemic struck, to earlier events in the lives of the protagonists. I think the main messages that the novel brought to me was the importance of treasuring what seems to be the minutia of our daily lives (electricity! The Internet! Our loved ones!), and also that the longing for beauty, the created beauty of music and poetry, is inherent within us, and will endure.

Holly Black's The Darkest Part of the Forest. I read the seven-chapter sample of this last year, and was of mixed feelings. It was very emo-teen, but there was something fascinating about it as well. I read the complete version this time, and, again, very mixed feelings. The first half of it flowed very well, but it all fell apart for me in the second with incomprehensible plot holes. I can see that the target audience would really love it (especially fans of Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle) but when I put it down my main thought was, “What was that?”

What I'm Currently Reading

Taking a break from vampires, pandemics, and emo teens with rereads of Watership Down and The Hobbit. Restful.

What I'm Reading Next

The Cloud Roads, which I've had on my Kindle forever (or so it seems.)

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Reading: Books and Tea
What I Just Finished Reading

Sea Change, by S.M. Wheeler.

This odd and enthralling book is a fairy tale (though definitely on the Brothers Grimm side of the spectrum) about a girl and her kraken. (!) The writing is lyrical and beautiful, and the story is complex and fascinating.

Lilly, the child of difficult parents (who have a strange fairy tale history all their own), is a lonely child, marked with a disfiguring birthmark on her face which causes her to be considered a witch. Her only friend growing up is a well-spoken and gentle kraken(!), Octavius, whom she meets on the beach outside her house. Octavius disappears periodically to do what krakens do, always returning with tales of his adventures. As Lilly approaches adulthood, though, the kraken has been gone for much longer than in the past. Lilly breaks with her parents, and leaves home in search of her friend.

I...don't know how to go on. Lilly meets a variety of horrible fairy-tale characters, including a troll who, in exchange for information about the kraken's whereabouts, takes Lilly's vagina. (The troll also, rather thoughtfully, cuts Lilly's hair, realigns her body conformation, and changes her skirt into trousers.) This allows Lilly to continue her quest in the guise of a boy, a useful move, because a disfigured boy is an object of pity, rather than horror, and people she encounters are generally helpful, moved by the apparent hopelessness of her quest.

(Though “generally helpful” is also, “sometimes helpful, sometimes not.” There are many bargains to be fulfilled before the end.)

The theme, I suppose, of this quite dark but hypnotic story is “the transformative power of love”, but with the caveat, “the resultant transformation might not be quite what you were hoping for.”

What I'm Currently Reading

Elfland, by Freda Warrington, which is the perfect antidote to Sea Change. You guys, this is just like “Dallas” or “Dynasty”, but with the Fae folk! They are living here among us, for some convoluted reason, and there are business tycoons with shady deals and infidelity and illegitimacy and hot stepmothers and teenage stoners and you name it! I am just laughing myself silly. Probably not what the author intended, but, oh well. This wonderful hot mess of a book is definitely worth the $4 or whatever I spent for it.

What I'm Reading Next

Vicious, another one picked almost-at-random for the WOGF list.
EDIT: Ok, after I finished posting this I had a little tummyache so I stretched out on the sofa with a heating pad and my Kindle and read the sample of Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, and oh, wow.

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Reading: Love My Kindle
What I Just Finished Reading

Those Who Hunt the Night, by Barbara Hambly. I surprised myself by enjoying this very much, since I'm not generally interested in vampire stories at all. Slightly spoilery comments follow.Collapse )

This week (what a week! It was great!) I also read The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker.

I wish I could have loved this, instead of just liking it a lot. The setting - 1899 New York city - is brilliant, and something I've not seen in fantasy literature. The Eastern European and Middle Eastern immigrant culture is vividly described. I would have loved a whole book of the Golem and the Jinni exploring the city together and having adventures! And for about 80% of the book, that's what happened, but then a lot of PLOT intruded into the last 20%. The author herself admits to having rushed to rewrite the ending, and it shows - lots more telling than showing up through the confusing resolution.

What I'm Currently Reading

Trying to catch up on some of those longer Yuletide fics I marked for later, while at the same time being distracted by The Golem and Jinni fic and Those Who Hunt the Night fic (some of which was just excellent, wow.)

What I'm Reading Next

Sea Change, by S.M. Wheeler. This is my “random selection” for the Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge, which I selected by closing my eyes and just sort of mousing all over the page. Then I had to check to see if the random selection was available at my library. So it took lots of tries before I got to actually finding a “random selection”, LOL.

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Coming up: A Month of Letters!

Seasonal: Winter: Amaryllis
February is just around the corner, which means that it's time for A Month of Letters!

What this means is, if you would like to receive a piece of snail mail from me, simply send me a PM, or reply in a comment below (comments are screened) with your address. That's it. You do not have to send anything back to me, or forward anything to anyone else. It's not a chain letter, or even a meme, really - it's just a thing that some people like to do, because February can be long and dull, and it's fun to think of brightening up someone's day with a note or funny card or pretty postcard.

So: address in a PM, even if you think I know your address; I will update my address book with dates of current addresses. Lurkers, welcome! I have lots and lots of pretty postcards and flowery stamps. I also have global flat rate stamps, so don't be shy if you're not located in the US. Let me brighten up your February!

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Reading: All the Things!
The last day! *sad face* I'm going to miss this; it's been particularly fun this year.


Fandom Snowflake Challenge banner


Day 15

In your own space, create your own challenge. What’s something you want to see more people doing in fandom? Is there something fun you’ve tried that you think other people would enjoy if they gave it a go? Dare your friends to try it out, and have fun with it. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.

Oh, this is easy-peasy: when I posted my "What Am I Reading Wednesday" entry yesterday, a new friend (from Fandom Snowflake! *waves*) asked about it, if it was a community or something to join. It's not! It's a meme, the good kind (not the annoying kind), where you post regularly (on Wednesday, or Thursday, or Whenever)
  • What you just finished reading
  • What you are currently reading
  • What you think you might be reading next
This has been so, so useful in helping me identify new books to consider (The Goblin Emperor, A Stranger in Olondria, Barbara Hambly's books). Also much fun to read and share the squee over new books (The Goblin Emperor! The Hawkwood War series!) At the very least, it gives you something to post about at least once a week, when you feel like there's nothing much going on worth talking about. Because books are ALWAYS worth talking about.

My friend [profile] wordsofastory takes this a step further and posts similarly about what TV she's watching. There's so much out there, and personal recs from someone whose tastes you share are always helpful.