bookgazing: (olympics 2012)
After my last post, I bought all the things. Packages are still arriving, so I'll do a round up when they're all here but I am enjoying seeing the swag roll in.

In book news I've been having trouble committing. I haven't really read anything in a couple of weeks, but this weekend I started "The Deep" by Zetta Elliott. I got it because I wanted to see waaaaaay more Nyla and I am getting just that, but I'm still not sure I'm into the writing style of this series.

I think the reason I haven't been reading much is because I'm coming down to the business end of my Hugo novel list which means there's less reading choice. Also, I'm now trying to decide if I want to read works that are eligible but that I'm unlikely to nominate (the third part of a trilogy, or a sixth book from a series that can apparently be read as a standalone work) before Hugos. The books I'm least likely to nominate because they're part of a set of works are the ones I most want to read right now (of course) but I feel like I should be maximizing my Hugo reading to get a more rounded view of the category.

I should also be reading short stories for Hugos but everything I want to read is either in an anthology I don't have, or online. I can't stress enough how much I hate reading published fic on screen, so that's not getting done right now.

In writing I have started my review of "Ancillary Justice". It's a complex book to unpack and I would like to do it a little justice, so it's taking a bit of time to pull everything together. I'm also deciding which bits of the backlash phase of criticism I want to address (really only one review, because I think it makes good points) and how much I want to say pffff to and plain ignore (probably quite a lot of it).

TV - I have mostly been glued to Winter Olympics. There are so many sports that really make you wonder how and why people thought to do something in the first place :) I wanted to write something about the Olympics the other day (the politics; how sport finds a growing participatory culture awesome while the arts world generally wrings its hands; the cultural response to the new Russian laws) but it would take forever and once the contest is over no one will want to read pieces about the games as a political show piece. Anyway, two medals for the UK (both from female athletes) and the curling is becoming nail bitingly intense! I'm so into it.

What's left? Oh yes, films. Last night I watched "The Late Quartet" which quickly made my list of top terrible films. "I want to make a philosophical point but can't work out how to do it subtly so I will just have my characters say a speech", "Adultery is nothing in the face of terminal illness", "What is this (admittedly very sexy) older man had a relationship with this much younger woman - CUTTING EDGE IDEA!". Fail.

Then today I tried "How I Live Now" and just couldn't get past how different the film's version Daisy was to the book's version osDaisy. It was like... the creators just couldn't quite deal with the idea that a caring, committed, sad young woman could survive such awful experiences so they ratcheted her up to a hard nosed angry teenage rebel cliche. And they gave a really weird message about anorexia at the end of the film (essentially being anorexic is silly and if you had real problems you'd just get over it). Maybe if I hadn't read the book first I would have liked it more because this Daisy is a spiky female character and I tend to like them so very much. Also, I missed the weird garden from the end of the book. The guy playing Eddie is hot though.

That's all from me. How have you been?
bookgazing: (Default)
I haven't taken my gift cards to Waterstones yet, but last night I got a comics craving and totally caved to it.

I never really feel like I will "get" comics, so I'm always a bit wary to try them, but I read the first volume of "Hawkeye" at the weekend on the recommendation of Jenny at "Reading the End" and had an overall good time with it. Thanks Jenny!

Since taking recommendations about comics from friends worked out so well once, I decided to keep pursuing friend recommendations to see if they could get me more into comics and before my fingers knew what they were doing I'd added a Wonder Woman volume to my internet basket. I chose to start with "The Circle" by Gail Simone since chalia has been deep into Wonder Woman for a while now and provided useful background to this collection.

I also found out I could have the second volume of "Hawkeye", so *ping* in it went. And I topped off my basket with the first collected volume of the now sadly cancelled "Young Avengers" because:

a.) #6 was excerpted in "Hawkeye" and it kind of captivated me
b.) I hate myself and so must watch all the cancelled series (see "Sarah Connor Chronicles")

Sadly I can't get "The Deep" by Tom Taylor until April, which is after Hugos close but I have pre-ordered it anyway because it looks like good fun. Get all the comics!

I have a couple of comics follow up questions if any of my comics knowledgeable friends would like to help out:

1.) Do I want to read "Birds of Prey" and if yes can I just start with the recent volumes?
2.) Do I want to read "Captain Marvel - In Pursuit of Flight"? It was advertised in the "Hawkeye" volume and looked cool, but online reviews are mixed.
3.) Do I want to watch "Justice League Unlimited"? It looks like it might be a fun cartoon but I haven't yet met anyone who has watched it.
4.) Got recommendations for more comics by female writers?

Yeah, I don't want much >.>

In other buying news I'm considering adding a few titles to my Hugo reading list. A non-fic work called "Afrofuturism: The World of Black SF and Fantasy Culture", Nnedi Okofar's short story collection "Kabu, Kabu" and another collection called "Let's All Go to the Science Fiction Disco". Has anyone read any of these and were you impressed?
bookgazing: (i heart books)
So, so happy it's Friday!

What did you just finish reading?

I took a break from my Hugo list to read "Infidel" by Kameron Hurley and I finished it today. I am deep in this series now, there is no escape for me. I'm in that weird position I feel like media consumers fall into a lot, where I don't know whether to order the last book from the USA and get to it right away or delay reading the last book *sob*. There is a short story in the same world though, so I guess I could read "Rapture" right after Hugo nominations close and then save the short story for when I miss having new in world stuff. Meghan, be aware I am going to try and get you into these books *stares*.

What will you read next?

Something for Hugos? I can't work up the nerve to read "Shining Girls" - urgh, I need to get over my fear. I read the first couple of pages and freaked a little at the level and type of violence. Not sure I'm going to get over that this weekend, so I'm not sure whether to go with "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" or the "Hawkeye" graphic volume instead. Opinions?

What are you watching?

I'm much further along with "Korra". I think I've got four episodes to go now. I'm unsure about a lot of aspects of this series, but I really like the tone this year. It's such a departure from a lot of "Avatar" and the first series of "Korra" that it's making a big impression on me.

This weekend I want to watch more POI and perhaps "Byzantium" which has arrived from Love Film.

Listening to?

I put "Bad Blood" by Bastille on repeat. "Daniel and the Lions" is probably my favourite song right now; it's beating out "Weight of Living" which surprised me. I am currently looking for music suggestions that I can investigate via free taster sources if anyone is interested in reccing stuff to me.

I've also been catching up on Lady Business+ podcasts. Renay put up three episodes recently, and I just have the "Raven Boys" podcast to go (which I'm saving for after I write my own review).

In other news...

Hey, chaila I got the first series of "Luther"! :D

This weekend I'm going out for my friend's birthday, so I expect to be kind of hungover on Sunday (hence the plan to watch "Byzantium"). Since I started working the new job I try to minimize hangovers (also ugh hangovers get so much worse as I get older) because my weekend time is so precious and I always have a lot of things I want to get done. This weekend though, I feel good about how much writing I've done recently and I kind of want to take a break to dive into media just for fun, so it seems ok to get a little sloppier :P

I'm also going to use hangover day as an excuse to watch more Festivids. So far I've only watched the fantastic "Black Flowers", which is a "Call the Midwife" vid that focuses on the nuns (it spends a lot of time on Sister Bernadette). This weekend I want to investigate the "Pacific Rim" vids.

Oh, and I plan to nominate for rarewomen this weekend. Even if you can't write fic you can nominate female characters for this fic exchange. So excited to see what comes out of this in 2014.
bookgazing: (i heart books)
What are you currently reading?

"Ascension" by Jacqueline Koyanagi and it is proving to be trope perfect for me right now. People who were starships, domestic spaceship bonding, gardens in space, romance between subordinates and employees, machine love and 'We can't be together' romantic tension. Also, this book has a great world set-up; very different and diverse.

There are still a couple of kinks. I am a little concerned about the implications of Ovie's paranormal traits. And the writing is a little too ebullient for my taste in places - it gets carried away with the mystical joy of the universe in a way which makes it kind of hard to actually connect with the feelings that contemplating space engenders. Otherwise loving it.

What will you read next?

My Hugo reading list tells me I now only have four novels left to read before Hugo nominations (unless I choose to also try and read "Fiddlehead" by Cherie Priest. I'm wondering if I can take a quick Hugo break, or if I'm being too cocky... I have two graphic novels I'd like to read as well and some short stories but I also really fancy Kameron Hurley's "Infidel" right now.

What are you watching?

I watched three more episodes of "The Legend of Korra" and wow this series is bleak. I'm looking forward to the eps Ana put on her draft Hugo ballot. Speaking of which, we all threw down some rough nomination ideas at Lady Business and this is your last call to sign up for a supporting membership if you want to nominate in March (you need to sign up by 31st of Jan if you don't hold a membership from last year's Con).

In scheduled TV I'm settled in with regular programs again, which is nice. I like to have TV I'm interested in to watch on catch up during the looooong week. So its now, "Call the Midwife" (yay), "Mr Selfridge" (Agnes is NOT to get together with Victor again, do you hear me program?!), "The Musketeers" (ok, if you enjoy fight scenes, which I do) and "The Bletchley Circle" (a concerning week for fans of Millie this week).

This weekend I plan to watch "Freeway" and maybe more "Korra" depending on time.

In other news...

I am massively tired and will only be leaving the house this weekend to celebrate my dad's birthday. If I am very motivated I may put my "Bastille" album onto my mp3 player.

In writing news, I'm working on a piece about "Dracula" which so far can mostly be summed up as "Hurray, Renfield and Lucy" or "Boo, hiss Jonathan". It is not very sophisticated :P

Also, I am considering using the Waterstones gift cards I got for my leaving present from the last job. What should I absolutely buy right now?
bookgazing: (Default)
Making a post last Wednesday didn't really work out. And I was reminded that without scheduled posts weekday posts probably aren't going to happen. So, I'll try using the Reading on Wednesday format but on a weekend and see how that goes.

What are you currently reading?

Nothing. I've been hopefully carrying "Ascension" with me to work and back, but I've been so beat this week (your monthly reminder that periods suck) that I haven't had much energy for reading on the bus. I might start it this weekend, but there's A LOT of new TV and some leaving the house going on tomorrow so it might be a Monday book.

What did you recently finish reading?

"Ancillary Justice" which I would now like everybody I know to read and talk to me about. Renay, I left you a comment!

What will you read next?

Definitely "Ascension". Onwards with the Hugo reading!

What are you watching?

I've watched a little bit more of "Person of Interest". Carter is so great! And I ship Reese/Finch like anything. The way Reese says Harold is lovely.

Regular TV has been lacking this week, plus the final episode of "Dracula" was on and it was soul destroying. My joint second fav is probably dead, which is terrible news. Tomorrow though, well tomorrow is going to be a great TV evening. "Call the Midwife" returns and then I can choose between either new "Mr Selfridge" or "The Musketeers".

In other news...

It was my birthday this week and I took a day off. I received some presents including cool books like "The Fishing Fleet" and the box set of "Hannibal" so I can catch up. And I ate tapas, pancakes and got a bit drunk in my house. Good times!

I also made a resolution to make birthday cards for all my friends cards and send them out on time for the rest of the year (small goals are good).

Oh and I saw "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" because Idris Elba and history. I had no idea Naomi Harris was going to play Winnie Mandela, so that was an added bonus. The film did take a whistle stop tour through Mandela's life, which meant the pace was quite fast, but I thought that style worked surprisingly well. The shots didn't feel overly simple or symbolic, which would have been an easy trap to fall into with so much content to work through. And it was a very smooth ride of a film (except in a couple of places during the Robben Island years, where some details felt rushed or a bit choppy).

Next on my watch list is "12 Years a Slave" which promises to be very visceral. I haven't seen a Steve McQueen film yet, but the clips I have seen always give me the feeling that his films are kind of interested in the working body and ooze sweat, grime and bodily pain.
bookgazing: (i heart books)
I'm closing the blog down until 2014. A couple of years ago I remember Jeanne proposed the merits of taking some time off from writing our own stuff to catch up on the stuff of others. Between the new job and... the new job, I've missed the stuff of others (and the people - I feel like I haven't talked to a lot of people all year and that's probably true). So, no more posts here until January.

As always you can find me on Twitter and Tumblr though. I have a couple of draft posts that just need final edits for LB and two quick things to write up. Otherwise, if I'm on the internet, you'll find me reading your stuff.

Speak soon.
bookgazing: (i heart books)
Maybe that time will present itself but with each week it looks less likely and my desire to write long posts is completely out of the window at the moment. I made the mistake of signing up for something (that I really want to do and have started the post for now, so hurray) with a deadline. Deadline's force my stupid brain into procrastination mode. It's all that insecure time at uni I suppose - sure I'd fail everything and putting off writing those failing essays as long as possible. Also, there are lots of deadlines at work and having to hit those just makes me get into that terrible plan of 'supposed to do a thing - don't want to' when presented deadlines in my spare time. I am sure many of us are intimately familiar with that concept and I try not to feel too badly about it.

So, I'll just run through a quick catch up for anyone more interesting in what I've been reading than my new found obsession with the largely British cast "Dracula" (spoilers, I've been re-reading "Dracula" and there is no escape from this new/old interest of mine - vampires 4eva).

Recently I read: )

And now I'm reading "Fly By Night" by Frances Hardinge which I am constantly forgetting the title of but which is just the absolute best. It's so much fun and has a really complex plot. I look forward to talking more about it when I've finished - hopefully.
bookgazing: (merlin/arthur)
More quick thoughts on some TV I've been watching, including me trying to lure you into a terrible new vampire show

Spoilers for Parks and Rec S5, Under the Dome & Orphan Black )
bookgazing: (i heart books)
A lot of people are readathoning this weekend. Not me, but I did read nearly 100 pages in one go today so I am at least reading.

In other recent reading news:

This week my bus book was Laurie Halse Anderson's "Wintergirls". The prose is sooo good, but it was impossible to slow down for it because Lia's plight is so desperate I just flew right through to the end. One of those books that deserves a second read through.

Just before that I finished "How I Live Now" (this book is what led me to pick up "Wintergirls", which contains related subject matter) and as a consequence am absolutely gutted that the film is not on at a reasonable time in our area. The only showings now seem to be at mid-afternoon on weekdays - the film came out a week ago. The blurb on the copy I bought was both accurate in one way and super weighted towards making this book look like it was only about romance. I am really sick of this trend for disguising books through marketing - it just makes it look like your marketing department thinks ordinary readers are stupid and don't have a broad range of interests. Anyway, if you like your romance with SFF and apocalyptic war conditions and family bonding then definitely get on this one.

And today I started "The Girls of No Return" by Erin Baldin. Did everyone else know the main character in this was a lesbian? I don't think I had heard any chatter about that around the web. It's great so far, very into its nature descriptions and keen on showing how complicated the relationships can be between girls who meet in highly pressurized situations (like being sent to a camp to live with complete strangers).

So, it seems I have been recently been way into stories about teenage girls working out complex feelings. I like this kind of story best when they come without a hint of over the top dramarama but still show how dramatic life can be, and all of these books achieved that. I'm not sure if this reading trend will continue after my current read - I feel like a big slice of epic fantasy or historical drama might fit next.

In other media stuff:

Can we talk about Agents of SHIELD? I thought the cast was great for a Whedon project diversity wise, but the first episode was dull and muddled apart from Coulson's snappy chat. I missed the second ep because for some reason the catch up player is only keeping episodes of this show for seven days, not twenty one as per usual and I'm wondering if it's worth going on. I want to know the answer to all the secrets, but do I want to know the answers enough to wade through a lot of episodes like the first one. Maybe not... It depends how much Agent Hill there would be in those episodes (I imagine not enough for me). I was so excited for this program but it hasn't quite worked out as I'd hoped. Also it seems there will be no reunion between Coulson and Captain America any time soon :(

Peaky Blinders is the best and everyone in the UK should catch it before it goes away (last episode is on Thursday so get to your catch up player). I would really like to write about it but would probably just end up typing 'hot boys and cool women' over and over.

Orphan Black also continues to be impressive and I am committed to writing something about it for LB (female fronted SF TV program where the British aren't villains is just calling out to me).

And I am gathering recommendations for a project. Tell me, if you haven't already dropped a list on Tumblr, which "classic" (in this case meaning, first shown more than ten years ago and considered by a reasonable amount of people to be a classic)SFF film would you most like me to watch and write about? Jurassic Park is already on my project list btw.

Hope everyone taking part in Dewey's Readathon has a great time and see you after you emerge from your reading hangovers :)
bookgazing: (moar wine now)
Downton Abbey

Downton is back and it is quite, quite awful. Julian Fellowes you have won awards for your writing - why was that despicable conversation at the train station allowed to go ahead this week?

In other news, everything is going swimmingly for Anna and Bates which means one of them is DOOMED. Place your bets.

And Thomas has to be evil again this series because I don't even know why, so is becoming pals with terrible returning house maid who I dislike intensely. Please will someone just write me happy fic where Thomas leaves Downton and shacks up with someone like Carmichael and Jack in "Farthing".

Edith's fellow (Might-As-Well-Be-Rochester) is thinking of moving to Germany so he can get divorced from his unstable wife. This actually reduced me to screaming 'DON'T YOU DARE MOVE EDITH TO GERMANY! WE ALL KNOW WHAT'S COMING IN GERMANY.' at the set. Attractive. And, AND, it seems that even though Edith is having an affair with this man they aren't even doing it yet. What is this?! At least Mary got to shag her shameful secret.

Oh, and the series is trying to convince us all that Mary and Tom might get it on. Even though I am 90% sure this is a fake out it upsets me greatly. Don't do it show. Just. Don't.

Also, if anyone knows what is going on with Jimmy's sudden interest in Ivy please just spoil me now because it is bugging me. But if you know she or Daisy are going to end up with Alfred please hide that from me. He's just boring William's dull replacement and I hope he conveniently dies too #mean.

I know I could stop watching but Mary and Thomas and Edith... I just really want to see them through to a happy ending. And maybe Anna and Bates will be fine and that will make it worthwhile (they're not going to be though are they, their happiness will be their undoing in historical soap land).

Orphan Black

Orphan Black is officially the best SFF series I've seen in ages. The third ep was a little TOO MUCH for me, as they tried to cram a bunch of information into a very short space of time, but the first two eps were so good that I'm very hopeful for the rest of the series. How any one actress can play so many different characters so convincingly at the same time just astonishes me. Plus, Felix and Art :D I love that Felix is so central to the story, he's not just the snarky gbf who backs Sarah up while cutely tearing her down because, omg, that's just what gbf's do don't you know! He's her brother and he has real issues with her even though he clearly loves her to pieces - he gets to be a real person. And Art is just boss. I can't wait to see more of his storyline and to see what he'll do when he figures out Beth is Sarah. Wouldn't you just die if Felix and Art became a couple (I would totally love that - how do we make this happen?).

Seriously though world, give Tatiana Maslany all the awards and cash and Dior dresses right now or prepare for a mass strike. I can't decide who my favourite clone is - probably Sarah right now, but Alison is pretty awesome. Who's your favourite?

Peaky Blinders

Please, is anybody else watching this? I <3 it so.

Some of the accents are spotty and people tell me the history was perhaps less dramatic than what we're seeing on screen but I still <3 it so. It's historical drama set in the Midlands, and (important) it's not all cozy and law luv a duckish. And its focus is on how men sent to war are trying to take back control now they've returned because the war stole so much of their self-control. And they help their pals (also torn into by war) along the way, even though their pals are often visibly disempowered - no man left behind! Then there's the use of modern music! And the fact that it's serious drama, but it also employs 'the trick' plot device like fun shows like "The Hustle" - so cool, structured drama story-telling and historical realism in one place. Ugh, and that scene in I think the first episode where the bar maid/spy is singing and this whole pub of rough Midlands blokes back from war join in with the chorus of "The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery" - heart tearing. Plus, everyone in it is soooo attractive. And if you're looking for a dude ship there's a big one available (Tommy/Freddie - pretty much made to ship).

Anyone?

Under The Dome

This is kind of a paint by numbers drama but it's fun, popcorn SFF horror watching. I mostly like it because Aisha Hinds and Rachel LeFevre are in it. Aisha Hinds is part of a lesbian couple and they have a daughter which is cool ,and rare to see on TV at the moment. I wouldn't say the program has a diverse set up but it does also have three chromatic actresses, one who is playing the Sherrif, and one chromatic actor. I'm also warming to the character of Barbie (ok his name won me from the start, but he still seems kind of awful with the murdering and all). And for anyone who likes (you know what I'm going to say) boys with daddy issue there's the alternately loveable and disturbed Junior. I am kind of a sucker for Dean Norris (Big Jim in this show) in anything as well; I think it's his voice and those steely eyes. I'm going to keep watching at least until we find out what is going on with the dome.

Atlantis

I don't think this new venture from the "Merlin" team is going to replace "Merlin" in anyone's hearts but it's cute in a super predictable way. The mythology is all mixed up which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but some of those mixing up choices are a little confusing (Roman versions of names given to Greek mythological living on a Greek island?). If you like curly haired boys who take their shirts off, and adorable geeks who don't know they will grow into world famous figures, there's something here for you though. Next week, Jason meets Medusa who looks like a perfectly normal woman in the trailers - please don't doom here to a head full of snakes and life in stone program, or I will go right off you.

By Any Means

The "Hustle" team tries to reproduce the exact same format of "Hustle" but with police officers as Robin Hood figures instead of crooks. If you're fine with people who have police powers saying 'It's a grey area' whether they're police or not, that they "Must have left their ID in the car" when asked to produce it, and who break into the houses of criminals you can watch this happily. I am not fine with that, it's kind of a huge bugbear of mine that I think fictional police officers should behave lawfully no matter what. I also did not enjoy one of the characters giving a speech about how there are 'White hats and black hats just like in the films' in real life. Shut up.

On a positive note the most senior police figure is female, and the main cast hits gender parity and approaches racial parity.

Maybe someone can explain to me though why a channel would cancel a program made by a particular creative team only to commission another program that is basically the same but worse. Like, why cancel "Hustle" if you were then going to commission "By Any Means". It uses the exact same format, its just changed up the team setting (adding less appelaing male leads) and switched out the character's professions for another. If "Hustle" wasn't getting the ratings what makes the BBC think THE EXACT SAME SHOW but worse will? Same goes for "Atlantis". Why not just make more "Merlin" instead of getting the same team to make the same show but less good? Confusion abounds - can anyone explain the workings of TV central?
bookgazing: (i heart books)
A Rare Treat (a good blog to check out) recently posted responses to the A-Z meme and I fancied having a blast through the categories:

Read more... )

Of course what I really want is to see all your answers so if you’re feeling in the mood to meme please link me to your answers.
bookgazing: (i heart books)
1.) Boys Kissing Boys by David Leviathan is in my house :D I thought the UK release date was much later so when my pre-order dropped through the letter box I was so surprised and happy.

2.) I'm considering just turning this place over to general updates and the Reading Wednesday meme for the rest of the year. I miss talking to a lot of people because I'm never around in this space and that would give me a regular way to pop in and say 'Hi' occasionally.

3.) I've written a bunch of stuff over the last few days as I scramble to try to get things done before I move to my new job and my schedule changes - there will definitely be posts on The Returned and The White Queen over at LB this year because they are DONE.

4.) I can tell autumn is coming because right now I want to watch a lot of shows that don't serious engagement. I really like autumn, as long as it's crisp not rainy, but it does make me slow waaaay down. I've dived into The Great British Bake Off right from the start and am enthralled by a cooking game show which is not at all like me. I'm also watching a lot of Pointless (quiz shows you can play along with are so much fun) and Nigel Slater programs. The only series I really have on the go right now is Under the Dome and I'm watching the last few episodes of Once Upon a Time S2.

5.) I am in love with Embassytown and committed to reading Queen of Attolia next. See, the voting system does work people ;)
bookgazing: (i heart books)
Things I have been doing

* Holidaying - France last month and then Brussels last week
* Attending hen dos and weddings
* Day trips and weekends out - The theatre, Kew Gardens, The Shard, a cottage break, speedway events and, of course, the local pubs
* Work things - A conference and a never ending away day on top of the regular job
* Writing things for Lady Business
* Trying to keep up with various co-projects
* Applying for things - With bonus interviews but as yet no results
* Sleeping whenever possible

Things I haven't been doing

* Reading
* Watching TV (at least not most of my ongoing series)
* Blogging here
* Replying to e-mails

It's pretty much been a never ending weekend packathon for me since June. Next weekend I'll be away again but then everything really should calm down for a couple of weeks and perhaps you'll see more of me than the occassional tweet. Hope you're all doing well!
bookgazing: (satchel)
The main cast of Hannibal all sit around a dinner table which is overflowing with a banquet of food – I’ll tell you right now all this food is going to be people


This post represents a huge about face from me. I made it very clear that I was not going to watch “Hannibal”, would not in fact be able to watch “Hannibal”, as it came out at a time when I was feeling a greater sensitivity that usual to watching dead female bodies splayed across my TV screen. And yet here I am, preparing to launch into a long chat after watching four episodes of the first series. Here I am retweeting the good news that, after weeks of uncertainty, it’s been announced “Hannibal” will be renewed for a second series.

Yeah, that’ll teach me to make sweeping pronouncements about my own emotional tolerance levels.
So what’s with this switcharoo? Well, it is of course about a boy:

Will Graham with his glasses on

And his dog(s)

Will has a lot of dogs, both large and small, including a St Bernard

Hi sweethearts.


This is Will Graham (pronounced like the American crackers not like the sensible English middle manager I should probably have married by now) and his character is a little bit important to my life right now. When “Hannibal” first introduces Will he is lecturing at the FBI academy having left field service profiling because he’s, if I’m allowed to be simplistic for my own delight, ‘too sensitive’ – come on this deserve an aw:

an wave full of the words feels washes over an animated character wearing a white mask and black shroud


Enter if you dare for there is cannibalism and spoilers for the early series in here )

”Hannibal” Extras (all full of spoilers)

Occupation Girl’s recaps of “Hannibal” episodes. Do read the comments.
Hello Tailor’s “Hannibal” tag on Tumblr
Alternative career options for after the inevitable mental breakdowns
Dire Ravenstag Twitter account
bookgazing: (i heart books)
book cover showing a black ilustration of tower blocks and the London Eye surrounded by flowers - a dustbin with arms and legs is leaping into the air and striking a ninja pose


“Un Lun Dun” is the fifth China Miéville novel I’ve read in, what, two years? Wow, how did that happen? Oh right, I owe all this author consistency to what has turned into an ongoing ‘read all the books and don’t talk about the arms too much’ Miéville read along project with maree. We pretty consistently fail at the last part of the project but we are rocking the first part like good and true fangirls - everything probably evens out.

After maree and I talked about Miéville’s latest book, the young adult novel “Railsea”, she wanted me to read his other YA novel “Un Lun Dun” so we could compare the two. Going it alone this time was a little daunting; “Un Lun Dun” is over 500 pages long and Miéville is generally one of those authors whose work makes me want to send emails full of awed caps lock after I read 200 pages of his work. I’m still not sure if I’d have tackled Miéville’s books if we hadn’t decided to team read “The City and The City”.



All to say I <3 you maree and I’m so glad we started this crazy SFF journey together.

Now, the book!(with some spoilers) )

Other Reviews

things mean a lot
just add books
Necromancy Never Pays
Asking the Wrong Questions
bookgazing: (Default)
Life away from books, TV and the internet has been busy – lots of good personal life stuff and it looks set to be like that for a while. I don’t mind because work is currently dullsville and I find myself wanting to be up and doing stuff quite a bit when I’m away from it. Also, if I have things on at the weekend I feel justified taking Fridays off to “prepare” (which actually turns out to mean “go to lunch with someone” and then ram things into an overnight bag). That’s one less work day to get through (although most of my leave has been allocated by now and all good things must come to an end).

What have I been doing? Well, recently I was a bridesmaid.I attended two hen dos for another bride, one of which was a last minute surprise. I got asked to read at that bride’s wedding (Jane Eyre – dream come true). I went to a “medieval” country fair, which wasn’t very medieval but was very cool – there was stunt guy from the Bond films involved in the jousting part, the birds of prey man had a range of entertaining stories about extremely dangerous eagles and a sheepdog herded the most adorable ducks.

I also visited some blogging friends and this weekend I’ll be seeing some more, as well as spending time with some bloggers I’ve never met before. I went to Shakespeare’s church in Stratford to see his grave, which is the one tourist attraction I think I had left in that town. And I went to the church by way of a lovely dinner and the most delicious whisky sour I have ever tasted. My one day a week swim continues well and next week I think I’ll try to put a second exercise day back in to get me through the start of the week. I do feel much better on a Friday for the exercise no matter how often I’ve stayed up just a little bit too late to be good for me. And there’s been some general hanging out shooting the work day down with friends.

“Yes, Jodie, all of this is faaascinating,” I hear you say (or is it my internal critic?). “Now please, crack on and tell us about books and TV and stuff.”

Well alright then.

TV

’Hannibal’

I started watching Hannibal despite making many, many comments about how I couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to handle it *faints*. I’ve seen two episodes - yes Amy I did watch Ep2 in the end, I just turned it over during the bit where they looked at the mushroom bodies and got all my knowledge from cleolinda’s recap instead. I find I am able to handle the program in the end because the horror isn’t, as I was saying to Amy, built out of lingering images that practically stroke the dead bodies and death hasn’t been dissected into titillating pieces by the camera shots. Instead the horror is supposed to be driven by there just being horrible deaths - the camera takes in the whole scene of death in one practical ‘it is what it is shot’- and through the repeated accidental cannibalism of those around Lecter. Even though it is horrifying whenever someone eats food Lecter has prepared I can take that horror without giving myself nightmares.

I already think I’ll want to write something about this program at the end because the colour palette fascinates me and Hugh Dancy is giving such a great performance as the fragile teacup/Will (he is so afraid of being evil and it’s lovely). I’m enjoying Mads' performance as Dr Lecter, but I think because it is so subtle and restrained its one of those performances that will need a few episodes to build before I’ll be really invested in it. I totally ship Will/Jack and I hope Laurence Fishburne is in every episode pushing Will into uncomfortable situations and shouting at people. Also Hettienne Park plays Beverly Katz and she is one of my favourite ladies on the show - I’m not even going to look at how many episodes she survives for, please let it be all of them.

Soon, according to the recaps, we start seeing a new cannibal groomed and there’s Gina Torres. She makes everything better.

’The Sarah Connor Chronicles’

I started watching ‘The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ and three episodes in I really like this program even though it’s not the kind of show I usually watch on TV (I like action films, but not usually action TV shows). It’s already hit femslash city and I hear there’s more to come - yay. Also there’s a boy with daddy issues and you don’t need me to tell you how much I like those.

I don’t want to say too much because I think it’s really easy to spoil this shows unfolding developments (whereas Hannibal you already know = cannibal) and I think I want to write about it. If I start blabbing in informal posts it usually puts me off doing the whole essay thing. Let me conclude by saying that I just want to look at Lena Headey’s face all the time. And once this is over I’m going to be looking for high school fic featuring Cameron.

’Nikita’

I’m also watching ‘Nikita’, which yes Amy you were right, all I could think for most of the first episode was that it was so like ‘Alias’ despite the fact that Nikita’s rebellion takes place in the open. Then the ending of the first episode happened and I was like *boom* not like ‘Alias’ at all – ladies bringing down the system together. Right now I think the training school set up is my favourite part. Am I the only one who wants Jaden and Alex to be best friends? And Melinda Clarke’s addition is creepy good. She has the best voice for playing subtley threatening characters and I would have her play all in every show about secret agencies undermining the government if I could. I like the fact that her role (as a literal groomer) means they’re pulling out the element of feminine presentation that goes into female spying – you’ve got to look right to gain access and female spies are almost never asked to enter situations where they have to wear baggy jeans and a big knit cap are they?

Things you should know already

I think you should all be watching ‘Parks and Recreation’ (I’m into S3 now), ‘Scott and Bailey’ (these two programs are what I look forward to all Wednesday), ‘The Mindy Project’ and ‘Nashville’. Prepare for a super long ‘Nashville’ essay once the series finishes here (I think we have seven episodes to go in the UK).

I am mostly invested in getting more people to watch ‘Scott and Bailey’ though. If you like police drama but you want more central female characters and you hate when police officers lose their control in interview rooms try this show. This series Nicola Walker (of ‘Spooks’ fame) is a new addition to the cast and she is acting out of her skin. Everyone needs more Nicola Walker in their lives.

Things I haven’t done.

I haven't caught up on ‘Dr Who’. I will, I will - promise. I’ve just been out doing other things while so many of the episodes were on and now it feels like there’s a huge pile of episodes to climb through to get to the end. I’ll probably start catching up next week after the finale shows.

Anything else?

Oh, yes! I started watching ‘Sanditon’ which is the new series from the makers of ‘The Lizzie Bennett Diaries’. I never did finish ‘LBD’ because reports of how the Lydia storyline worked out put me off, but maybe I will go back to it if I’m get excited by ‘Sanditon’. They’ve so far managed to set up the struggling town and old residents vs. new vibe quickly and wow do I love that kind of scenario. Looking forward to meeting all the new characters and this time I’ll be going in with no idea of how the plot unfolds this time as I haven’t read Austen’s unfinished novel which means surprises!


Books

’Where’d You Go Bernadette?’ – Maria Semple

I finished ‘Where’d You Go Bernadette?’ and it was so much fun. You might have to let yourself go a little bit to enjoy it, because the characters are kind of awful sometimes but they’re that kind of balanced awful where sometimes you really like them and then you find something you’re not so keen on. Anyway, it’s a really quick read with an addictive mystery about Bernadette’s past and the format (e-mails, letters, and reports) allows the author to bring in a whole host of perspectives and voices.

’We Have Always Lived in the Castle’ – Shirley Jackson

I’m currently chatting about this with litlove (always a pleasure). Who knew modern classics could be such addictive, horrific fun to read? I absolutely tore through it and I see it becoming a re-read favourite for Halloween. I'll have more words on this later probably.

‘One Nation Under Stress: The Problem with Stress as an Idea’ by Dana Becker

I’m reading non-fic, it’s a miracle. Right now I’m half way through and so far, so interesting. The background history to how society ended up talking about stress the way it does is informative and I’m learning quite a bit about the medical industry and stress. I just feel like the book could do with spending a more focused chunk of time explaining and justifying its central concept, instead of just slotting in concluding sentences and then going off to talk about another historical aspect. Maybe that dedicated examination is coming later? Hopefully it is, because my brain needs time to settle and process in order to absorb these ideas.

Otherwise reading

I’m a couple of chapters into ‘Orleans’ by Sherri L Smith and I can already see that when I finish I’m going to want to talk about this and ‘Beasts of the Southern Wilds’ – any takers? I think I’m going to start ‘Gold Boy, Emerald Girl’ by Yiyun Li soon. And I should probably pick up a library book.

The Library

I went to the library and I got:

‘Cold Fire’ – Kate Elliott
‘Quarter’ – Jean Rhys
‘The Heart of the Matter’ – Graham Greene
‘Smiley’s People’ – John Le Carre

Since I don’t have any ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ views to share yet (probably not seeing it for two more weeks) and ‘Gatsby’ is only just out here so I haven’t had a chance to see it yet that’s it from me about media for now. If you want to see me actually reviewing, check out my thoughts on ‘Cold Earth’ by Sarah Moss at lady business.
bookgazing: (moar wine now)
Today I want to talk about confidence and writing. Read: I am having a mild panic about something that probably seems quite simple to other people - please send words if able.

I have always been one of those people who is easily plunged into self-doubt about their writing, but lately that’s been changing. I found some good tools to help me cope and keep on writing. Chuck Wendig recently put out a piece of advice about dealing with writerly self-doubt that I find immensely useful – basically, barrel though because you are not best placed to assess how good your writing is while you’re in the middle of writing. I have a couple of really lovely writing support teams around me. And if everything gets too dire I can re-ignite my self-belief by sticking the ‘Little Hater’ series of videos on repeat. I think I am genuinely starting to move past that place where I automatically assume everything I write is awful. Let me tell you it feels pretty good.

And yet this good feeling brings up a new problem of confidence – what if now I’ve gone become too self-assured about my writing? Now that I have finally managed to internalise some shred of conviction (so much so that I actually wrote a few words of original fiction this week – a big, little step for me) how do I distinguish between the effect of my new found confidence, necessarily keeping me from a spin out of despair, and actual good writing? As a result of feeling like I can do the writing, might I be ignoring the awful; might I just not be able to tell if my work is terrible now because I have so many good resources around keeping me from crashing into a lake of immobilising self-pity?

A common piece of advice for writers is that if something feels good you should probably destroy it (advice stemming from Faulkner’s ‘kill your darlings’ quote and Samuel Johnson's idea that ‘where ever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.'). Does this mean that to really get the best from themselves writers have to ignore their hatred for their work, but never actively love it? Should the baseline feeling about your own work be ‘It’s probably not too awful’? What if you like some of the things you write – are you doomed to be unknowingly terrible? And how do people know which assessments are right and which are just unhelpful demons? How do you know whether to have confidence in your opinion of your work or not when you’re generally sure you’re wrong about everything – is there some trick to this like the ‘fake it’ advice given to people who don’t like public speaking? Opinions would be welcome!
bookgazing: (hearts)
Klaus snarls


And so we come to the end. As always there are huge spoilers for the entire series and probably all previous series in this post. Iris, Amy - here we go.

Episode Twenty one: ‘Before Sunset’ )

Episode Twenty two: ‘The Departed’ )

That spin off )

And I’m done. Amy, Iris I hope you’ve enjoyed this re-cap phase. I can’t promise to do it for series four, because turns out re-caps take a lot of time – I am even more in awe of anyone who does regular, proper re-caps. I will promise to at least think about it if you cheer loudly enough for it though.

Ease Up

24/4/13 19:56
bookgazing: (moar wine now)
Recently, a smart friend made me face up to the fact that sometimes practicality limits our capacity to do good. We’re all individual people, we all get tired and it’s better to concentrate on the few things we can do. It’s a hard thing for me to accept even though I know my friend is right; we all want to be good people and the bar for ‘good’ is set pretty high these days. We’re all scared that no one cares about the things we want in our lives. We don’t want to be the cause of our own downfall. It’s difficult to let go in order to focus and achieve.

Her e-mail came just after I read an essay, which among other things discussed people’s inability to imagine life differently. I stewed about it a little bit to be honest, that essay. I shouldn’t have, my reaction was defensive, but I feel like I’ve reached my limit when it comes to hearing that individual people don’t [insert X] enough. I thought about my recent fascination with authors who believe that individual responsibility is limited in a society built out of fixed and uncaring structures. And I wondered if I was attracted to that idea because it was real, or because it gave me an out. I couldn’t tell. I felt insecure about my empathy, about my ability to care; whether I was caring enough and about the right things. I watched this gif run over and over again.

I moved on, sort of. I read a post about the breakdown of imaginative thinking within a community. I thought about the riots, about how they supposedly showed just how little community was left and how they really did show that some people are terrible and broken. I couldn’t work out whether we had learned anything from that outburst of violence, or whether we could learn how to rebuild a structure from individual real life acts of violence. Taking history at college I was taught you can’t make lessons out of past lives, that the solution to everything is not a tidy 'Never again!' narrative and that solutions rarely come when we impose our own political reading on a past situation instead of embracing everything about that situation. As an adult I find I can’t escape; somewhere today someone will be trying to make a neat lesson out of life. The trending idea that villains deserve to be struck down by debilitating diseases, as if these diseases are some kind of just punishment, enrages me. Criticism of the government that only seeks to replace one party with another makes me want to cut myself off. I can’t believe that things are as simple as people, people I think have good ideas and people I never want to share a room with alike, want to make out. I thought about the two different narratives around the riots - how difficult it is to find people who can acknowledge both ideas, who can stare straight at the wrong in kicking a homeless person and acknowledge that while still standing strong against the idea that our society is broken. I worry that my failure to take in everything always shows a similar lack of willingness to engage with intellectual complexity.

I worry about a lot of things to do with empathy and caring. I worry that focusing on the communities I’m building instead of reaching out to strangers is not the way to approach things if I want to be part of change. I worry that my decision to keep away from certain situations has become a negative form of protectionism, instead of a positive one. I worry that when I try to go deeper with the people I want to form a community with I mess it up. I am concerned and I find myself having the same internal conversations over and over without ever sparking any answers. I watch the Hank Green gif again.

You know what I realised through watching all those circling worries come round and round though? Empathy is hard. It’s a hard thing, but we’re encouraged to believe it is simple. Being a good person is easy right? Just don’t be awful. And do some good things along the way if you have the resources. What I think we fail to take into account, and why we so often end up in shame cycles about our own inability to react with empathy, is that while empathy and goodness are simple qualities the practise of them is complex. No one exists in a vacuum and people are tired all the time because they are putting so much emotional effort into so many places. At the same time, no one is putting their empathy into a welcoming vacuum (if you've ever worked a customer service job you know people don't have to be nice just because you're being helpful) and while it’s important to put love and understanding in without expectation it can also be draining. In the end, I think we’re told that empathy is easy because it keeps us miserable. When governments and influential figures ignore the way the world works they can make people feel awful and in turn keep them inactive and less effective just by “advocating for a better society”.

I see a similar thing going on with calls for greater community. We’re told that supporting our communities is easy if a bit more labour intensive than empathetic support. Just do good things. Bolster these sales, write this work, support this project, link to this, and follow up. I get that these are mostly not big tasks individually, but when people are often in multiple communities all these tasks quickly add up. Regular exhaustion, I’m beginning to realise, is really the bottom threshold of tired and incapable. There are whole layers of weary above exhaustion and I think people mostly end up wedged in these layers because they spread themselves over so many things. When we can’t support everything we crash and burn in a shame spiral which does not exactly help us gather the necessary energy to put useful work into other important projects in need of support.

I hear that no one cares. I hear that a lot. I feel like those words, that condemnation of our society, are a way of making us all so ashamed we hang our heads and in the process miss that a whole chunk of society is laughing itself silly at our genuine concern. Sometimes I buy into the idea that no one cares and that cages need to be rattled so I start replicating that oppressive kind of attitude; sometimes out loud sometimes just internally where everything gets stuck so much deeper. Frankly I do this because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that if I put down the enormous load I sometimes feel I’ve taken on, just for a moment, just to rest, that no one outside my small and scattered communities will be around to pick it up. I’ve thought I should lean in more and I recently told people there was work to do. While I don’t exactly regret that (dudes I think some of you have the capacity to pick up the slack) I do wish I didn’t feel like I’d managed to make people who are supportive parts of my community feel worried, like they needed to load more onto themselves, while trying to pull new people in to support something important to me.

This is why we need stories I think. At least, we need the kind of stories that are willing to really let us inside someone else’s head and to give us everything we can handle. There’s so much, so, so much, which desperately needs caring about that we just can’t take all that need in without collapsing. Stories can be tools to let us understand why it’s important to care for a few hours, a short amount of time that we can handle, and then put the white hot immediacy of the world’s need somewhere we can process it effectively. That need is not so overwhelming if you break it down into chunks and digest it. Stories block out your constantly screaming fear that OMG everything is wrong and nothing’s changing, without requiring you to cut yourself off from feeling, empathy and the world. As long as they’re complex, stories can be a wonderful help.

In the end, I don’t think the problems of our world come about because people don’t participate or because we don’t care. They come about because there is so much to do and so little help available. It’s not that we can’t dream, or that we are broken, or that we can’t reach out. It’s that we are all reaching our limits in a world that is very hard to navigate. I used to worry that I was fundamentally hollow inside because I couldn’t support everybody and or care about everything that was of the moment. Sometimes I poke at that idea, but mostly I don’t feel that way anymore. Empathy, community, just living - these are difficult tasks. Let’s not forget it and let’s cut ourselves some slack. Fuck knows no one else is going to.
bookgazing: (i heart books)
What I’m reading now:

After this weekend (when I made two train journeys without picking up the book in my bag) I decided to chuck out my on-going read and start again. I realised I was feeling a need to be free to do what I want… which has had some unfortunate financial consequences but we will come to those later.

‘Maul’ by Tricia Sullivan, which I’ve wanted to get to for ages, but have been putting off because I thought it might be a bit too brutal. It which got pushed up the list by my desperation over the women in SF numbers for the UK and it is brutal, probably even more so that Kameron Hurley’s ‘God’s War’.

‘Kidnapped’ by Robert Louis Stevenson, but it’s an old school adventure story which means it needs me to spend more concentrated time on it than contemporary adventure stories do. And I just haven’t had time to give it. It’s a library book so I might have to renew.

I’m also thinking about starting a piece of non-fiction (‘Quiet’, ‘What’s Wrong with Publishing’, ‘Why Love Hurts’, the chapter Nymeth sent me from ‘Bad Pharma’) which, wow, it has been a while since I wanted to do that. I’m kind of in a place where I want to open all the books and be reading everything at the same time which is bad for progress but sometimes just feels so rightly decadent.

Edited to say: And I also read a graphic novel, 'Skim' in one day. I stayed up until midnight like you're s'posed to when you love a book but often can't convince yourself to do when you have work the next day.

The library:

I said on Tumblr that I’d picked up four books at the library recently. I’ve only read one so far, but hey why let that stop me from going back and picking up um five more? I came back with ‘The Abominables’, ‘Where’d You Go Bernadette?’ (Women’s Prize finalist), ‘Baba Yaga Laid an Egg’, ‘Earth Girl’ and ‘The Great Gatsby’ (so I can refresh my memory before the film).

From the previous haul - I’m working on ‘Kidnapped’, ‘Silver’ I think is unfortunately going back unfinished (wow Motion likes explaining things that he has already made perfectly clear through symbolism), I read ‘Cold Earth’ and have started a review about it. The fourth book turned out to be a sequel and I like to start at the very beginning (it’s a very good place to start) so back it goes.

Things I did:

I’m afraid I went on a bit of a spending bender. I bought a dress (which I did need for a hen do), a necklace… then quite a lot of DVDs… and then some books. I’d like to share what I bought but to be honest I’m a bit embarrassed about my lack of restraint and my apparent inability to turn ‘earns more’ into ‘saves more’. There really should be a link there now that my fiancés are stable.

Otherwise, well I was a bridesmaid a month ago. The wedding went off very well and the couple had a lovely honeymoon. I attended a wedding where no one tried to set me up with their spare friend (which was so relaxing) and failed out of being a grown up around a dude I had a thing with a long time ago. I was very much a grown up in many other ways as bridesmaid (working hard to make sure my social problems did not make a negative impact on the hen do or wedding and socialising with strangers) so I feel proud of myself.

I visited Cambridge to see some blogging people, which is where the dress was bought. Also we saw David Almond speak which was really inspiring. I didn’t expect it to be quite so oddly moving.

Going back to swimming once a week. I wish our pool weren’t so crowded with people who bimble and talk while they swim for the first half hour of the session I can go to, but trying to remember that public spaces are for everyone.

Things I’ve been watching:

Finally finished ‘TVD’ S3. ‘The Village’, which is growing on me. ‘Scott and Bailey’ S3. I started watching ‘Broadchurch’ but then it started clashing with speedway meeting nights so now I’m just catching the last ten minutes and waiting to see who the murder is. ‘Parks and Recreation’ of course. And ‘The Mindy project’, which goes up and down in funny. My next DVD series will be ‘Borgen’ S2.

Things I’ve been thinking about:

Exhaustion – I pushed words out about that, but I’m still thinking about it.

Why we all get prickly when people say they don’t have time to read, despite the fact that we all know just how busy and clamouring life can be (I think, once we get past feeling sneered at for our “silly hobby” it’s got a lot to do with feeling that our interest is in peril because of its kind of a minority interest, maybe?)

The idea that not all writing is commercial and that this is my biggest trouble with how publishing must work right now.

But have I been writing?

I’ve been leaving reviews and co-reviews over at LB. At the very end of last year I talked a little about ‘The Silver Linings Playbook’.

This year I’ve reviewed ‘The Killing Moon’, posted a lot of words about ‘Les Miserable’. I’ve co-reviewed ‘The Legend of Korra’, the follow up project from the team that made ‘Avatar’ and ‘The Thief’.

I have reviews of ‘Looper’ and ‘Diving Belles’ coming up over there this month. I’m kind of thinking about writing words about ‘Beast of the Southern Wilds’ but I’m not totally sure about that yet.

And you’ve all seen me putting up words about ‘TVD’. I really liked doing posts about all the episodes, but if I hadn’t had a specific audience I knew was going to read those posts I’m not sure I’d have ever actually done it so thanks for providing motivation Amy and Iris. Just the sheer volume of episodes on a US TV series is daunting to write about consistently.

Will I be reviewing here again soon? In the end, I think so. I just need to find the time and the subject I want to put here and not there.
And I am still writing paperlegends big bang stuff – promise paperlegends support group.


So yes that’s me – I am still here.

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October 2014

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