bookgazing: (Default)
2019-02-21 02:35 pm

Ghostbusters (2016) IS A GOOD FILM, OK?!

I'd just like to start this post by saying that Ghostbusters (2016) is a good movie, which made money, and anyone who attempts to retcon that to big up his own project sucks.

And now for something completely different )
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2019-02-02 11:25 am

Shitposting February Commences!

See, the last post was not just a one off! Onwards into shitposting February! Here's a bit of what I've been up to media wise.


I'm currently reading a ton of 2018 SFF so I can nominate for the Hugo awards, and right now I'm paying particular attention to the YA category (the Lodestar Award). So, I finished The Belles by Dhionelle Clayton, which wasn't so much my cup of tea. I just have to remember that I'm not a huge fan of concept SFF. Also, this book really was weird about lesbian relationships as [ profile] willowcabins mentioned. The most prominent lesbian character dies horribly, and Amber and Camelia should obviously have been together. I know they call each other Sisters but they're not, as far as I can see, actually blood related...

I also finished Dread Nation by Justina Ireland which was way more my thing; African American women trained to fight zombies in an America where slavery has been outlawed but similar systems are still kept in place. I'd just watched Lucy Worsley's new three part series America's Greatest Fibs so I had a reasonable handle on the American history that Ireland was working with, which added to the book's interest for me. I really recommend this one; Jane's voice is just the kind of practical snark I enjoy, and I loved seeing the enemies to friends story line between her and Kate develop. Sidenote - Kate, it transpires, is asexual, and Jane is bisexual.

Right now I'm close to the end of A Blade so Black by L. L. McKinley, which is an urban fantasy YA adventure set in a re-imagined Wonderland. I'm enjoying lots of things about it, but I also keep getting distracted. I can't decide if it's because the book is so full of action and my mind glosses over action scenes, or if it's because my brain is just running a little distracted at the moment. *shrugs* Anyway it's worth picking up, and I'll have more to say about it when I finish up.


I finally started watching Friends From College, which is about Ethan and Lisa; a couple moving back to New York to start a family, who spend perhaps too much time reconnecting with their college friend group. Keegan Michael-Kay plays Ethan, a literary writer reluctantly moving into the YA world in order to sell his next book. I love how fast his character goes from 'YA is trash, and I will game this genre to make money' to 'Oh yeah, Bella and Edward! YA is the most exciting thing in literature right now,' although I really wish the series had some more up to date YA references >.> Ethan is also in the middle of a 20 year long-distance affair with Sam, one of the couple's "close" married friends (played by Annie Parisee) and it is not going to end well because they are both disaster human beings. Cobie Smulders plays Ethan's wife, and is obvs brilliant, particularly in the episode Mission Impossible where she deals with taking on IVF with a partner who seems less than enthusiastic. I also love seeing grown up Fred Savage in this, especially as the actor playing his partner is Billy Eichner (who played Craig in Parks and Rec) and I like when TV shows collide. My fav episodes so far have been All-Nighter, Mission Impossible and Party Bus, and I can't wait for the emotional pay off at the end of the series when surely the affair will be revealed to all?!

This is the first comedy I've watched since I started Love, and it kind of reminded me why I found that show so dissatisfying. I just like jokes, OK? I need to stop forgetting that when I'm picking out comedies to watch.

I'm also SO CLOSE to the end of the new Les Miserables TV drama - just one ep moooooorrrre. Urgh, idk, there is nothing really wrong with this series. In fact, its expansion of Fantine's back story was much appreciated. Dominic West makes a perfectly good Jean Valjean, and the same goes for David Oyelowo's Javert. It's just this adaptation feels very by the numbers with little stylistic innovation. I guess the team thought just making it not a musical, and adding in some of stuff from the book that the musical skates over, would be enough, but it's kind of... flat?

The same can be said for the film adaptation of The Little Stranger which I watched last week. I always knew a film would struggle to translate the book's class politics, and deliberately obscured ideas about what caused the happenings at Hundreds, to the screen without picking a more definite line about what actually happened. And, yeah, everyone in the film is good, and the atmosphere is spot on, but a lot of the book's brilliance lies in unsettling the reader with uncertainty whereas the film spells out what's happened. Also, the film lets Dr Faraday off the hook somewhat, which I should really be in favour of as I felt Waters almost linked the emerging middle class with malicious destruction in the book, but in the end I wasn't so much a fan of the treatment he got in the film.

What media has anyone else been getting into?
bookgazing: (Default)
2019-01-19 05:10 pm

My Triumphant Return


So, I decided I could do with a little quick and easy journalling space this year. Recently, I saw [ profile] goodbyebird talking about a dreamwidth ressurgance, so I thought I would hop over and see if I can make reasonably regular short update posts here work. I also really want to use my Reading Page to start keeping up with people again, as I'm one of those people who has ditched a feedreader for checking for links on Twitter and, meh, that method was ok before Twitter's new ordering system turned up but now kind of sucks.

What this journal will NOT become:

  • A place to moan about work things

  • A place where I can't post an entry unless I wrote it in Google docs first and took three editing passes at it before posting

  • A return to a long reads review/essay journal

Instead it's going to be quick updates about what I'm reading, watching, trying to do outside of work, and maybe some links to reviews. Enjoy :)

Currently Watching: Last year I finished up my Gilmore Girls re-watch (so lovely), and I decided I liked doing full show rewatches so much I'd do one in 2019. This time around I've picked the much less comforting show The Vampire Diaries, and I'm about halfway through Series One. I'm also half way through The Final Table, which is a cooking contest for Chef's Table fans. Speaking of, I've gone back to Chef's Table. I'm a couple of episodes into Series Two, and I'd forgotten how calming the experience of watching it is. Otherwise I can probably be found watching period mysteries - Miss Fischer's Mysteries, Father Brown, and Grantchester among others. And [ profile] readingtheend and I are slowly working through a watch of Black Sails which is a lot of fun.

Currently Reading: I'm just at the start of my Hugo reading tear where I read a ton of SFF so I can nominate great things for the Hugo awards. This weekend I finished City of Ghosts, which was fine; pick it up if you want a solid, supernatural adventure story. I feel like it reads younger than it's been classified in some places though. I also read Batwoman, Vol. 1: The Many Arms of Death which enables me to go on to Vol. 2 (actually eligible for awards). Also, hopefully this doesn't make me a bad SFF fan, but I'm already craving a bit of reading variety - maybe I'll read a piece of non-fiction soon. I am noodling away on Calm the F**k Down by Sarah Knight because yeah, I really do need to if capitalism isn't going to be dismantled any time soon.

Otherwise: I got The Year of Wonder for my birthday, which gives you a piece of classical music to listen to every day and a little bit of context for the piece. Last year, I got a bit more interested in learning about classical music after watching a Lucy Worsley program about opera, and so far I'm enjoying just being able to easily dip in to lots of different pieces. The playlist is on Spotify so it's easy to find all the pieces.

I'm also thinking about trying to read a poem a day. Maybe I'll start that up in February now though.

I'm considering giving Instagram a go - just posting a crappy (seriously my photo skills are not great) but fun photo a day.

And I'm thinking about either giving craft a go again (maybe I'll try knitting one more time but keep my expectations of progress much lower) or getting a really fun colouring book and trying to do the whole thing in a year. Just really low pressure/productivity projects that aren't writing. I'll still be writing reviews and such at [community profile] ladybusiness (dreamwidth itself) and SFF Reviews. Maybe I'll even write fan-fic this year - who knows! Still, I think I could do with another creative pursuit that's not so public or tied up in ideas about productivity in my head if that makes sense, and making my own Christmas cards this year was felt so good that it gave me the urge to craft outside of the festive season.

Anyway, that's what I'm up to - how about you?
bookgazing: (Default)
2014-10-21 11:09 am

Working for Waterstones

For anyone who I haven't told yet I'm now a Waterstones bookseller and will be working for the company up until around January sales. After that it's all a bit uncertain, but for now there's an interesting job and money :D I've been at our store for just over a month now and it's very interesting so far.
bookgazing: (Default)
2014-08-26 08:31 pm

Writing Fear

I am having the writing fear. I haven't done any kind of solo writing in maybe a month and a half :\ When I got over losing my job I thought 'Well, at least I'll be able to write a lot now.' and I determined to follow my writing heart dreams, but that is not quite working out... I have a lot of ideas, but when I think about actually making the words outside of my head I get hit by the feeling that they will be terrible, embarrassing, and illogical. So, I've been doing job applications and organising things which for me is like productive procrastination; both a way of getting things done and a bad habit of deferring my dreams.

I figured I probably need to actually write out that this is what I'm doing somewhere in order to stop doing it. Maybe that will work. Let's see!
bookgazing: (i heart books)
2014-08-16 11:54 pm

Who Steals From Charity Anyway?

I am still not really over that charity shoplifting incident. I want to be able to go 'Well if you have to steal from a charity shop then you must be desperate and I feel for you, but please never come back and steal from my shop'. However, the reality is that this time it was a group of organised guys who targeted a charity shop because we don't have the security measures that are in place (or at least look like they're in place) at major retail stores. And the guy I spotted leaving our shop with stolen goods was so brazen - he went against everything in the training manual about stealing; he wasn't extremely shifty or extremely in my space, but I now recognise that he was probably trying to distract me while his buddies had a look around. I'm pretty paranoid at the moment, and making huge use of the devices in place to keep a check on people in particular sections of the shop while compensating by being extra pleasant to customers. It brought me down though, because - as a lot of you have asked via e-mail - who steals from the charity? I mean I knew people did (there's a shop in the same town that had all its cash taken four times in one year) but it wasn't quite a reality until I saw this guy walk off with something.

Hey ho, what do we do when life tries to crush our optimism? I chose to go shopping for books because I still have money. I had a small book spree this week, picking up:

"Take Back the Skies" - Lucy Saxon (because sky ships and, I assume, sky pirates)
"The Last Wild" - Piers Torday (lovely cover that I have been eyeing for a while)
"Why We Took the Car" - Wolfgang Herrndorf (because sometimes you want a book that sounds like pure fun)
"Daughter of Smoke and Bone" - Laini Taylor (finally, finally caved)

And I made some library plans, because they have "Broken Monsters", "The Haunting of Hill House", "The Promise of Blood" and some Patricia Highsmith books in. The library is amazing. I'm having a great library book run at the moment - just finished The Complete Stories of Alice Walker, which was a fabulous collection, and I'm now half way through "The Flamethrowers" by Rachel Kushner, a book which I am sure to be evangelising about soon.
bookgazing: (Default)
2014-08-08 07:53 pm

This Week I...

Started volunteering
Saw a shoplifter rob the charity shop where I'm volunteering
Read and loved my library book, "The Complete Stories" of Alice Walker
Returned a different, failsome book to the library
Filled in a job application form
Realised how many workplaces want you to fill in individual application forms
Talked to a friend and received boosting chat
Had writerly doubts
Received more "Legend of Korra" episodes
Did not buy a Mary Renault book, which I now regret greatly
Started talking about a new internet project
Probably started thinking about doing other internet projects - maybe too many things
Did not write any new reviews
Wrote parts of a co-review
Booked a spa day
Bought animal print pens
Found a travelator in a superstore and rode it for fun (and to get stationary... which turned out to be animal print pens)
Finally saw "Dawn of the Apes" after going twice to find that tickets were sold out
Failed out of starting an exercise regime for the third week in a row
Opened, sorted and recycled all the junk post I've been avoiding for the past few months

So some good, some bad and some boring!
bookgazing: (Default)
2014-07-28 10:53 pm

Books, Book, Books

Read this month:

The Best of All Possible Worlds - Karen Lord
Spirit Gate - Kate Elliot
Under the Tripoli Sky - Kamal Ben Hameda
Lagoon - Nnedi Okorafor (Huge rec to all my Mieville loving friends - the writing is a different style, but this book has just as much weird and sea creatures)
Mr Fox - Helen Oyeyemi

Currently Reading: The Chaos - Nalo Hopkinson


Too many. Among them:

Lagoon - Nnedi Okorafor
The Chaos - Nalo Hopkinson
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler
The Winner's Curse - Marie Rutko
Boy, Bird, Snow - Helen Oyeyemi
Gossip From the Forest - Sarah Maitland
Starbreak - Phoebe North
Valour's Choice - Tanya Huff
All the Bird's Singing - Evie Wyld
Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb
Dirty Wings - Sarah McCarry
bookgazing: (moar wine now)
2014-06-08 11:51 am

Person of Interest - This Gif is Important to My Life Right Now

A Person of Interest gif of Reese saying Not every ex-soldier meets a reclusive billionaire

If you're watching POI you could maybe come talk about it with me here :D I'm up to Ep6 in S2. I am especially open to conversations about how much bull having an 'playing house in suburbia' episode is without fake boyfriends:P

*waves at Amy encouragingly*
bookgazing: (i heart books)
2014-05-31 12:01 pm

'I really like seeing your personal posts'

I should be writing big ol' reviews or something, but I wanted to say HI and I just saw this post on Tumblr about personal posts so here's a quick update.


I re-watched "Catching Fire" for a podcast I'm doing with Renay and it was even better than I remembered. There are so many little moments that catch and hold. Can't wait for the final film now.

I went to see "X-Men Days of Future Past" this week and that story line is still as weird as anything :D It's one of my top three favourite stories from the X-Men cartoons, because I'm me and it's hard for me not to love something that just discards story continuity because time travel.

Still, I wasn't a huge fan of this film. I like the main cast from the first three films more than the cast from the films set in the past. So, a film which concentrates on young Charles and Magneto isn't going to be totally my flavour no matter how much Wolverine you shove in I'm afraid. And as always with this franchise the focus is on guys, although Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique was still much more prominent than I expected. Yay for Jennifer Lawrence trying to push her wonderful acting into this franchise. But, come on, we should absolutely have had more Blink.

However, I did love the bits of fan service that turned up. The ending was just the creators getting that everyone wants to see Jean again even if there's no real reason to bring her back. And I adore that this franchise is still on it with naked Wolverine. There were some uncomfortable dudebros in my screening during that scene which made me exceptionally happy - like OMG, this action film explicitly caters to the female gaze once. How squicky for you >.> And Fassbender was great as Magneto - I wish we could have a past and present film all about Magneto.

Today I'm off to see "Malificent" and I have big dreams and hopes for this film. Cross your fingers.


"The Shadowed Sun" was fantastic. It's on my list to review.

I'm in the middle of "Sister's Red" for a project and I have a lot of feelings about it. I am mostly annoyed at the potential this story had and how it appears to be throwing that away.

I'm also re-reading "The City & The City". Crime + SFF = love.

And this is the weekend I'll be starting "Monsters of Men". It's finally happening!


"Orphan Black" continues to be my main TV pre-occupation. I think it's the strongest program on TV at the moment, bar "Hannibal", despite a bit of a bumpy series two set up. Last week's episode with Helena appearing in the bloody wedding dress was just incredibly messed up and amazing. I'm also glad to see they appear to have figured out how to fit Rachel into the series because the first few episodes left her so marginal. And Art and Angie continue to be favs of mine so I hope there will be more of them.

I still await Paul's death eagerly.

I also saw the season finale of "The Mentalist" and I would really like it if this terrible series could be the last one we ever see. There was a lot I enjoyed about this series as a fan of the show's goofy side and the minor characters, but the concept for it was just terrible. And, while I believed Jane's emotion faces at other times in the series, the sequence on the plane felt so overdone I couldn't deal with it. By the way, did anyone think the idea of the plane scene was very tasteless considering recent history?

Is anyone watching "Happy Valley" the new crime show from the writer of "Scott & Bailey"? It started out shaky, but it's picked up and I love the family drama element.

Creative Stuff

So, I worked out which piece of fan-fic I want to do next and it is something almost no one I know will want - POI white guy shipping. The working title is "Five Ways to Communicate with Your Partner". We'll see how it goes.

I made a playlist for Wiscon 38's Vid Party called <">What Women Want: Agency, Control and Desire". I highly recommend all the vids I put on there - so many talented vidders. And you should go check out the other playlists too because they're great!

And I wrote a short review of a Hugo nominated short story over at LB. Hopefully short reviews of short fic will become a regular thing from me, in a series called "Short Business" (if you think too hard about names you never get anything done). I've already read another Hugo nominated short story and hope to review it soon.
bookgazing: (i heart books)
2014-05-20 11:08 pm

Things I Did

Still got those top notch post titling skills ;P

I finished a book! Magic. I read "Grasshopper Jungle" by Andrew Smith. If you have teens who like books that talk about relationships and weird SFF creations without sparing the squishy, fluidy bits of the story then I recommend it. As Ana from The Booksmugglers said when I started reading it, warning for weirdness about ladies in places. There's also a lot of good stuff in there though.

I started "The Shadowed Sun" which is the second book in N.K. Jemisin's duology. It's great but I have to concentrate on the world building quite a lot so it's not an ideal bus book and as a consequence my reading progresses slowly. Reading it reminded me how much I liked the story and characters in "The Killing Moon" even though I thought it had quite a bit of awkward explaining shoved in places (which makes so much more sense now that I know this was written before her trilogy). I'm kind of holding my breath until the end of this book because Jemisin does kill central characters and I'm worried about a couple of my favs.

I bought a shit ton of books. Like, possibly too many all at once considering how little I've managed to read so far this year.

I wrote and posted a piece of fan-fic for a challenge and then wrote about how this wasn't as terrible an experience as I expected it to be.

I went to see the Vikings exhibition at the British Museum and it was amazing, but really busy. If you're thinking of seeing it I advise going when you think the whole place will be quieter because the larger sections of the exhibit (the boat) are doable with people around but the first part clog up super quickly due to the way the timed entry system is set up.

I also went to The London Aquarium, which was kind of disappointing. Pretty sure my city's aquarium is better... I expected it to be more like the Monaco museum and aquarium I suppose, but it was more windy and small inside apart from the shark and ray tanks - more like the kind of aquarium you get tacked on to a zoo. I did learn lots of interesting things about sharks though.

I saw "Pompeii". Hahahaha. It actually was a pretty good B-movie until the last half an hour where it got dull-stupid instead of hilarious-stupid and killed my favourite character. I also watched "The Love Punch" which was exactly what I wanted from this film (this cast all talking to each other - I am easily pleased), except it could have done with more jokes. "Locke" predictably came out for a week here and then disappeared so I'll have to catch it on DVD.

I watched "Orphan Black" and I'm so happy it's back.
bookgazing: (i heart books)
2014-05-02 11:27 pm

They Got a Dog

1.) Kristin Cashore's books are amazing. I think "Graceling" is still my favourite, but I fell in love with the characters of "Fire" (actually had a little trouble moving on from them). I did end up thinking "Bitterblue" was probably the most accomplished novel though. The plot works and kept its mystery, which the other two struggled to do. Of course, having burned through all three books in three weeks I'm in the same situation as when I finished "The Dream Thieves". I'm just peering around at the many, many books in my house and turning away from them huffily because they're not by one particular author.

2.) It's probably best for me to work on finishing off series right now. Reading all of Cashore's book so quickly reignited my passion for reading which, if it hasn't been exactly flagging, has been quite easily pushed out of the way to make space for other more practical tasks/moping. I think for a while I lost the excited feeling I used to have when I thought about starting a new story and was just left feeling like starting a new book would be too much work. I need to foster the feeling of my blood and brain fizzling with excitement as I read and focusing on fictional worlds I already know I enjoy is probably a good place to start.

3.) I need to make space if I want to buy more books. It is simply impossible to fit anything else in the space that I have and I need to have a major clear out. I have such a hard time giving books away, but I've been building up to it by clearing out a couple of boxes of other things in the garage. I will have to resist the strong urge to cling because I might want to read something in twenty years time. That's what libraries are for!

4.) There are still so many things to do and not enough time to do them in. So many tempting projects and so few hours. Bank Holiday must be used to its maximum.

5.) "Orphan Black" S2 is in the UK and you better believe I'm going to talk about it a lot. I think we're an episode behind the US so at least there isn't a huge lag like with the first series. Alison is in a musical?!

6.) In case anyone is keeping up with my "Person of Interest" news Amy and I are moving on to S2. In the first episode John Reese got a dog and named him Bear. It's possible I may be dead by the end of this series if these antics continue.
bookgazing: (i heart books)
2014-04-25 04:31 pm

Tomorrow We Read

Tomorrow is Read-A-Thon :D I've made very hermit like plans this year and will mostly be reading rather than checking in online. So, I'm just leaving a post now for any cheerleaders who might want to come and say hi. Thanks so much for dropping by anyone - cheerleaders are so valuable and I always love getting their comments of encouragement.

In other reading news I feel like making reading plans for next month aside from the couple of projects I am working on with people. I just can't decide which set of plans to fix on so I thought I'd see if anyone had any opinions. There are two choices:

Plan One - Books Recommended By Friends

Mission: Spend May reading some of the many book recommended to me by friends.

"Twilight Robbery" - Francis Hardinge
"Rosemary and Rue" - Seanan McGuire
"Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight" - Kelly Sue DeConnick
"The Disreputable History of Frankie Landeau Banks" - E. Lockhart

Plan Two - Complete the Series

Mission: Complete some of the many, many series I've started but haven't finished (mostly because the end of a series is weirdly sad even when you really want to know what happens).

Books 3 & 4 of the Queen's Thief Series - Meghan Whalen Turner
"The Shadowed Sun" - N K Jemisin
"Rapture" - Kameron Hurley
"Monsters of Men" - Patrick Ness
Breaking Dawn" - Stephanie Myer
"Cold Steel" - Kate Elliott
"Half a Crown" - Jo Walton

Want to help me make hard choices? Then leave a comment below. And if you think there's anything I should add to either list let me know :)
bookgazing: (i heart books)
2014-04-23 11:12 pm

Readathon 2014

I've signed up for Dewey's Read-a-Thon at the last minute mostly so I can mainline the last 100 pages of "Fire" by Kristen Cashore and then read "Bitterblue".

I re-read "Graceling" in about two days recently so I could finally push on through the trilogy and ugh, everyone, I should have done this so much sooner. If you are a lady trying to work out how to live life your way and you need a little boost get to these books quickly. If you want modern books based on old school feminist ideas, books that look at some big crossroads of female life and says 'traditional living is kind of lazily messed up sometimes if you look at it closely' this is your trilogy. Complexity - there's a lot of it to be found here.

What are you planning to read if you're joining Read-a-Thon this time around?
bookgazing: (i heart books)
2014-04-09 10:56 pm

Sometimes Titles Are Just Too Hard

As I am doing some work development stuff right now there will be no more work chat here for a while (still terrible though). I'm actually wondering whether to go back and friends lock past posts about this job but then I think this place is so small and mostly disassociated from my real name it is hard to find. Idk, opinions?

This year has been a huge bust for media totals so far. I have read seven books, including one super fast to read comic book collection and one graphic novel. I have obsessively listened to one album ("Bad Blood") for two months, ignoring several other tasty new treats. And I haven't made any progress on my SFF classics film watch. TV - if it's not on live I'm not making much progress even though I really want to mainline episodes of POI. I just need a few more hours!

When I have been getting round to new media I've mostly been sticking with comfort watching and reading. I watched "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" which I thought was adorable - cartoon "Jurassic Park" with puns. It's a full on kids film instead of a "there's something for everyone" animation, which made a change. I saw standard but cool SFF dystopia "Divergent" which was rocking in some places but also had a very generic male lead (and didn't punch me in the heart nearly as hard as "The Hunger Games"). I still think the actor playing Eric should be the love interest *pouts*. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" was charming and pretty, despite being full of odd artistic decisions regarding women. "The Book Thief" just wasn't as interesting in film format even though I so wanted it to be.

Books: I'm currently reading the new John Le Carre novel, because when in doubt I tend to hit up experimental female novelists who glory in prose or old school male novelists whose rapid prose sweeps you along. This book is silly and dramatic and focused on the small details - all the things I liked about Le Carre's Smiley novels in a modern setting.

And I'm watching a mixed bag on TV. "The Musketeers" is over and this is a constant source of distress to me. How did this happen when I hated it to start? "Mr Selfridge" is over and my favourite pairing came off against all odds. "The Mentalist" is weird now, but hurray no one important is dead and Cho is in the FBI! I've been introduced to "Rev" which is kind of charming. The first episode of "Crimson Fields", the big WWI drama from female perspectives was OK and maybe it will get even better as the women get to know each other? Suranne Jones is in it so I have high hopes. And I'm sort of watching the last series of "How I Met Your Mother" if I happen to catch the episodes on repeat.

So, yes, that's what I've been spending my time on. April is a little dull - less social things to go to. But lots of plans are getting made for later in the year which is exciting. Roll on Easter and two days free holiday I say!
bookgazing: (i heart books)
2014-03-25 10:54 pm

Why Book Blogging? - 25th March

The last question for this month is from chaila who wants to know, What do you think draws you to book blogging and reviewing?

If we’re talking basics, I like books and I like talking about them but I don’t have many chances to do that offline. I have offline friends who are into the same TV as me, but not many who regularly read the stuff I like. Searching for community was definitely why I started my blog. And, being “the reader” in my main group of friends, I find talking about books fraught – got to be careful how much I expand on my opinion sometimes or I end up making people feel crappy about their reading choices. So, it’s nice to have an online space where I can go and chat about books with people who’ve read them or want to read them, and where there isn’t quite so much baggage for me to dodge around. The one lesson I would urge on teens is to be nice to your friends about their media choices; otherwise, later in life you’re going to feel like a total heel.

Also, now that I’m out of university, life doesn’t much call on me to construct complex written thoughts. I actually spend a lot of time writing for work and sometimes I have to make joined up e-mail arguments, or write a very clear report but Marketing generally calls for simple structures. While trying to write short Marketing missives is its own enjoyable, riddlesome challenge (kind of like writing fifty word reviews as if your whole life depends on it) it’s not my favourite kind of challenge. Plus, trying to create punchy, attractive simplicity in a loud, busy office environment is not all that much fun. I personally prefer the challenges of long form writing (ha, who’d have guessed?) and the space it gives me to explore. Although I don’t miss working for marks, or three day stints of sitting in my pyjamas writing on a set essay topic, I do kind of miss having to make time in my day to sit and play with words, arrange concepts and work my way through all the spirals of long form arguments. Blogging and reviewing gives me a reason to exercise those long form muscles again.

Long form reviewing pushes me to shape my thoughts into a coherent narrative, which is kind of like playing through a complex puzzle. Where does this bit fit? Do I need to get out the hammer? I love crafting writing that I’m proud of; bending words a bit like metal until it has a satisfying shape and ring to it (never look back though – looking back is horrifying). I think sometimes people forget that critical non-fiction has similar narrative bones to fiction.

I often use writing to make sense of things. It doesn’t always work, but it’s interesting to try. I hash out my thoughts and see what’s on the page at the end of it – sometimes I draw stuff out by writing that just wasn’t as fully developed in my head and I start to see how much more interesting a work is than I first thought. I’ve said this before, but for me reviewing is kind of like taking the back off a clockwork watch and looking at how all the cogs fit together. I just think it’s fascinating to see (or to try and see) how things work. If everything clicks together in a book or a piece of media then great – examining how those pieces slot in to produce a particular effect is like watching magic. And even if the bits don’t quite all work in harmony I still gain a greater understanding of art from looking closely at what media is made up of.

I mean, I’ve absolutely had those moments when looking in more depth at something I love has shattered the surface illusion of its perfection, and felt a little bit sad, but… it was an illusion. Isn’t the reality so much more interesting and toothy? Close analysis breeds love for the oddest of subjects – ask any scientist.

And if you’re wondering why I stick with non-fiction if I like dragging understanding out of narrative so much, well, that’s just about fear. Expanding into fiction is terrifying for me and loaded down with “stuff” I’ve mostly been able to work through in regards to non-fiction. I probably promise not to bombard you with (any more) screechy e-mails about rarewomen >.>

On a personal level, reviewing also gives me a place to sort through all my thoughts and take a good hard look at them. I still think it is fascinating what you can learn about yourself from the simple act of reviewing a book. It’s not always comfortable, but reviewing requires you to think about your own prejudices and backgrounds, much like studying History sharpens your eye for other people’s biases writ large (ex-History student here).
bookgazing: (i heart books)
2014-03-23 12:56 pm

Music of the Moment - A Late 21st March

the literary omnivore wanted to know about my songs of the moment.

First an apology – I was convinced this was for 24th not 21st! Sorry it’s late!

You’ve caught me at a good time for musical obsession because I am currently tied up in a few songs. Can’t promise quality, but I like them (I’m pretty well known for my love of mainstream pop-folk):

"Daniel in the Den" – Bastille

I am in love with this whole messy album (how many folk trends you gonna put in one project, son?).

"A Certain Romance" – The Arctic Monkeys

I’m kind of collecting critiques of British small town living done by insiders.

"Candy" – Robbie Williams

In my head this plays alongside a vid detailing Caroline Forbes’ character evolution.

"Riverside" – Agenes Obel

Still stuck on this – it’s been about a year now. There's just so much delicacy in here, but it's matched with firm chords that give it a real spine.

"Hey Brother" – Aviccii

Someone could use this to make a really great Firefly fanvid…

"Counting Stars" – One Republic

And to finish, an adorable of the moment pop-folk deal which reminds me of a million YA books.
bookgazing: (i heart books)
2014-03-20 10:39 pm

Lady Pirates - 20th March

Reading the End wanted to hear me talk about lady pirates.

Jenny, I feel like I am going to disappoint you because while I love stories about lady pirates I know very little about these real life women. This is one of the many (many, many, many) areas of non-fiction that I would like to explore in more detail if only I were better at reading non-fiction for pleasure. I have a long list of books about pirates and female pirates that I want to get to one day – quite a lot of them are already in my house.

What I do know about female pirates I mostly learned from Diana Norman (probably better known now as Anita Franklin) and the internet. Diana Norman wrote these amazing historical novels about women who don’t feature heavily in historical fiction. When I was a teen, my library had several of her novels and I devoured them. I think she was to me kind of what Jeanne Plaidy was to other teen girls - a glorious, female focused author. It seems strange to say that now when so much historical fiction is about women, but I very much grew up with kings and knights and men adventuringon the high seas. If you haven’t read Diana Norman’s book I strongly recommend trying to find them, especially "Blood Royal" which is about a resourceful but desperate character who becomes a highway woman.

Anyway, the last book my library had was "Pirate Queen", which is a fictional version of the life of an Irish pirate called Grace O’Malley. I was a little bit in love with this story and its flame haired pirate captain.

I also read a book called "The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle" by Avi around the same time. This book isn’t about pirates, instead it’s about a girl who ends up travelling on a ship with a nightmare captain but it was definitely instrumental in shaping my love of all things sea adventure. There seriously aren’t enough stories about women sea adventuring and generally the sub-genre gets given a pass because sea occupations are traditionally seen as the domain of men.

Except, this is kind of like the lama situation that Kameron Hurley describes in "We Have Always Fought". There are lots of interesting female pirate characters in history: Anne Bonny, Grace O’Malley, Mary Read and the other day I learned about a French pirate Jeanne de Clisson who sounds excellent. And there are more. Hundreds of stories have been written about one or two kings so I find the idea that there simply aren’t enough historical female pirates to justify more stories. I bet if I looked around I'd find other examples of female seafarers too. Make with the stories, world.

Oh well, at least Maggie Q is going to kill it in "Red Flag". Until that starts I’ll just be over here looking at Hook genderswap gifs. Unless anyone wants to throw female pirate recs at me? *hopeful face*