elaby: (Orange sun through the trees)
I finished my fourth reading of Lady of the Forest <3 I love it. The thing I noticed the most this time was that in my memories, it never had such a coherent story. I remembered the first series of events very clearly, and then the rest of the novel was sort of a blur of dim castles and political machinations and a rather brief sword fight. I'd always thought the parts I remembered took up the first couple of chapters, but in actuality, they span the first three-quarters of the book. All 700 pages takes place over just a handful of days, and events lead from one to another in a very meticulously planned sequence - nothing like the jumble that I vaguely recalled.

The thing that surprised me the most was that it's at least 500 pages before anybody gets to outlawin'. In the back of the book, the author describes how she intends the book to be more of a prequel, explaining how the characters were able to move through the social classes into the positions legend has put them in, which makes sense. It's unfortunate, though, because my favorite things about the Robin Hood legend are the ensemble-cast-outlaw-camaraderie-banter and the gadding about the forest.

Still, the book as a whole is really delightful and incredibly well done. Although Robin bored me at the beginning, he loosens up considerably. Marian is a constant delight - strong, beautiful, believable. The supporting cast is brilliant. The Sheriff of Nottingham is probably the most complex character in the whole thing, and I do appreciate a complex villain :3

Spoilers under the cut - more specific things I liked and didn't like. )

I bought the sequel on Sunday and I'm really looking forward to reading it, since it'll likely have more of what you'd normally expect from a Robin Hood story: robbing the rich to feed the poor :3

(We also watched Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves the other day - but how much I adore that terrible movie is another post XD)
elaby: (Trees - Gnarled)
The other day when I was feeling sick, Rachel insisted that we watch Robin Hood - the Disney one with the foxes <3 <3 <3 It's really the first Disney movie I can remember watching, and it's always been one of my favorites. It kicked off a bit of a resurgence in my Robin Hood obsession, which is nearly as old as my Lord of the Rings obsession.

It started with the Disney movie when I was very wee, and then the Kevin Costner movie, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, solidified it. I would've been nine when it came out, and from then on, every one of my daydreams involved archery and tree-houses in Sherwood forest. Around the same time, my mother was reading a book by Jennifer Roberson called Lady of the Forest and, in spite of the fact that it's 761 pages long, I decided I had to read it too. It's classified as a romance novel, but it's really more like 40% romance and 60% political intrigue. The important part is that it became my Robin Hood headcanon for quite a numerous span of years, and even though re-reading it is a pretty big undertaking, I do so every so often.

Aside from the fact that I just adore this book in general, one of the most enjoyable things about it is that every time I read it, I notice something I never noticed before.

When I read it the first time, I was probably somewhere around the age of 10, give or take a few years. The things that stuck out to me were surface-level details about the characters: Marian was very dark of hair and blue of eyes, and Robin was pale pale pale, white-blond. Will Scarlett's wife had been killed by Normans - I reacted with loathing to any mention of Normans for years afterwards. Somebody broke Alan-a-dale's lute. Little John was a giant; Much was a boy they called "simple". The frightening things stuck with me too: Robin's violent flashbacks to the battle of Acre; Marian's scary dream about some unfamiliar monster called a bean sidhe. (Years later, a Brian Froud book supplied the pronunciation - "ban shee" - and my brain exploded.)

The second time I read it (when I was a teenager) well, good heavens - it appears I completely missed the sex the first time around. Even the dreaded bean sidhe nightmare comes right after sex, which my unready brain skipped blithely over. This time, I certainly noticed, and I paid more attention to political plot, which I understood enough of to find incredibly long-winded.

The third time I read it, I was in college. Again, I noticed that the political plot was given as much weight, if not more so, than the romance, but I liked it better this time. I found Robin and his stoic-controlled-angstfulness considerably more tedious than before. But the real revelation this time was about Robin's relationship with Richard the Lionheart, who he followed on crusade. The first time, I completely missed the numerous blatant references to Richard's romantic inclinations toward menfolk. The second time, I noticed them, but what I didn't catch until the third time was that Richard had been interested in Robin, and Robin hadn't been able to return his feelings - and Robin was tormented by this failure to accommodate his sovereign. This reading was, as I dubbed it, the "I couldn't shag my king" reading.

I'm only 120 pages into my fourth reading, and already I'm more interested in Marian and how the women of the story navigate their positions than before. I'm hoping for another massive revelation like "I couldn't shag my king"; we'll see :)
elaby: (Clover - Rainbow)
My friend YA author Sarah Diemer has made her latest novel, Twixt, available for free on KDP Select. Read her blog post for more details and the link.

This is an AMAZING deal, you guys - I devoured Twixt the moment it arrived in the mail, and it's an incredible story. The characters are heart-capturing and complicated, the world is chillingly gorgeous, and plot is SO TWISTY that everybody had to drag me away from it to go to the Fairie Festival. THE FAIRIE FESTIVAL. There are few things that could stall me with the prospect of the Fairie Festival before me, guys. Here's the novel's description from Sarah's blog:

You wake upon the cold ground. As you struggle to rise, as your breath exhales like a ghost, you know only two things: You can’t remember who you are. And you’re being hunted.

No one sleeps in Abeo City. The lost souls gather indoors at night as Snatchers tear through the sky on black-feathered wings, stalking them. But inside the rotting walls of the Safe Houses comes a quieter, creeping danger. The people of Abeo City have forgotten their pasts, and they can trade locks of their hair to sinister women known only as the Sixers for an addictive drug. Nox will give you back a single memory–for a price.

Like the other lost souls, Lottie wakens in this harsh landscape and runs in terror from the Snatchers. But she soon comes to realize that she is not at all like the people of Abeo City. When she takes Nox, her memories remain a mystery, and the monsters who fill the sky at night refuse to snatch her. Trying to understand who she is, and how she ended up in such a hopeless place, Lottie bands together with other outcasts, including a brave and lovely girl named Charlie. In the darkness, and despite the threat of a monstrous end, love begins to grow. But as Lottie and Charlie plot their escape from Abeo City, Lottie’s dark secrets begin to surface, along with the disturbing truth about Twixt: a truth that could cost her everything.


Sarah is putting her novel out there for free for a limited time so that people who are interested in her work can have access to it. If you value my literary recommendations at all, give this one a read. It's a journey worth taking.
elaby: (Watson - Writers read)
I just found out that my friends Jennifer & Sarah Diemer's Project Unicorn has, at its halfway point in the year-long project, reached 125,000 words. That is a HUGE AMOUNT of free YA fiction featuring lesbian heroines (2.5 Nano novels!) posted on the authors' website in order to provide self-representations in fiction for queer youth. From their post about reaching the halfway point, they said:

We’ve been driven to continue this because we’ve received so many emails, Tumbls, tweets and Facebook messages about the queer girls (and boys!) who are reading these stories, happy that they exist because they’re the only way they can remain in the closet safely and still read about someone like them. Renting a book from the library might be found out by their conservative parents, or they could be found out in general if they purchased a book with queer content. When these emails first started coming in, I thought it was a small number of kids, but if what we’ve received is any indication, there are still a TON OF KIDS out there who find it completely unsafe to tell their parents or guardians that they’re gay. AND THEY STILL WANT AND DESERVE LITERATURE THAT REFLECTS THEM.

This free fiction project is incredibly important, and Jenn and Sarah have put a tremendous amount of work into it. The stories are consistently high-quality, and if you like genre fiction of any sort - fantasy, sci-fi, historical, steampunk, dystopian, magical realism - you'll find something you'll enjoy here. Collections of the stories are available as well for e-readers and in hard copy so that we can support the authors in this project.
elaby: (Madoka - Madoka Homura hug)
Two of my very favorite authors (and favorite people), Sarah and Jenn Diemer, released the first of their lesbian YA stories for their incredibly awesome Project Unicorn today. Does Project Unicorn sound awesome to you? I thought so!

From their site:

Project Unicorn: A Queer-Girl, YA Extravaganza! is a fiction project created by lesbian YA authors Sarah Diemer and Jennifer Diemer. It was created because of the obvious lack of queer-girl heroines in the Young Adult genre, and the critical need for them.

Project Unicorn is updated twice weekly with a free, original, never-before-published YA short story featuring a lesbian heroine. Also, every story is a work of genre fiction (Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Post-apocalyptic, Historical, etc.).


You can read the first story, "Witch Girls" by Sarah, for free by visiting the Project Unicorn site. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but Sarah's writing is always beautiful and stirring and this project is incredibly important. I didn't know enough about myself when I was an adolescent to understand why I was so uninterested and then increasingly irritated by many of the romances in books I read. I thought for many years that it was just a rebellion against the idea that romance is necessary for living a happy, fulfilled life. While I still rebel against that idea, I also believe that a large part of my lack of patience with romance in stories was because I couldn't feel any personal connection with the relationship. In high school, I thought I would "grow out of" my discomfort and disinterest at the idea of romantically being with a guy. Luckily, I found out I didn't have to :)

Even though I never recognized my disconnection with straight romances in stories for what it was, there are lots (and lots and LOTS) of kids who understand that they're not straight and need stories that validate them. Sarah and Jenn say it better than I ever could - please read their dialogue about why writing gay YA matters (click the links to their other blog posts on similar topics - you won't be sorry!)
elaby: (Michiru - Lipstick lesbian)
On one of the various lesbian literature tumblrs I follow, I found out about The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister. Anne Lister was a woman living in Yorkshire, England in the early 1800's, who chronicled her daily life, including her self-driven education and the management of her estate. One remarkable thing about her diaries is that many of the entries are written in code, and when people decoded these encrypted entries, they discovered a new facet to her adventures: her unapologetic, detailed romances with several women.

I tried to have this book Interlibrary-loaned, but it turned out to be unavailable anywhere in the U.S. O_o So my wonderful, amazing librarian wife got the university to buy the book for its collection. And now I have it XD And it's fascinating.

The parts that aren't encrypted are still extremely interesting (even if I am reading it primarily for its contribution to lesbian history). Anne Lister was very isolated even in a culture where she necessarily spent a lot of time with other people. As part of the only landowning family in her town, she obviously felt like she was of a different social class than everyone around her and she didn't have anyone she could relate to. She obsessed over a particular girl from town but refused to formally call on her family, because doing so would be beneath her. She's a total snob, and her candor is both amusing and shocking. It's very cool to be able to read something so honest when the majority of stuff I've read from this period was intended for publication and therefore had an agenda.

And the lesbian parts are, well, awesome. According to Anne, EVERY girl in town is in love with her. She has, at the moment (I'm up to 1819, two years into the diary), three primary targets of her affection - her true love who was recently married and from whom she is now somewhat estranged, a local girl from the town, and an older friend whose "temper" she much dislikes but who she fantasizes about because of the good times they had and her current disillusionment with her true love. I keep thinking about what a treasure this diary is, because Anne's experience is just like so many other girls' - the ups and downs, the exercises in self-delusion, the plans about how to act around the object of her affections... Not only does it show that girls now feel the same things as girls two hundred years ago, but it gives a lesbian perspective that sounds surprisingly modern.

Also, after more than a hundred pages, it finally dawned on me that all the in-code references to "kissing" may be a euphemism. Heh.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who's interested in women, Victorians, gender expression, or GLBTQ history. If you're interested in all four, it's the jackpot :3
elaby: (Van Helsing - Brain)
At our local library, I discovered a series of YA books by Catherine Jinks about the squire of a Templar during the Crusades (specifically, right before the Third Crusade - the first book takes place in 1186, I think, and includes the Battle of Hattin). They are marvelous. The first book, Pagan's Crusade, was wonderful (the main character's name bears no relation to his religious affiliation, by the way - I was a teeny bit disappointed XD but Christianity in these books is handled very well), and I just finished the second one, Pagan in Exile, this morning. Pagan is an utterly delightful narrator - he's a Christian Arab who was born in Bethlehem and grew up as an orphan in a monastery from whence he ran away at the age of ten, and he's a sarcastic, streetwise, completely realistic down-on-his-luck kid. The first-person narrative is done in a really interesting style. It's comprised of snatches and bits of imagery: what Pagan sees, hears, smells, feels, thinks. Spoken words are usually peppered with his sarcastic inner monologue. This evokes medieval Jerusalem very effectively along with putting the reader right inside Pagan's head. It's also a vivid and - I imagine - realistic way to describe the frenzied battle scenes, for example.

Pagan in Exile is even better. In the first book, Pagan and his knight, Lord Roland, unfold as complex and compelling characters, and their depth only increases in the second book. There's a particular element in this one that I wanted to talk about, but I'm going to put it under a cut even though I'll still be as vague as possible, to avoid spoilers. It's a subject that's very important to me personally, especially in YA books.

Cut for spoilers of theme, with details still omitted for maximum spoiler-avoidance )

In short, thumbs up :3
elaby: (Dancing feet)
One of the most amazing women I know, Sarah Diemer, published her first novel today. The Dark Wife, a lesbian revisionist retelling of the Persephone myth, promises to be a breathtakingly beautiful story. Here is the author's description:

Three thousand years ago, a god told a lie. Now, only a goddess can tell the truth.

Persephone has everything a daughter of Zeus could want–except for freedom. She lives on the green earth with her mother, Demeter, growing up beneath the ever-watchful eyes of the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus. But when Persephone meets the enigmatic Hades, she experiences something new: choice.

Zeus calls Hades “lord” of the dead as a joke. In truth, Hades is the goddess of the underworld, and no friend of Zeus. She offers Persephone sanctuary in her land of the dead, so the young goddess may escape her Olympian destiny.

But Persephone finds more than freedom in the underworld. She finds love, and herself.


Sarah writes for - I very much believe - all the right reasons. She writes so that her readers can see something of themselves in her stories, so that they can be whisked away by her poetic style, so they can have a little bit of literary magic in their lives. She describes her own philosophies much better than I ever could: her blog is at muserising.com, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in love, magic, equality, and just a general all-around joy for life. You can find ways to buy her book on her blog, or on her website at oceanid.org. Sarah is not only a good person to support because this is her first published novel, but also because of the love she spreads and the work she does for women, glbtq people, and everyone who ever had a dream.

Away South

Dec. 30th, 2010 07:31 pm
elaby: (Lestrade - CJ <3 guh.)
[livejournal.com profile] caitirin and I are off tomorrow on our very first cruise! Her lovely wonderful parents are taking us. I still can't really believe it XD

We'll be back at the end of next week (late-ish Thursday night), and I don't expect we'll have internet in the meantime. Not sure about phones, either, ha! But there will be snorkeling and Mayan ruins (!!!) and sun and, I'm told, blue-green water, and I can't freaking WAIT.

Things that have been going on in my life lately:

- Christmas was fabulous! I <3 my family. We had pomegranates and scavenger hunts and LotR Trivial Pursuit!
- Reading lots of Night Watch novels. I adore Vimes like you wouldn't believe (or maybe you might *coughseeiconcough*). Also, Vetinari, where have you been all my life? Oh, right, over there in those books everyone kept telling me to read. <3
- I have a fairy story in my head. It may get written one of these days.
- CARIBBEAN. TOMORROW. *flail*

See you all in the new year :) *smishhugs f'list*
elaby: (Stamper - Glasses)
I don't usually feel moved to review books here, even when I really super love them (I just sort of post incoherent squee about them instead most of the time) but I just finished In The Woods by Tana French, and I'm compelled to write about it. At first, I thought "I have no idea what to say about this book" - reading it left me in kind of a daze - but then I realized that no, I really do know what to say after all.

In The Woods is a (modern) murder mystery about an Irish detective whose biggest case involves a child-murder in the town where he grew up, where when he was twelve, his two best friends vanished and he was left with no memory of the (obviously terrifying) incident. This is by far one of the best-written books I've ever read. Tana French has a way with words that I frankly never thought possible: she describes feelings and memories and atmosphere (not to mention places and people) using imagery that is so perfectly apt that I never imagined a writer could get them that right. Her descriptions resonate so strongly with me that when I read them, I thought, over and over, that I'd felt that exact feeling before, or had that kind of memory, or felt that atmosphere, but I always thought "There's no way anyone could describe that in a way that makes sense and does it justice." But Tana French does.

Even apart from that, the mysteries, both of the main character's past and the current murder, are so fascinating I never wanted to put it down. They're built up so carefully that every tiny detail seems important. The relationships between the main character and his partner is brought to this epic level of delightful BFF snarktastic chemistry (his partner, one of the only women on the Murder Squad, is my favorite character by far). The twists and surprises are really good, too - not obscure enough that I didn't have an inkling they where coming, but they ended up far more complicated than I expected.

If you're the kind of person who likes to know what sort of ending a story has before you read it - not what happens, or how things turn out, or any details whatsoever, just what sort of ending you're in for - I urge you to read under the cut before you ever think of picking up this book. )

Why this post calls for a Stamper icon I'm not really sure, but, uh, it does.
elaby: (Little My - Skates)
So, I still haven't finished Master and Commander, but not ten pages after I last posted... spoilerzomg )

That's all :3 Why don't I have any icons of people on ships?
elaby: (Mummy - Superhero Jonathan)
I haven't squeed about Master and Commander yet, have I? I've been reading it for the past few weeks, and I'm almost at the end - I borrowed it from my dad, who is a devourer of sea novels, and I just adore it. I'm going to have to stop by their house soon so I can borrow the next one!

And now, I babble and squee. )
elaby: (Snufkin - journey)
I just bought the Russian "Sign of the Four" and "His Last Bow" movies for myself :3 Now I'll have all of them!

I also realized yesterday that I don't own all of the Moomintroll books o_o What's up with that, I ask you? I'll have to check out editions, because I had some confusion when I got the other ones as to which were which. And I have my favorite translators. There are three whole books and one very different revision that I don't have! ZOMG!

We're going to have a fun day with [livejournal.com profile] coastal_spirit of curry, Wii, anime, metaphysical stores, and anything else we want to do. Joy! n_____n
elaby: (Jericho - brown)
*loves detectives*

I finished reading Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye the other day, and it was fantastic. So fantastic, in fact, that it's inspired another long-winded post about how awesome it is, in the spirit of that one I wrote about "The Six Napoleons" (fear not: this one is considerably shorter). Marlowe is very different from Holmes, from the setting to the characters and everything in between (except for a distrust of the official police force, and a sense of private justice, and... hm, okay, maybe they're only superficially dissimilar) but they both give me the same kind of squeeful joy. Onward!

The Long Goodbye might be my favorite Marlowe story. It's neck and neck with Farewell, My Lovely, anyway, if only for the latter's drug hallucination scene and the "putting on my pants" scene and the whole Red incident with the hand-holding. Okay, so maybe they're a true tie. They're both generally seen as two of Raymond Chandler's best, and it's obvious that The Long Goodbye was written later. It's tied together thematically in much more developed ways, and Marlowe's even more cynical and lonely than usual. God above, is he lonely. But I'll get to that. It's also just a little bit freer with letting you know how Marlowe feels about things, which usually you have to extrapolate like you do with Watson (except, of course, on certain rare occasions, like when Marlowe tells all his fears to Red because Red's got pretty girl eyes). But since Marlowe's the focus of the stories, whereas Watson's not, it takes on a different significance. A couple of times he actually says how he feels, in narration or to another person (and it's almost always "like crap") whereas before, you'd have to glean what you can from his detached description of his own actions.


Cut for plot and squeeing and a smidgen of analysis, and a quote of the last scene of the book, which is ohgod so good. )
elaby: (Twelfth Night - OTP)
I wonder if I ought to have a Holmes tag after all of this posting XD

I finished reading My Dearest Holmes, by Rohase Piercy, after two days. I had to absolutely rip myself painfully away from it whenever my breaks were over at work. [livejournal.com profile] caitirin read this a few years ago, so you may have heard of it from her, but if not, it's a short novel of two "lost" manuscripts written by Watson and sealed to be opened 100 years after they were written. It's about Holmes and Watson's relationship, supposedly the truth about it, and it's beautiful and heartrending.

I really, really loved most of it. It was so sad, since it focused on Watson being besotted and Holmes being, um, Holmes, and on Holmes' faked death. But it did end happily. It was written very much in the Conan Doyle style, and it even used lines from the canon stories sneakily slipped in occasionally. It didn't deviate terribly far from how I think their characters are, and the raciest it gets is one kiss. It's not even a detailed kiss. I was thankful for this :) It's all extremely restrained, obviously, considering how the two of them (Holmes especially) are.

The only thing I didn't like about it was the angle that Watson's been gadding about the gay circles in London and practically everybody he runs into is like "Oh, Dr. WATSON" *eyebrow waggle* In some parts it seemed like he'd been absolutely secretive, and it others it seemed like everybody knew he liked men and all of his and Holmes' problems, the danger they were in at various points, was a result of his supposed "indiscretions". In the context of the time, it was extremely realistic, I just didn't feel like it was them. I'm more in the "extremely close but not sexually attracted to one another" camp with these two.

But the book as a whole was really wonderful, and I enjoyed it immensely. I think it'll be a favorite of mine. I sure am lucky Caitirin bought it :)
elaby: (Gackt - alone)
I've been on a Sherlock Holmes kick lately (thank you, [livejournal.com profile] _melisande_!) and I bought the complete Sherlock Holmes in two volumes yesterday, for less than $15 \o/ I read A Study in Scarlet today. And I was poking around the internets, and I read a reference to this part from The Adventure of the Three Garridebs. This sort of thing is all the motivation I need to read through hundreds of pages of stories looking for more of the same. Be still, my little fannish heart!

Holmes and Watson are confronting a criminal (the first "he") in an empty house.

In an instant he had whisked out a revolver from his breast and had fired two shots. I felt a sudden hot sear as if a red-hot iron had been pressed to my thigh. There was a crash as Holmes’s pistol came down on the man’s head. I had a vision of him sprawling upon the floor with blood running down his face while Holmes rummaged him for weapons. Then my friend’s wiry arms were round me, and he was leading me to a chair.
“You’re not hurt, Watson? For God‘s sake, say that you are not hurt!”
It was worth a wound — it was worth many wounds — to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.
“It’s nothing, Holmes. It‘s a mere scratch.”
He had ripped up my trousers with his pocket-knife.
“You are right,” he cried with an immense sigh of relief. “It is quite superficial.” His face set like flint as he glared at our prisoner, who was sitting up with a dazed face. “By the Lord, it is as well for you. If you had killed Watson, you would not have got out of this room alive.”


Now, I'd like to note that this doesn't make me squee because I think Holmes and Watson are shagging. It makes me squee more because OMG YAY affection!

I <3 Victorian male friendship (see Ezra Jennings and Franklin Blake). I also have discovered (somewhat belatedly) that I like mysteries. I never thought I did, but hello - Holmes, Marlowe, Dresden. And Justin de Quincy! I love mysteries! It's just that I have to love the detective too.
elaby: (Dancing feet)
I am a bad little LJer! Bad! [livejournal.com profile] caitirin disagrees because she's wonderful and beautiful and the most perfect wife ever in the world. Even if she has a cold sore.

Things of interest that have happened recently:

- There's a new guy in our unit at work. He's okay.

- I got a CD by a Japanese ubercute pop band called Under17. Holy GOD, it's adorable and peppy and catchy and charms my socks off. I listened to it on the plane both to and from visiting Caitirin's parents last week.

- Speaking of which, we had a fabulous time :) It's very nice out there, and the irritation brought on by having to deal with Caitirin's grandmother is fading into that now-just-an-amusing-story state. When we got out there and Caitirin's mom was driving us home, I saw a rainbow cloud. It was incredible - the sun was shining on the edge of this cloud, and the entire cloud was a spectrum of color with rainbows at the edges. Another cloud near it had edges of rainbows too. I've never seen this before. I figured it must be something about the altitude difference (much higher out there). I should look and see if I can find pictures online!

[edit: It was kind of like this, only the bands were a lot thicker and the cloud was smaller, so the colors filled all of it.]

- In early May I saw a faery trail. You know faery circles? Dark round patches in the grass? Well, one morning I was dropping Caitirin off at the bus stop and it was one of the first very dewy mornings. The lawn near where I dropped her off was alight with dew. The sun was still low and the grass was brilliant with it. And as I drove off, I saw a dark path, consistently about a foot wide, straight from the forest to the road.

- I had put in an application for a job at Caitirin's university for a web writing job, and although they're in a hiring freeze and couldn't hire anyone at the moment anyway, they sent me a rejection letter. It wasn't the normal one, though, and it said they were impressed with my credentials.

- We wrote and had dinner with [livejournal.com profile] _melisande_ last night, and it was incredible. She has a really great net tent thing, and her garden is gorgeous, and her family is just beyond wonderful. They cooked us hamburgers and homemade potato salad, and Caitirin and [livejournal.com profile] _melisande_ and I sat around a fire after it got dark and made s'mores and sang and looked at the stars. She lives out in the woods, so you can see the stars so sharply. I haven't sung around a campfire since Caitirin and I went camping back before we moved in together. And this time there were three of us so we could sing beautiful rounds :) And we sounded great. It was wonderful. And there was talk of shirtless!Thomas, which makes any situation better XD

- I'm in a medieval historical fiction reading mood, and I'm reading Sharon Kay Penman's Medieval Mysteries (SO GOOD!) and The Pillars of the Earth, which is less well-written but still pretty interesting.

Ooh, a TV show about Herculaneum is on.
elaby: (Gaiman - postmodern)
I’m having something of a reading crisis, O Great LJ Hivemind. And I think it’s grad school’s fault.

Nowadays, things I read fall into three categories, and these categories seem to define the level of enjoyment I get out of reading.

Category 1: Fiction of Awe-Inspiring Rockitude. Examples include Rose Daughter, Inkheart, and anything by Neil Gaiman. When I read these, I am utterly enthralled by the story. I’m taken into the book’s world, and the only outside thoughts that come in (outside thoughts being stuff not related to the plot/characters as if they were real) are “Oh man, this is so skillful. I should take notes.”

Category 2: Pretty Good Fiction That Should By All Rights Be Enjoyable. Examples include the Eragon books and the first two novels of the Dresden Files. My problem lies in this section. No matter the fact that I should be getting pleasure out these – the only thing that goes through my head as I read these is analysis from a writerly perspective. Why did the author have character X do that? Why didn’t he pace this differently? He should have told us that earlier. He shouldn’t be making character Y so over-the-top that I already hate him/her when I’m obviously not supposed to. That metaphor didn’t make any sense. That analogy purposefully pointed at something that throws me out of the narrative. OMG BRAIN, SHUT UP.

My enjoyment of reading is seriously being compromised by my stupid head, and I don’t know how to make myself stop. I can’t turn it off. I feel like either I trust the author or I don’t, and when I don’t, I spend the entire time picking apart the writing and trying to figure out what effect the author was trying to accomplish. It’s driving me BATTY.

Oh, and there’s also Category 3: Nonfiction. I’m pretty good with nonfiction – if it’s metaphysical stuff, I form my own opinions given the material and I take into consideration the way the author presents it. If it’s history, I take in the facts and consider the spin the author puts on it by the language he or she uses. I’m not having too much of a dilemma with this, except that sometimes I feel bad that I only feel the need to blog about a nonfiction book if it’s pissing me off in some way.

But my problem with Category 2 is driving me insane. I feel like I got that way by the end of the Harry Potter series, too, and I really should have been able to enjoy that for itself and not for what it said about JKR’s writing decisions. Has anyone else ever had this problem? This isn’t to say I think it’s bad to think about the writing process while you’re reading fiction... I’m just sick of it getting in the way of my enjoyment.

In slightly related news, I got two new books last Saturday - Walking with the Green Man by Bob Curran and A Witch's Guide to Faery Folk by Edain McCoy. I'm having issues with the former because while it's very interesting, it's written at about the level of a mediocre college essay. Please stop insulting my intelligence by repeating your VERY SIMPLE thesis at the end of EVERY PARAGRAPH, plzkthnx. Also, get an editor, because if you have a PhD you really should know the correct use of the word "however." The Guide to Faery Folk is much much better, though, and although I've disagreed with it in places, it gives me interesting things to think about and has a lot of depth so far.

For some reason, I have no problem picking apart nonfiction ^^;;
elaby: (Utena - silence)
Disney Princess meme taken from [livejournal.com profile] queen_lily_rose :)

Bold the ones that apply to you )

Heh, I guess Belle it is :) I always liked her, but I liked her because she's NOT a princess. Or at least she doesn't start out as one. I guess marrying the Beast makes her one?

Speaking of which, I'm reading Robin McKinley's Rose Daughter right now, and HOMG. If I could write like that, I'd call myself talented. Every line is beautifully crafted. The whole thing is just incredibly beautiful. I haven't even got that far into it. It's really incredible. I liked The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword very much, but there's a charm about Rose Daughter that they don't compare to. The styles are very different, and Rose Daughter's style appeals to me much more. It's lovely.

Anyway! I should be writing!
elaby: (Jericho - brown)
OMG, I love Raymond Chandler so much. I just finished Farewell, My Lovely and I'm into The High Window now. Farewell, My Lovely has been my favorite so far, and it contained this one scene that's how I first heard of Marlowe - it was quoted in an article I read when I was writing my Sam Spade paper.

The main reason why I love Marlowe so much is because he's like Indy - he gets beaten up, and sick, and scared, and overtired, and other generally human things. Sam Spade's hands shook once because he was mad, and he thought it was funny. Sam Spade is tough in a way that repulses me - he bullies women (or shags them with absolutely no conscience whatsoever), either beats up or mocks any man who doesn't meet his standards of manliness, and would nearly have an aneurism before showing any kind of "weak" emotion.

Marlowe seems pretty tough at the beginning of every book. He's extremely sarcastic, jaded, world-weary, and even edges on crazy occasionally. He also quotes Shakespeare, feels horrible about almost kissing a married woman, and tells a man all of his problems and fears because the man has pretty eyes. That scene in particular is awesome. Let me show you!

First, a description. )

*swoons*

Makes me want to draw fanart. Or something.

I need to find out if this was made into a movie.

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