solaciolum: King of Night Vision, King of Insight (Default)
Time Traveler Extraordinaire

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solaciolum: when night falls on the land, all will understand (walking on the wind)
Saturday, March 20th, 2010 11:22 pm
Yep, still reading, just not at the rate I ought to be. I plead February for my laxity, but I really don't have much excuse for the beginning of March.

The Wordy Shipmates is Sarah Vowel's witty and heartwarming exploration into the lives and times of the original Massachusetts Bay Colonists. I pretty much only ever read one non fiction book a year outside of those I read for classes, and that's only because my father makes a point of giving me one for Christmas every year. Vowel's often irreverent commentary on the Puritans and the seventeenth century British is good fun, though; perhaps if I remind myself that not all nonfiction reads like my textbooks, I'd read more. And perhaps if I read more about American history, I'd feel less ashamed of my very, very sketchy background in that subject. (Thanks, public school! (I kid, I kid, I'm very grateful to have gone to public school- but US History 2 was essentially a second study hall, when I caught up on sleep or my pre-calc homework.))

The Egyptian Earth is actually something I had to read for my politics class, but I'm counting it because it's a novel and it wasn't on the textbook list. I have to write a paper examining some aspect of Arab social dynamics in it- complete draft is due Monday, and I'm getting very very tired of the fact that every aspect of this class causes me some level of anxiety.

At any rate, it's not at all my usual fare, and I've still got it percolating in my head; you have an Egyptian peasant village suffering the abuses of the government and struggling to rebel in productive ways that really don't go anywhere. It presents a sort of idealized version of peasant social relationships, if not of peasant life- these are not happy, idyllic peasants, they are poor and filthy and frequently irritable and full of vicious gossip, but when push comes to shove they unite against a common cause.

Under normal circumstances, I'd stick with what I know and write about gender relations in the book, but I just finished my gender and sexuality midterm, and I'm a little sick of it. I need to produce some amount of bullshit to hand in; so long as it looks like a potentially complete paper, I can edit it as much as necessary before handing in the final version some time in April. *sigh* Still not feeling this semester at all, and it's half over.
solaciolum: Kefka didn't orchestrate the fall of Doma- Sabin's erection did. (Sabin)
Thursday, January 28th, 2010 11:05 am
The Alchemist is the tale of a young man on a Journey to Discover his True Purpose in Life, wherein he and the reader learn that All Things Are Connected, and Love is the True Path to the Divine, and Everything Exists to Fulfil Its Purpose. The main character discovers that his true purpose is to find a treasure in Egypt, and he has fantastic adventures along the way. On his journey he encounters people who help him along: the King of Salem, an Englishman in search of the Philosopher's stone, a mysterious Alchemist, and a beautiful young woman named Fatima, whom he falls in love with at first sight. Of course, she loves him in return, because while the boy's purpose is to find treasure, Fatima's purpose is to wait in a desert oasis her whole life until the boy finds her, and then to wait again until he returns to her with his treasure.

And they lived happily ever after.


*throws the book across the room*

I might have enjoyed The Alchemist, if it hadn't been for that; I have a fondness for stories about mysticism, and I like general tales of adventure and coming of age. And it's a quick, breezy read that filled my train ride into the city yesterday quite nicely. But there's a sour taste in the back of my mind that isn't going to go away, and I'm so tired of reading books that do that.

Cities of Coin and Spice is up next, because it's about time I finished the series, and I know I can trust Cathrynne Valente to not induce book-throwing urges.
solaciolum: King of Night Vision, King of Insight (Default)
Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 09:30 am
I haven't actually read any Discworld since highschool, which seems a little strange and shameful considering the number of people I know who have read every single book in the series. And it's taken me several years to read Going Postal, which also seems strange, given that I was living with a Pratchett fan with family members in the postal service when the book came out.

I'd forgotten how much I really, really liked Pratchett- sure, there are moments when the book is over the top and emotionally manipulative, but then there are moments of spine tingling, profound awesome, like Mr. Pump's actuarial approach to murder, and more or less every time Vetinari appeared on page. I'd somehow forgotten how much I enjoyed Vetinari- now I need to find a book about the Watch to see if I still enjoy Vimes as much as I used to.

It's taking me longer to read books now that I can't just spend a day in one of the chairs in the library; I read Going Postal on my meal breaks at work and then finished it as a treat for doing my homework on Sunday.

I now have The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo, Cities of Coin and Spice by Cat Valente, and one of the Aubrey and Maturin books (for real, this time!) out from the library; hopefully I will find myself more time to read this week.
solaciolum: King of Night Vision, King of Insight (Default)
Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 09:23 pm
I meant to grab the first Aubrey/Maturin book at the library, but instead I ended up with Patrick O'Brian's first novel, Testimonies, which is some sort of a creeping horror of a small town psychological thriller. Only not, really, but it does end up being creeping and horrible at the end. I think I'd have been happier with an Aubrey/Maturin book- although the main character's middle name is Aubrey, and he does at one point mention a friend named Maturin, so. Patrick O'Brian, I see what u did there.

massive massive spoilers )
solaciolum: Time to shank some dudes (Assassin's Creed) (hidden blade)
Monday, January 4th, 2010 07:27 pm
I am determined to read at least fifty books this year. I love books, there's no reason for me to be doing as little reading as I do. And so: first book of the new year! I had a bit of free merchandise credit to spend at Borders after Christmas, and this was the only thing that leapt off the seriously picked-over shelves. Turns out it was an excellent choice.

The Drowning City is part high-fantasy action adventure, part spy thriller- Isyllt Iskaldur is a Selafai spy and necromancer sent to the city of Symir to help foment a revolution among the native Sivahran people so the occupying Empire won't turn its sights to her homeland.

This book hits so many of my story kinks- necromancy, assassins, fantastical cities, sensible elemental magic systems, spiritual possession. It has the added bonus of being populated primarily by Asian and Middle Eastern equivalent cultures, which was unexpected and awesome. It also passes the Bechdel test with flying colors- all of the viewpoint characters are women, none of them are defined by their romantic relationships (affected by them, yes, but not defined by them, and all three of them are effectively single by the end of the story), Sivahran society is quietly matriarchal, and most of the moving and shaking of the plot is done by women.

And man, what a plot. Intrigue! Spies! Terrorists and revolutionaries! Corrupt government officials! Isyllt's story is just a small part of the whole, bloody, revolutionary mess, and I do love a tale of revolution. Once the story gets going, there are a few madcap reveals of awesomeness (although you see the thing with Asheris, the Lord Inquisitor, coming a mile away, but it's fine because Asheris is fantastic. I have a thing for pyromancers, what can I say.).

There's pretty much nothing I didn't enjoy about this book, apart from the occasional stylistic sentence fragment and the overuse of the word "gooseflesh." But I'm the sort of freak who thinks too hard about tiny flaws in writing, so. *coughs, hides rants on the first half of The Name of the Wind under the rug* I'm looking forward to the sequel, as I thoroughly enjoyed Isyllt and her adventures- though I do hope some of the characters from The Drowning City show up in The Bone Palace when it comes out.