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I have a few ideas, and the top 8 books on my to read pile are all things which might be eligible (mostly for Lodestar for YA fiction)

The books I was mostly excited about are:

Adult novels:

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (Roanhorse also in her second year of eligibility for Campbell). This is a postapocalyptic mystery with Coyote. I love all of those things, so I loved this. OWn voices fantasy is where it's at, and rightly so.

Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee. This is the third in the Machineries of Empire series (which I think makes this eligible for series nomination too). Mil SF, beautiful, horrific and coming to a spectacular close in this book, read this you will not be sad. Well, you might be sad, but you'll not regret it.

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron. By far my favourite book this year (and I think Cameron is eligible for Campbell). It's about a girl whose mother dies and then angels start falling out of the sky, so girl's father takes her to chase angels, and there is romance and loss and it's all about family of choice and doing the right thing and I loved it so much (especially the bi disabled love interest who is the best love interest since Olivia from Into the Drowning Deep). If you love me you should read this book; if you love books you should read this book; if you have a couple of hours with nothing to do you should read this book; if you love Scotland or angels or cute teenage lesbians or coming of age stories, you should read this book. It's short, even if none of that sounds like you, read the book anyway.

Damsel by Elana K Arnold. This took a while to grow on me but it did. It's sort of a fairy tale but turned on its head, like a grown up Paper Bag Princess. It's about toxic masculinity, and has a really satisfying ending.

Aru Shah and the End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi. If you've spoken to Judith recently, she's probably enthused at you about this book; it's the first time she's ever had a book that she's read and then immediately wanted to lend to all her friends so she can talk about it. It's a save-the-world book with an unwitting hero in Spiderman pyjamas, really full of pop culture references and really fun. I can't wait for the next!

Shorter fiction:

Lost Objects by Marian Womack is a collection of beautiful, complex climate change shorts, which is well worth reading but some of them were published earlier. I'm going to reread and think about which to nominate, but I'd mention that Kingfisher was nominated for the BFSA awards, and it is an uncomfortable story about birds, writing and marriage which I would definitely recommend.

All The Time We've Left to Spend by Alyssa Wong, about JPop and love and regret

The Rose McGregor Drinking and Admiration Society by T Kingfisher, about fairies

Rivers Solomon (An Unkindness of Ghosts) is in their second year of eligibility. If you haven't read An Unkindness of Ghosts, but like scifi with autistic protagonists, or books about the Antebellum South, or scifi with historic themes and contemporary relevance, this is the book for you.

What about you? got any recs for me?

Book swap

Dec. 14th, 2018 11:34 am
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
The last couple of years I've hosted a book swap, but my to read pile is looming and I'm thinking of skipping this year, would you be disappointed?


Oct. 18th, 2018 09:41 pm
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Tiny planets sofa)
About 5 years ago, I wrote a programme to work out which names were given to most similar numbers of amab and afab babies, as a shorthand for ungendered names. Recentltrsy, I was inspired to dust it off and put the most recent data through it, so I did both England & Wales and USA.

The first thing I noticed was that the numbers are a lot closer in England & Wales,but I think that’s an effect of all the US numbers being bigger. Apart from top name Avery, which is completely neutral in England & Wales (4 times as many afab as amab in USA), the proportions are similar with Bobbie & Rylee in E&W being similar proportions to Azariah & Oakley in
the USA, for example. The second I noticed was that where names appear in both lists, they are either in wildly different places (eg Frankie, one of the most neutral names in th e USA, has over twice as many amab as afab babies in England & Wales) or lean different ways (eg Morgan was given to roughly 5 times as many afab than amab babies in the USA, and roughly 3 times as many amab as afab in England & Wales).

Read more... )
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A long time ago, I did a thing where about once a week, I took a different cookbook from my shelf and made a meal from it. I recently noticed I had several new books since then and started again. Macaroni cheese and Apple tarts with chocolate ice-cream from the Gilmore girls cookbook; lentil and red wine stew, lagana, celery with raisins and fried carrots from Roman Cookery by Mark Grant.

One of the side effects of my recent incapacity had been that, not going to band, I could spend an evening with Tom once a week. Next week, I intend to return to band and we will no longer have a weekly evening free between us.

So I took last night to make a three course cookbook project and lots it was mostly good. I chose the Microwave Cookbook by, er, I left it at Tom's so I don't remember. Fish timbales, which consist of a fish and Pernod mousse filled with caviar (the only fish I could find was cod and I think it would have been better with a different fish - Tom thought it would have been better without Pernod, but both of us were inclined to like it), followed by liver in red wine with pasta and cucumber in mango sauce (liver was great, cucumber didn't work for us) and for dessert, syllabub. You can't go wrong with syllabub.

Then this morning I found it hard to get up so did not leave the house at 8:45 as I'd hoped but rather at 10:10 but as we often don't get any morning together, one or other of us needing to be somewhere, it was nice to have breakfast (grilled Portobello mushrooms with spinachy scrambled eggs and toasted muffins with jam). But I did get to the opticians, where my glasses were being replaced (having broken within warranty) so I have nice new glasses.
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Today I was introduced to the idea of a vaguely Harry Potter inspired readalong, called "OWLs readalong"

There's a video, here:
but there are also 12 subjects each with a themed book to read and the theory id, one picks 5 (more or less) and reads then between 2nd and 29th As April. There will be another themed read-through for newts, based on which owls one passed, and I figured it seemed fun and I was about to start a new book so now was a good time for me.

Here's the list, and I intend to add each book as I read them:

Ancient Runes: A book with a symbol on the cover
Cross bones by Kathy Reichs

Arithmacy: Read a book with a number on the cover or in the
The Path to Rome by Hilaire Belloc (publisher's foundation date on cover)

Astronomy: Read a science fiction novel
Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Care of Magical Creatures: Read a book that includes magical creatures
Features a magical creature on the cover
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge.

Charms: Read a fantasy book
Jackelope Wives by T Kingfisher

Defense Against the Dark Arts: Book about/featuring secret societies/clubs.
Judy the Guide by Elinor M Brent-Dyer

Divination: Read a book featuring prophecies
Yes it's really short even as books of the Bible go, but assume of my others were really long.

Herbology: Read a book with a nature related word in the
The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macauley (Trebizond, now called Trabzon, is named τράπεζα, table, for its central table shaped hill.)

History of Magic: Read a historical fiction
The Temple Of My Familiar by Alice Walker
Walker described this as 'a romance of the last 500,000 years' so I'd read a little way through before realising this would not normally be categorised as historical fiction but I was going to count it anyway.

Muggle Studies: Read a muggle non-fiction book
We Owe You Nothing: Punk Planet the Collected Interviews
This is the book for a book group I just joined, affiliated with Chilton Running Club. I doubt I'll read the book every month but I wanted to give the a go.

Potions: Read a book about/with alchemy
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling

Transfiguration: Read a book that deals with
transfiguration/shapeshifting or similar theme
A book with a cat on the cover
The Feud in the Chalet School by Elinor M Brent Dyer.

ETA: I also read Out Of The Blue by Sophie Cameron so if my divination didn't count, the Veronica Roth can go there, the T Kingfisher to Astronomy (because it was short stories and I'm sure at least one of them were sci-fi?) and the Cameron can be for Charms.

I'm just going to start and see how far I get, and my first book is got Care of Magical Creatures, The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, which has a unicorn on the cover and also a rec from Rowling which seems auspicious.
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We saw A Wrinkle In Time last night, and it is the big budget film with a woman of colour protagonis that I dreamed of. Storm Reid as Meg was perfect, her acting magnificent while the rest of the film settled around her in a whirlwind of glorious costuming and directing. Tish from Doctor Who was a perfect Dr Murray, Charles Wallace was great, Calvin was a little bit away with the fairies but he gave me that impression in the book, too.

In general, it's been a while since I read the book and I noticed some cuts but I felt it overall kept very close to the book - Colin's read it more recently and agreed. If you liked the book, you may well like the film.

Special mention to makeup too. Andreas commented on how Meg looked like a normal person (albeit with 'glorious hair') and it's so nice to see a Hollywood hero who looks relatable.
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When I first heard about the film Black Panther, I was so excited. A film about Huey Newton! I know so little about Newton, beyond the bare fact that he was leader of the Black Panther Party, and it seemed very topical. People were talking about the diverse cast, and it had an African-American director - this is not the 2001 biopic, political porn for a white gaze (I haven't seen it so I may be completely unfair) - this is real, a big budget pic I can listen and learn from, as well as being awesome representation. Newton himself said "I did not have one teacher who taught me anything relevant to my own life or experience. Not one instructor ever awoke in me a desire to learn more or to question or to explore the worlds of literature, science, and history. All they did was try to rob me of the sense of my own uniqueness and worth, and in the process nearly killed my urge to inquire." I fear that's often still the case, and this film, this will redress the balance a tiny bit.

Well, that film is in the works, but Black Panther is not it.

Black Panther is a superhero film - heavy on the fight scenes, to my taste, but with a great cast, and particularly great familial relationships - I loved the mother, and the sister, in particular. I wish Lupita Nyong'o had been the title character instead of the love interest, but then, I just read Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant and was equally annoyed that the autistic character was love interest not main character. In my head she's played by Taraji P Henson; yes, she's blonde, but so has Henson been. What I'm saying is, I'd like to see more female protagonists of colour. I think it's coming: looking at the Disney channel listing, I see 15 distinct shows, all of which have female protagonists, two feature mixed race protagonists, two African American, three Hispanic, one Chinese and one has no single lead but mixed race/gender leads. It still leans white, but less so than their stuff aimed at adults. I have hope that that diversity will slowly bleed into Disney stuff aimed at adults, like Black Panther. (Lots of kids in the audience yesterday, though, which is nice)

The other thing about Nyong'o as lead is, it would eliminate my main annoyance with the film. Wakanda is a Kikongo word. It means Families. (Wa is a Bantu prefix indicating plural - kanda is the stem of family. I am not familiar with Kikongo, but I could buy that as a country etymology, especially as the language name follows that pattern, Ki is the prefix for singular, and the stem of the word is Kongo). In the film it's in central Africa, in the comics, east. So why do the Wakandas speak isiXhosa? That's like setting a fiction in central Europe and having them speak Icelandic; any Germanic language will do, no? Well, the reason appears to be that Chadwick Boseman speaks isiXhosa. Nyong'o speaks Swahili, the most widely spoken Bantu language, and in particular, is actually spoken in the region Wakanda appears to be. Obviously, Kikongo would be my choice of language for this, but Swahili would work much more believably than isiXhosa.
I admit, partly I find it frustrating because isiXhosa and other Zunda languages are almost familiar. I recognise a couple of words, can almost grasp at meaning. Swahili, depending on how much practise I've been putting in, I have reasonable receptive vocab. Mostly, though, I find it annoyingly almost there geographically.

It's not just language either - from Igbo masks to Zulu headdresses, pan-African cultural borrowings are sprinkled liberally throughout the film. It's a game of 'guess the nation' with every item of clothing, jewellery, tattoo. So perhaps it's deliberate. I've met too many people who just say 'well, it's African, close enough' though, and perhaps I should rather glory in this image of Wakanda as a united Africa? IDK. (Not just Africa; one time a teacher was using a menorah to teach about Sukkot because 'it's used in a Jewish festival, and Sukkot is a Jewish festival' *headdesk*). I think the reason this cultural pan-Africanism bothers me less than the linguistic is because Wakanda needs culture, taking from one country makes it a more direct mapping rather than a purely fictional country, and better that Wakanda culture is African than European or American. I can't rule out that it's because I'm racist though.

Don't get me wrong, Boseman is a great actor. I just would have enjoyed the film more with Nyong'o as lead, and Boseman as love interest. I look forward to seeing more of Letitia Wright. The other standout performance from a side character, for me, was Nabiyah Be as Linda. She reminded me of a grown up Sofia Wiley (Andi Mack). Somewhat disappointed that Be has only one credit on IMDb so I've already seen everything she's done.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Tiny planets sofa)
Can any of y'all tell me your favourite budget smartphone for mostly gaming?
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
On Monday I had cts surgery. It was a very busy day on the ward, so a lot of waiting around in different waiting rooms, but then the actual surgery took about 4 minutes. It was quickly apparent to me that the residual pain I was feeling was wound-related rather than lingering nerve pain. Today I was allowed to take the bandage off, and I took a longer walk than I've managed in months (unaided and everything!), including locking and unlocking our front door, played Rhino Hero with Andreas (a card stacking game), eaten a bowl of cereal with a spoon, cooked dinner for me and Andreas, and now I'm going to read an actual paper book. Those are all things I've not been able to do since December.

(Book is Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs, which I think was a preorder because I'd forgotten to expect it.)


Feb. 26th, 2018 12:24 pm
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Tom and I went to an opera at the weekend. I normally don't bother with opera unless someone I know is in it, because it's not really my thing, but his parents were enthusiastic (I hadn't realised his mother is treasurer of the university operatic society) and I figured I'd give it a go.
Donizetti L'elisir d'amore. Which is a comic opera. I don't generally like comedies either, but I hadn't paid enough attention to notice that might not be the best match.

Well, the singing and playing was exquisite, the costuming somewhat odd but nothing to complain about the direction. The surtitles were somewhat lacking in panache, but the diction of the singers good enough that i could mostly follow along, despite my Italian vocab being largely conspic by its a.

All in all, fair enough, but not my cup of tea.

But, I like musicals. Tom doesn't see a distinction, which I found interesting in itself. I can see the musical style as a defining characteristic, but often operas are similar to oratorios in stlye, and I tend to like those. Could it be storyline? I mean, I love Hugo so no surprise I love Les Mis, for example. Give me an opera in the same vein as 1776 and Hamilton, and maybe I'll go for that too? But instead, they often seem to have RomCom storylines, and I just find that dull.

So why do I like the one and not the other? Or are there operas out there for me, just not the ones I normally get recommended? I'm reminded of when I first liked whisky, after years of people offering 'accessible' whiskies I disliked, it was only when I tried Laphroig that I really started to appreciate whisky. Is it possible that I'm starting at the wrong end of opera?

Also, where does one draw a line between musical and opera?
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
thank you for games help!

the lovely D invited me round to play dragon quest, and i spent all afternoon playing that, which is a bit like nethack when you don't know how to play (ie, how i play it) but on a board. (I overdid it at the weekend, because i also went to an evening party, but i discovered i can walk further if i close my eyes, so that was sort of ok.)

our copy of roll through the ages arrived - thanks B for your lovely advice, it's perfect. and judith has been excited about monarch, which she saw on tabletop, and that turns out to be a game where i can't physically do any of the things, but it's ok because everything's open so colin made my moves, and we all had fun and i won.

i'm still deciding whether to buy tiny epic galaxies, but i might have enough games to go on with, with those and sagrada which was a birthday present for j and is all about dice

elsenet, i've been taking tv advice, so i have started grace and frankie, which is a modern sitcom? it starts really sad, with the breakup of longterm relationships, but it's gripping. also riverdale, which is sabrina the teenage witch universe comic adaptation, although i think quite a long way from the comics, and i love it. a couple of other recs too, so i've got soem things to try (and i ordered the first two seasons of clarrisa explains it all on dvd, for a total of £2.80)

also, my cousin knows a special peeler for oranges which fits on the hand in such a way that i might be able to use it! so i ordered one of those. and someone else reminded me of electric tin openers, so all the stuff in the cupboard that is sitting lonely because i can't open it, i might be able to!


Dec. 16th, 2017 10:18 pm
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I have read some cracking books recently, and I would love to share them with y'all! If you also wish to spread the love of a much loved book, try something new* that someone else loved and want a cheering thing in January, get yourself over to where a group of us are sending a loved book to one other person, just because we can.

Sign up by 4th January, send by 21st January.

*if you get something you already hve, bask in a shared love.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
Last year in the midst of a social media meme encouraging people to send more books to people semi randomly, I set up a book swap for people to send a book they loved to arrive in the middle of January. It went pretty well, and I have read some cracking books this year which I am keen to share more widely.

Sign up is early January, meaning no shopping until after Christmas, here's the link, if you fancy it:
ghoti_mhic_uait: (cookbook project)
Last year I organised a book swap which went moderately well. This year I have lots of books I'm super excited about again, and want to share again - do any of y'all fancy another go? If so, I'll run it through elfster again, and set it up at the beginning of December to pick names at the beginning of January again.


Nov. 20th, 2017 10:29 am
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
I had such a great party on Saturday, thanks to my lovely people who helped it happen - partners who gave me extra time and a little bit of advice, or in Tom's case, kitchen space. Children who helped me cook and talked and didn't mind when I was a bit distracted. I pulled off 41 dishes of variable quality and deliciousness. Thank you to everyone who came!

There are a few dishes I'll keep and make again - spinach maria (Tennessee), for example, which is spinach baked in a cheese sauce, and a lot of the puddings were nice. Dirt pudding from Ohio was I think the general favourite? It's basically a goopy chocolate pudding with ground oreos and gummy worms.

I'm so glad I got to do this, after wanting to do it ever since the article came out. Happy Thanksgiving!
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Jack took the children and I to Oasis Camel Park in noth Suffolk. I can't get the photos off the camera atm but I will eventually, and then there will be pictures. It's very small, but if your day can be made by seeing 5 different types of camelid (and goats and donkeys and stuff) and maybe feeding some and stroking them, and you drive or have a handy driving friend, then it's perfect.

I've also mentioned Hamerton zoo a few times recently. They specialise in unusual animals - binturong, jaguarundi, oncillas, aardwolves for the dictionary fans, and tayra (an unusual mustelid).

Film wise, I'm still buzzing about Cars 3, which I absolutely loved. If you love films about intersectionality, with a side story about learning to be a better ally, then this is the one - protagonist Cruz is, well, I don't even know where to start with her, but she's believably imperfect, interesting and just generally, I loved it.

I've been rereading one of my favourite childhood books, Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer. It's a fictionalised autobiography. Protagonist Lucinda is left behind when her mother has to go to Italy for her health (it's not clear to me why, but that seems like the sort of thing that American doctors suggested in late 19th Century USA) and suddenly finds herself with a lot more freedom, to explore New York and find herself as well as make friends throughout the city. This quote on tragedy is possibly my favourite bit, where Lucinda's uncle is explaining tragedy to her (in the context of Shakespeare): "what happens must be inevitable - unescapable. It must make you feel right about the ending. And great tragedies must have beauty in them; otherwise what's the use?"

I've been watching Andi Mack. It's a Disney show about a girl who learns that the person she thought was her sister is actually her mother, and the family coming to terms with the secret being out. It's a nice family drama and I particularly like that it's good at having conflict while being sympathetic to all of Andi, her sister/mother and mother/grandmother. Similarly, Andreas has got into Stuck in the Middle, a Disney show about being the 4th child of 7, and how it can be tricky but actually, she's surrounded by people who love her and the balancing act of a big family is not glamourised but works like it looks like it does in real life.

I've been listening to more music too, but I don't think I have a thing that stands out particularly to recommend.
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Finished a languishing application for an audio transcription job. Not sure whether I'll get it or not, but at least it's done now. Applied (successfully) for a website testing job. Both of these are self-employed, no guarantees that I'd get actual work from them but worth a try. Boggled at the adverts for 'work from home' jobs many of which are prison officers.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
Continuing our adventures in mainstream popculture, Andreas and I are baking cookies and boogeying to Little Mix. I'm having fun and I'm quite enjoying both the music and the dance and of course the cookies :) So he also asked to watch X Factor and we've set it to record, although it's a few weeks in, it turns out.

Cream 40g of marge, granny sugar and light muscovado, add a beaten egg and a few drops vanilla sugar, then 75g sr flour and 50g mixed dried fruit or chocolate chips. Drop spoonfuls on a baking tray and 180c/gas mark 4 for 10 -12 minutes.
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Today we went on a ridiculous journey to a hill in Norfolk, where there is a zoo with dinosaurs instead of other animals, and then a SURPRISE goat field with a barn full of assorted chicken,s bearded dragons, snakes, guinea pigs &c. THere's also a giant adventure playground and a rather nice cafe with a huge treehouse, and a soft play, and we didn't play on most of the stuff, we mostly looked at dinosaurs.

So we had a great day, but decided that the middle of nowhere is Too Far when it contains lots of walking and reasonable if you can get a bus from the train station and be there already.

And people have invited me to stuff and I feel very appreciated, thank you.


Sep. 20th, 2017 04:16 pm
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I read a book today which I really liked, but I can't find online. It's called The Princess And The Broken Heart revised by Smaul the Troll. It's almost a Sleeping Beauty retelling and almost a Snow White retelling. I love that genre and this one has another trait that I love - it doesn't assume anyone is irredeemable. Consider this statement about the evil stepmother queen 'Now, Leonora was not born cruel, and she had never been mean, but she had taken up a terrible way of thinking that consumed her like a fire'. The copy I picked up feels like it has a bit missing, because it talks about puzzles that the reader solved, and there weren't any that I noticed, but apart from that, it's a lovely story about love and change.

But autumn is upon us and I am feeling better enough that I've caught up to my Goodreads challenge of the year (which is just the same as last year rounded up, and I was a couple of books behind, having got loads ahead in the spring).

I also noticed that two years ago, I read a lot of dross that I picked up in the library, and last year I read mostly recommendations and it went a lot better, and this year I've read almost entirely recommendations and presents, and have enjoyed a lot more. I think I've been too busy reading random stuff that wasn't very enjoyable to listen to you lot.

So, here's my question - what's a book that 'everyone's read' that you would recommend? Imagine I've been living under a rock for the last ten years.

My contribution is 'The Bray House' by Eilís Ní Dhuibhne . It's Irish post apocalyptic fiction, and it's super popular in Ireland, the sort of book you find in guesthouses &c throughout the land. It's also brilliant.


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