13 September 2017 @ 01:38 pm
I'm way behind on RL posting (my past week and weekend have actually bee quite busy, in a mostly-good way), but I've hit another point where I just want to talk about books. So!

37. Mackenzi Lee, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue -- This was a birthday present from [livejournal.com profile] aome, but actually even before I got the book as a gift I heard about it from [livejournal.com profile] ikel89 during the exceedingly scenic drive back from Kazbegi, and was intrigued to check it out for myself, so Debbie's gift was very timely :) Having read it, it wasn't quite as cool a book as the premise (and fabulous title) made it sound, sadly, but definitely still an entertaining and fast read.

Here's the very fun premise -- a Grand Tour by a young bisexual British nobleman, his best friend/(male) love interest, who is mixed race (and also *spoiler*), and his younger sister who isn't interested in finishing school but wants to go to med school instead. Along the way from Paris to Spain to Italy, there's political intrigue, highwaymen and pirates, and alchemical mysteries. That sounds pretty cool, right? And it is fairly fun, although a couple of things undermine the strengths of the book: Spoilers from here )

I think, overall, this book falls into the category of things like Love Interest, where I wish a better author had taken a crack at the premise. But, fortunately, unlike Love Interest, the book as-is is at least competently if overly earnestly written, so I *could* enjoy it, rather than sputtering in ever-increasing bafflement as to what the hell the author thought they were doing. But for all its flaws, it was a fun read, and I do want to know more about Felicity, in the sequel! (Thank you again, [livejournal.com profile] aome! :)

38. Avoliot, The Course of Honor -- novel-length original sci-fi m/m with a whole bunch of tropes, starting with arranged marriage (posted on AO3) -- I picked this up courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] egelantier's rec. I actually don't like arranged marriage much as a trope, and not all of the other tropes invoked are necessarily favorites of mine, but the whole thing worked very nicely (to the point that I read it straight through in a couple of hours over the long weekend). I liked both protagonists a lot, introverted Jainan, trudging slowly back from years of abuse and clinging to his dignity and uber-extrovert Kiem, who is used to thinking of himself as a bumbling idiot but suddenly finds himself having to deal with darker things than elementary school charity events and shmoozing with journalists. The secondary characters are also quite nice, and even the cameos, like Kiem's general mother, are fun and intriguing. There's also some very nice and deftly interwoven worldbuilding about all manner of things, from sports to dress and gender expression, and trans and non-binary characters whose introduction is handled in an impressively non-issuefic-y way that I feel like some profic authors could learn from. More, with spoilers )

Bonus: authorially-approved fancast on Tumblr.

39. Black Mould (Rivers of London graphic novel #3) -- interesting story (and oddly, sadly timely, on the subject of London slums), but mostly I just have random observations, with spoilers )

40. Naomi Novik, Golden Age and Other Stories -- this is the art book where each piece of (loosely) Temeraire fanart (many of them pieces I've known/enjoyed for years) is accompanied by a new story or drabble. I read this in ebook, so didn't really get to enjoy the art (more than I've already enjoyed it on DeviantArt or Tumblr, I mean), but the stories of course were new. It was mostly entertaining fluff, although one book and less than a week after I'd finished it, I had pretty much forgotten its existence and skipped it in my numbering, oops. XD The stories don't really add that much to the universe, I feel, but there were a couple that do linger -- the story set in the Americas, with John Wampanoag as the POV character, which I would've liked to see more of; the present-day Temeraire drabble that was jsut the perfect length; and my favorite thing in the book, Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth is a Longwing captain :D Individual stories, with spoilers )

41. Sarah Rees Brennan, In Other Lands -- this was another book I inhaled, pretty much over a busy weekend, and partly it was trying to keep up with [livejournal.com profile] ikel89 (reading in tandem is so much more fun when I'm actually enjoying the book. Imagine that! XD) but mostly it's because it's a really fun book. I've been disappointed and/or frustrated by SRB's latest offerings (the Lynburn trilogy steadily pleased me less and less with each book, with the conclusion being my biggest disappointment of the year, and one of those rare times where I felt downright betrayed by a book; good thing it wasn't a series I really cared about; Tell the Wind and Fire was not as disappointing, but it was frustrating anyway, in the way it was in dialogue with other books, but mostly I thought the other books more effective, even when one of them was Dickens :P So, it was lovely to have an SRB book I was actively and almost wholeheartedly enjoying (I do have some quibbles, but on the whole I liked it a lot, and immediately recommended to both L -- who is lapping it up with even greater glee than I -- and Awesome Friend Ali). I wish I could hail it as a return to form, but it just makes me worried that, because this book was written, what, in 2013-2015 (and published as a serial on SRB's blog), so, like, concurrently with the Lynburns? So it's not like SRB is back to writing books that I like and I can look forward to more -- it's that she used to. And even here, I liked the beginning (and the core of the story that was clearly set up by the beginning) more than the ending, so my enjoyment of the book is tinged with nostalgia, even though the book is brand spankin' new. More, with spoilers )

There is a Luke-POV short story set in the same universe, which I've also read by now (part of the 2014 anthology I mention below) and also an Adara POV short story on SRB's LJ.

*

Currently reading (for some pretty loose values of 'currently', admittedly, and also 'reading' :P) cut, as it got a bit long )

From this pre-publication review of Vallista we learn that Vallista is a gothic. OF COURSE! (although I don't like gothics, so... IDK.) I'm intrigued by the promise that "many of the mysteries plaguing Vlad are solved here". Like, what mysteries? That don't appear to be overtly solved in Hawk, since Vallista takes place before it...

And from Brust's Patreon, which I check out periodically, the new-=to-me revelation that Tsalmoth (tentatively the after-Vallista book) is set between Yendi and Jhereg (!!!) -- i.e. actual Vlad and Cawti marriage (/relationship), not during the honeymoon period, not when it's falling apart while Vlad is oblivious to it. That should be interesting!

And speaking of books that may or may not come out at some point: Scott Lynch interview from Worldcon has the following tidbits about Thorn of Emberlain )
 
 
 
 
09 September 2017 @ 04:36 pm
Cleared most of my schedule for next week, except Thursday, which has a doctor appointment and then a contractor coming by for a bid. As usual, writing documentation for QPT is tripping me up. It shouldn't be, as I actually DO RESEARCH before I do a project, and I even took pictures during the process, but it's a challenge figuring out how to present my materials and also explain things to judges who do not have specialized knowledge in my area.

I do usually get valuable feedback from them, if only a fresh perspective, and my work gets seen by others as well, so entering an arts and sciences event is useful and educational. But I do have to think about educating my judges as I write my documentation, as does anyone who has an unusual entry. There's one guy this year doing an entry on fishing flies. I'm sure he is facing the same issue!

I know I tend to procrastinate, so I'm being proactive in freeing up my time next week. The two weeks after that also look to be busy.

Day 2 of wretched headache, a mix of allergy and tension. My life is/will be changing a lot, and I'm in waiting mode right now as I see how things are coming into place. More on that as things happen. I'm just setting things into motion right now. Some will shake out, some will fall by the wayside.

Anyway, I should get back to writing.
 
 
Current Location: My Lair
Current Mood: grumpy
 
 
Eric the Engineer sent us his Structural Engineering Report, and it was not pretty, although I suppose it could be much worse? He recommends piering around the basement, replacing the garage door header, and replacing both central columns.

No idea on cost. We'll have the first contractors come by to give us a bid on the 14th. I'll schedule a couple of others, too.

Got Eric's numbers to the garage door people, who came in with their change-order bid. We're going to have them replace the garage header, since they'll be working on that area anyway to install the new garage door. It doubles the cost of the project, woe. However, we can get that done now, since Dad helped us with the money for that. They need to get the work scheduled, but we're probably looking at late September, early October.

As for the rest, I can't figure out my financing options until I find out 1)how much it will cost; 2)whether we can spread the project out, or if it needs to all be done at once; and 3)how on earth we will pay for all of this. I'm already toying with it in my mind, but by the time we get all the bids in, we'll be well into autumn, and I don't think they can do this kind of work in the winter. So there's some time to figure all this out. Hell, we lived in the Dubuque house for nearly 12 years before repairing its foundation.

However, I think we need to move faster on this house, or more damage may occur. The problem in the Iowa house was caused a botched rehab job from the 1950's. The problem here is a result of bad architecture, unstable soil, more botched rehab (that basement window!) and a fucking earthquake due to Oklahoma fracking. Honestly, if it had not have been for the earthquake, we probably could have put this off longer.

We also have to consider ancillary costs. The landscaping around the house will either have to be moved or just pulled out, and probably we'll need some regrading done. One of the center poles is in the garage, but the other is enclosed in drywall. They'll have to tear into that, so we'll have to have that replaced, cracks repaired and then most of the interior of the house will need to be repainted. The basement carpet is already partially pulled out from water damage--we'll need to repair whatever issues are there, replace the damaged window, replace MORE drywall, MORE painting, and put in some kind of flooring there. NOT CARPET, obviously. I dunno, that south wall may need more work.

Other possible costs: plumbing inspection, probably more irrigation system repair (maybe we can pull the damn thing out?), some interior doors either repaired or replaced. Also may have to have concrete work. Oh, and what the hell, let's replace the upstairs carpet while we're at it.
 
 
Current Location: My Lair
Current Mood: pissed off
 
 
Realized I hadn't posted all week.

Highlights:

Hello, ragweed season and headaches that make my teeth hurt! I so did not miss you.

Sewing night on Tuesday went okay. Almost done with smocked apron. Not entirely happy with results--I think the smocking went okay, but I pulled it apart some when I put on the waistband and it doesn't look right. Also, the ties are barely big enough--I followed someone's advice for the length, but she's much thinner than I. It will tie, but barely.

I may pull some of it apart, re-do the smocking, add pieces to the ties to lengthen them (who's gonna look for seamlines there anyway, right?) and see if that looks better. There's no hurry on this--it actually doesn't go with anything I have. I just wanted to learn how to do smocking.

Kosode pattern is way too wide, once I put the migoro (body panels) and okumi (front overlap panels) together. I think the okumi width looks about right, but the migoro is way too big. In one way, that's good news because there was some fabric I wanted to use that would have been too narrow, but now I think I might be able to use it. So I'm taking apart what I basted together (thrift store cotton) and cutting down the migoro a bit, then trying again.

No, I probably won't have something new to wear for Queen's Prize next weekend. I hate rushing sewing projects.

Working on Queen's Prize documentation. Outline is done and I should be finished with the writing this weekend. Trying to figure out a way I can stage it so it looks good. I think Uji (the scroll's recipient, who it turns out will also be one of the judges*) may bring the scroll with him. I was thinking of buying a standing folding screen to display it (and some of the drafts I did), but Bob nixed that idea.

*Yeah, normally he'd disqualify himself. But Queen's Prize is a novice event and he was the only one with Japanese studies experience willing to drive that far south. Besides, I tend to ask the judges not to grade me with points, but just give me feedback.

One of my other judges, Aiden, is a calligraphy/illumination Laurel, who I already know. The other one, Catalina, has a Laurel in Islamic culture (IIRC, her focus was on costuming and cooking?)--we've met but I don't really know her very well.

Music night at Margaurite's went well, although I ended up playing tenor when I had mostly practiced soprano. The fingering is the same, but you have to spread your fingers out more on the tenor, and after a while, your hands cramp up! I'm told I will get used to it. Evidently, my recorder is too shrill--Roderick lent me one of his extra plastic soprano recorders to use for now. Much mellower sound. Still practicing. Margaurite said I should be up to speed within six months or so. Until then, I just try not to be too disruptive.

LOL, Tsuki thinks my recorder is too shrill, too. I start practicing and she will dash out from wherever she's been sleeping and meow at me! It's so cute.

Shodo lesson also went well, although wow, I'm up late on Tuesday with the sewing and music, then up early the next day for shodo. We've started carving inkan (signature seals). Tony has done a lot of studying on the subject, so it's been interesting. He does tend to prefer using the dremel tool to hand-carving, but wants me to learn both methods. I've carved wax and linoleum, but not stone, so learning to use a chisel has been interesting. It's really cool, though. I definitely have some things I want to try to do with this (beyond designing my own inkan).

Tony also wants me to branch out to sumi-e painting. He's not an expert himself--it's just something he plays with, but for doing SCA scrolls, it would be a useful skill. And we're going to play with paper-mounting and making emakimono (vertical) and kakemono (horizontal) scrolls and experiment with paste recipes. So between carving inkan, learning basic sumi-e techniques, scroll-making and continuing my actually calligraphy brush-work, I will be busy!
 
 
Current Mood: busy
Current Location: My Lair