sienamystic: (commedia)
It's scorching hot here (although at least it's not humid on top of it) and we have spend the day officially househunting. We've made stabs at it before but now we are more prepared (ok, prepared at all, because before we were daydreaming more than anything else).

None of the houses we saw will work, for various reasons. And our agent heard from a colleague of hers who has 15 clients searching for houses in the same ballpark price range. It's not a great time to be buying. On the other hand, we aren't in a rush, but it's annoying to think we may have to rush into a decision on a place simply because it's such a seller's market.

Two of the places were just too battered and broken for us - we can rehab to a certain extent but not to the extreme those would have needed. One was weirdly placed at the top of a hill - a ton of rickety stairs to walk up and the house itself was just oddly laid out. One was very cute, but sadly about the same size as our current tiny apartment but with even less storage space. And the final was a stunning beauty from 1915 with gorgeous woodwork but was sadly sagging in a few suspect locations.

Anyway, currently reading the sequel to The Rook. This one's called Stiletto, and I'm enjoying it just as much as I did the first. Also read Girl On The Train, which was pretty weaksauce.
sienamystic: (book and heart)
I've been listening to a podcast called Overdue and have discovered a thing that I sort of already knew about myself - I get really protective about the books I love. So my first episode of the podcast was a book I hadn't read, and I enjoyed it and downloaded a bunch of other episodes, including those of books I had read and...that was a mistake. I couldn't get past the fact that some of the episodes were 90% joking about something in the book and 10% actual discussion, and also in one case I was doing the whole "no no no you're interrogating the text from the wrong perspective" thing which just made me crabby. So I'm not sure yet if I'm going to just unsubscribe, or just be careful about not downloading eps which talk about books I have a strong attachment to. But no more expecting more serious discussion about childhood favorites, or anything like that.

Also, I knew I was a bit of an anglophile, but do most people really not know about Richard III and the princes in the tower?

Things

Dec. 19th, 2015 11:44 pm
sienamystic: (commedia)
I have seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and loved it. I had a few nitpicks post-movie but while it was happening I was super into it and I'll be going back and at this moment I have nothing but squee in me for it.

Currently reading Mary Beard's SPQR. I'm not that far into it but so far it's really enjoyable.

Speaking of, still have to do my final Italy picture post on Rome, so will try to do that soon. I'm also contemplating putting up a review blog on Tumblr because I've become obsessed with Nesti Dante soap but I'm a bit dubious about Tumblr because I don't know how to format things nicely there. My current usage of Tumblr is 99.5% reblogging other people's shit so I don't have a lot of the finer points down.

I got a hilarious painting of a pony at my office's white elephant. Have to figure out a way to hang it in the office where it can preside over my Funko Hannibal, my assorted collection of skulls and cephalopods, and the Office Squirrel. Sometimes it's nice being in the basement where the public doesn't see us, because we are free to go absolutely nuts in our office.
sienamystic: (Bourne)
Doing a little traveling for work. I love tiny airports - this one is bigger than the home airport but still quite small and the TSA agents are friendly and it takes you no time at all to get through security and then to your gate. I'm right on the Mississippi and drove past all the Stately Homes of Old Money with the river views and drooled over a bunch of them. After a stop or two I'll be in Toronto. This is my first trip to Canada, and it's not to Prince Edward Island for an Anne pilgrimage, but I will make those plans for another trip. For now I plan to eat tons of awesome food and do a little shopping and sightseeing but I will not be paying the tons of money to go hang out on the glass floor of the CN tower, because holy crap, yikes. I may not even do the CN tower at all, since I like a good view and all but not enough to pay for it. I would rather buy a ton of gel pens at Muji.

Just finished the first Elena Ferrante book My Brilliant Friend and will start the next in the series on the plane. Really enjoying them.

Also, we saw Big Hero 6 on Saturday night and I loved it. The design of the city was lovely, and even though there wasn't a lot of character development with anybody besides the brothers and Baymax, it was a very sweet and I fell in love with everyone. Also, cried. Yup. I'm an easy mark but I'd have cried even if I had a heart of stone.
sienamystic: (flowermachine)
I am drinking red wine out of a little tetra pack. This is possibly a new low. In my defense, I bought it mostly to put in the beef and barley stew, and it was delicious and I can't let the rest of it go bad, right? Also, my wine glasses are on the high shelf and I don't feel like lugging over a step stool to get them.

My feet hurt from lots of standing at work, but the project that requires standing is really productive so I guess it's still a win. Also, it snowed today and was really pretty, and then it all melted off so I got to enjoy it and then not worry about slogging through it to get home.

I am tempted by all of the delighted people talking about Jupiter Ascending to maybe go see it. I'm hearing that it's a downright goofy and silly and fun space opera with pretty visuals and it sounds like it's worth at least a matinee.

What I really have to say right now is OMG Peggy Carter I love this show and it's almost over and that makes me sad. My fingers are crossed that they'll do another little, tight run like this and keep plopping them in-between Agents of SHIELD. (Also, because I keep tripping over people who are like PEGGY CARTER I LOVE YOU AGENTS OF SHIELD IS SHIT, let me say that Agents of SHIELD is pretty great and lots of fun and actually you don't need to keep pitting the two of them against each other.) Anyway, I don't know how they manage to keep doing such wonderful things with character and banter and plot and people being awesome and interesting and novel ways to descend staircases, but I need more.

In book news, I'm finally getting around to reading Rebecca, and I'm also reading a book about another mystic Italian saint from the early 1900s. The book is by Rudolph Bell and Cristina Mazzoni. Bell wrote the very interesting Holy Anorexia (which I read in conjunction with Holy Fest, Holy Fast by Caroline Walker Bynum,) while I was writing my thesis on Catherine of Siena, and that business is what got me interested in female mystic saints. I've only just begun, but it looks promising. Will also be getting an interlibrary loan of a book about women and greensickness. What triggered all this orgy of rereading was a comment I read by someone who was wanting more Tudor info while they read Wolf Hall, and linked an article by Hilary Mantel to a review of the Bell and Mazzoni book. Since I'm currently stalled on Wolf Hall, I was interested...and, well, here we are.

I think I'm going to go take my box of wine and go watch Face Off now, thank you.
sienamystic: (Anya)
My two most recent pieces of media consumption are...not much alike.

I've been slowly working through Penny Dreadful, which is wonderful and bloody and crazed over the top gothic and sometimes silly and sometimes I have to just listen to things happen while my phone is under some blankets, and thank goodness I got the warning on some moments before I came to them so I could take the blanket precaution. I've got two more episodes to go - they're downloading now - and am interested to see where season 2 goes. And also, Eva Green commits to things, yo. She does not half-ass one damn thing.

And I've also just read Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl for book club. I didn't realize she was the author of the book Eleanor and Park, which has had a lot of buzz recently, but I knew about this one because I follow the artist who did the cover (and have an Avengers print from that artist that my sister bought me last Christmas). The book was heftier than I thought it would be, and I enjoyed it, but was rather disappointed that the setting, which happens to be my current place of residence, was so lightly sketched out when the author is a native of the state and apparently grew up in the larger city about 50 miles away. But while there were a lot of gestures towards establishing a sense of place, it never happened. It's probably because she was trawling through emotional terrain and had nothing to spare for the physical, which, fair enough, I suppose.

Anyway, I liked the book a lot, even though some of the mental illness stuff was played...well, I don't know. Let's just say that I've read some reviews of the book that are all, "aww, Cath's father is so cuddly and I fell in love with him and he was the best so snarky wonderful" and I wondered if people just don't understand how difficult living with a person prone to manic episodes and doing things like locking themselves in rooms and not eating and writing messages on the mirror. I guess I feel like there was a lot of difficult emotional stuff in the book - one twin acting out in a big way, one twin with a truly severe anxiety disorder that is kinda played off as cute, a father with bipolar and a mother who said "fuck this" and left her eight-year-olds as she adioses out the door...it's there, and it's given some emotional weight, but the hospital scenes are, well, I don't know..,perhaps it's too much to ask for in what is apparently a YA book and I can't decide if I feel that if you bring up these topics you have to attack them a little more or if the lighter touch was actually more appropriate because it just presents it and leaves it for you.

Oh, and I'm not sure I liked the whole "insert chunks of Cath's fanfic in-between the chapters" stuff. It felt a little gratuitous.

On the other hand, a book that made me think about it this much probably means it's well-done enough to evoke the thinking, so that's another point in its favor. You can also add the facts that the book is genuinely charming, covers a lot of interesting stuff about the craft of writing. and kept my attention enough to tear through it.
sienamystic: (surly bonds)
Just started it. So far a very apt story to follow The Little Stranger, although knock wood will not actually make me unable to get to sleep due to spooky.
sienamystic: (book and heart)
Sarah Waters is one of those authors I've been meaning to get around to, and since her newest book is either just here or is about to arrive, I finally got to the library to see what I could find. Luckily they had Fingersmith, one of the books I've heard most recommended, and I tore through it on Friday and Saturday and was thoroughly caught up in it. It was a really enthralling read, just as I had hoped.

I just polished off The Little Stranger, and found a very Turn-Of-The-Screw story with the parallels of the upper class in England decaying along with the very house that stands at the center of the book. It was creepy and fascinating, but was the tiniest bit overlong. Still, a great read. I've seen some impatience with the narrator, who is awkwardly caught between social classes, and while I didn't dislike him completely, he is placed in the position of being the rational voice tut-tutting about the supernatural elements, and you can kind of picture him being shoved aside by, say, the Winchester brothers, who would call him an idiot, produce the rock salt, and take care of things. Obviously that would be an undesirable crossing of tropes but I admit the thought crossed my mind.

Oh, and a mild spoiler for the book:Read more... )

Next up is The Night Watch.

In other news, have had two meetings with new therapist and am unsure about things. She's a very nice lady but I feel like I've presented myself as a person far more pulled-together than I actually feel.
sienamystic: (commedia)
Uh, yesterday's post, while entirely correct, was meant to be comprised of a glancing mention that I was struggling a bit and then on to the stuff I was doing that was all more positive. Apparently I changed direction mid-stream.

Currently reading or have just read:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi. Only just started this for book club, so far loving it a lot.
The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz. A fun little fillip of a book. Planning on making some of the recipes in it.

Just finished, after much struggle, one of Dorothy Dunnett's Dolly books, in an attempt to find something of hers that I can latch on to since I've sadly bounced off the Lymond and Niccolo books. Uh, these won't do it either, unless the second one is very different from the first. Despite a setting in Rome, and a theoretically exciting plot that would in fact make a great movie, the voice of the book is mired in a really...well, how to describe it...the voice is very dry, very British, very jazzy Austin Powers-ish sixties, and it frequently just left me completely puzzled about what was actually happening. It was like going to England and saying, "I can speak English, this will be no problem" and then coming up against one of the thicker accents and realizing you're fighting to comprehend anything. Except in a written way, not a verbal way. I bought one of the other books already, so I'll go ahead and read it, but I was really excited to get to these books and now I'm sad they probably won't work for me.

In the hopper for later: Wolf Hall. Woot. I tried to read it earlier and my schedule got in the way, but...well, seeing Damian Lewis running around in Tudor clothing may or may not have reminded me to get back to it. Me-ow.
sienamystic: (book and heart)
For no real reason whatsoever, I'm reading a bunch of English Girl's Boarding School stories (Angela Brazil), one American Boy's School and Athletics Story (Lester Chadwick, which is a pseud. for Howard R. Garis and apparently he also wrote the Uncle Wiggley stories, of which I had the board game) and experimenting with Dorothy Dunnett's much less known series, the Johnson Johnson books. I've got Roman Nights and Ibiza Surprise, which were originally Dolly & the Starry Bird and Dolly & the Cookie Bird. They're very odd James-Bondish books with female protagonists and I don't know if I can handle the voice just yet, because it's very distinct and quick-cut and elusive.

Perhaps here is where I disclose again that despite attempts, I have never been able to make it into either of Dunnett's far more heralded books, despite trying a few times. They're on the list of books that people I admire greatly and write books I admire greatly all adore, but I have yet to penetrate them. It's not even like the Aubrey and Maturin books, where for some reason it takes some doing to get me to pick one up, but once I do I'm usually caught for the duration; with Lymond and Niccolo both I just ended up putting the book down within a few pages and never coming back to them.

I also just finished reading Susanna Kearsley's Winter Sea, which was a very quiet and pleasant book, with two rather bland but not too terrible heroines and a sweet little love story. Something good to read if you're a fan of stories along the line of Mary Stewart, although Stewarts are more crackling and lively, on the whole. These are definitely mug of tea on a rainy day kind of books - very soothing.
sienamystic: (commedia)
I have been unposty! But I have been doing things! Here is what I've been up to:

- Read The Rook by Daniel O'Malley, which I love love loved, and Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch and I loved it a lot too and just bought the next three books because it's been a while since I was excited by new reading. Oh, also read the newest Harry Dresden book and enjoyed it a lot as a return to form after two books I was really disappointed in. Not to say it was perfect but it made me decide to stick with the series after I was considering bowing out.

- Watched Edge of Tomorrow after all the good word-of-mouth and really enjoyed it. Fun, thrilling, funny, tightly edited, well done, bravo bravo and I don't understand because it apparently didn't do well at the box office? Boo on that, it was great.

- Traveled to Chicago and San Antonio and had a very nice time in both cities while getting some work done there

- Learned the basics of making jam, in a rough-and-ready fashion. Also, brioche.

- Currently entertaining some of the in-laws, on account of a Significant Birthday of my husband (who is not exactly happy about the birthday but it coping with it better than feared)

And that's all I can think of at the moment.
sienamystic: (book and heart)
I mentioned previously that I started reading this book, got about twenty pages in, and realized I wanted to reread The Secret History first - no slight intended to The Goldfinch, but instead a reminder of just how much I love The Secret History. So after my reread, and getting a little sidetracked by a book club book, I've been reading The Goldfinch while I recover from a really wringing bout of a stomach virus.

It's a beautifully written book. Given that it's Donna Tartt, that was probably a given. It's also a compelling book, and I read, captivated, up until about the halfway point, where some frustration set in. I felt a similar problem to what I felt when rereading Lev Grossman's The Magicians - basically that yes, people frequently drink and take drugs, and whatever - but I don't find spending chapters and chapters tagging along for the ride while the characters do so all that compelling. (I can't find a way to say that that doesn't make me sound insanely prudish, but there it is - I was in my early twenties before I even saw pot, and have never contemplated the various locations where it would be best to drop acid. I don't mind reading about it, but I find it tedious as a plot device unless you're Hunter S. Thompson. Also, it worked better for me in A Secret History because, you know, Dionysus.) I can understand that an insanely traumatized young teenager would certainly take comfort in whatever he could put his hands on, but all I tend to get out of it is a vaguely sympathetic sense of nausea (perhaps worsened in this case by the aforesaid stomach virus). It's a hard path to character development for me.

So at a little past the halfway mark, I skimmed fairly ruthlessly forward, although I'll probably go back and fill in things that I brushed past. I stopped closer to the end and dove back in, and again, as I could have predicted, there were some beautiful, thoughtful, heart-striking passages in there that I'll probably want to return to. The skimming says something either about my attention span or about the need for a slightly more ruthless hand with editing the book - I'm not sure which - and while its themes of art actually speak very directly to me and the profession that I'm in, I'm not entirely sure that I'll return to this one as I do to The Secret History. I'm going to let it marinade in my brain a bit and see what floats to the top.

Donna Tart

Apr. 1st, 2014 08:10 pm
sienamystic: (book and heart)
Have just reread The Secret History before starting The Goldfinch. I love the first book, and hope the second will be as incredible.
sienamystic: (commedia)
Spoilers ahoy!

Actors and mages and thieves oh my )

A bit of sidetracking here. I'm not entirely sure if reading a book for the first time on a Kindle has been keeping me a little bit at arms length from books or not. I have been trying to get to love my Kindle, and we're not bonding all that strongly, but I've been getting new works by favorite authors on it as they come out so I'm not tempted to buy the hardback - Guy Gavriel Kay, Jim Butcher, this one. And they've all been vaguely disappointing books. Not bad, just not a new favorite bursting out at me through the pages and making me love the book start to finish. So something about the format may make me less able to disappear into a book somehow. Or this could be a completely bogus theory. Who knows.
sienamystic: (book and heart)
Have just read the newest Locke Lamora book. Enjoyed it more than the previous entry in the series, but the first book is still for me the epic standout of the series - the tightest, the most evocative, the most engrossing. This one was a lot of fun at times but also felt a little unfocused and more focused on an aspect of the storytelling to the detriment of other aspects. I'll write a more thorough review when I'm not on this sad cat-damaged keyboard. Series still remains engaging and worth the read.

Nooooo

Aug. 8th, 2013 10:53 pm
sienamystic: (Joan)
Barbara Mertz aka Barbara Michaels aka Elizabeth Peters has passed away at the age of 85. I am distraught. Going to go reread all the Jacqueline Kirby and Vicky Bliss books in honor. So sad to lose her.
sienamystic: (Be More Awesome)
So work is kind of intense right now, and I'm listening to a lot of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals to try and get through it, and things are a wee tiny bit super-stressful.

I feel like writing but have no inspiration. So if anybody would care to leave me prompts, I will try to write commentfic. Or longer fic if something sparks. Or no fic at all if I can't muster the minimum braincells to hit keys on the keyboard. I can't make any promises, people, but I will try.

I'm bringing back an almost year-old meme for this: Pick a pairing (het, slash, femslash are all okay) and I'll write a short scene where they share a kiss. Crossovers welcome unless they break my brain in half (although this is the same meme that last year resulted in Bunter/Eliot from Leverage kissing, so...

Fandoms: Buffy, Avengers movieverse, Dresden Files, Constantine movieverse, Firefly, Leverage, Sayers, Bourne, Castle, Jennifer Crusie, Vicki Bliss, Kage Baker's Company books

Also I'm watching Hannibal and the acting is pretty awesome and it's really intense and gory and beautiful but I feel a little weird about yet another "lots of dead girls" show.

Last night's Castle was really adorable, Mad Men is continuing awesome, I just painted my toenails with super-sparkly nailpolish. And that's all I have to say right now.
sienamystic: (book and heart)
Got to go to a book signing by Connie Willis at the local adorable used book store (complete with a staff of two leggy kitty brothers who are always on patrol). I had my copy of Lincoln's Dreams signed because it's a book that is tiny and potent and makes me sob uncontrollably and may have the most perfect/heartbreaking/punch in the gut ending I've ever come across. I MAY be a little verklempt sitting here just thinking about it.

Anyway, Connie was lovely and spoke a bit about her current project (she'll be doing a reading at the local con, but I probably won't be able to go on account of poorness) which is going to be a more lighthearted work in the vein of Bellwether, set probably in Denver, about telepathy and relationships and communication. She also talked a bit about her process (handwriting drafts, eavesdropping shamelessly on strangers and their conversations, having a great idea and launching happily into a book only to discover how much you'll have to wrestle with the great idea) and was overall quite a charming lady.

I have a strange relationship with her works (I've probably talked about this before? Oh, well). There are some authorial quirks that she has that drive me up a tree. I can talk for days about how the whole "missed message" trope that she loves so much makes me want to rip my hair out. Sometimes her characters just aren't strongly individuated and they can all sound the same, and while she can write a great horrible child, sometimes I just want to put the book down to get away from them for a little while. Her books can be exhausting. And yet her stories worm their way under my skin, they can inhabit me, I've dreamed about her books after reading them - not her characters, but the moods she sets. She has a knack of packing an emotional wallop that is like a sledgehammer between the eyes. She can make me laugh hysterically, she can make me cry like it's the end of Old Yeller. I can't reread her heavier books often because they wring me out like wet cheesecloth. I will probably never be able to reread Passage. She has a something that is really freaking special, and I'm really thrilled I got to interact with her, even a tiny bit.

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