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Today I read two more entire books? I don't know, apparently I've just magically found my Intensive Reading Skills.

One of them was even thesis-relevant, so props to me. I took pictures of useful pages on my phone, so now I need to go back through my gallery and make notes, but anyway, work is being done. It was also just a very beautiful and sometimes very sad book. I sat in the library and cried quietly a couple of times in the middle of it. So if anybody else wants to read a series of autobiographical vignettes about a young girl in China during the Cultural Revolution with a faintly magical realism kind of feeling to it, When Huai Flowers Bloom - Shujiang Lu . I have read A Large Number of these memoirs by now, and this one stood out.

The other one was What's Left Of Me - Kat Zhang , which was very Young Adult Dystopian Fiction in tone, but with a surprisingly original premise: all humans are born as two distinct personalities in a single body, but over the early childhood years, one of them will fade, leaving only the stronger person. So the main relationship in the book is between Eva and Addie, who share a body (the plot being that neither ever faded, and thus as a Hybrid (here we are with the YA Dramatic Capitalised Nouns), they are a threat to the American Way Of Life). There are romantic subplots, but I enjoyed that the focus was on the two girls and how they navigated sharing something so fundamental.


July 24th, 2017 06:36 pm
alasse_irena: Photo of the back of my head, hair elaborately braided (Default)
Today I unintentionally sat down and read the entirety of Size Zero , a memoir by a French woman who had a brief and somewhat horrifying career as a supermodel and wound up with an eating disorder.

Mostly I am just kind of bemused that I went from idly browsing the library new books display to sitting down for an hour and a half and finishing thing book in one go, given it is not at all my usual genre, and recently I've been having trouble finding the time and motivation to read the (also very readable) autobiographies I must read for my thesis.

I guess it just proves that Literally Anything is more appealing that the thign you have to do.

Anyway, it was quite engaging and quite compelling, so I guess that was an hour and a half unintentionally well-spent.
alasse_irena: Photo of the back of my head, hair elaborately braided (Default)
 I have read quite a bit lately, apparently.

So yesterday I finished Sekret, by Lindsay Smith. The premise was that our protagonist, Yulia, is a teenager in the 1960s in Moscow, and she's forced into working for the KGB, who train her psychic abilities and use her as a spy, which is very silly, but exactly my kind of very silly. Anyway, I am disappointed, because whilel it was a fabulous premise, all the characters were a little bit too flat for me to care about, it had a disappointingly uninteresting romantic subplot, and it is sad to me that you can manage to write Psychic Spies Do The Cold War! in a way that I don't care about.

To their credit, though, they had a pair of twins with psychic abilities who didn't have any particularly unique telepathic connection or twin magic or anything like that, and I do like it when fictional twins come without the superstitions.
alasse_irena: Photo of the back of my head, hair elaborately braided (Default)
 So of late I have read two things Sorry, two novels - I have read many other things, but this is about the novels.

Neuromancer )

Tombs of Atuan )
alasse_irena: Photo of the back of my head, hair elaborately braided (Default)
So of late I dragged my girlfriend down into the pit of YA feeeeeelings which is the Raven Cycle, and she is having a lot of fun. She read them all of the books in a very short space of time, and then messaged me with, "Why did I return them? I want to read them again," and then trawled through pages and pages of fic in the hope of fulfilling her desire for more.

This all happened because I was at her place the other day, rereading the Dream Thieves for the purpose of planning a fic (we will see how this goes; I am not the best at finishing projects, but I have high hopes), and I mentioned to her that there was homoerotic drag racing, which was of course, exactly her cup of tea.

Anyway, the upshot of this is that I ordered all three current books on Book Depository, and preordered the final one - and they arrived at my house yesterday! This is very exciting. I have never ordered a book online before, and it's like shopping but without the effort of shopping. You just look at things, and then you click on them, and then they appear. (Okay, so admittedly some of your money goes away in this process also, but less than if I had done it in person, and also I have a job now!) And now I am ready to fill them with sticky notes!

In unrelated things, I keep seeing those soulmates AU posts appear on Tumblr. You know the ones: "imagine if the world was black and white, and you only started seeing in colour when you met your soulmate", "imagine if their first words to you were tattooed on your wrist", "imagine if it was their last words".

You may want to skip the rest of this paragraph if you enjoy those AUs, unless you really want to explain the appeal to me, because I don't get the appeal, and honestly the implications of the soulmates idea make me angry.

The idea that there's a predestined someone out there for you seems....well, for one, it seems like the opposite of romantic, a relationship that only exists because it was predetermined. It's missing all the getting-to-know-each-other and the deciding-if-this-is-right-for-you parts. But then if people try and add any of that gradual developing stuff, it just seems to emphasise the lack of free will. These people aren't into each other yet: they're just here because they know this is their only option for a romantic relationship; it's written in the stars that nothing else will be as good. I am just puzzled. I would much prefer to read a story where two people choose each other, out of all the people they've ever met, because they've looked around and figured out that this relationship is going to be what they want, than one where people meet each other and know immediately that they're going to have to learn to love this person, because no-one else is going to make them feel as strongly.

Romance is just...not magic, or at least, not to me, and I wish more people would start showing it as stories about people who like the way they fit together, rather than stories about people who feel *mystically drawn to each other* or whose relationships were predestined before they even met.


June 23rd, 2015 12:55 pm
alasse_irena: Photo of the back of my head, hair elaborately braided (Default)
 I have tried to write this post a couple of times, but apparently my brain doesn't have enough thoughts in it to write proper book reviews - so here is a kind of slapdash ad hoc summary of thoughts I had on the two books I've finished lately.

A Spy Among Friends - Ben Macintyre
  • I am a person who doesn't read a great deal of non-fiction, a fact which I do intend to remedy at some point. This book was very readable. I enjoyed it a lot.
  • All the people in this book were well-intentioned but horrible people, particularly with regard to their families. They just had too much shit going on in their lives to think they had time to also have wives who needed support and children to build relationships with. And basically, if you are going to prioritise your job that hard, maybe having a family is not a great idea.
  • MI6 would've have like 500 fewer problems if they'd been less attached to the British class system.
  • Cold War espionage was just as silly in real life as it is in movies. Like, "If I walk past the cafe carrying a newspaper, we need to arganise a meeting. If I am carrying a paperback novel, she should never speak to each other again" levels of silly.
  • This book filled me with excellent original fiction thoughts.
Adaptation - Malinda Lo
  • I picked this book up solely because I'd heard it was YA with a bisexual protagonist. It did not disappoint in this respect: the protagonist was indeed bisexual. (I can't remember at this point whether the book explicitly used the word "bisexual" any more, which is an important thing to remember, so sorry about that...)
  • Love triangles. Oh god, the love triangle. Although on the bright side, in this case, when the choice was between the long-time friend with whom she had common interests, and the new person who she has strong physical attraction to, it wasn't immediately obvious what choice she would make.
  • Speaking of, relationships built entirely on physical attraction just don't make sense to me, so no matter how hard the author tries to make the new and sexually exciting character compelling, I'm going to be barracking for the long-time friend.
  • I mean, overall, it was easy-to-read and pretty fun, so I can't complain, but I wasn't really super enthusiastic.
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