[sticky entry] Sticky: Introduction Post!

Sep. 19th, 2010 07:27 am
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Hi there! I'm Sophia, and this is my journal. If you want to know more about me and about what you can find on my journal, this is the place! )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
I first heard a recommendation for this book a LONG time ago, so when I finally got my hands on a copy and started reading it, I had totally forgotten everything I'd been told of what to expect from this book.

So I found that what the book was actually about was rather unexpected for me. But in a good way!

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
This evening I listened to the new Broadway Cast Recording of the musical “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812”, which you may recall I was obsessed with a while ago. I’ve listened to the original recording a million times, but I’d forgotten how many songs I’d excised from the playlist of it I listen to? Basically: I remove ALL OF PIERRE. Which is actually a fairly significant amount of the musical.

And listening to this other recording of the soundtrack, I didn’t skip any of the songs because then I wouldn’t get a complete sense, and I’m ONCE AGAIN AFIRE WITH RAGE ABOUT PIERRE. Why is Pierre such a major character? Why is there so much focus on Pierre? Why is Pierre the most boring person in the entire musical? PIERRE DOES NOTHING and yet he gets entire songs all about him, and he gets the emotional focus and resolution at the end of the musical instead of Natasha (who the story’s ACTUALLY about) and it’s the WORST.

AND this new version adds A WHOLE EXTRA 6.5 MINUTE PIERRE ANGST SONG WHAT THE FUCK. Adding an extra Pierre song does not actually make Pierre feel more integrated into the musical. And it is the most boring song. Why does it exist. Why does Pierre exist.

UGH. I love this musical so much in so many ways EXCEPT PIERRE’S EVERYTHING.

At any rate I guess it’s back to my carefully-excised original cast recording for me!
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
I hadn't really been planning on going to see Wonder Woman because I've been feeling kind of burned out on superhero movies, but then the reactions started to get posted over the last few days, and seeing so many people be enthusiastic about this movie made me go WELL FINE and go and see it.

AND LO IT WAS GREAT.

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Friday night I saw a production of Guys & Dolls. This is apparently a well-regarded and award-winning musical, and Stratford did a good job with it, but.....it is not the sort of musical calculated to win my affections. Its only appeal as far as I can see is just the spectacle. I mean there is a story but it's predictable (and sexist).

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
This is one of those books that I've been intending to read for a lot of years, have actually owned a copy of for multiple years, and just could never quite get around to reading it because I kind of got the impression it was the Serious Literature of the SFF world. And okay yes it kind of is that but it turns out it's also very readable!

This book is most well-known and widely-discussed for what it does with sex/gender. Namely: a planet of people who five-sixths of the time are sexless/genderless and also do not experience sexual desire, and the remainder of the time become either male or female for the purposes of reproduction and sexual activity.

It's disconcerting to me then that actually this stuff is what I care least about in this book? I have arguments with its treatment of gender (and sexuality). But I really enjoyed everything else about the book!

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
THE NEXT BOOK IN THE QUEEN'S THIEF SERIES!!!!

Megan Whalen Turner does not write fast. This is the first new book that's come out since before I got into the series. I was very worried about it not living up to expectations, since I have pretty high expectations for this series. But Thick as Thieves is a thoroughly worthy book to be added to the series and and I am relieved and delighted!

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
WELL I am now finished the Rivers of London series so I suppose I will post about the last four books all at once here since it feels weird to keep posting one at a time as if I'm not already done. Here we go!

Whispers Under Ground, by Ben Aaronovitch )

Broken Homes, by Ben Aaronovitch )

Foxglove Summer, by Ben Aaronovitch )

The Hanging Tree, by Ben Aaronovitch )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Alison Bechdel's second comic memoir. Her first was Fun Home and was about her father and her relationship with him. This one does the same with her mother.

I wasn't nearly so into this book as I was Fun Home. I think my biggest problem with it is that it just so very much about psychoanalysis, which is not a topic that interests me, and in fact I'm rather skeptical about given how based in Freudian theory it is, and how much of Freud's theories have been discredited.

The book really felt more like it was about the psychoanalysis of Alison's relationship with her mother instead of actually about her actual relationship with her mother. So for what it is, it's well done, but it's just not what I personally wanted to be reading.

Oh well. I was warned going in by the friend who lent me this book that it's not as good as Fun Home, so at least my expectations were appropriate going in so I didn't experience unexpected disappointment.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Second in the Rivers of London series. Another enjoyable book!

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
A kids' book about a preteen girl who wants to save the outsider-art tower structures her uncles created, whose neighbourhood society wants to get rid of the towers for looking weird and driving down the value of the gentrified historic neighbourhood.

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sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Eh. It's well-written, but as a work of Christian apologetics I have some issues with it. I do not agree with all of Lewis's theology or ruminations on human nature. It's not all bad, but I have enough points of departure to be annoyed with him. Plus the deliberately negative perspective of the book (it being written from the pov of demons after all) just feels to me like it puts the reader into a really unhelpful headspace.

And since the point of reading this book is, I gather, supposed to be that the reader finds it useful in becoming a better Christian according to Lewis's understanding of how to be Christian, these issues mean that the book fails for me.

Oh well. I was kind of expecting to have this response to it, given that I've come across people's discussions of their issues with CS Lewis's approach to Christianity in the past. It's just that I own a copy of the book and since it's so widely known and well-regarded, I felt obligated to give it a try before getting rid of it. And now I can! And I think I can at this point also get rid of the other non-Narnia book I have of his as well, without bothering to read it.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
So one of the reccing communities I follow recently had two novel-length fics recced for the Rivers of London fandom and they looked kind of interesting so I gave one a try and loved it, read the other and loved it too, and proceeded to spend the next week or so reading nothing but Rivers of London fanfic. And eventually I was like....okay so maybe I should actually read the actual books these are based on, I've heard good things about those.

So I am! This is the first one in the series, and is known as Rivers of London in most of the world and Midnight Riot in North America because apparently we can't handle books with titles that indicate the book is foreign.

I was a little nervous going in that maybe I wouldn't like the books because fandom....does not always do a good job of representing what a canon is actually about or actually like. And I mean it's not quite what I expected, but still good. More focus on cases and less on people, but also much more of a sense of humour than I was expecting! I was 100% charmed by just a few pages into the book. And then I accidentally stayed up past my bedtime to finish the book. So, you know: I liked it.

For those who are unfamiliar, the basic premise is: policemen in London who do magic and deal with magic-related crimes. The main character, Peter, discovers the existence of magic early in the book and ends up apprenticed to Nightingale, more or less the last practitioner of Newtonian magic in Britain.

Some miscellaneous thoughts:

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
A self-published memoir about a man's experience as a sent-down youth during the Cultural Revolution in China, translated by his children and posted to tumblr one chapter at a time over the last two and a half years. I think I've been reading it since nearly the beginning of that time! It's weird to think it's actually over and I won't be getting any more semi-regular updates on out-of-date rural Chinese farming techniques and the like.

This was a fascinating book and I loved following along over the last couple years. The author talks a lot about the facts of his life and not much about the emotions or the personal side of things, but given how little I knew about village life in China, or about the experiences of the sent-down youth, I didn't mind, as it was all very interesting.

I gather that Xia Jianfeng's experiences as a sent-down youth were more positive than many - the village he was sent to was relatively prosperous as these things go, and he seems to have adapted well to his new life. It would be interesting to also read the perspective of a sent-down youth who had a more difficult experience.

At any rate I'm very glad that this guy and his kids decided to share his story with the internet. And you too can read the book if you want to at the tumblr tenyearsapeasant.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Let me start by saying that this is very obviously the first book in the series and it ends without concluding anything major, and in fact the very end of the epilogue has a character realize an important thing and the narrative doesn't tell us what it is. And it's a new book so any sequels are not yet available to be read. So like, there's that.

But on the other hand I really thoroughly enjoyed this book! John Scalzi, whatever else one might to say about his writing, knows how to write a book that is fun to read. His dialogue, as usual, falls more on the side of "clever" than "realistic", and the narrative tone is lightweight, and the book clips along at a quick and immensely readable pace.

The characters aren't super deep, but I enjoyed reading about them. And there's fun politics, and interesting worldbuilding, and I really truly want to find out what happens next! But I'm left having to wait for the next book to get any kind of resolution. Or possibly several books down the road, depending on what happens next. Sigh.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
This book was incredible. It's a memoir of a biologist, interspersed with small sections of thematically relevant plant facts. But as well as it being the story of her scientific life, it's also just as much the story of her relationship with Bill, her best friend/chosen brother/platonic soulmate/lab manager/whatever you want to call him, and how central the two of them are to each other, how important.

So at its heart this book is just a lovely look at two weirdos who love science and each other, and that is just like EVERYTHING GOOD?? I had a lot of feelings. Plus the quality of the prose in this book is great which is always nice too, and not to be relied upon in memoirs!

(it's super weird though to read professional reviews of this book. One review I read mentioned Bill in all of one paragraph out of about fifteen, clearly seeing his and Hope's friendship as a minor facet of the book. Hope's pretty clear in the last chapter of the book that in large part writing this book was writing about Bill, and the important connection between Bill and Hope permeates the entirety of the book! But because the rest of the world doesn't know how to understand important platonic relationships, this gets sidelined in reviews. Ugh.)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Okay so I watched [personal profile] skygiants's recent Howl's Moving Castle vid which uses the movie source material to make a vid about the book, and I was immediately like I NEED TO REREAD THAT BOOK and so I did and it was obviously great as always. I'm just endlessly charmed by this ridiculous delightful book. And uh I don't know what else to say about it because I am having trouble convincing my brain that there's anyone out there who HASN'T read this book (and been subsequently charmed by it) even though I know there are probably plenty such people.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown

I decided to read this book because a friend of mine thinks very highly of it. This is a self-help sort of book written by a shame-and-vulnerability researcher. And those are important topics! But the book didn't click with me, something about the tone or the style or the perspective just didn't really work for me. Plus I felt more or less like I already knew the gist of what the book was talking about so I wasn't learning much really new. So all in all I'm glad this book exists out there for the people who need it, but I didn't personally gain anything from having read it.

Also: I was really frustrated with the very binarised way she talked about gender. She would often say "women and men" instead of "people", for one thing. And she talked about how all women experience shame and vulnerability in a specific way, and men experience it in a specific other way. No space in her understanding for people whose experience (either of shame/vulnerability or of gender identity) didn't fit her binarised categorisation.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
(Consisting of: Alanna: The First Adventure, In the Hand of the Goddess,
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, Lioness Rampant)

Hmmm not quite sure what to say about these books! It's been quite a while since I've reread them since this was never the Tamora Pierce series that I was most captivated by.

They're obviously her first books, and have a variety of flaws (some plot points/character choices that don't quite make sense, the well-meaning racism that's racism nonetheless, the uncomfortable dynamics in how some of Alanna's romantic relationships are portrayed, and so forth) but the books are nonetheless a charming quick read, if you can look past those factors.

Also its brand of feminism is...of its era (Alanna is Not Like Other Girls! And so forth.) but it's well-meaning and was hugely important for its time.

And I still have huge quantities of childhood nostalgia for these books. I care about these characters so much!
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Yesterday I saw a happy gifset from an old season of New Who and had positive feelings. That's the first time I've been able to do that in YEARS.

I am not exaggerating when I say that for two years after I broke up with Doctor Who, I couldn't think about the show without crying. I eventually got over that (...mostly) and entered a stage of aggressive apathy that lasted for several more years. I guess I might be finally moving on from that into whatever might be the next stage in my... grieving process, or whatever this is.

I don't really talk much about my breakup with Doctor Who because it feels embarrassing. Spending two years crying at every mention of a tv show does not feel very mature or reasonable. Even now if I think about Doctor Who in certain ways I get teary-eyed; writing this post got me a bit misty around the edges.

And I don't even really understand why this breakup hurt me so deeply. I mean, I felt that the show had betrayed my trust in it, yes, but I've been let down by narratives before and since, and never had a reaction anywhere even close to this.

I dunno. I guess Doctor Who has always had a special place in my heart. I still miss it, or at least miss what I loved about it when I still loved it.

That gifset I saw yesterday, the one that made me smile to see, was nothing but Nine and Rose grinning infectiously at each other. Characters who loved each other and the whole weird brilliant universe was what I loved best about that show, and the expressions on their faces just captured that feeling of joy.

I don't think I'm yet at a place of being able to rewatch any of the episodes I used to love, without breaking down in tears. But for the first time I feel like maybe someday in the future I might.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
I need to decide what to do about my livejournal. I haven't accepted the new TOS yet, which means apparently my latest few posts on dreamwidth have not crossposted to lj. I don't know if I still have anyone reading me solely on lj who I'd need to warn if I do just stop posting there ever, but if so I can't just keep ignoring the issue. But I don't know how to find out without accepting the TOS in order to post to lj!

I'm really not thrilled about the idea of accepting the TOS and continuing to use LJ the way I always have, and I'm also not thrilled about the idea of just abandoning my LJ without further notice, or accepting the TOS in order to post notice to my LJ that I'm abandoning it and then leaving it there, or deleting my LJ permanently. No good options here. Sigh. The end of an era, but a very awkward end.

If anyone has opinions as to what I should do about my LJ, please do let me know.

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