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Reading Wednesday

I have finished Hidden Figures. It was interesting and I am glad to have read it, but I wasn't enthralled. I realize that one of the factors in that was the lack of images. Most histories of recent times have photos and so on. This had absolutely none. I'm puzzled. NASA could have supplied a number of them, because you can find them online (examples here and here).

Next, I should start the book I just got in preparation for the Days of Awe: This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transfiguration, by Alan Lew (1944–2009). The author was a rabbi who was also an adherent of Buddhist thought: he's been called the "Zen rabbi."

However, I am sure that instead, I will start with volumes 2 and 3 of A Silent Voice, the manga I started last week.

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Reading Wednesday

I finished the latest October Daye novel, Once Broken Faith. I think it had less cutesy "Gee, I'm so awkward and blunt" than the previous ones, but not by much. It sort of ended in the middle of things. I think it's that the earlier books were each a self-contained story arc that had some sort of growth or change for Toby. Now McGuire is moving into the end game, as it were. There are three more books, according to McGuire's website, but I think they will all be part of the same uber-arc (hmm, rather like Samurai Deeper Kyo's huge Mibu arc ... although that was proportionally even longer).

I read this on my Kindle. It includes a bonus novella, about some of the recent events from the point of view of Arden Windermere, Queen in the Mists. And then Great Big River suggested another short work, the novelette "Full of Briars," which has Toby's squire Quentin as the POV. I sort of liked it? But I had to agree with a couple of online reviews I read that the event and idea at the very end seemed to come out of nowhere. TVTropes actually has some pointers to where this material was telegraphed earlier, so some other time I'll check that out.

But reading these works one after the other pointed out something: McGuire doesn't seem to have very distinctive voices for these characters. If you had some general statements from Toby, Arden, and Quentin, selected so as not to indicate directly who was talking, it might be hard to tell them apart. Huh.

I'm now reading Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, a nonfiction book about the African American women who were the "computers" for the U.S. space program. It's interesting but certainly not involving the way fiction is for me. Part of the issue may be the scope of the story. The author is not telling the story of just one of these women, and she is also giving the sociopolitical background against which they first came to work for the government (as part of the aviation research effort in WW II). This includes the situation of African Americans in the military during the war and afterward and will later include the 1960s Civil Rights Movement events. So the pace gets a rather uneven, I think. I'm a little less than halfway through it.

If you think you may have heard of the book and are not sure why, you may have, like me, been seeing ads for the movie based on it, which is due out in 2017. Those ads showed up on F-book even before the book was released (Sept. 6). There is some really impressive talent involved in the film (official movie site).

Not sure what I'll read next. I have some more nonfiction, but I think I will want some fiction at that point. I may do a re-read of something that was new to me in the past few months: I have a lot of choices there.

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Reading Wednesday

After I finished The Cuckoo's Song, I didn't feel like reading anything else substantive for a bit, which sometimes happens after I read something very involving. So I read some fanfiction, excerpts from a favorite comfort read (Rumer Godden's Thursday's Children), and magazine articles (in the Washington Post Magazine, National Geographic, and Washingtonian).

Monday (despite the holiday), I got some manga from Great Big River: Gangsta. vol. 7 (this is a hyper-violent and nihilistic seinen action series that deserves a more complete write-up) and vol. 1 of A Silent Voice.

A Silent Voice is about a restless, undisciplined young boy, Shoya, and the deaf girl he ends up tormenting and driving from their school. Actually, the most awful thing is how bad the other kids are, including the ones whom the teachers and administrators think are angelic. I'm hoping something humiliating happens to all of them eventually, especially the sweet-faced little meganeko who's the class representative. Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, especially when she's saying tearfully (paraphrased) "How could you possibly think that I'd do anything bad to Shoko? You know I'm the perfect class rep!"

But! This is only the first volume of a series that has seven volumes out. At the end of the volume, there's a time skip. Shoya, now old enough to leave school, is totally aimless and (for lack of any other focus) obsessed by what he did. He cuts all his ties to his current life and travels to find Shoko. He encounters her again on the last page. So I clearly have to order some more of the series!

(Fact: it seems to be a shounen series. Huh.)

Then the latest October Daye installment, Once Broken Faith, arrived on my Kindle. I'm now about a quarter of the way through it. It starts with a very silly, enjoyable pajama party for the teen fae contingent at Toby's house, but in no time we're up to our ears in dirty court politics and new types of fae and Toby is defying royalty in her typical headstrong fashion. Some of the people she loves are in danger and others are not speaking to her. You know, the usual!

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Ursula Vernon Is a Gift

This Vote Is Legally Binding

She's also the author/illustrator of Digger (which won a Hugo a few years ago) and under her pen name, T. Kingfisher, the author of The Raven and the Reindeer.

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I have been reading TONS and need to blog all of it, sometime, somehow.

But specifically, I stayed up way too late last night and the night before reading The Cuckoo's Song by Frances Hardinge.

Man, was that spooky and haunting!

It's in the family of scary atmospheric fantasy, usually aimed at girls, that I used to get into from time to time when I was a young teen: stuff by Penelope Farmer (Charlotte Sometimes) or Joan North (The Whirling Shapes). Most of these have identity as their core theme, and it's no wonder I found them so scary and yet enchanting.

Thirteen-year-old Triss is usually ill, but right now, she thinks something even worse has happened to her. She usually doesn't get along with her younger sister, Pen, but now Pen says she absolutely hates Triss and that Triss is not really her sister. What happened the night before the story opens, and why is Triss now ravenously hungry, and why are all the pages ripped out of her diaries?

The opening scenes and the book's title, together, make it pretty obvious what's up, but the how and why and what's necessary to resolve the situation make an intriguing page turner.

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Zen Koi

I got myself hooked on a mobile/phone game, Zen Koi. It's very pretty and relaxing.

Cut for screen shotsCollapse )

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An (Almost) Surprise Visit!

So, yeah, I'm kind of forgetting how to LJ/DW. Like, that I should post things that might be of interest to my circle/friendlist.

lady_ganesh and her daughter came to visit me and The Mr. as part of a trip to tour the DC/Baltimore area. Mostly we showed off our town, [the People's Republic of] Takoma Park.

I had intended eating dinner in town as part of the total Tacky Park experience, but The Mr. wooed our visitors away from the hyper-local joints in favor of A & J, a favorite of his (and mine, too) up in Rockville, the county seat: about a 25-minute drive. This is a place that serves authentic northern Chines dim sum: lots of noodle dishes (including ones with wonderful housemade noodles) and none of the bready buns that most people associate with dim sum. They also (obviously) serve dim sum in the evening, unlike most places in the area.

It was a lovely visit.

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A Revelation

The day before a primary election is NOT a good day to stay home sick and try to get some rest.

The constant get-out-the-vote robocalls are the direct cause of the mini-tantrum I just had where I manually shredded the Official Democratic Party Poll that showed up in the mail.

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Spring Has Sprung, Finally

We have had beautiful weather this weekend, but I haven't taken that much advantage of it. We did walk out for gelato (the Mr.: dark chocolate and hazelnut) and sorbet (me: grapefruit) yesterday afternoon at the neighborhood place (Dolci Gelati), and today we walked to Busboys & Poets for brunch (which has become a near-weekly habit).

I have just finished making 6 quarts of chicken stock. I think this is the best I've made. I used more or less this recipe, which I have bookmarked for later. The main difference between this and what I have made previously is far more carrots (6 instead of 2 or 3) and peppercorns (2 teaspoons); also, leaving the skin on the halved onion, which has an effect on the color. And darn I should have known that (it's one of the common natural fabric dye ingredients, for a golden yellow), and in fact, I remember my late mother doing the same.

The chicken stock is for matzoh ball soup for second seder at my sister's place this coming Saturday. I am the official Matzoh Ball Maker on our side of the family. The first seder will be at our friends Michael and Sharon's. They have asked me to bring a fruit platter, which should be easy, except that I will be working most of Friday. I will try to pick up fresh fruit the night before, I think.

And the Mr. is upstairs doing the taxes, because yes, it's spring. *sigh*

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Fox Makes a Six-Layer Sandwich

This has been around for awhile, actually. I just found it on National Geographic's site, but this Youtube version runs better for me:

The original title on this at Nat. Geo. is "Fox Makes and Eats a Six-Layer Sandwich." You will note, however, that se doesn't actually eat it. I think Fox is taking the food home to whoever lives with hir.

I'm fascinated by how daintily and precisely Fox stacks up the food. Also, Fox knows all about paper bags!

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