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Since I've been Old Unreliable lately as far as appearing online (because real life = new house + dog with pewmonia + hosting Thanksgiving + work craziness + friend worries), I'm taking the easy way out and posting reviews of three books I recently read. If anyone else has read these, I'd love to hear what you think. I also recently read JK Rowling's Cuckoo's Calling which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I haven't written a review of it yet. Maybe tomorrow?

The Night SisterThe Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon: This book gave me horrific nightmares twice (twice!) the first night I started reading it. That hasn't happened in ages. The ending was surprisingly melancholy, and though not quite what I expected (I really thought spoilerCollapse )) it was apt, and rather touching. The narrative conveniently skips over the question of why in god's name Rose's mother didn't follow up on Rose's stories about Sylvie, given that spoilerCollapse ). The answer, of course, is because plot. Nevertheless, this was a fast diverting read, and good enough that I'll try another by her.

DisclaimerDisclaimer by Renée Knight: Intense, gripping, bewildering, startling; this book is like playing with one of those wooden puzzle cubes where it seems like a solid block until you get all the pieces in play in just the right way, and then the whole things falls apart and you see how it all fits together. As with any good suspense novel, the author hides some things from the reader, but she does it so cleverly that you don't notice; she quietly omits a few crucial points or phrases (in one case simply using a pronoun rather than a name), and the reader effortlessly makes certain assumptions without even noticing it and goes merrily on down the completely wrong path. Really beautifully crafted, with unexpected pokes and jabs around every corner that slowly grow into an almighty sucker punch that leaves your mouth hanging open.

Gothic TalesGothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell: Typical gothic tales, with a lot of family mystery/drama. Some interesting plots, but many of the stories felt too drawn out -- "like butter that has been scraped over too much bread." Wordy isn't bad if the words enhance the story and/or the atmosphere, but overall these stories just felt labored. "Lois the Witch" was genuinely painful to read, since you know pretty much from the third paragraph where it's headed yet it takes something like fifty pages to get there.

Je suis désolée

Evil like this just breaks my heart. Pathetic that in something like ten thousand years of so-called civilization, homo sapiens hasn't managed to master the very simple concept of "Live and let live." If any of you are in Paris, I hope you and yours are well and safe.

Here's a question

Every so often I go on a binge of re-reading my own fics. And almost every time, I end up thinking the same thing: "These are pretty good. But...did I really write these??" In other words, it feels like I'm reading someone else's work. It's a little unnerving. I can't quite figure it out.

So, for those of you who write fanfic, do you go back and re-read your own old stories? How often? Is there a particular concatenation of circumstances that causes you to do so? How does it make you feel when you do? How do you find that you react to them -- do they feel like your own work or someone else's?

Now, for those of you who also write original fic: same questions.

How is this possible? How???

How can Harrison Ford look so drop-dead sexy at 70-something???

New Star Wars movie posters:

Just in case...

If anyone is wondering what I'd like in my stocking Dec 25th, it's this. Hubba hubba.


Having a new house is awesome beyond awesome.
Packing up the old house sucks nuclear weasel penises.
That is all...

I have met procrastination, and she is me

I'm supposed to be packing today, because the movers are coming on Thursday and the house is sooooo not ready for them. We have loads of random crap everywhere that has to be dealt with: plastic bags of candle stubs, odd gloves, cracked pots, old shoes, clothes we no longer wear, ancient jars of herbs in the back of the cabinet, mysterious keys that unlock who-knows-what, dessicated magic markers, old cans of paint, and oh, the swarming hordes of dust bunnies...

Le sigh.

I'm also supposed to be writing an article for the next issue of Carpe Nocturne, which is due on Friday, but I can't seem to come up with the hook to make it all fall into place.

Instead of doing ANY of that, I went and signed up for this, because the mods put out a plea for a few more folks to ease their matching, and because nursedarry taunted me into it:

happy_trekmas is open for signups until October 4th!

Musical satisfaction

Have just discovered the Fleet Foxes. Am impressed.

My dilemma, it has horns

I just discovered that in December, SyFy will be airing a tv miniseries version of Childhood's End, and I am sorely conflicted.

I love this book. It was one of the first science fiction novels I ever read. My mother introduced me to it when I was about twelve or so; it blew me away and set the bar for future reading very high indeed. I have re-read it many times since, always with great pleasure. It's a classic that turns up on every science fiction "best of" list: thought-provoking, complex, beautifully crafted, joyous and heartbreaking at the same time. The thought of seeing it brought to life fills me with unspeakable excitement.

But it's SyFy. Their record with adaptations fills me with equally unspeakable horror. If I watch the first episode and it's awful, I may never get it out of my head. Back when they were SciFi, they did a shamefully poor adaptatio of Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea books. Fortunately I knew ahead of time that it stunk -- Le Guin herself disclaimed all connection with it -- so was able to avoid it, but it has left me highly distrustful of them. They're fine with Piranhaconda (after all, it isn't really possible to screw THAT up) and things of that ilk, but a Golden Age science fiction classic like this?

As I said, I'm on the horns of a dilemma :P

Well will you look at that

I'm thrilled to say that we have a truly impressive turnout for this year's sshg_giftfest! Combine that with loads of thought-provoking prompts and the fabulous talent in the signup (some old friends along with, I am pleased to say, some new ones) should make for an excellent fest. Huzzah!!



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