dolorosa_12: by ginnystar on lj (robin marian)
Thirty Day Book Meme Day 14: An old favorite

I think I've talked about a lot of old favourites here already, but there are still a few I haven't mentioned. I read a lot, and always have done, after all.

When I was growing up, my sister and I went to the local public library almost every weekend. When we were very small, we went to the Saturday morning storytime events, and this was always followed by some time spent browsing the shelves and picking out books to read over the course of the week. As we grew older, we stopped going to the storytime stuff, but continued to go and borrow books nearly every week. I discovered a lot of my favourite books this way, and frequently borrowed the same books over and over again.

One such book was Katharine Briggs' An Encyclopedia of Fairies (I think the British edition was called A Dictionary of Fairies, but for whatever reason we had the US edition in our Australian library). It does pretty much what it says on the tin: collect together pretty much every piece of folklore and folktale about otherworldly beings, mainly from Britain and Ireland. I was obsessed with this book, and used to pore over it endlessly, tracing patterns and common themes in the stories, and noting every time one of them popped up in the fantasy novels I read. It was like a window into another world — not the Otherworld, but rather, a world where people felt it necessary to leave bread and clear water by the fireplace as a gift to household spirits, where ointments of clover leaves, or turning your clothes inside out would make you immune to fairy trickery, or where hanging a pair of iron scissors above a baby's bed would prevent it from being swapped out with a changeling. And the sense of stories and memories being written into the landscape was incredibly appealling, because that was how I thought of my own landscape, and my own folklore, no matter how suburban my location.

I loved this book so much, and must have read it at least a hundred times.


The other days )
dolorosa_12: (pagan kidrouk)
Thirty Day Book Meme Day 13: Makes me laugh

It seemed appropriate that today's answer by Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I can still remember the first time I read it — I started reading it in a cafe, and eventually had to leave the cafe because I couldn't prevent myself from laughing out loud. I'm awaiting the upcoming adaptation with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation.

The other days )
dolorosa_12: (vampire gif)
Thirty Day Book Meme Day 12: I pretend to have read it

I don't have any books that fall into this category! What would be the point? I don't view reading as some kind of competition, where you must read the most, or the most widely, or the most 'classics', and what other reason would someone have for pretending to have read a book. I'm not reading to impress people, it's not a public performance.

That said, given my love of all things vampire, people are often surprised that I haven't read the nineteenth-century classics such as Dracula, Carmilla, and so on. At this point, they've been adapted, subverted, and turned into pastiche so many times that I basically feel as if I have read them. Some day I will probably get around to it.

The other days )

I spent most of last night feeling profoundly despairing at the current state of affairs in Britain. Theresa May's 'legally binding assurances' are nothing of the sort, but they might be just enough for the hard Brexiteers to change their tune and vote for her deal. I didn't realise how much I had been counting on (and assuming) an extension to Article 50, and how upset it still makes me to sit here hopelessly, watching the days count down until rights are taken away from me without my consent.
dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
Thirty Day Book Meme Day 11: Secondhand bookshop gem

Nineteen Varieties of Gazelle, by Naomi Shihab Nye. This one is special to me because I was browsing secondhand bookshops with [personal profile] nymeth, and had planned to leave without buying anything, and as we left the shop, she handed me over this collection of Nye's poetry. It was such a kind and generous thing to do, on what had already been a really nice afternoon wandering around the bookshops — and the book itself is pretty good too!

The other days )

AO3 meme

Mar. 10th, 2019 04:09 pm
dolorosa_12: (sellotape)
I saw this meme via [personal profile] scripsi, and I think I have finally written enough fic to get some statistically meaningful answers. Feel free to steal if you wish.

Rules: Go to your AO3 works page, expand all the filters, and answer the following questions!

FANFIC

Twenty-four works in total, mostly written for exchanges.

What’re your first and second most common work ratings?

Teen and up (13)
General (10)

What’s your most common archive warning?

No archive warnings apply (21)
Chose not to warn (3)

Least common?

I don't have any other warnings — given the ratings of my fic, I think that's unsurprising.

Do you consider yourself an adventurous writer?

Not really. Because I mainly write for exchanges I sometimes have to push myself in terms of the fandoms I write for, but I have a very clear comfort zone, and I pretty much always stick within it.

How many stories have you made in each pairing category?

F/M (9)
F/F (2)
Multi (1)

The rest are gen; I've not written any M/M fic.

Is this more accidental, or do you have preferences?

This is definitely not accidental. I'm much more interested in female characters, so I only write relationships that involve at least one female character. As a reader I'm a bit less focused in my tastes, but I generally read a lot less slash than I do het, F/F, or multi ships that involve at least one female characters.

What are your top 4 fandoms by numbers?

Dark Is Rising sequence - Susan Cooper (4)
Wise Child series - Monica Furlong (3)
Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo (3)
Sunshine - Robin McKinley (2) and Galax Arena series - Gillian Rubinstein (2)

Are you still active in any of them, and do you tend to migrate a lot?

I'm active in all of them in the sense that I would happily write more fic for each, and would definitely read it, reread all the books concerned, and talk with fellow fans about them. Galax Arena is definitely a fandom of the heart, and I'll love it forever, with a great deal of intensity.

What are your top 4 relationship tags?

Kaz Brekker/Inej Ghafa (1)
Matthias Helvar/Nina Zenik (1)
Inej Ghafa/Matthias Helvar/Nina Zenik (1)
Amira/Tabitha (Seasons of Glass and Iron) (1)

I have a bunch of other fics, each of which represent my sole time writing that pairing, so I don't know why these four appear first.

Does this match how you feel about the characters, or are you puzzled?

I'm a bit puzzled as to why all the Six of Crows pairings are appearing first, because it gives the impression that I've written a disproportionate number of Six of Crows fics, when in fact I feel a lot more strongly about some of the other fandoms and pairings I've written for.

What are your top 2 most used additional tags, and your bottom 2?

Yuletide Treat (9)
Post Canon (7)
Missing Scene (1)
Past Abuse (1)

What would happen if you combined all 4 of these into a fic?

Given most of the fics I've written are post-canon fics for Yuletide, the first two tags wouldn't be too difficult at all! Most of the characters I latch onto are survivors of trauma, so the Past Abuse tag would be easy to work in as well. Missing Scene would only be possible if the fic involved a time skip.

How many WIPs do you have currently running on AO3? Any you don’t plan on finishing?

None. I don't write very long fic (my longest is only 8000 words, the shortest just over 1000), and because I mostly write for exchanges I only post things when they're complete. It would be nice to be able to write novel-length fic, but given the various demands on my spare time, I don't think that's likely to happen any time soon.
dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
Thirty Day Book Meme Day 10: Reminds me of someone I love

Most of the books I own remind me of someone I love, either because they were gifts from my mother (and I sort of feel that my love of reading was indirectly a gift from her, because she read aloud to me so much when I was a child, and encouraged me to be a reader), or from my husband, or I bought them on the recommendation of someone I love.

However, what I will go with today is The Girls in the Velvet Frame by Adele Geras. I mentioned this book in passing on an earlier day of the meme, but didn't go into much detail. It's the story of a family consisting of a widowed mother and her five daughters (ranging in age from thirteen to three), living in genteel poverty in Jerusalem in around 1918. There's also a flamboyant, outrageous unmarried aunt (whose stories of her misspent youth travelling around Europe both entrance and outrage her conservative Jewish relatives), and various neighbours in their block of flats who also feature as almost de facto family members; over the course of the book Rifka, the oldest daughter, begins working in a bakery and starts courting the young son of family friends, as part of a tentative future arranged marriage. Hovering just outside the pages is the missing oldest child of the family — the only son, who emigrated to New York seeking a better life, and who has essentially dropped off the map. He hasn't written, he hasn't sent money as promised, and it's a great source of worry and grief to his mother and sisters. The search for Isaac (the brother), is a subplot that meanders through the novel, involving the velvet framed photograph of the title, the community effort of Jewish migrants to New York, and the persistence and ingenuity of the five sisters. But the book's true focus is on the incidental stories of everyday life — sneaking out to feeding the neighbours' rabbits, tables laid with Eastern European cakes and tea, keeping up appearances in the face of poverty, snacking on sugared almonds at their aunt Mimi's house — and it is beautiful because of it.

Why it reminds me of someone I love — when I am neither Jewish, living in the early twentieth centuries, nor having ever experienced that kind of poverty — is its emphasis on the relationships between mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts (men are almost incidental, plot devices rather than characters, which is honestly often what my childhood felt like), and its insistence in putting the stories of women and girls front and centre. My mother isn't very like the mother in the story (although one of my aunts is quite like the aunt, something I recognised even when I first read the book as a seven-year-old), and I grew up with one younger sister, not four (although in adulthood I did end up with four younger sisters — the youngest three were born to my stepmother when I was seventeen, twenty-two, and twenty-nine respectively). But the book has always reminded me of my family, and the family dynamic of my maternal relatives — supportive to the point of bossy interference, in and out of each other's houses without warning or invitation, but happiest in each other's company in spite of everything. It was the first book I read that prioritised the kinds of relationships that were important to me when I was growing up, and showed that stories often treated as marginal, boring, or unimportant were worth being told.

The other days )
dolorosa_12: (sokka)
Thirty Day Book Meme Day 9: Film or TV tie-in

You know, I don't think I have ever owned, or even read, a book in this category. I've read lots of books that went in the other direction (i.e. were adapted for film or television), but not tie-ins. So rather than rack my brains trying to think of a book that I know doesn't exist, why don't those of you who do read tie-ins use the comments to tell me about your favourites?

The other days )

Matthias and I are heading out later today to catch up with two of our friends who are visiting from Vienna. They're just two among the many people I know who have left the UK because of Brexit. It will be good to see them (we're all going out for a curry at a new restaurant), but I'm sad about the circumstances.

I don't have much to catch up on in terms of reading. I finished P. Djèlí Clarke's novella 'The Haunting of Tramcar 015' (another story set in an alternate, steampunk Egypt when djinn and other supernatural beings live openly among the human population), which was excellent, although as with all of Clarke's work, it left me wishing that it had been expanded to novel length. I also read 'Lullaby for a Lost World,' a creepy, gothic short story by Aliette de Bodard (freely available on the Tor.com website should you want to read it), and have begun reading God's War by Kameron Hurley. I'm nearly finished it, but it's left me with the conclusion that Hurley's writing is just not for me. It's grimdark in a specific way that I find really repellent, and I particularly dislike that she writes societies where women are uniformly violent, cruel, and exploitative (I do know that this is kind of her thing, so I wasn't unaware of this element going in). This is the second book of hers I've read, and I think it's probably time to stop trying her writing.
dolorosa_12: (ada shelby)
Thirty Day Book Meme Day 8: Have more than one copy

Since Matthias and I moved in together and amalgamated our libraries, technically I have two copies of a lot of things (most notably, perhaps, pretty much every Discworld book), but I'll go with The Tiger in the Well by Philip Pullman here.

When I got married a year-and-a-half ago, my sraffie friends (people I'd met through a fansite for Pullman's His Dark Materials series) gave us a joint present of a crate filled with books, each one representing a story that was important to the individual giver, and each with a message written inside for us. The crate they came in was decorated as if it had previously stored Tokay from Jordan College, the fictional Oxford college in which His Dark Materials begins. And wonderful [twitter.com profile] thelxiepia, my sister by choice, the best friend I made through those sites, and one of my bridesmaids, gave me The Tiger in the Well.

She did this in full knowledge that I already had a copy of the book, a battered version first bought from what I now know was the Waterstones in Gower St, when I was fourteen and on a trip to Europe and New York with my mother and sister. But it was a book for which the two of us shared a deep love — our favourite in Pullman's Sally Lockhart series, and one we'd discussed avidly at various points over the years. It was the perfect gift, and I'm glad I now have two copies as a result.

The other days )
dolorosa_12: (pagan kidrouk)
Thirty Day Book Meme Day 7: Forgot I owned it

You know, I'm actually really struggling to come up with something for today. Even as a child, I had a librarian's inclination to catalogue and classify, and the majority of my old books are still back in Australia in my old room at my mum's place, arranged on the shelves exactly the same way they were thirty years and four family homes ago. I can still visualise those shelves, and tell anyone exactly where to go to find any specific book. While my collection of books here in the UK is less extensive and less well organised (just alphabetically by author across multiple bookshelves), I still know which books I own, you know?

What I have forgotten is what the hell happened to my copy of Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan. I know I owned the whole trilogy at one point, I've certainly read the entire trilogy using books that I owned — but this book in the series somehow vanished into the ether, possibly during the month in which I left my student accommodation in Heidelberg to travel around Germany, returned back to the UK to the share house I had previously lived in and in which Matthias was still living, and we moved into the house we still live in now. There was a lot of moving, a lot of suitcases, and a lot of different people's stuff being boxed up and transported to lots of different places, so maybe that's when this book was sucked into the void.

The other days )
dolorosa_12: (seal)
Thirty Day Book Meme Day 6: The one I always give as a gift

I always give Alison Lester's picture book, Magic Beach, as a gift to new babies. (It's not really at the right level for a newborn, but it's something they would be able to grow into and appreciate as a toddler.)

This book is an Australian children's classic, with absolutely gorgeous illustrations. It alternates between one page spread about mundane beachside activities (swimming, building sandcastles, paddling in rockpools and so on) and one page where the ordinary activity has become magical, and it's very reminiscent of my own childhood, where the first week of every summer holiday was spent 'down the coast' (Broulee, on the south coast of New South Wales, one of the many seaside towns to which Canberrans decamped during their summer holidays), visits to my mother's family in Sydney would always be accompanied by long hours spent in the ocean (even in winter), and most of my childhood holiday memories consist of bobbing around like a cork at various beaches, accompanied by a pack of kids — relatives, or the children of family friends. When I was a child and read Magic Beach for the first time, I always visualised the eponymous beach as Broulee.

So I give this book, with all those memories behind it, not because I expect the children in question to have similar experiences (indeed, most of the babies I've given it to, such as my cousin's daughter, who lives in Seoul, or my friends' son, who lives in Anglesey) are likely never to swim in the ocean. What I'm giving them, I think, is that sense of freedom, and space, and movement, which makes everyday life seem magical.

The other days )
dolorosa_12: by ginnystar on lj (robin marian)
Thirty Day Book Meme Day 5: Doesn't belong to me

Technically there are a lot of books on my shelves both virtual and physical that don't belong to me, because when Matthias and I moved in together we brought together our two collections of books, which we've obviously continued to add to in the years since. And our Kindle libraries are connected, as well, so we can share ebooks if we want to.

I'll go today with Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, because it's one of my favourite books, and I don't really talk about it all that much.

It's a book that rewards rereading, digging back through the footnotes scattered throughout, revelling in the gorgeous, gorgeous language and just all around strangeness. But my favourite part of the book is the pervading sense of melancholy and the uncanny, hovering slightly off the page, or banished to cryptic footnotes — that sense of a larger, creepier story lying submerged, known by all the inhabitants of Clarke's imagined world, but only alluded to, because for them it's their history, and common knowledge, but only understood imperfectly. I love above all the character of John Uskglass, and the way he stalked through the pages of the book, haunting it from the margins, and the eerie mythology underpinning the story. It's a book I always come back to.

The other days )
dolorosa_12: (sister finland)
I've already mentioned this on Twitter, but I thought it worth posting about here too. I will be going to this author event in London with Samantha Shannon, Zen Cho, Tasha Suri and Zoe Marriott, and would really love to have some company.

I often go to signings, 'in conversation', or similar events, but I almost always end up going on my own, because most of my friends who like the same authors live on the opposite side of the country (or the world), and while I don't mind being on my own, it is a little lonely.

So this post is basically me asking awkwardly if anyone who is either already going to the event, or who thinks it sounds fun and wants to book a ticket would like to meet up in the Waterstones and hang out during the panel.

If this is you, send me a message and we can sort out the details. I would really love to meet up (and if you're like me and get really stressed out about whether people you've interacted with online consider you enough of a friend to want to meet 'in real life,' if we mutually subscribe to each other's journals here and have interacted, you definitely fall into the category of 'people I'd be happy to meet up with at an author event'), and I think the panel is going to be really great. So...get in touch!
dolorosa_12: (newspaper)
Thirty Day Book Meme: Day 4. Least favorite book by favorite author

I don't think I really have a single favourite author (if we're going by a metric of 'like every single one of their books' it would have to be Sophia McDougall, if it's 'books by them have made me feel the most intensely, for the longest period of time' it would have to be Catherine Jinks), but let's go with Philip Pullman here.

I've read pretty much every book of his (apart from his first two novels for adults, which are out of print and by all accounts pretty dreadful), and although I like them all and generally think they're at worst competently written and achieve what they've set out to do, his contemporary YA fiction is really not to my taste. I'm thinking, for example, of The White Mercedes — a tragic, somewhat melodramatic exploration of class and privilege, set against the backdrop of a teenage boy's coming-of-age story in Oxford. (Interestingly, I first read this story as a teenager in Australia, and missed a lot of the nuances until I'd moved to Cambridge and suddenly a lot of the British, and specifically Oxbridge stuff in the book became clear to me.) As I say, it's competently written enough, and it has the typical Pullman tugging on the heartstrings emotional manipulation (I mean this as a compliment, but seriously, if you read the final chapters of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass, or The Shadow in the North, you'll know what I mean by 'emotional manipulation'), but I really feel his strong point is fantasy, fairytales, and historical fiction, and The White Mercedes and his other YA contemporaries are his weakest work.

The other days )
dolorosa_12: (quidam)
Thirty Day Book Meme, Day 3: One with a blue cover.

I love that this is a prompt. My librarian heart is laughing and laughing.

Over the years I've no doubt read many books with blue covers, but I went with The Bone Season, the first in Samantha Shannon's wonderful dystopian series, because it's one of my favourites, and because its cover, inspired by the sundial in Seven Dials in London, is gorgeous. I reviewed the book some time ago, so rather than rehashing it again, I'll link to that review. The one-sentence summary is that it's a dystopian novel, whose heroine is captured from London (where she leads a double life as a government official's daughter by day and a member of a criminal clairvoyant syndicate by night) and taken to a prison camp in Oxford, where she learns about the terrifying supernatural powers really running things behind the scenes. I love the book for its setting — particularly the bits that take place in my favourite parts of London — its wonderful heroine (who is, I feel, realistically terrified by the situations in which she finds herself, and makes more morally grey compromises than I feel most dystopian YA heroines normally do), and the central romance (although your mileage may vary on this, as it's very Stockholm Syndrome-y with a massive power imbalance, but what can I say? the id wants what it wants).

The other days )

By a strange coincidence, I posted a review of another Samantha Shannon book today, her standalone epic fantasy The Priory of the Orange Tree. This is a very different beast to the Bone Season series — it's a sweeping epic fantasy, inspired by Elizabethan England and Tokugawa Japan, about the uses and misuses of history, with dragons. You can read my review here.

Other books I've finished or started this weekend are Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James (a dizzying blend of various African myths and histories, a straightforward quest story about people with supernatural powers hunting for a lost child, but very tough going due to the meandering, nested style of labyrinthine stories within stories, suddenly starts to have a plot about fifty per cent of the way in, and extraordinarily bleak in its worldview), My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Nigerian noir novel about an older sister who finds herself repeatedly responsible for cleaning up the bodies of men killed by her younger sister; it's also about the double edged sword that beauty can become — at once a weapon, and something that can be wielded against you), and The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark (another foray into his alternate, steampunk Cairo where djinn and other supernatural beings roam the streets).

It's been a pretty miserable, cold weekend, which I guess is what explains all the media consumption — as well as all the books, I watched BlacKkKlansman with Matthias (which I think was robbed in terms of the number of Oscars it ultimately won — it was excellent), along with various episodes of TV shows. It's been raining on and off, and, to be honest, leaving the house was not a particularly attractive prospect!
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Thirty Day Book Meme Day 2: Best bargain.

This was a tricky one, as I've not only bought lots of books at discounted prices over the years, but also spent a decade working as a book reviewer, which meant that I was both given books for free, and paid money to talk about them. So obviously all the books I reviewed during that time were, in some sense, a bargain. For this reason, I've chosen to interpret this question as asking not just which book I got for the cheapest price, but how much it gave back to me in terms of meaning, rereads, and enjoyment.

When interpreted in this way, the answer can be no other than Romanitas by [twitter.com profile] McDougallSophia. My editor was in the habit of going through the haul of books sent to the newspaper by various publishers, allocating some to the reviewers who covered that particular genre, and leaving out the rest in the staff tearoom for anyone to take. Romanitas fell in that latter category — my editor didn't think it looked good enough to review, so it was left out for anyone to claim for free. I read the book cover summary — a dystopian setting where the Roman Empire never fell, but rather spread to encompass most of the world — and read the first chapter (the funeral of the Emperor's brother and sister-in-law from the perspective of their grieving teenage son, awkward at the media circus surrounding his life and lonely against the weight of his own imperial inheritance), and then the second (a furious escaped slave fights for her life and that of her condemned prisoner brother), and realised I was hopelessly hooked. (It was also the first time I really understood shipping, because my first reaction, upon being introduced to the two point-of-view characters in those opening chapters, was 'I adore you both. Now kiss.')

I ended up devouring the book, and went on to review both its follow ups (thus acquiring them for free from the publisher as well), writing most of the fanfic on Ao3 that exists for this series (I think the other stuff was written for me as a Yuletide gift), and even ending up as something of a friend of the author, on the strength of being basically the only person who ever talked about these books online. ([wordpress.com profile] longvision is my long-defunct Romanitas trilogy fanblog, which I set up shortly after reading the first book.)

Noviana Una, the escaped slave character, ended up being my second favourite fictional character of all time — she's the person in my default icon, and I rather daggily had a T shirt printed with the words that are the title of this blog post, so as you can see I'm a hopeless obsessive about this series, and about this character in particular.

In other words, in terms of what this book — and series — has given me over the past twelve years, it was far and away the best bargain I've ever acquired!

The other days )
dolorosa_12: (matilda)
I came across this book meme a while ago, and had been waiting until I had a clear month or so to complete it. It looks like it will be a lot of fun, so feel free to steal it and do the meme yourself if you'd like.

Day one is a tough one: favourite book from childhood.

Now, depending on how old I was when you asked me this question, the answer would change quite a bit. I am a fairly loyal reader, and even in childhood I tended to have long stretches of time where a particular book was my favourite — and these can roughly be set out as follows:

Books behind the cut )

As I said before, I can talk about favourite childhood books forever, and would love to hear about yours, or discuss any of my favourites, in the comments.

The other days )
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Thank you for writing for me!

All my requests are for fic, and are based on OR matching (as this is how the exchange is set up). I'm pretty easygoing about what type of fic you want to write for me. I read fic of any rating, and would be equally happy with plotty genfic or something very shippy. I read gen, femslash, het and slash, although I have a slight preference towards femslash, het, and gen that focuses on female characters. I mainly read fic to find out what happens to characters after the final page has turned or the credits have rolled, so I would particularly love to have futurefic of some kind. Don't feel you have to limit yourself to the characters I specifically mention — I'm happy with others being included if they fit with the story you want to tell.

Feel free to have a look around my Ao3 profile, as it should give you a good idea of the types of things I like to read.

General likes )

General dislikes )

Fandom-specific prompts:

Greek mythology )

The Lions of Al-Rassan - Guy Gavriel Kay )

The Pagan Chronicles - Catherine Jinks )

Sally Lockhart Mysteries )

Space Demons trilogy )

Sunshine - Robin McKinley )
dolorosa_12: (startorial)
Massive Attack was everything I could have hoped for and more. I'm not, generally, someone who gets overwhelmed with the experience of live music, but there are rare exceptions, and this was one of them. I didn't quite realise how emotional it would make me, to see the album that I've loved so much since I was a teenager, in awe at its wordplay and dark bass and vocals both soaring and cthonic, brought to life. To hear those words, that have been at once formative foundation and the armour in which I've wrapped myself for more than twenty years, sung aloud. I was lost the minute I walked out into the Tube station and saw this (as I said to Matthias, it's moments like this that I love London, that ridiculous city). And then they sang my favourite song of all time: not just my favourite Massive Attack song, but my favourite song by any artist. I've heard Robert Del Naja whisper-growl we can unwind/ all these half flaws, and it's making up for two decades of concert regrets.

(Two links that probably sum up the concert very well — a review of the show, and an interview with the band.)

We stayed overnight in London after the concert — leaving the O2 to dense, atmospheric fog which somehow felt perfectly in keeping with the mood evoked by the music, and which was still around on Saturday morning, shrouding the post-apocalyptic wasteland which is Canning Town at 7am with a vaguely Luther-ish air. After a quick breakfast in one of my favourite Bloomsbury cafes (oh, London coffee), we wandered up to the British Museum, joining the thronging crowds on the penultimate day of an exhibition on Ashurbanipal, who was an Assyrian ruler. If the self-aggrandising quotes from his letters are to be believed he seemed rather like a more competent version of the menace currently President of the US — he won the vastest empire through battles, he solved all the complicated mathematic problems, sages and soothsayers contacted him for his predictions of the future, and so on. I was mainly struck by how much material had survived — so many letters and stories and tax records on clay tablets, so many incredible carved decorative stones, and so on. As most of this material comes from very dangerous parts of the world (mainly modern-day Iraq and Syria), there is great concern for its safety, and the final room of the exhibition had a video with interviews with Iraqi archaeologists, who had worked on the exhibition and who had been trained by the British Museum in 'disaster archaeology' (i.e. working in high-risk areas with materials that are under threat), and these archaeologists are currently excavating new sites in the region, with the aim that the materials unearthed will remain in Iraq. They were all very passionate about this work, but it sounds at once very dangerous, and a race against time.

I had grand plans today for writing book reviews, and a letter for [community profile] waybackexchange, but other than a bit of pottering around in the garden (we now should hopefully have home-grown zucchini and radishes in a few months' time) and reading a KJ Charles book in the sun, I've failed dismally to have a productive Sunday.

At least I seem to have got my reading groove back. I read Tara Westover's memoir Educated on the train to and from London, which, given how much of it involves studying at Cambridge (indeed, Westover was a friend of one of my Cambridge friends during her time there), seemed fitting. She's obviously lived a very interesting life — brought up as the daughter of fundamentalist Mormons who spent most of her childhood as Doomsday survivalists, completely neglecting her education, and raising her and her siblings in a wholly abusive environment, self-educating herself to the point that she could go to university, and then ending up a PhD student at Cambridge — and if I wished that she would condemn her parents in stronger terms, that probably says more about me than it does about her.

I also read a handful of Tor.com free short stories — three on the basis of recommendations from [personal profile] eglantiere ('What Mario Scietto Says' by Emmy Laybourne, 'Cold Wind' by Nicola Griffith, and 'The Tallest Doll in New York City' by Maria Dahvana Headley), and one of the basis of a review by Amal El-Mohtar ('A Dead Djinn in Cairo' by P. Djèlí Clark). I liked them all except the Laybourne, which, given that its point-of-view character is a survivalist prepper experiencing an apocalypse, and given what I said above about the Westover book, was never going to work for me. I really find it hard to engage with a narrative that expects me to sympathise with survivalists, or which implies that they were right to prep for the apocalypse.

Matthias and I also found time last night to finish off the fifth season of Luther, which didn't work for me for a variety of reasons, the main one being that I felt the writers lost their sense of the characters, who all behaved in ways which were for me widely out of character. I'm not sure if there'll be another season, and I'm not sure if some of the writing decisions made in this one are salvageable, but in any case I was not particularly impressed.

How has everyone been enjoying their weekends?
dolorosa_12: (ada shelby)
I'm at home today, because this evening (too early to be able to get there after finishing work), I am going to be fulfilling a lifelong ambition and seeing Massive Attack live in concert! And not just any concert — an anniversary show focusing on the music from their Mezzanine album. Seeing my favourite band of all time perform the songs from my favourite album of all time is just so amazing. Fifteen-year-old Ronni would be astonished at her good fortune!

As a result of being home, I've been trundling back through my reading page, and come bearing links.

First up, if you, like me, recently watched Russian Doll and loved it, [personal profile] rachelmanija has set up a discussion post here. Spoilers are allowed in the comments.

I really shouldn't sign up for multiple exchanges simultaneously, but the new [community profile] peakyblindersficexchange sounds right up my alley. I love the show, and definitely think we need more fic for this fandom. If you're interested in participating, the various deadlines are there in the Dreamwidth account. It seems to use OR matching, and matches on relationships rather than characters, and my impression is that if you don't see your chosen relationship(s) in the tagset you can request that they be added. Assignments are a 500-word minimum.

If you, like me, adore the 'absolute unit' meme (basically, square sheep), you will also adore [personal profile] bironic's latest fanvid. I've embedded the Ao3 link below.

Squares Are Everywhere (90 words) by bironic
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: "Absolute unit" livestock meme
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: cows - Character, Sheep - Character, Pigs - Character
Additional Tags: Memes, Humor, archival images, Art, Video, Embedded Video, Fanvids
Series: Part 58 of vids by bironic
Summary:

"In awe at the size of this lad. Absolute unit." Or: improbably shaped livestock.



This feels peak millennial, but I discovered this poem, 'The Ex-Girlfriends Are Back From the Wilderness' by Hera Lindsay Bird via Florence Welch's Instagram account, and I kind of love it. like too much Persephone and not enough underworld…/wearing nothing but an arts degree. I feel seen.

I hope you're all having wonderful Fridays.
dolorosa_12: (newspaper)
First up, nominations have now opened for [community profile] waybackexchange, so if you're thinking of participating, you have until 20th February to get your nominations in. I've already used up all my nomination slots, but if anyone has any free, please do drop me a comment here (or a DM) as I have at least one other fandom I'd love to get nominated.

[personal profile] ladytharen has created a great new comm for Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows duology, so if you're interested, please do think about joining!


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