Weekly Ramble Five: Return from Sinus-and-Ear-Infection Hell

Oh man you guys, I have been so sick. Not like, life and death sick? But definitely the nastiest cold followed by a combined sinus-and-ear infection that I can ever remember getting. I'm on the mend now, but took more than a few days off of writing while I vegged out on the couch, spewed mucus from way too many places, and watched all of seasons 1 and 2 of the good place and all of Noelle Stephenson's new She-Ra show on Netflix. Both, by the way, make for excellent sick-viewing. The Good Place is as good as everyone kept telling me it was, and She-Ra was just so amazingly queer. I'm not usually good at watching TV quickly, but being sick makes a lot of time where I was too tired to do research or read, but awake enough to be potentially bored out of my mind. Perfect TV watching time.

In the past two weeks I've added 5,352 words to Sea Witch for a total of 27,984.

Reviews:

The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us by Diane Ackerman

While this book purports to be about 'the ways that humans are working with nature to try to save the planet,' a more realistic description of the contents of this book might read, 'speculation about the outcomes of very preliminary research and projects that would help humans work with nature to save the planet.' That isn't to say that I didn't get a lot out of this book; it's just more science-fictional nonfiction than it is concrete nonfiction. Ackerman definitely starts from projects that are going on right now, but the majority of the book is her speculation about how those projects and findings could go forward, and what they could mean. This book was beautifully written, but if you're looking for just what's going on right now and nothing else, this may not be the right book for you, as it was not for me. I'm giving it four stars because it is well-written, even if I misjudged what it was about.

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden

This is one of those books that I added to my to-read list because it has just too many interesting sounding parts for me to ignore it. Set in South Africa? Dealing with ancient demi-goddesses, AI-uprisings, super-power granting drugs, and plenty of queer characters? Not the kind of thing I'm likely to pass up. And The Prey of Gods delivered on all of its promises. It's genre-bending and queer, plus the writing is solid and the characters all nicely fleshed out. If you like genre-bending, or are just looking for something a little different, check this one out.

Weekly Ramble One: Change in Format, and a Vacation

I didn't like devoting this blog entirely to book reviews, and I also didn't like posting the reviews separately since they're so very short, so I'm going to try out a little change in format. I'm going to start doing a weekly check-in post here on the blog; it'll update you on what I've been up to, how my writing is going, and what books I've reviewed in the past week.

I lost a couple of writing days this week to a short vacation that my partner and I took to Chicago. I did some writing on the plane out, but as per usual, didn't manage to get any writing done while I was in Chicago, or on the way back. I could make excuses about how I was tired and busy and there wasn't time but lets be honest, my current project is "fun" until I get to start the second draft of my novel (start date: November 1). I finished the first draft of a novel this year. It's well within my rights to take a couple of days off and really enjoy being back in Chicago, my favorite city in the world. So there.

Anyway, we got back on Tuesday and while I did a little bit of writing on Wednesday, I didn't really feel like I got back into the swing of things until Thursday. This "short project" is really starting to stretch as I get deeper and deeper into the details of the world, but I really do hope to keep it at novella length. Fingers crossed, folks. I added 2,699 to the current project's word count this week, for a total wordcount of 12,332. Here's hoping I can wrap it up before 40,000! (But seriously, though, Ursula and Ariel haven't even met yet, what am I doing, HELP.)

Something else I've been thinking about: do I want keep the names Ursula and Ariel? In the Andersen original they're just "The Sea Witch" and "The Little Mermaid" so really I could name them whatever I want, and I do want to make it clear that this is not Disney's The Little Mermaid. It probably would be smart to change their names.

In any case, here are the books I reviewed this week (Not the books I read this week, because I'm suuuuuper behind on book reviews. I'm trying to do a review a weekday until I'm caught up.):

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

One of the best books I've ever read, and more than deserving of the Hugo that it received. N.K. Jemisin is a genius writer, and tackles both big themes and unique POV shifts while making the book seem like it was easy to write, and I can guarantee it was not, even though it may be easy to read--easy in that it's easy to understand, not easy emotionally. Every book in this series has hit me right in the feels, and messed me up a ton. If you've read the other books in this series, you know what you're in for; if you haven't yet, you absolutely should, because you're missing out.

Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee

This book was not my thing, but I can't fault the book. It is well-written with some well-thought-out, if slightly predictable, worldbuilding, and some less predictable (and much more interesting) moral questions regarding genetic engineering and sports. I have to admit that I skimmed the fight scenes; I tend to lose interest during action scenes in movies too, so pure action just really isn't my thing. Plus the predictable (again) love story did nothing for me. Again, though, heterosexual love stories haven't been doing it for me recently. Sue me.

To be honest, this book was a little too predictable and safe for my taste. I can't fault it, though, because that's a me thing, not a this book thing. If boxing in space with genetic engineering & late teenage romance sounds fun to you, give it a shot. It's well-written and good fun. If you've been spoiled and hunger for something a little stranger like me, pass this one by.

Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger

I have a couple of friends who have been on my to read something by Gail Garriger for a while now, and having read Romancing the Inventor, I can say without a doubt that they were right, this was exactly to my taste. I read this in a single day while on vacation, and it was possibly the perfect vacation book for me. Sweet and short and super queer, with an adorable little happy ending to wrap it up. I'll definitely be saving Gail Carriger for the next time I need something relaxing and sweet.

The Black Tides of Heaven by J. Y. Yang

The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang is one of the two standalone introductions to their Tensorate series. Both it and The Red Threads of fortune can be read independent of each other, but run parallel to each other. It's a fascinating construction for the start of a series, but I can't speak to how well it works yet, because so far I've only read one of the two books. Sorry guys!

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My Real Children by Jo Walton

This book hurt my heart in all the good ways and all the bad ways. It drew me in and horrified me, delighted me and broke my heart. Patricia Cowan has dementia, lives in a nursing home, and can remember living two very different lives. In one of them she married her college boyfriend when he made her choose now or never, and in the other she didn't. After that simple choice, though, her lives diverge drastically, as does the political state of the world around her. This book isn't your usual alternate history, and it's not a heavily plot-driven book. Instead it's more of a character study than it is anything else -- but such a compelling, careful, complicated one that I couldn't put the book down.

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Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey

Sarah Gailey has done it again. Just goddamn gave me everything that I've ever wanted out of a book, and done it while all the characters are riding hippos. You heard me. They're riding hippos. In the Mississippi river. Hippos on the Mississippi, both being ridden by people, and running feral and killing and eating everything that moves.

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Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee

The first half of Ninefox Gambit, the first book in the Machineries of Empire series, confused, frustrated, and intrigued me in equal measures; Raven Stratagem had none of its predecessor's confusion or frustration, and all of it's intrigue . There was just enough really gut-punching character work in the last half of Ninefox for me to decide to give the series another shot, and thank goodness I did--I would not have wanted to miss reading this. 

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The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison

This book. THIS BOOK. This book, you guys. It kept me up for three nights in a row, vacation days where I had other things I needed to be doing during the day, old friends that I had promised to meet with, family that I wanted to spend time with. But every night, back at my hotel, I would pick up this book and read until I realized that it was way too late, much, much later than I had planned on staying up.

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The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

There are some series where I worry whether or not the second book will measure up to the wonder and majesty of the first book. *The Obelisk Gate* was never one of those books. *The Fifth Season* was so good, so interesting, and so engrossing, and Jemisin's mastery of her craft was so obvious that it never crossed my mind to worry about whether or not Jemisin could keep it up. I'm glad to say that she did not let me down in any way.

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