lunabee34: (reading by sallymn)
A Whistling WomanA Whistling Woman by A.S. Byatt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fantastic conclusion to this series of books. I remain in awe of Byatt's skill as a writer. The previous books are bookended with glimpses into the future and then settle into a narrative that happened in the past. This book doesn't begin that way, and the reader slowly realizes that this book is taking place in the future that starts and ends the previous three; there's a wonderful moment where Byatt takes you full-circle back to the very beginning book and shows you a moment happening in that future scene from a different perspective. So very well done and makes me believe she had all four books plotted out before she ever put pen to paper for the first.

Again, way too much child harm in this book for my tastes; fortunately, it was not belabored, but still. Too much. If I wasn't already way too invested in this series not to finish it, I would have had serious reservations about doing so.

There's an element of repressed violence throughout the whole thing. Some of the characters have gone to live in what amounts to a religious cult, and the narrative is clearly building to some terrible end. I love that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop and wondering exactly what form the terror will take.

The novel is set against the backdrop of the late sixties with students protesting everything from war to institutions of education themselves. It manages to acknowledge the ways in which these protests are ridiculous and meaningless exercises as well as the ways in which they are reasoned arguments for needed change. Byatt also touches on an issue very pertinent today: who should be allowed to speak on a college campus? Should students be able to silence voices with which they disagree?

I absolutely adore that Byatt ends the novel exactly the way she ends Agatha's novel that she reads aloud to Leo and Saskia: right in the thick of things, en medias res, with no true conclusion and everything up in the air, which is as it should be. I don't want Frederica to be neatly concluded with all the threads tied off. That ending is a brilliant piece of craftsmanship.

I highly recommend the Potter Quartet. I want to write like A.S. Byatt when I grow up, but in the interim, I'll settle for reading the original. :)

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lunabee34: (Default)
1. The organization I'm president of had its annual conference yesterday, and Josh and I have done pretty much all the conference planning and coordination for the past three years. I always get so nervous on the day of the conference, but everything went off without a hitch (well, except for the three presenters who didn't bother to show; I am totally starting a blacklist of people who do that shit and not accepting their paper proposals in the future; so unprofessional).

We always struggle with what to do on conference day because it's held on a campus an hour from where we live; we need to be there at 8 and we need to pick the kids up from school before the conference is over, which causes logistics problems. In past years, we've taken separate cars so Josh could drop kids off at school and leave the conference early to pick them up. This year, Emma was out of school because she's exempt from her exams. So a friend graciously volunteered to drop off and pick up Fiona, and Emma volunteered to stay with Fi and put her to bed, etc. I was so impressed with her! We got home and she had fed Fiona, given her a bath, and was starting to put her to bed. Everyone was happy and smiling. Emma had even washed a load of clothes, emptied the dishwasher and started to fill it back up again. I am so grateful for her, I can't even tell ya.

Josh is vice president which means he's supposed to be president next year, but nobody wanted to be vice president, so the board voted to keep me as president and Josh as vice president for one more year. Yay? *sigh* LOL So I've got at least two more years of planning this conference ahead of me.

2. Reviews of last week's Gotham:

spoilers )

3. Reviews of the last two weeks of Lucifer:

spoilers )
lunabee34: (Default)
RIP, Chris Cornell. You brought a lot of joy into my life. You will be missed.

*puts "Say Hello to Heaven" on repeat*
lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
Babel TowerBabel Tower by A.S. Byatt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book. I have loved each book in this series more than the previous book. Babel Tower was a quicker read for me than the others, I think because Frederica has a real, tangible problem rather than an existential one (although it is that as well). She's married a man who keeps her shut away in a country house; he won't let her visit her friends or work, and when she finally tries to do both those things, he turns violent. I never realized how difficult it was to obtain a divorce in England as late as the 60s. I just kept being astonished by how Frederica wants what seems absolutely normal to me--to work and be married and have a kid, to be allowed to exercise her intellectual abilities, to have autonomy and agency--but which is so hard won in the the time period in which she lives. Her realization that she loves her child deeply and fiercely while also being limited by him and resentful of the way he causes others to impose their expectations on her rings very, very true to me.

The other main plot point is the publication of a book and its subsequent trial for obscenity. I won't say too much on that because the identity of the author is a bit of a mystery at first, but it's very well done.

Very much looking forward to the final installment in this series.

View all my reviews
lunabee34: (sga: ronon far away by grudgepuff)
1. Thank you all so much for your thoughts on handling the situation with Josh's mom (who appears to be having increasing memory issues and confusion). I talked with Josh's sister, who saw his mom immediately after us, and she said that she noticed the same symptoms and that they are worse than they have been. She also said that Josh's mom organically brought up the issue with her, admitted that she might have a problem, and agreed to be evaluated by a doctor. Sister also talked to Josh's dad who admitted he's noticed symptoms as well and agreed to talk to Josh's mom. Sister is going to follow up with a call this week and try if she can to be present for the evaluation (which may not be possible because she doesn't live in the same state). I am so so relieved about the way this has progressed. I get irritated sometimes with Josh's mom (like for the way she sleeps so late; my parents would never drive eight hours to see me and then spend so much of the time they're here not interacting with us), and I was worried I was conflating my irritation with recognizing a real problem. I was glad to have corroboration of my observations. I was also glad that Gran didn't get angry and was able to admit there might be a problem. I made sure to tell Sister that managing this is not her sole responsibility, that nobody is dumping the problem on her, and that Josh and I want to be as involved and helpful as possible. So, we'll see. Josh is pretty sad. It's a scary thing to contemplate.

2. I went swimming yesterday and today! It was glorious. The water was perfectly cool and the sun perfectly warm. I swam 20 laps each day. My new summer schedule is to take the girls to school, cardio + weights, work, swim. I was productive as shit yesterday and today! I love it! I feel mighty and invincible. Whoooo!

3. I am so pleased that NCIS did not SPOILERS )

4. You know what I need? An exercise icon. It could be some equipment or something. Or a character working out. IDK If somebody wanted to make me one or point me at some existing ones, I would be ecstatic. *bats eyelashes*
lunabee34: (Default)
1. Gotham is such a fun show. I am enjoying the hell out of this season. SPOILERS )

2. So glad Lucifer is back! I love this show so hard. SPOILERS )

3. Into the Badlands is almost done for this season. I have to tell you how much I appreciate the color palette of this show. After years of SPN and Angel (the last season of which was so dark that I often couldn't make out what was happening on screen) and shows like Gotham which are shot in blue and slate grey and black, I love watching a show that is saturated with vibrant and rich color. Last night's episode in particular was really pretty. SPOILERS )

4. Downton Abbey watch continues after a bit of a hiatus for us all to travel and conduct concerts and etc. SPOILERS )

5. I got a bathing suit! It's a size 10! It's a little snug under the arms, but bathing suits always stretch out a little if you swim regularly, so I don't think that will last long. I will post a picture soon. :)

6. I am finally done with this semester. Yay! Now I can start getting my class ready for this summer. I'm also going to do the responsible thing and get my classes ready for fall now so that I have nothing to do in that week leading up to fall semester beginning again. *nods decisively*

I have big plans for a productive summer. I want to go to the gym every day, swim most days, and have dedicated time to read books for pleasure, work on my class, and write.

This past semester teaching the senior level class was so wonderful. I've been teaching freshman and sophomore classes for more than a decade now, and while I truly do enjoy teaching those classes, they aren't really challenging anymore. The senior class was challenging; it was overwhelming; I had to be constantly reading, and I was constantly learning new things, and I felt so vital and alive and fucking good at my job. I think finally getting back into reading for pleasure helped with this, too. I'm reading all these Byatt novels which are full of the joy of writing and scholarship and talking with people about ideas and the glory of learning things, and I have felt brimful of intellectual energy, and I don't want to lose this feeling. I want to keep the momentum up. My chair said that I will probably get another senior level class next spring, so I want to try my best to keep this feeling stoked in the interim.
lunabee34: (reading by sallymn)
Still LifeStill Life by A.S. Byatt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It continues following Frederica Potter as she goes to Cambridge as well as the other members of her family. The backdrop of this novel is Alexander writing a play about Van Gogh, and it's full of excerpts of Van Gogh's letters and discussions of his paintings. I also love the way Elizabeth David is mentioned several times throughout this text; her cookbooks are such a joy to read, almost like novels themselves. Still Life deals with the fallout of the events of the first novel in a very satisfying way and leaves me eager to begin the next book in the series.

View all my reviews

lunabee34: (reading by tabaqui)
The Virgin in the GardenThe Virgin in the Garden by A.S. Byatt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really like this book, especially after being disappointed by The Game.

The novel follows the intertwining lives of the Potter family members and the people in their orbit. Bill Potter is a teacher at a boarding school; his wife is meek and cowed by his constant anger. Their son Marcus is dissociative, seeing the world in mathematical shapes and intersections of light that deeply frighten and threaten to obliterate him. Marcus is befriended by another teacher at the school who believes that Marcus is some kind of prophet with access to spiritual knowledge. The eldest Potter daughter is Stephanie; she embarks on a combative romance with a local clergyman Daniel. The younger Potter daughter is Frederica, and she marches all over the pages, falling in love with people who are entirely unsuitable for her and being pursued in her turn by the entirely unsuitable.

The backdrop of the novel is a play that Alexander (also a teacher at the boys' school) has written about The Virgin Queen Elizabeth that is debuting just as the current Queen Elizabeth is being crowned. Putting on the play takes up a great deal of the action of the plot.

The writing is dense and layered with tons of historical and literary allusions that are a sheer pleasure to sift through. I absolutely adore the way Byatt stacks clause upon clause, the way she revels in a list (I must as I tend to write that way in my fiction as well LOL).

I am genuinely interested in all the characters and what's going to happen to them. I have immediately begun the next book in the series.

View all my reviews
lunabee34: (perfume: art deco bottle by sallymn)
I absolutely love this perfume. My dear, dear [personal profile] executrix sent it to me, and I put off trying it because I was afraid from the way the bottle looked that it would smell like a generic old man cologne. OMG, I was so wrong. So so wrong.

Description: Top notes are mint, lavender, tarragon, bergamot and lemon; middle notes are bay leaf, patchouli, jasmine, vetiver, heliotrope, anise, cedar and geranium; base notes are leather, tonka bean, amber, benzoin, oakmoss and vanilla.

This is what Luca Turin led me to believe Hermessence Vetiver Tonka would smell like. Lies, lies. Hermessence Vetiver Tonka was such a disappointment for me. Relax is a beautiful, powerful vetiver that's nicely rounded out by the tonka which gives it a creamy, vanilla underpinning (with none of the candy, sugar, dessert bullshit in Hermessence Vetiver Tonka).

I don't get any of the other notes outside of vetiver, patchouli, and tonka (and the patchouli is very minimal). It reminds me a bit of my beloved Chanel Sycomore, but it's more masculine than Sycomore IMHO. I've worn this constantly since testing it and am so happy that [personal profile] executrix sent me a partial big bottle! Whoooo!


Anybody interested in swapping for any of these, let me know. Any perfume fine to swap; doesn't have to be BPAL.

Armani Code
2 Alien by Thierry Mugler samples
2-3 ml sample Guerlain Angelique Noire
Eau de Cologne Crepe de Chine F. Millot full bottle

Fire for the Step-Mother's Daughters
New Orleans
Incipient Madness
Lexamin de Minuit
lunabee34: (fancrone by chinashop)
Comment with one of my fandoms and a number.

1. the character I least understand
2. interactions I enjoyed the most
3. the character who scares me the most
4. the character who is mostly like me
5. hottest looks character
6. one thing I dislike about my fave character
7. one thing I like about my hated character
8. a quote or scene that haunts me
9. a character I wish died but didn’t
10. my ship that never sailed

And then we can taaaaaaalk about it. :)
lunabee34: (Default)
1. Gotham is back! SPOILERS )

2. Downton Abbey watch continues. SPOILERS )

3. I got the sweetest letter from [personal profile] kaleecat and a sweet card and picture of L. from [personal profile] zulu and [personal profile] bell. L. is the cutest little man ever.

4. Sometimes parenting is awesome. Fiona is having her little graduation from daycare in a couple weeks, and they've taught her the cutest song. "I'm a little graduate. Aren't you proud of me?" Adorable.

5. I had started just riding the bike so I could read the whole time I'm exercising, but I decided I needed to start running again, too. The bike doesn't engage my core much or my arms at all, so I've gone back to running two miles or so and then following that with the bike.
lunabee34: (perfume: art deco bottle by sallymn)
Incipient Madness

An unwholesome smoky musk, dark and sweet, laced with Virginia tobacco, honeyed black currant, and red patchouli.

This is a limited edition, so I don't know how hard it would be to find, but it's a very good dupe for Comme des Garcons Black. The smokiness is clearly coming from birch tar (so yummy!) which is the main ingredient in Black. I like this more than I thought I would even with the sweetness of the patchouli underpinning it. Black is much nicer; IM is more astringent, not as smooth as Black, but they're very close to each other. I'm going to pass this along because even if I do like it, I'd much rather wear Black.

Fire for Thy Step-Mother's Daughters

Flaming coals, hellfire, and blackened bone.

So Josh's response to this is that it smells like nagchampa which is his response to every BPAL with patchouli or incense in it (and he's not wrong, exactly). Emma thinks it smells bitter and sawdusty. I think it does give a good impression of fire and warmth, but that the dragon's blood smells sweetly mildewy like it always does to me. Definitely not a keeper.

New Orleans

Sweet honeysuckle and jasmine with a hint of lemon and spice.

I knew this was going to be horrible on me because of the jasmine, but I soldiered on in the name of science! Jasmine just smells like sickly sweet poop to me. I could barely leave it on long enough to get much of a whiff. My friend M liked it and did not scrub hers but she said ten minutes into the drive home, it suddenly amped up to a thousand rather than fading away as it dried down. This will be going to someone who can abide jasmine LOL.
lunabee34: (reading by sallymn)
The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really liked this book. It reminds me of a very adult, fantasy version of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Very funny, very witty dialogue, excellent world building, and man does it jerk the tears out of a reader at the most unexpected moments.

It follows the exploits of Locke and other criminal elements in the city of Camorr which is a sort of degenerate Venice. Lots of really cool stuff about the sea and bizarre sea creatures as a result. The city is full of strange artifacts left behind by non-human creators who died out over a thousand years ago, and alchemists abound.

The very rich live in towers that overlook the teeming mass of the very poor and desperate. Locke and his associates mingle deftly with both groups and get up to hijinks both amusing and of the utmost importance.

I highly recommend this book. I had so much fun reading it. Can't wait to start the next one. I'd love to watch the HBO series of this book.

View all my reviews
lunabee34: (Default)
1. My friend brought over two dip pens and a wild assortment of ink last night, and we had an ink testing party. It was really fun testing different inks; Emma had a good time, too. Worst name for an ink ever: Baby Lips. LOL

2. I'm going shopping today! Project Wardrobe is afoot. I hope I come back with arms laden with packages. LOL I'm on particular look out for dresses, skirts, a bathing suit, and *gasp* shorts. I haven't worn shorts in like 15 years, but I'm considering it.

3. The book I'm reading right now, The Lies of Locke Lamora, is awesome. I would love to watch the HBO series of this book. It's a little over 700 pages, so it's taking me longer to read than the rest of the books I've read recently, but so worth it. And when I'm done, there's two more!

4. Dollhouse fic is almost entirely crossovers and fusions. Very little straight up fic about the show.

5. One more week of class and then finals. I cannot adequately express my joy. LOL The grading will be brutal, but then my time is my own. Whooooooooooo!
lunabee34: (are those men kissing? by animekittysama)
The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found myself simultaneously very interested in and also bored by this book. I loved the story and everything we learn about the characters; I was really bored by all the science and kinda skimmed through those parts when they were longer than a few paragraphs.

This is one of those books that really is better unspoiled, so I won't say anything about the actual plot.

I liked it well enough that I want to read the rest of the series to see what happens, so I need to get to inter-library loaning.

View all my reviews
lunabee34: (reading by sallymn)
Parasite (Parasitology, #1)Parasite by Mira Grant

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. I like the way Grant uses snippets of interviews, video recordings, and manuscripts along with first person narration to tell the story. I always love a story about a huge, potentially evil corporation that may or may not be ushering in the apocalypse. Most of all, I really like stories about the idea that the way we manipulate the world around us has the potential to harm us (whether that's through our technology, our medical treatments, our use of chemicals and plastics, etc.). I don't necessarily think the specific thing that happens in the book is very plausible (which isn't a criticism; I just don't think we're ever going to have a zombie apocalypse of any kind, for example; that doesn't mean I don't enjoy those kinds of stories), but I think the central premise of the book is very plausible--that when we alter nature radically we court severe consequences. I very much liked the narrator of the story and figuring out along with her what exactly had happened to her. Also, given the way that Grant writes the parents in Newsflesh, I'm starting to wonder if parents who can't connect with their children and who tend to exploit them in some way is A Thing in her writing.

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lunabee34: (reading by sallymn)
The Mechanical (The Alchemy Wars, #1)The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked The Mechanical and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. In this book, the Dutch rule the world because they have mastered alchemy and used it to create a host of automatons to act as soldiers, servants, and weapons. The Dutch don't believe (or at least have a vested interest in maintaining) that the automatons are sentient beings that can achieve free will. The Dutch are pitted against the French who (among other differences) do believe that the automatons are enslaved and are sentient beings. The Mechanical follows the interlocking lives of one automaton, the top French spy, and a captured French spy. My favorite character is the automaton Jax. I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens to him next. I'm rooting for him to be truly free.

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lunabee34: (Default)
Emma and I finished Dollhouse yesterday. OMG, wow. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

lunabee34: (reading by tabaqui)
The GameThe Game by A.S. Byatt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I bounced off this book hard, which surprised me. I love A. S. Byatt, and I love everything she's written that I've read. I've only bounced off one other book, and that's because I mistakenly picked up the third in a trilogy and started reading it while wondering what the hell was going on. Her writing is beautiful as always in this novel, but it is also a bit overwrought to me, and I find none of the characters sympathetic or very interesting, and I find all their emotional responses to be disproportionate to the events of their lives. I kept waiting for the reveal of some terrible, traumatic secret that could account for all their fear, anxiety and existential horror, but I waited in vain. I am disappointed.

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lunabee34: (Default)
The Scarlet PimpernelThe Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was reluctant to read this book because I thought for some reason that it would be dry or dense. Fortunately, it is neither. It's a quick, fun, breezy read that I think would appeal even to junior high readers. It's a mystery, a romance, and a novel of intrigue. The fun for the first half of the novel is trying to figure out who the Scarlet Pimpernel is, and the fun for the second half is cheering him on in his mission of rescuing condemned French aristocrats. Very entertaining.

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(I realize the tag is not quite the right era, but it'll do.)


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