renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
[personal profile] renay posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
It's been a wild time the last month. Not only have I been reading (and more things than appear here), I have:

  1. Started walking every day.
  2. Quit several types of food. Goodbye forever, BEEF.
  3. Taken up a regular sleeping schedule.
  4. Resigned my co-chair in the OTW. I'm staying on the committee which is where my other reading time has gone. I'm reviewing docs to get back into the staff-work swing of things.
  5. Rearranged my office. I added a new bookshelf! By the time I get settled in this as my office we'll be packing for Oregon. OOPS.

CHALLENGE: 100 Unique Women Writers

This was the first week of the challenge. Last week I chose The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein and it's complete! For this week, I chose Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman, as presented by Doreen, my assistant:

Green dinosaur holding orange slip of paper reading Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman

Also, all the books this week came off my shelf and I wasn't even doing the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge (is that the hashtag? I'm out of touch with the youths again). I'm giving myself five space bees for this accidental accomplishment.

Things I read!

cover of Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps

Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kelly Thompson, & David, López — This was part of the Secret Wars event, which, at this point I am utterly fed up with. I haven't read the actual Secret Wars comic yet (although we have it) which my comics guy says explains some of the things happening, but I am unimpressed. I am on the "NO" side of Marvel "special events". Dear Marvel: I don't have the money to keep up with the event and it annoys me when you derail writers of comics I do like with characters having fun adventures to fit your plans. This is a comic that suffered because it feels aborted and confusing, even to me, someone who has followed Carol for awhile now. I loved the team and Carol's relationship with them, but the story and the world was like a solid block of Swiss and I found such a short arc weak and unfulfilling.

The art was really pretty, though, and I did like the cameo that crops up with the callback to Carol's series. Nice to read if you're a completionist for Captain Marvel stories but missable if you're not and prefer some heft to your story arcs.

cover of A-Force Volume 0: Warzones

A-Force Volume 0: Warzones by Marguerite Bennett, G. Willow Wilson, & Jorge Molina — This story, even though trapped in the Secret War hellscape, was cohesive, long enough to have some solid characterization, and uses its length to create a pretty good story about protection and betrayal while focusing on relationships between women. It introduces a brand new superhero who was wonderful. I had taken it off my pull list because I was trying to be more responsible about the comics I read individually and hadn't felt that moved by the first issue. But now I'm tempted to put it back to see what happens with that newly created superhero, who seems like someone I could really get behind. If you like relationships between ladies, I definitely recommend this, but include a predictable "watch out for the male gaze in otherwise beautiful art" warning.

cover of The Wicked + The Divine Volume 2: Fandemonium

The Wicked + The Divine Volume 2: Fandemonium by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, & Matt Wilson — After this volume, I have to admit I'm one of those people who doesn't quite get this comic. Which makes me sad! The art is gorgeous and the murder mystery at the center of the story tugs you along, but it all feels so emotionally empty. Being devoid of emotion might be part of the point given our main character, but I've spent two volumes now being told that Laura wants something desperately but never feeling like she does. And twice now there's been major, shocking cliffhangers, and I'm 100% over this trick. Because maybe they work as natural endings to a volume and the arc of the story, but I'm also feeling a little manipulated. Also potentially part of the point given that I'm reading a comic about pop stars who will inevitably be marketed out the wazoo?

The best thing this comic has going for it other than the art and the mystery is the relationship between Laura and Cassandra and how their stories and desires to know more about the gods intersect. This volume changes that dynamic forever, but really well — it was my favorite development. In the end, this comic definitely looks beautiful, but it's missing something for me. But I still want know what the hell is going on, so if you're into emotionally disconnected, narratively disjointed comics with superb mysteries, definitely check this out.

cover of The Steerswoman

The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein - This book was a warm, comforting literary hug and a joy to read. Many people have been telling me for years to give it a shot, and it was the first book from my 100 new-to-me women writers project. It's a fantasy adventure, but it doesn't feel at all what fantasy novels that I've read post-2005 feel like at all. The world is hard and the characters have hard edges but there's a hope to the tone of the book that is absent from more mainstream, modern fantasy I've been reading.

The most magical part was reading about a world where women (and some men) are keepers of knowledge and willing to share it with anyone who asks. The steerswomen travel the world, learning about how it functions and exploring its mysteries, and people respect them, are open and honest about what they know and although they're not specifically venerated they're treated with a deference that skirts awe but lands somewhere close by. They stand in contrast to the wizards, who don't share their knowledge and who the steerswomsn avoid (and if I happened to be a steerswoman it would irk me, too).

There was an excellent friendship and alliance between Rowan, our steerswoman, and Bel, an Outskirter warrior that joins Rowan to learn about her culture. To me, Bel seemed like her culture's version of a steerswoman. Their relationship is wonderful and strong and full of trust, but full of the inevitable differences that arise due to living in two very different societies. They're both fighters, they're both clever, and their differences become complementary rather than a source of conflict. I am not sure how I was supposed to leave this book not shipping them, because if that was the challenge I utterly failed.

This book isn't only about strength of body, but also about being smart, well-read, a good listener, and skilled at observation. Maybe that's where I feel like there's a difference with the more modern fantasy I've read. It places a very high value on skills that might be considered passive or "soft" but are actually incredibly difficult to master.

This was a delight and I'm glad I finally got around to it! I see what you mean about loving this book, friends. :D

cover of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight — I have not read the book by Marie Kondo this is parodying, but after listening to a podcast segment about it where Kondo rips out pages of a book just to keep quotes I was glad I missed it. Because later she realizes she doesn't even want the clutter of the pages with the quotes and throws those away too. Those books died for nothing. I'M SCREAMING AT YOU FROM THE AFTERLIFE, MARIE KONDO.

I have declared 2016 the year I stop giving so many fucks. No Fucks 2016. There's even a blog for it so I faced 2016 armed. This book seemed like it was published just for me. The message the book gave me was that I'm absolutely giving too many fucks about too many things, especially where things end up crossing over with my anxiety. It's been very helpful so far when dealing with Anxiety Brain!

  • Anxiety Brain: If you tell people you're eligible for an award, they're going to know you're arrogant! Me: I do not have enough fucks to give a fuck about things I cannot control, and that includes people's potential feelings about me that may or may not even exist.

  • Anxiety Brain: You have to stress about this article for at least three weeks even though it only needs to be 800 words long. Me: No more fucks! I'm writing it the day before like everyone else probably does and no one is going to notice, and if they do, they won't care because they have a fuck budget as well and I'm not on it.

  • Anxiety Brain: Your neighbors stare creepily at you if you walk around the block too many times. Me: Fuck'em! I've got a step goal to meet and I might need to pee due to the liter of water I had for breakfast so I'm not leaving this street.

  • Anxiety Brain: Everyone's going to think you're fat. Me: Fuck it! I am fat! You try having untreated depression and anxiety for TEN YEARS and see how you feel about movement. Oh, that's right! YOU DID and that's why you're SUCH AN ASSHOLE.

  • Anxiety Brain: This essay isn't as good as X's essay. Even Y's is better. Me: Zero fucks available for comparisons between me and everyone else. I'm as good as I am and that's fine with me. People can read me or ignore me or print my work and set it on fire. I hope they have a great time.

  • Anxiety Brain: You can't critique this book everyone loves. Me: Fuck this book. I'll do what I want.

  • Anxiety Brain: If you don't like X, do Y, learn Z, make G joke, do Q, U, and F, they won't like you. Me: Then fuck them. I'm a goddamn treasure.

I came out of this book both inspired and spewing expletives about all my feelings. It's that kind of book. The text teaches you to identify areas in your life you need to sort through to find the fucks you need to be giving and the fucks you really, really don't. I found the first half of the book to be incredibly useful to me when it came to drawing clear lines between things (like reality TV, sports, or organic food), work (jobs or freelance assignments), and people (friends and family are two different categories) and tackling them separately. I especially love the flowchart she provided that was immediately pressed into use by me and several people I know once I sent them the photo.

image of a flowchart

The second half is focused on a person who isn't a rural hermit who has very little family, few offline social connections, and doesn't have either with kids. For example, there's a whole slew of tips on how to handle weddings, and I haven't been to a wedding since 2011? 2012? and it was hella low key. Before that the last wedding I went to was when I was six or something. The whole thing about dropping thousands of dollars to attend a wedding blew my mind, even if she also talked up credit cards. Some parts of this book definitely tackle how the other half lives, because I can't imagine any of my friends demanding I spend money to do things for/with them. I wouldn't think twice about being honest and brutal, like, "I'm fucking broke, are you kidding?" But the point is, I would never need to. Maybe this is just the type of Millenials we have become and this author lives in the Bizarro World where people have money, steady and secure jobs, and endless lines of credit.

Anyway, it was an excellent way to pass the afternoon and I felt invigorated by the advice. I am truly ready to embrace having no more fucks to give about shit I don't and shouldn't care about.

Shorter work I read:

  • "The Universe, Sung in Stars" by Kat Howard — Jodie reviewed this story and made me want to read it. I took away the obvious things, but as with most short fiction I felt something missing. I also had tons of problems with attempting to visualize how guardianship worked. This is no surprise, because my partner has been attempting to help me visualize how the moon works for months. I cannot visualize how moons or planets relate to each other much like I can't visualize geometric problems or other types of data; it's a problem. This story suffered because of my need to mentally see things. Read Jodie's review instead of this, her thoughts are more robust. :D

  • Invincible Iron Man #5 by Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, & Justin Ponsor — this was an okay resolution to the arc, setting up more allies for Tony, but leaving a bunch of questions lying around. Like why use such an interesting villain in such a boring way? Like why did Bendis bother giving Tony a love interest at all when she was wasted and he could have just done a will they/won't they with Tony's Handsome New Friend or the mysterious Doctor Strange? I have longer thoughts on this arc and how it all holds up that I might write up if I can find time. But in general with Marvel outside of the women writers I read my opinion continues to be "would be better queered up".

Date: 2016-01-11 04:10 pm (UTC)
goodbyebird: Batman is lurking in the night, "I'm Batman. I don't enjoy anything." (C ∞ my parents are deeeead)
From: [personal profile] goodbyebird

Didn't know the first A-Force tpb was out already, will have to give it a go. And yes, fuck that anxiety brain.

Date: 2016-01-11 04:35 pm (UTC)
schneefink: (FF Kaylee excited)
From: [personal profile] schneefink
Steerswoman! :D Rowan and Bel are both great. Rowan is probably my favorite portrayal of a scientist in fiction. It's about asking questions, looking for answers, and sharing knowledge, yess.

Currently there are three more books, and the author recently quit her day job to, presumably, concentrate on writing, so even though the last one came out in 2004 the chances that there will be a new one in the not-so-distant future are not bad :)

Sadly there isn't a lot of fic, just a few every Yuletide, though it seems to have picked up recently (1 in 2013, 2 in 2014, 4 in 2015) so who knows.

Date: 2016-01-11 05:00 pm (UTC)
schneefink: River walking among trees, from "Safe" (Default)
From: [personal profile] schneefink
Oh please do! More Steerswoman fic is always great :D I'm also planning to write some, though not necessarily with ladies making out. I find writing Rowan and Bel a bit intimidating, they're both so smart! Clearly the only solution is practice.

I hope you enjoy the other books as well :) My favorite is the fourth one.

Date: 2016-01-11 09:15 pm (UTC)
dhampyresa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dhampyresa
The book about giving no fucks sounds relevant to my life.

I am 100% there for Tony Stark/Handsome New Friend. I wrote fic and I'm not even sorry.

Date: 2016-01-13 09:37 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-01-12 04:03 am (UTC)
umadoshi: (kittens - Claudia - pensive)
From: [personal profile] umadoshi
after listening to a podcast segment about it where Kondo rips out pages of a book just to keep quotes I was glad I missed it. Because later she realizes she doesn't even want the clutter of the pages with the quotes and throws those away too. Those books died for nothing.

*STARES* She...holy crap. I hadn't heard that, and am SO HORRIFIED.

Anyway, it was an excellent way to pass the afternoon and I felt invigorated by the advice. I am truly ready to embrace having no more fucks to give about shit I don't and shouldn't care about.

Thank you for the link to the zero-fucks Tumblr, and I am totally going to read that book. Yes. (Also, screw anxiety brains. >.<)

Date: 2016-01-12 07:29 am (UTC)
transcendancing: Darren Hayes quote "Life is for leading, for not people pleasing" (Default)
From: [personal profile] transcendancing
LOVE YOUR ZERO FUCKS APPROACH! I am so happy to hear that this is helping with anxiety stuff :)

Date: 2016-01-12 07:49 pm (UTC)
lucifuge5: (America Chavez rocking the red hoodie)
From: [personal profile] lucifuge5
[...] where Kondo rips out pages of a book just to keep quotes I was glad I missed it. Because later she realizes she doesn't even want the clutter of the pages with the quotes and throws those away too. Those books died for nothing.



I have to say that A-Force was one of the few Secret Wars titles that I really liked (the other two being Spiderverse--because of all the Spider peeps in there including Spider-Gwen--and Thors--which was BRILLIANT and heartbreaking but mostly TOTES WORTH READING. FTR, aside from MCU!Thor, the only Thor title I've read was the new run with female!Thor and I still loved the 5-issue mini-series).

My excitement for A-Force was such that I ended up getting the first issue of the new run (which just dropped this month).

As for The Wicked + the Divine, I can't say more than what you've already said. I think that, although really beautiful to look at, the story was purposely incomprehensible and overtly pompous. I dropped this series right at the end of Fandemonium.

Date: 2016-01-13 07:49 pm (UTC)
lucifuge5: (Steve Rogers: Avenger)
From: [personal profile] lucifuge5
The two titles I'd read prior to Spiderverse (Secret Wars) were Silk (which I liked OK) and Spider-Gwen (which was AWESOMECAKES). FWIW, the Spiderverse (SW) title is told from Spider-Gwen's POV.

Oh, one title that you might also like is The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. The character debuted in the early 1990s, but the title got rebooted last year (which is the run I read). I know you're a Tony Stark fan so you might get a kick out of his dynamic with Doreen Green, a.k.a. Squirrel Girl. He doesn't appear much, but his exchanges with Doreen are LOLarious.

For whatever reason, the title got re-launched last December (Marvel can be so ridic sometimes). If I'm not mistaken, the first 2 TPB are available right now. In any case, the title is delightful and fizzy. It's a good title if you're in the mood for something lighter comic bookwise.

TW+TD definitely has a huge fan base. It could be that I was riiiight on the edge of hype-backlash when I picked it up. And that lead to me kinda making muppet!face at the whole thing. And, you know what? That's OK. I'm sure that there are people out there who hated the Jem and the Holograms comic and that's fine too. The longer I've spend in Fandom, the more I learn that the sandbox is big enough for everyone. :)

Date: 2016-01-13 01:01 am (UTC)
litomnivore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] litomnivore
Oh my God. Like, I found a lot of useful stuff in Kondo's book (in that it freed me to get rid of things I only keep out of obligation and the hoarding gene I am really sure my family has) but the section where she tries to reverse-engineer a commonplace book (tearing up books in the process) before telling the reader that it's a silly thing to do and they shouldn't do it? WAS VERY TRYING TO ME PERSONALLY. Especially because the second process she tried and dismissed is EXACTLY MY PROCESS with my commonplace.

I am very glad that your reading project started off so well!

Date: 2016-01-13 06:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I just ordered that book about giving no fucks at work, will certainly flick through it when it comes in.

And The Steerswoman sounds great, I'll have to track that one down at some point.

Date: 2016-01-13 09:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

Oh a new series can be good :) always nice to have something good to get to. Which reminds me that I have a Kate Elliott or two on my pile at work...

Date: 2016-01-14 06:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh yes, Elliott is always going to be there. Even if I read everything she has written then I will have to begin rereading. I really want to reread the Crossroads series, but now quite yet.
(screened comment)


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