Kitten Scribbles

(words, words, words)

winter reading
typity (schultz)
more mini book reviews...

A lot of this is from the Humble eBook Bundle, marking the time that my phone really came into its own as an ebook reader. The effect on my reading patterns was interesting; for instance, I would have read Zoo City faster, but my phone kept running low on battery, and as I also need it to be a phone, I had to enforce breaks. On the other hand, the only reason I didn't abandon Invasion partway through was because it was right there in my pocket at all times. It may be time to look into a more dedicated e-reader, except most of those are bigger than my pocket, and my pocket real estate is limited already.

Saladin Ahmed, "Throne of the Crescent Moon"Collapse )
Catherynne Valente, "Deathless"Collapse )
Brandon Sanderson, "The Alloy of Law"Collapse )
Mercedes Lackey et al, "Invasion"Collapse )
Lauren Beukes, "Zoo City"Collapse )
Cory Doctorow, "Pirate Cinema"Collapse )
China Mieville, "Embassytown"Collapse )
Shirley Rousseau Murphy, "Cat Striking Back"Collapse )
Mike Carey, "Dead Men"s Boots"Collapse )
Mike Carey, "Thicker than Water"Collapse )
Mike Carey, "Naming of the Beasts"Collapse )

On deck: Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina.

this autumn's reading
summer reading (kittenscribble)
mini book reviews!

Marcus Samuelsson, "Yes, Chef: a memoir"Collapse )
Brandon Sanderson, "The Way of Kings"Collapse )
N.K. Jemisin, "The Killing Moon" and "The Shadowed Sun"Collapse )
Naomi Novik, "Tongues of Serpents" and "Crucible of Gold"Collapse )
Elizabeth Wein, "Code Name Verity"Collapse )
Ernest Cline, "Ready Player One"Collapse )
Genevieve Valentine, "Mechanique"Collapse )
Janet Reitman, "Inside Scientology"Collapse )
Paolo Bacigalupi, "Pump Six and Other Stories"Collapse )

On deck: Saladin Ahmed, Throne of the Crescent Moon; Catherynne Valente, Deathless; Brandon Sanderson, The Alloy of Law; Mercedes Lackey et al, Invasion; China Mieville, Embassytown. Hovering balefully in the background: Anna Karenina.

RIP Borders
typity (schultz)
I can't help feeling vaguely guilty that Borders is closing. Yes, I know that one person's purchasing habits could not have saved an entire chain, etc. But I could have done more. When we buy books (which is seldom), we generally buy from Amazon (hey, it's cheaper, and we've got that Prime shipping deal). Because I have too many books at home as it is, I've been patronizing the library. And lately I've been getting into ebooks, which doesn't make Borders any money either... though I've been reading epubs, so B&N has been getting a tiny smidgen of my cash.

(Because I can finish a standard paperback in two hours, give or take, I don't generally feel like spending $6 or $7 to take the book home and have it sit on a shelf. I have been known to read books in their entirety while sitting in a comfy chair at a bookstore, and then carefully return the book to the shelf. I'm a bad person.)

I'm still sad, though. Because I still love bookstores. A bookstore is more than a place that sells books. Writing groups meet in the coffee shop areas. Parents take their kids to the children's section to browse. Knitting groups sit together in the comfortable chairs and talk in low voices. Local musicians play small sets in the evenings. Readers wander the aisles, leafing through books, and avoid one another's eyes... although every now and then, someone will say, "oh, you like reading X too? Have you tried Y?"

The Borders where I grew up is gone now, closed as a result of the previous round of shutdowns. There weren't a lot of places for quiet, nerdy high school kids to hang out as a group, but my friends and I liked the Borders coffee shop. They'd give you your coffee in a ceramic mug, which would make you feel satisfyingly grown-up, and then you could snag a table and a pile of books, and sit for hours. Later, it turned into something that my sister and me could share. I've spent hours in such places, grazing on books.

Sometimes - rarely - I even bought one.

I don't know if there's a economically sustainable model that a brick-and-mortar bookstore can follow. I do know that, even though I'm an avid reader, I haven't really done my part to support them. But I do love the feeling of being surrounded by books, and being surrounded by people who love books. I hope that somehow, somewhere, that feeling can be sustained.

use the robots!
typity (schultz)
I woke this morning to the news that the attempt to use helicopters to dump seawater on the reactors was called off, because the radiation above the plants was just too strong.

I respect their pulling back the pilots in those cases, but it made me wonder: why can't we use robots? We have UAVs that can fly over mountains in the Middle East and target insurgents. Can't we arm a UAV with a water cannon, or even just a bucket on a string, and fly it right over the reactor without irradiating a single human being?

Am I missing something? Why are we not doing this? I mean, if anyone can design a robot to do this sort of thing, I would think it would be the Japanese.

all hail to the days
typity (schultz)
One of the coworkers asked me this morning why I loved winter so much; it made no sense, because I get cold so easily.

I thought about it and I believe I have come to an answer: I love protecting myself from the cold.

See, I love wearing fuzzy hats and fuzzy scarves, and feeling the textures of them wrap against my skin. I love wearing thick socks, and I love layering sweaters underneath my wool coat. I particularly love getting a steaming cup of something hot and sweet and cradling it in my palms, sipping it cautiously and letting it warm me from within. Sure, snow is pretty and playing in the snow is a blast, but the best part is when I get to go back inside, shuck off the outer layers, and curl up under a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate. With a big mound of whipped cream on top.

Winter encourages you to stay inside, where it's warm and cozy. Winter tells you to get comfortable, get under an afghan and open a book and laze about on the couch all day. Winter is a nesting, hibernating season.

Really, it's my favorite time of the year.

holiday music announcement!
typity (schultz)
I went to bed last night with a headache and woke up with a headache and a stuffy nose... but that's the risk you run with winter concerts. Camerata Musica's holiday music festivities start TONIGHT. We will be singing...

Thursday (tonight) at East Columbia Library, Columbia, 7:00pm. The event was billed as a "Holiday Music Coffeehouse" and there will be other musicians as well. I'm guessing there will be coffee and maybe even light refreshments.

Dec 4th 5th (Sunday) at Trinity Lutheran Church, 117 Main Street in Reisterstown, 3:00pm. This is much further away, but a much better venue (a grand, echoing space) and we'll be singing for longer.

Dec 8th (Wednesday) for Moonlight Madness at the Annapolis Farmer's Market at Riva Rd and Harry S. Truman Pkwy, 5pm to 8pm (probably closer to 5pm). It's outdoors, under a tent, so it'll be cold, but I'm told that free hot cocoa will be available. And, of course, it's an opportunity for last-minute holiday shopping...

Drop by and enjoy some free holiday music.

China Miéville: Iron Council
summer reading (kittenscribble)
I picked up a book by China Mieville, even though I had been underwhelmed by his young adult attempt, Un Lun Dun; people told me that his books for adults were much better.

I had originally wanted King Rat or Perdido Street Station, or ideally The City & The City, which got rave reviews practically everywhere; however, when I got to the local library, all they had on the shelves was Iron Council. So I went with that. It took a bit of time to get properly involved with the characters' quests and motivations, but the book really began to pick up about a third of the way through.

I gotta say, Mieville's much better when writing for an older age group. He doesn't feel the need to dumb things down or make things cute, or give everything happy, solid resolutions at the end of the day -- and that makes the writing so much stronger. When dealing with adult themes and complex longings, even the most fantastical of his creatures (and Mieville's imagination is crazy wild) are sympathetic and understandable.

There's quite a lot in this book, actually. On the grand scale, there's war, terrorism, industrialization vs. untouched environment, labor rights, political dissent, racism, and the difference between legend and reality; on the personal scale, the characters deal with conflicting ambitions, loyalties, and loves.

The writing is almost too ornate, but still manages to be understandable; the descriptions are beautiful, each word used with purpose, and the range of Mieville's vocabulary is staggering. I learned several new words, some of which I share here:

bits and pieces of ICCollapse )

In summary: good stuff. Fortunately Mieville's writing is such that not knowing a word doesn't stop you in your tracks, unlike some authors (Dorothy Dunnett, I'm looking at you (though she got much better after the first Lymond novel)). Also, despite the sometimes overly-grandiose diction, the characters and plot are still compelling. Off to the library for more.

relationship wisdom from K
typity (schultz)
me: I'm sorry I snapped at you.

K: It's okay. Sometimes you have to snap at me to get over being mad at me, so you can be nice to me again.

books, cooking, music, education
typity (schultz)
A few miscellaneous bits, because time seems to be running very fast* right now:

the Marla Mason series; the Atrocity Archives; free online readingCollapse )

Thomas Keller vs. the Lee Bros: battle creamed cornCollapse )

Concert: Vienna Teng, Alex Wong, Joey RyanCollapse )

Race for the TopCollapse )

* I keep thinking about that article on NPR which said that time moves faster because we're increasingly familiar with routine. It's a pity that I find such solace in routine. I guess I'll just keep trying to cram more into the interstitial bits.

the prettiest thing I read today
summer reading (kittenscribble)
"This waspishness was new. I had always been aware of a frame of malevolence under his urbanity, now it protruded like his own sharp bones through the sunken skin." -- Brideshead Revisted, Evelyn Waugh

I got such a gorgeous, shivery visual from that sentence.

I like Jo Walton's post on re: addictive reading habits. It definitely rings true to me, especially how she manages to slip reading into the interstitial moments of her days.

Man, what I wouldn't give for a train commute. (And by that I mean one in which I can actually sit and read. I had a summer job that involved Metro commuting and although it is theoretically possible to prop up a book in the five inches between your face and the body of the person crammed into the train next to you, it's not really practical.)


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