Reading Wednesday

Jun. 28th, 2017 08:08 pm
Just read

Nothing new since the recent post in which I talked at length about the Power & Beckett fantasy duology.

Currently reading

Janet Morris's Tempus With His Right Side Companion Niko. It's a continuation of Morris's subset of books in the Thieves' World shared universe (begun by Robert Asprin donkeys years ago), which started w/ her trilogy Beyond Sanctuary, Beyond the Veil, & Beyond Wizardwall, which I read years ago.

This book follows the trilogy above. Its original title as a paper book was just Tempus, getting the subtitle when it was issued as an ebook. That change confused me horribly for ages before I finally got it sorted in my head that it's not an entirely different book! Lol.

I'm assuming it's m/m since it's in her series called The Sacred Band & I have a vague memory of these Thieves' World books of hers featuring m/m content. I'm about a 5th of the way into this book & so far I'm not seeing much m/m, but I have hope! Many of her books contain m/m content, plus I can't see why anyone would call a series "Sacred Band" if it doesn't include m/m.

The characters are fun. It's a world of magic & anthropomorphic gods who, if they don't quite walk the world, at least leave visible footprints. Tempus himself is immortal, a kind of god himself. Niko (Nicodemus) is his partner, not immortal, but w/ his own inner powers. I remember enjoying the Beyond books way back when--I should revisit those--& I am so far enjoying this book. I'm certainly getting through it much more quickly than I did the Power & Beckett pair.

Next up

I keep planning what I'll read next, then not actually reading that thing, so it's probably best I stop projecting fake plans! I have a couple more Sacred Band books that I might or might not continue onto. We shall see.

⋄ ⋄ ⋄

In other reading, I found this article called The Canadians helping refugees start anew about "Canada's Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program" interesting. It helps explain how this country, w/ its fairly small population (hence tax base) has been able to take in quite a number of refugees.

Mostly I found it interesting because my sister's next door neighbour, S, has been active in this program for several years & I keep hearing updates about the families her group is sponsoring. I think they're currently helping 2 families, at least 1 from Syria, & helped another couple in the past.

I believe S's sponsor group is affiliated w/ a local Anglican Church, which helps w/ the fundraisers necessary to support entire families for a year as they settle in, learn English, & seek work to become independent.

The article claims the United Nations calls this sponsorship program "unique", though I find that hard to believe. Surely other countries have similar private citizen refugee sponsorship programs? It's hard to believe they don't since it works so well.

Television... Sci-Fi, .and Doctor Who

Jun. 28th, 2017 10:21 pm

Reading through it, I was reminded of why I found the series far too scary to watch when I was eight in the 1970s. It also reminds me a great deal of two sci-fi anthology US programs in the 1960s and 70s, which were reprised briefly, Outer Limits and Twilight Zone. I liked Twilight Zone better -- it was psychological horror, while Outer Limits was basically monsters came to eat you from outer space.

The 1950s in the US seemed to spawn a lot of scary sci-fi movies. I think most if not all of them were allegories of the fear people had of the Other, or Communism. We'd just come off of a brutal war, where no one was necessarily a good guy. (If you disagree, go google the Battle of Dresden and read Slaughter-House Five. Also google the US internment camps for Japanese Americans, and what happened with the two atomic bombs.) Anyhow, WWII spawned US and Japanese sci-fi horror films. Our fear of nuclear warfare, communism, nazism, fascism...all show up in those, along with Doctor Who.

Anyhow, it's hard for me to quibble with the rankings, I only saw a smattering of the episodes. Agree with Blink, Midnight, Listen, Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, Day of the Doctor, The Doctor's Wife...have never really understood the appeal of the Vincent Van Gough episode and the Girl in the Fire Place, but that's just me. Personally I preferred The Impossible Astronaut and A Good Man Goes to War, along with Family of Blood and The Human Condition.

2. Television Shows to Binge Watch.

Please name a television show that you recommend binge watching this summer, list the channel and where to find it. I'm looking for recommendations.

Right now considering Orange is the New Black, Fortitude, Bosch, Big Little Lies,
American Gods.

3. What are the Best Television Adaptations of Books?

Hmmm...the best one that I've seen, and actually read the book, was A&E's adaptation of Pride & Prejudice starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. It seemed to be the closest to the book, with a few interesting tweaks here and there. Such as Darcy taking a dip in his estate's lake only to find himself running into Elizabeth and her Aunt and Uncle.

I didn't like Poldark take 2 that much. But that may be a mood thing. And I didn't read the book.

The Expanse did a rather decent job with Leviathan Wakes, the first in that series. I haven't read the others yet.

I think it is hard to do a decent book adaptation. I liked The Night Manager, but again have not read the book. Le Carr gives me a headache, I can only watch the adaptations of his work. His books...feel a bit like trudging through quicksand.
(I admit I was more of a Ludlum and Fleming fan, and Helen McInnes, who were less realistic but more fun.)

The Thorn Birds was a good adaptation of that book, I must admit. Collen McCullough's Australian epic actually was my favorite of that specific genre.

Oh, and the best horror novel adaptation was Harvest Home (by Tom Tyron) which was adapted in the 1970s.

4. Brings me to my next question which books would you like to see adapted into a television series?

I can tell you this much, none that are currently being adapted. The one's I want adapted aren't popular enough, apparently, to be adapted.

Would love to see all the Shakespearean plays adapted. That would be cool. Do modern adaptations!

Also love to see His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman adapted into a television series. I think it would work better for television than film.

And The Chronicles of Lymond by Dorothy Dunnett starring Tom Hiddleston in the lead role.

Would not mind it if they adapted the Vicky Bliss mysteries.

Other books? The Secret History by Donna Tartt and The Sparrow/Children of God by Maria Doria Russell. The Kim Harrison - Rachel Morgan series, about a bounty hunter who discovers she's a demon. Neil Gaiman's Sandman series.

Sci-Fi series? Hmmm....they don't tend to do a good job with sci-fi book adaptations.
Although I haven't seen Man in the High Castle. I did not like what they did with Dune or the Wizard of Earthsea.

See? Too off the beaten path. They'd never do them.

5. Any reboots?

Can't think of any. They always reboot shows that really don't need to be rebooted.

What they should do is continue series that left us with a cliff-hanger. Sort of a wrap-up of that series. Or something.
They make such wonderful videos! And they are mostly very short, so you can enjoy them with no big time commitment.

Check it out. And if you like what you see, pass it along to others. This channel needs more views!


Random dream bathroom

Jun. 28th, 2017 07:47 pm
Isn't this beautiful?

Click to embiggen!

Wed Reading Meme

Jun. 28th, 2017 06:54 pm
1. What I Just Finished Reading?

Fortune Favors the Wicked (A Royal Rewards Duo #1) - by Theresa Romain

Romain writes unconventional historical romances that sort of defy established tropes.
In this one, the heroine is a courtesan and the hero is a blind naval officer. They are in the small town of Strawbridge, England, which isn't far from Scotland, hunting treasure. Apparently a bunch of people stole from the Royal Mint. This appears to be a Regency -- since the king is considered mad, and it is post 1700s. But I have no clue.
I tend to hand-wave the history in these things. Honestly, I don't read them for the history.

The naval officer is actually based on a historical character who was blind, and wrote books in the 1800s, and apparently some of the quotations from the actual character's books are inserted in the novel. Here the naval officer had attempted to get his memoirs published as non-fiction, but the publishers laughed in his face and said there was no way anyone was going to believe a blind man could do all that. They would however publish it as fiction, if he was so inclined. So, he's hunting the treasure in order to have money to publish it himself and to provide his sister with a "season". As a naval officer he only makes enough to live on. Small pension, and a room at Windsor Castle, as a Naval Knight of the Realm, and only as long as he remains single (not necessarily celibate). He'd prefer to be on a boat at see, but becoming blind sort of got in the way of all of that.

The courtesan was the vicar's daughter, that is until the local squire seduced her and got her to pose nude for him. She ended up having his daughter out of wedlock and passing the daughter off as her sister's. He also painted a lot of portraits of her nude.
Made a bit of name for himself on a few of them. As a result, she had little choice but to become a courtesan. She's running away from a wicked Marquess who thinks he owns her. And wants the treasure so she can raise her daughter in the country free of all of this.

I don't think I need to spell out what is unconventional here. There's no wealthy princes or landowners that can save either, the story is rather realistically rendered, and they sort of save themselves.

It's okay. I didn't love it. It lack oomph somehow. I'm not sure how else to explain it?
There just was something missing from the writing. Also there were a few characters or subplots introduced that were dropped. And the mystery, which was intriguing took back seat to the less than enthralling sex scenes. This writer's sex scenes felt rather awkward. I wish people wouldn't write them it they feel awkward. If you aren't comfortable writing full-fledged sex scenes, less is more.

2. What I'm Reading Now?

A Gentleman in the Street (The Campbell Siblings #1) - by Alisha Rai

Alisha Rai is an erotica contemporary romance writer. And somewhat unconventional in her writing. In this novel, she's flipped the gender trope. In addition the heroine is Japanese.

The heroine, Akira, is a wealthy, bitchy, owner of a string of nightclubs and restaurants. She's powerful, self-absorbed, a real player, and takes no prisoners. The hero, Jacob Campbell is a writer of spy novels, and the sole provider for his siblings. He's taken care of them his entire life and feels responsible for their welfare. They met when their parents married for all of ten minutes, or rather a year. And had the hots for each other, but instead of acting on it, treated each other like shit. He ignored her, or avoided her, while she was bitchy and mean to him.

Now, years later, after her mother has died, she's hunting a family heirloom, a chinese puzzle box. She comes to Jacob for it. He finds it for her, and they enter into a relationship of sorts...lots of kinky sex ensues.

The big difference between sex scenes in historical and contemporary novels is well they are kinky in contemporaries, and often cruel. There's spanking, three-somes, orgies, etc. Mainly because sex gets boring to write after a bit and there's a lot of it in contemporary erotica fiction and the writer has to come up with some way to entertain themselves and the audience. Also a way to push the characterization, plot and action -- the more crazy the sex is, the more you push the characterization and action in erotica. Historical romance doesn't need this extra push, because often just having sex out of wedlock in a historical is crazy enough. And back then, having oral sex or sodomy was...well, a big deal. Now? Not so much. So hence the kink.

I'm not sure about some of the positioning of the characters. Nor do I quite buy that Jacob does some of the things she has him do, it seems out of character and jarring. Also, the sex scenes happen a bit abruptly. There's not enough build up to them -- a problem in a lot of erotica. However, there is more character development, supporting and otherwise in this novel than the others I've read. And the writing is a bit cleaner, and less paint-by-numbers formula. In other words this feels like an actual story and not just erotica.

I'm finding it interesting, however, in that it does a good job of demonstrating how limited one's perspective truly is. To say Akira is self-absorbed is a gross understatement. All Akira thinks about twenty-four seven is Akira. To the degree that she's convinced everything Jacob or anyone else does is a reflection on her. When in actuality, it has absolutely nothing to do with her. Jacob isn't avoiding her because he hates her, but because of his own parental baggage and responsibilities and hangups. But she's too self-absorbed to see it -- until he literally confesses it.

He's actually the opposite -- not self-absorbed at all, in fact all he thinks about is everyone else.

I'm wondering right now, why he'd be interested in her? I mean looks only take you so far. She's user, and has little to no respect for others. In short, the writer flipped the tortured rich asshole hero into the tortured rich asshole heroine. Which in of itself is interesting. Just not sure it works.

While I'm reading the book, I kept imagining it as a horror story. I think it is the chinese puzzle box. And I can't help but think it would make a really cool erotic horror romance. But that may be a wee bit too unconventional.

Tried Sous Chef -- got bogged down with the irritating second person close point of view. Kitchen Confidential it's not. Unfortunately.

(no subject)

Jun. 28th, 2017 03:57 pm
I’m in the midst of reading Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the War of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood. There are too many Margarets and Elizabeths (a plethora!). I am grateful for Cecily of the Yorkists because I can at least keep track of her.

Anyway Richard III has just been killed and the Tudors are just getting started. I’m thinking of watching The Hollow Crown again while everybody is still fresh in my mind.

Books Wednesday

Jun. 28th, 2017 11:39 am
What I've finished:

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. This was a childhood favorite. I thoroughly enjoyed rereading it. Betsy is an overly-sheltered city child who is unexpectedly shipped off to live with her Vermont cousins. She learns how to think for herself, how to solve problems and be self-reliant.

Read an excerpt )

What I'm Reading now (but not for long):

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey. I've been enjoying the TV series on Syfy. The Expanse community on DW, [community profile] rocinante is doing a rewatch. (Which reminds me, I need to go post about the season finale.) There isn't much fic so I was hoping that the books would fill that need.

Well. I'm in the middle of book one, Leviathan Wakes, and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to finish it. It's not half as well written as the TV series. The characters are empty shells. They don't even rise to the level of predictable archetypes--there is no there, there. After a few chapters, I wondered if I was being too hard on the writers. So I got out a couple of favorites and read over the first few pages. Sure enough, I learned more in seven pages about the three main protagonists of Red Mars than I did about any character in Leviathan Wakes after seven chapters. The TV series has a structure, and an endgame. The book's pacing is slow and the style is pedestrian. The TV series is far more suspenseful and exciting. I am so, so disappointed. If I wasn't a fan of the show, I'd have quit reading this turkey already.

What's next: All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.


Lest you forget, you have until 9:00 PM EDT, JUNE 28, 2017 to sign up for The Exchange at Fic Corner | [community profile] fic_corner. That would be today. After I looked at the sign up summary, I relaxed. I can match on two of the three fandoms I offered, and everything I asked for has at least one offer. I just hope my letter doesn't freak out my writer too badly.

Why yes, my homemade banner is an illustration from All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. And yes, it is one of the fandoms I'm offering.

(no subject)

Jun. 28th, 2017 12:33 pm
I'm having less allergy trouble today, but I slept very, very badly last night. I kept choking on post nasal drip, and my sinuses ached pretty horribly. I hope that Scott slept better than I did, but I don't know for sure. I didn't even try the c-PAP. I'm hoping that I can get back to that tonight.

I have to take Cordelia out to Domino Farms for a doctor's appointment. That means taking a cab, and given construction, I'm wondering if I ought to allow more time for the trip. Then again, maybe the cabbie will be sensible and get around that bit by taking 14 to 23 to Plymouth Rd instead of Plymouth Rd straight through. It wouldn't normally be faster, but right now, I think it is, especially in the middle of the day when the highway isn't backed up.

Scott will likely be able to pick us up after the appointment. He has PT at 5:00, so he's not likely to work late.

The appointment is the only thing we absolutely have to do today. We might have people over this evening for either Scott's Firefly game or board games, but I'm worried that I won't be up to it. I'm not sure if Scott would want to run without me. I feel bad because it's been a while since we got together, but I really do feel like crap.

I very much want to do some writing. I posted my Not Prime Time story yesterday, but I have something else, a treat for a different exchange, almost done. I also need to start two other stories for something else entirely.

Scott took Cordelia to Traverwood yesterday to renew her library card. The timing was bad, so the road he'd normally take was backed up for about three blocks from the four way stop sign at the bottom of the hill. He tried another route only to discover that that road doesn't currently go through, due to construction. Cordelia knew that but didn't understand what he was trying to do, so they got all the way out there and then had to come all the way back. I had wondered why I had time to shower and then sit around for another half an hour while they were gone, and that all explains it.

Scott is going to be working Saturday. His company wants full production then in the hope that they'll be able to give everyone Sunday through Tuesday off. I'm keeping my fingers crossed because three days would be really, really nice. Also, given that he took Monday off this week, Saturday only makes a five day work week for him as opposed to a six day.

Okay, half an hour to come up with food for me and Cordelia and get everything ready to go...

a request for help

Jun. 28th, 2017 02:26 am
It's taking a lot for me to even write this but I don't think I have any other option. I just found out that my family and I are most likely going to lose our house by the end of the week. We're probably going to have to move into the first place that will take us and will probably have to ask someone to temporarily keep one of our pets as most apartments have a two pet policy (we have three dogs). I'm currently unemployed and it's very difficult for me to find a job. I have an invisible illness that necessitates a sitting job which is rare to find in my area. Because my illness is not technically considered a disability, I receive no special treatment or benefits. I'm still actively seeking employment but in the meantime I thought I would try and open up commissions. Unfortunately, I'm not an artist, but I do write. All of my previously written work can be found on my AO3 here. I'm willing to write any fandom/ship from this list in exchange for a "coffee" ($3) on my ko-fi here. If you have a spare $3 lying around and I would appreciate this more than you could ever possibly know. Thank you for even considering it. 💖 Layla

(no subject)

Jun. 27th, 2017 09:47 pm
I finished One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church in 3 days. (Should've been two days, but I got sidetracked... I forget how. I can't remember much these days at all.)

I really enjoyed that it was practical and gave ideas/solutions. 

And I guess I am fortunate. My experience as a long-term single person in the church has not been nearly as bad as some of the examples cited!

I was very blessed in my home church for so long. When the church was small, we had many singles. Maybe even more single people than married ones. It was that way for some years. Also, because I didn't grow up in a church environment, I didn't have all the baggage that comes from having had negative church experiences seem normal because that's all you've known from childhood. 

These two factors mean that at age 18,  I came into church culture and the Christian life in general with no bad memories from bad experiences with church/Christians in the past, and no expectations for how things should be in the present. Come to think of it, for quite a few years there were tons of people who came to Christ from non-Christian / non-church backgrounds as well. None of us knew much about what church culture was like or supposed to be like. We were all new, and so we learned this together.

All of this meant that we really embodied that family thing that we're supposed to have. Many of us were first generation believers. Many people lost all their friends and even had strained family relationships because they'd become Christians. Many came from alcohol/drug abuse backgrounds.

In other words, we not only desperately needed one another, we were consciously aware of that fact. We became a family because we were all we had. Singles, marrieds, older and younger, we didn't pay attention to all the artificial divisions. We were all just... people who loved and wanted to follow Jesus. It was glorious!

I know once years pass it's easy to slip into nostalgia and only remember the good times. I'm not saying everything was perfect. But even while in the midst of it, we all had a sense that this was a special time and a special thing God was doing for, in, and through us as this little ragtag bunch of Jesus followers. 

That's how I "learned Christianity" when I first became a Christian. It never occurred to me that it would or should be any different.

I wanted to say more... but my brain is fried. 

It's that way a lot these days. It's really starting to scare me.


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