Italics taken from the blurbs. Gothics have the best blurbs.
Castle Barebane, by Joan Aiken. A series of lurid murders... a roofless ruin with crumbling battlements... nephew and niece callously abandoned in a slum... a man of mysterious origins and enigmatic habits... dark emanations from London's underworld... Mungo, an old sailor...
The Five-Minute Marriage, by Joan Aiken. An imposter has claimed her inheritance... a counterfeit marriage to the principle heir, her cousin... family rivalries festering for generations... a shocking episode of Cartaret family history will be repeated.
The Weeping Ash, by Joan Aiken. Sixteen-year-old Fanny Paget, newly married to the odious Captain Paget... in northern India, Scylla and Calormen Paget, twin cousins of the hateful Captain, have begun a seemingly impossible flight for their lives, pursued by a vengeful maharaja... elephant, camel, horse, raft... The writer has used her own two-hundred-year-old house in Sussex, England for the setting.
Winterwood, by Dorothy Eden. The moldering elegance of a decaying Venetian palazzo... pursued by memories of the scandalous trial that rocked London society... their daughter, Flora, crippled by a tragic accident... Charlotte's evil scheming... a series of letters in the deceased Lady Tameson's hand
The Place of Sapphires, by Florence Engel Randall. A demon-haunted house... two beautiful young sisters... the pain of a recent tragedy... a sinister and hateful force from the past... by the author of Hedgerow.
Shadow of the Past, by Daoma Winston. An unseen presence... fled to Devil's Dunes... strange "accidents..." it seemed insane... the threads of the mysterious, menacing net cast over her life... What invisible hand threatened destruction?
Twelve-year-old Lucy returns to the small English village of Hagworthy, which she hasn’t visited since she was seven. There she stays with her aunt, reconnects with some childhood friends and finds that both she and they have changed, and looks on in growing alarm as the well-meaning but ignorant new vicar resurrects the ancient tradition of the Horn Dance, which is connected to the Wild Hunt.
The premise plus the opening sentences probably tell you everything you need to know about the book:
The train had stopped in a cutting, so steep that Lucy, staring through the window, could see the grassy slopes beyond captured in intense detail only a yard or two away: flowers, insects, patches of vivid red earth. She became intimate with this miniature landscape, alone with it in a sudden silence, and then the train jolted, oozed steam from somewhere beneath, and moved on between shoulders of Somerset hillside.
This is one of my favorite genres which sadly does not seem to exist any more, the subset of British children’s fantasy, usually set in small towns or villages, which focuses on atmosphere, beautiful prose, and capturing delicate moments in time. Character is secondary, plot is tertiary, and there may be very little action (though some have a lot); the magical aspects are often connected to folklore or ancient traditions, and may be subtle or questionable until the end.
You can see all those elements in those two sentences I quoted; the entire subgenre consists of inviting the reader to become intimate with minature landscapes.
This is obviously subjective and debatable, but I think of Alan Garner, Susan Cooper (especially Greenwitch), and Robert Westall as writers with books in this subgenre, but not Diana Wynne Jones. The settings are the sort parodied in Cold Comfort Farm. Hagworthy is full of darkly muttering villagers who kept making me think, “Beware, Robert Poste’s child!”
In The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy, Lucy’s parents are divorced, and her mother is now living in another country with a baby brother Lucy has never met. This is mentioned maybe two or three times, very briefly, which is interesting because so many books would make a much bigger deal of it. Lucy returns to Hagworthy for a vacation with her aunt, a botanist.
Of her childhood friends, the two girls have become horse-mad and have nothing in common with Lucy. The boy, Kester, is now a moody misfit teenager, and Lucy, who is also a bit of a moody misfit, becomes friends with him all over again. They wander around the countryside, fossil-hunting and stag-watching, periodically getting in fights over Kester’s refusal to discuss the thing hanging over the story, which is the new vicar’s revival of the Horn Dance to fundraise at a fete. This is very obviously going to awaken the Wild Hunt, and Kester has clearly been mystically targeted as its victim. Though there is a ton of dark muttering about what a bad idea this is, no one does anything about this until nearly the end, when Lucy finally makes first a misfired attempt to stop the Horn Dance, then a successful one to save Kester.
The atmosphere and prose is lovely, and if you like that sort of thing, you will like this book. Even for a book that isn’t really about the plot, the plot had problems. One was the total failure of any adult to even try to do anything sensible ever, for absolutely no reason, until Lucy finally manages to ask the right person the right question. This could have been explained as some magical thing preventing them from acting, but it wasn’t.
The other problem I had was that nothing unpredictable ever happens. Everyone is exactly what they seem: the blacksmith has mystical knowledge, the vicar is an innocent in over his head, the horse-mad girls have nothing in their heads but horses, and so forth. I kept expecting something to be slightly less obvious—for the vicar to know exactly what he’s doing and have a nefarious purpose, for the horse-mad girls to not be as dumb as they seem or to have their horsey skills play a role in saving Kester, for Lucy’s aunt to know more about magic than the blacksmith, etc—but no.
I looked up Penelope Lively. It looks like her famous book is Ghost of Thomas Kempe, which I think I also own.
There’s an album of music based on the book which you can listen to online. It’s by the Heartwood Institute, and is instrumental and atmospheric.
The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy
Title: Koi-iji: Love Glutton
Original Title: こいいじ (Koiiji)
Author: Shimura Takako
Status in Japan: 5 volumes, ongoing
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations feat. Migeru
Scanlation Status: Ongoing
More Info: Baka Updates
Summary: 31-year-old Mame has been in love with her childhood friend Souta ever since she can remember. Despite multiple rejections, her love has stayed constant. It's become a habit more than anything, but is it one she'll ever be able to break and get on with her life?
Chapter Summary: Souta gets an unexpected visit from the landlady.
Chapter 17: Love, Rosie
"The Intrepid ’20s Women Who Formed an All-Female Global Exploration Society".
"Finding Brooklyn’s Ghost Streams, With Old Maps and New Technology".
"In 1975, a Cat Co-Authored a Physics Paper".
"Gereja Ayam, the Abandoned Chicken Church".
"Signal de Botrange: The highest point in Belgium is a staircase to nowhere".
"Shaolin Flying Monks Theatre: A magical work of architecture where a wind turbine enables monks to levitate".
"Abandoned London Post Office Railway: An unmanned underground railroad created to transport London’s mail beneath its congested streets ran for seven decades, until it was unceremoniously shut down and abandoned".
"Underground Railroad Memorial at McDonald's".
"Forgotten Giants: Six beautiful wooden giants are hidden around Copenhagen".
"Tiny Mouse Shops of Malmö: Swedish mice can dine at the Nuts of Life restaurant or take a date to the amousement park".
"FBI Spy House: A painfully obvious spy house sits right across the street from the Russian Embassy".
"Why Justin Timberlake Sings ‘May’ Instead of ‘Me’: Linguistics and vocal styling converge in this late ’90s pop trend".
"One of the Earliest Industrial Spies Was a French Missionary Stationed in China: When he wasn’t converting people, Father Francois Xavier d’Entrecolles was extracting trade secrets from porcelain producers".
"The Unsung Delight of a Well-Designed Endpaper".
"The Violent Ice Cream Wars of 1980s Scotland".
"The Surprising Challenges of Making Things Vegan".
"Judean Date Palm Methuselah: This tree was extinct for a thousand years before sprouting again from a 2,000-year-old seed".
The Establishment ( 17 links, including discussion of suicide, body positivity, and fatphobia )
Finished Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon's Gender Failure. (memoir/book version of a show by two non-binary performers, about being non-binary.)
Finished Martha Wells' All Systems Red. (science fiction novella. MURDERBOT.)
Finished Rose Lemberg et al's Alphabet of Embers (anthology of SFF short stories with illustrations)
Finished Kate Elliot's Black Wolves. (fantasy novel)
Started Kameron Hurley's The Stars Are Legion. (science fiction. living ships, body horror, pregnancy, cannibalism, women (principally defined here as "people who menstruate and give birth",) very good if you can cope with etc)
Started Audre Lord's Sister Outsider, have so far just read the Russia chapter. (feminism and anti-racism and memoir, essays.)
Started Carl Sandburg's Chicago Poems. (poetry, some of it very good and some of it well-intentioned but INCREDIBLY ill-considered.)
Started reading Arthur Horner's Colonel Pewter (1950s Australian serialised comic about the adventures of an eccentric retired military gentleman and his grand-nephew and cat. And aliens. The edition I'm reading is a Lever Arch folder of strips my father cut out from the newspaper as they came out and stickytaped to the paper and filed.)
TV and Movies
Saw The Eagle Huntress in the cinema (documentary, sports, a girl and her giant eagle, highly recommended if you can cope with animal harm etc)
Watched DVD of Saving General Yang (2013 historical action film directed by Ronny Yu, based on the Generals of the Yang Family. Now have the terrible urge to dive further down this rabbithole and read/watch ALL THE THINGS about the Yang family. Am resisting.)
A few more B99 episodes. Met Kevin!
Started watching this BBC Watergate documentary (hattip to rydra_wong), am halfway through and enthralled
Played David Teie's Music for Cats for Beatrice and Dorian. (album, music composed for the benefit of cats.) Dorian seemed uninterested. Beatrice sometimes turned her ears around slightly, and might have breathed a bit faster at some points. It made me sleepy, though.
Listened to Janelle Monáe's The Electric Lady. (album, science fiction, third installment of the Metropolis series. Yes, good, love.)
Re-listening to Rhapsody's Dawn of Victory. (album, Italian symphonic metal.) Love the music, would like to listen to some symphonic metal that is a) less of a cishet white nerdboy power fantasy, and b) specifically less rapey now please.
Agreed to join a play-by-post Legend of the Five Rings game, because I haven't RPed in too long and a friend was starting one up.. Realised belatedly that I had NO IDEA what I was getting into, this is some graduate level roleplaying right here, there's over (in meta terms) over ten years of setting, and (in game terms) two millennia of setting, with complicated etiquette etc. Asked for and received GM's permission to join in later once I've disambiguated my arse and my elbow a little more. Am sloooowly reading the handbook and trying to find my bearings.
Have mostly kicked the Stardew Valley habit. Dipped into the Kittens Game briefly for the first time in over a year, then returned to my senses.
Caught up on The Strange Case of Starship Iris (SF series) and The Hidden Almanac (fantasy series) and listening as they come out now.
Listened to a few episodes of Glittership (audio versions of queer SFF short stories)
Really enjoying One From The Vaults at the moment (trans history), still listening in order and not caught up yet.
Re-listening to a lot of old Jay and Miles X-Plain The X-Men (comics recaps) and Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap (drunken reviews of convenience foods) for comfort while falling asleep.
Made a dinosaur toothbrush-holder, as seen in a lot of different crafts and/or autism pinterests and blogs. This just involves buying a $3 plastic dinosaur from KMart, and cutting a hole in its back, just large enough to poke the end of a toothbrush into. That's it, that's all that's involved. Tried making a harness for the dinosaur to hold the toothpaste as well, but this just looked sloppy, so I ended up cutting another hole for the toothpaste. This looks less neat than the toothbrush hole, but is at least functional.
Make a notebook.
Basil everywhere. Capsicums growing. I should be planting kale and daffodil bulbs right the fuck now, but have not gotten up the energy yet.
I made breakfast for tumblr. You're welcome?
The Douchecat Combined Armed Forces chiefs of staff have moved into their winter headquarters, the chair with the heating pad on it. It's nice to have a warm base on which to smack each other.
Also tried out the toilet paper tube method of cat enrichment. It does seem to be making them eat slower, and may or may not be enhancing their enjoyment of dinner.
Mother Jones: The Long, Twisted, and Bizarre History of the Trump-Russia Scandal
And the Guardian have a helpful guide to the multiple different investigations going on:
The investigations swirling around Donald Trump – a short guide
NYT: At a Besieged White House, Tempers Flare and Confusion Swirls — from the 16th, which is practically decades ago in our new accelerated reality, but still fun:
Some of Mr. Trump’s senior advisers fear leaving him alone in meetings with foreign leaders out of concern he might speak out of turn.
It’s been widely rumoured/speculated that the White House "significant person of interest" is Jared Kushner:
Vox: It’s becoming increasingly clear that Jared Kushner is part of Trump’s Russia problem
(Via robynbender, this: https://twitter.com/bornmiserable/
Raw Story: White House looking at ethics rule to weaken special investigation: sources
The two people this could potentially block investigation into are Kushner and Manafort.
This also suggests it’s Kushner:
NBC News: Jared Kushner Under Scrutiny in Russia Probe, Officials Say
And late on Friday, we enter holy shit territory once more:
WaPo: Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin
( Cut for length )
It's challenge time!
Comment with Just One Thing you've accomplished in the last 24 hours or so. It doesn't have to be a hard thing, or even a thing that you think is particularly awesome. Just a thing that you did.
Feel free to share more than one thing if you're feeling particularly accomplished!
Extra credit: find someone in the comments and give them props for what they achieved!
Nothing is too big, too small, too strange or too cryptic. And in case you'd rather do this in private, anonymous comments are screened. I will only unscreen if you ask me to.
2. We saw the Dodgers play the Cubs tonight. Carla is a Cubs fan, so for her birthday her aunt got her tickets to the game. Unfortunately for her, the Cubs lost, but I'm...well, I feel odd saying I'm a Dodgers fan, but I have lived here for forty years and have a sense of the Dodgers being "my team" so I was rooting for them. :) It was really weird, though. Is there usually no announcer? I've only been to a baseball game twice in my life and both were so long ago I don't remember anything, but it just seemed weird that it was so silent. There was an announcement for the players' names, but no one calling out the plays and so sometimes the game had started up again without me even realizing. It was fun, though.
3. Molly just loves being able to get up on the top shelf now. So high!
Title: Musume no Iede
Original Title: 娘の家出 (Musume no Iede)
Author: Shimura Takako
Publisher: Jump X
Status in Japan: 6 volumes, complete
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations + muge
Scanlation Status: Ongoing
More Info: Baka Updates
Summary: When Mayuko's mom announces she's getting remarried, Mayuko runs away to live with her dad and his boyfriend. This heartwarming slice-of-life series follows Mayuko and her family and friends as their stories interweave.
Chapter Summary: When Mayuko and her friends run into Daiki and his friend Kenta out shopping, Niina falls for Kenta, but is their relationship doomed from the start?
Chapter 14: Boy, Girl
Author: Yoshida Akimi
Publisher: Flower Comics
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations feat. Molly
Status in Japan: 12 volumes, complete
Scanlation Status: Ongoing
More Info: Baka Updates
Summary: Twelve-year-old Sei lives a normal, quiet life on a small island in Okinawa until one day a strange man who seems to know his mother shows up and tries to kidnap him. After that, nothing is normal or quiet in this sci-fi thriller from the author of Banana Fish.
Chapter Summary: While on the hunt for the diary, Sei and Rin are attacked by a mysterious group of men, forcing the two to work together.
How to play: Fling means I spend a single night of passion (or possibly passionate hatred) with the book, and write a review of it, or however much of it I managed to read. Marry means the book goes back on my shelves, to wait for me to get around to it. (That could be a very long time.) Kill means I should donate it without attempting to read it. You don't have to have read or previously heard of the books to vote on them.
Please feel free to explain your reasoning for your votes in comments. For this particular poll, I have never read anything by any of the authors (or if I did, I don't remember it) and except for Hoover and Lively, have never even heard of the authors other than that at some point I apparently thought their book sounded interesting enough to acquire.
The Spring on the Mountain, by Judy Allen. Three kids have magical, possibly Arthurian adventures on a week in the country.
The Lost Star, by H. M. Hoover. A girl who lives on another planet hears an underground cry for help (and finds chubby gray cat centaurs if the cover is accurate)
The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy, by Penelope Lively. Lucy visits her aunt in Hagworthy and is embroiled in the ancient Horn Dance and Wild Hunt.
Carabas, by Sophie Masson. Looks like a medieval setting. A shapeshifting girl gets accused of being a witch and runs off with the miller's son.
Of Two Minds, by Carol Mates and Perry Nodelman. Princess Lenora can makes what she imagines real; Prince Coren can read minds, but everyone can read his mind. (Ouch!)
Here's a thought:
If you disapprove of politicians beating up journalists (or winking at other politicians' beating up journalists) and have some spare cash, one possible action would be to contribute to the Guardian -- whose journalist, Ben Jacobs, got beaten up.
There are various options for becoming a member and paying a regular subscription, but you can also make a one-off contribution.
Although they're a British newspaper, their coverage of US issues is very very strong.
They would like to note (in an e-mail sent out to members) that they recently ran pieces including GOP candidate Greg Gianforte has financial ties to US-sanctioned Russian companies and Trump diehards stay loyal in Montana's 'white man's country' – video:
In that interview, the Guardian's west coast bureau chief, Paul Lewis, challenged Gianforte over his support of Trump's executive order that threatens more than two dozen national monuments in America, including the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Montana.
He appears to have "declined" a further interview requested by local law enforcement (which, much like "declining" a subpoena, is one of those things I didn't know you could do).
But he's apologized (or "apologized") for having "made a mistake".
(A "mistake" that allegedly involved grabbing someone by the neck with both hands, body-slamming them to the floor, then repeatedly punching them.)
Paul Ryan (displaying all the guts and principle we have come to expect from him) took the bold stand of saying Gianforte should apologize. Other Republicans seem to feel that Ben Jacobs should apologize for having wickedly provoked Gianforte to attack him by being a liberal journalist in public.
So, Thursday got off to an interesting start.
Jack and I committed to going to the guest of honor readings (something I haven’t done since the year N.K. Jemisin and Hiromi Goto were our honored guests, as the venue, though charming, is also not very large) to support Amal El-Mohtar. This is the first year the guest of honor has been someone I’ve known in person before they were guest of honor, and while she was already Kind Of A Big Deal to me during my first WisCon, there’s still that little sense of “Hey, I knew you when!”
But Sarah, who was arriving separately, was travel-delayed and was arriving after an exhausting day right about the time we’d have been heading over. We stayed in the lobby to meet her shuttle coming in, then saw her up to the room and settled in, went over plans for the evening (hers were to sleep, and possibly eat a food at some point).
WisCon was running an accessible bus between the guest of honor reception (the largest and most significant off-site event on the schedule, and also the farthest away, in local bookstore A Room Of One’s Own), and we were quite possibly the last people to take it over, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have made it. As it is, it was standing room only when we got there. There might have been some disability reserved seating up front, but it was so crowded and the introductions had started, so we didn’t want to press through and disrupt things and then maybe have to do it again if the seating was all in use.
But it worked out okay. We found a place to sit in the front of the store (the back of the reception) where we could hear, if not see, and we were out of the press of people. Amal’s reading was as amazing and powerful as the one that moved me enough to overcome my wallflowerishness and step forward for an autograph all those years ago. Kelly Sue DeConnick had some A-plus-plus remarks on writing, creator responsibility, critique vs. hate, and fan entitlement.
We ducked out at the end before the receiving/autograph line formed, in part because we had a prior social commitment and in part because the bench we’d grabbed was directly behind the table and chairs set up for that.
Prior social engagement was something I’ve never done before: karaoke. There’s almost always at least one unofficial-but-traditional karaoke party before WisCon, and this year the event’s organizer (the fabelous Cabell) looped us in directly on the invites and asked us to boost. This kind of thing always sounds like a terrific time to me, in both the classic and the modern connotations of the word. Luckily for me I felt obliged to say yes due to the fact that I’ve been using her house as a dead drop for party supplies all month, because I had an amazing time. I did four songs, two solo, one with Jack, and one with Cabell.
WisCon is the kind of time and place where I spend a lot of time getting over my everyday social and emotional inhibitions. Some years it still takes me till Saturday before I’m really enjoying myself and not faking much of it. This year, despite what was at first a very tense and uncertain afternoon, I think I managed it in record time.
The con proper starts today with the Gathering and the opening ceremonies. I’ve never been much for the ceremony, but I might go this year just so as to have line of sight on our guests of honor. A lot depends on how I feel after the Gathering.
Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.
—anyway, after that, I crept home, walking down the hill from my Aunt & Uncle's in the dark, and snuck back into the house and up to my room. The front door was locked so I guess they figured out how I'd left.I came home to an email from mom, who said she'd called, and A. "sounded bad" and then said they "couldn't find me" so mom was worried. And I couldn't respond, just then, without sharing all my emotions with mom as well as you guys, and even after three screwdrivers I knew that was not a good thing in the long run in terms of being an adult and having sane family dynamics.
So now I'm awake and I was reading through all your lovely comments, and then I saw that I had another email, and it was from dad, at 5:30 am. He was apologizing and saying he hoped I'd forgive him: no anger or self-justification, just very simple. And now I just—
—just, maybe I should be feeling sad or scared or something, because yeah, last night was no fun at all and I really didn't like it and I don't want it to happen again, but mostly I don't: I feel pretty good, in the light of day, about my willingness to trust my own needs and leave the house, and my choice to not involve mom, because both were safe healthy decisions. And I'm proud of myself for having realized that dad's anger isn't about me, and that I'm an adult enough to have figured out that "escape" is actually a safe and healthy coping mechanism, and for the fact that I'm going to be even better about using my words (as the Captain would say) and setting boundaries around politics talk. I mean, truly: I'm not actually anxious about any of that. Dad got angry, I got scared, I ran away, and then after about half an hour of panic what I was actually doing was staying away to give everybody a chance to cool down, so good job me.
But now I just feel so sad that I've hurt my dad; I hate the idea that he thinks even for a second that I believe he's a white supremacist, and I'm afraid that, having convinced himself that's what I believe, that he will now think this awful thing about himself and think that I think that. So instead of being sad about last night I'm sad about the thought that dad is hurting. This isn't me being overly guilty or me excusing his behavior: yeah, dad behaved shittily, and he shouldn't have. But that being said, isn't it okay that I love my parents (and my Wicked Stepmother who in case it isn't clear only has got that name as a joke and is in fact lovely) and I want them to be happy? It feels weird because so many people I know have terrible relationships with their parents, but occasional shitty behavior aside, I feel about my parents the way I imagine people feel about their kids, in that it breaks my heart to think of them being sad. And that feels strange, but that's what I'm sad about right now.
(I'm pretty sure I've said several times recently—in this journal, even!—that I'm going back to therapy. I haven't done it yet. But. Uh. I'm going to do it.
If for no other reason than I realized last night that even though I have a lot of dear friends in my life—many of you guys included!—the only person I felt comfortable enough calling was Colleague M., and he's someone who I hadn't seen for a decade before we started working together again, and is someone who hates feelings, and who I know hates it when his girlfriend relies upon him for emotional support—and, uh. It's probably worth thinking about, that I don't really have people in my life I'm willing to rely on like that besides him, isn't it?
And therapy ALSO because I keep asking you guys questions, and, uh, that isn't fair.)