looking for book reviewers / beta readers

Dear Internet,
So – who knew! Memoirs / biographies / non-fiction books are not in high demand for book review bloggers on the interwebs. Even better, if you have profanity or explicit sex in the book, the number plummets even more.
So I’m taking this into my own hands, as one should.
book reviewers
If you’re up for the challenge of reviewing The Lisa Chronicles, I’ll send you an uncorrected ebook (.mobi format) ARC if you’ll do the following:

  • Read The Lisa Chronicles
  • Write a review and rate it on Amazon and/or GoodReads and/or LibraryThing or similar site
  • Let me know when the review is up so I can give you ever loving thanks. 🙂

If interested, contact me or comment below.
beta readers
I also need beta readers for my fiction / creative non-fiction. I had a list from a few years ago but I’m not going to presume that people would still be interested. The writing, for now, is going to be under 3,000 words. At some point in the near future, I’ll be adding in book chapters and creative non-fiction.
You don’t have to comment on every story and some stories do have a time line, but if you think you can comment a few times a month, I would love to have you.
If interested, sign up for the discussion list.
Questions?
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2010, 2010, 2001, 1999

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for January 31, 2015

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
 
Dear Internet,
You can follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Watching

  • Father Brown
    • Mark Williams plays the titular character, a wily priest who solves crimes in his Cotswald parish. Three seasons are now out and I’ve been bingeing on them during down time.
  • Mr. Selfridge
    • Jeremy Piven plays the titular(I like this word, okay?) character that’s now starting its third season in the UK (to be shown in the US later this spring). Lots are going on now that we’re at the end of WW1, but I won’t divulge due to spoilers.
  • Secret Diary of a Call Girl
    • Billie Piper plays Belle, a high class sex worker, who starts at the beginning of the series with a nice flat that she splits between work and play, who navigates her way through the private sex worker world. I binged the entire series in a week and I really liked it. I liked how they had her slowly progressing over her rather humble beginnings and ends up being one of the best sex workers in London. Some things were never really addressed such as her relationship with her family and several main characters came on and were then, within a season, gone. All in all, I would definitely recommend if you need something fluffy to take the edge off a hard week.
  • Wolf Hall
    • BBC’s lavish production based on Hilary Mantel’s best selling book about the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell. This is also going to show up on PBS later this spring, so again, no spoilers. Overall, the production may be sumptuous but I’m finding it slow and rather boring.
  • Transparent
    • An Amazon original that’s winning awards, I am torn about this show. Many of my trans* friends are unhappy with the production because a trans* person is not playing the main character. I get that, but this is about the beginning of their transformation, so it makes sense to me that it’s a non-trans* person in the role. The show does have trans* characters played by trans* people and there are trans* folks also act as consultants for the show, so that does mollify it a bit. Overall, there is no one character that is likeable and everyone seems to be pretty dreadful (seems to be the new thing in H-wood) with no redeeming characteristics. It’s simply, “okay.”
  • Mozart in the Jungle
    • Another Amazon original, Gael Garcia Bernal plays a wild yet genius conductor who is hired by the New York Symphony to make it more relevant. There is conflict, passion, and absurdity abound, but it feels a bit staged and formulaic. But I really liked it, despite it’s pretentions. Produced by Jason Schwartzman, same dude who did Bored to Death, it’s got some dark humour sprinkled in which I do adore.
  • Justified
    • Boyd Crowder is baaaaack. ‘Nuff said.
  • Galavant
    • It’s four week, eight episode has ended. For a musical, I really, really liked this show. Like a lot. I loved the modern interpretations of the costumes, I adored the pop culture references, and how the show was one giant ball of satire. I cannot wait for the second season.
  • The Librarians
    • 10 episodes of what was essentially a Warehouse 13 meets Night at the Museum, it was neither serious but wasn’t really that great either. I know it raised the heckles of some librarian friends because no one apparently had a MLIS, but for what it was, it was good background watching.

Weekly Watching: BansheeHouse of LiesEpisodesConstantineMarvel’s Agent CarterThe Musketeers

Links

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2014, 2010, 1999

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for January 17, 2015

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
 
Dear Internet,
You can follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Reading

Finished
weddingnightWedding Night by  Sophie Kinsella
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
You read Kinsella when you want fluffy, not terrible hard thinking pieces. But the thing I’ve noticed about her work is that underneath the marshmallow, there tends to be some kind of point in play that resonates with the reader. Wedding Night is no different from Kinsella’s previous books, in that it involves a madcap character who always gets herself into scrapes and how she ends up getting out of them. For that I’m grateful that when I need something that doesn’t require much processing while I read, Kinsella delivers. It’s a fun romp that really is a meditation of what is love. Recommended when you need something to brighten your day or just want to have fun.

Currently Reading

chestnutstreet Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
After finishing Wedding Night, I wanted to continue on with the “doesn’t-require-a-lot-of-brain-power” books and of course I pick Binchy who is anything BUT fluff.
Chestnut Street is a series of vignettes that revolve around, well, Chestnut Street. I tend to love titles that use inanimate objects as a character, and this book is no exception to that love. Even within the humour of the book there are often dark undertones of the human condition we don’t want to think about or even acknowledge. The perfect family but the mother is sleeping with everyone. The grumpy old man whom isn’t really so grumpy as lonely. The girl who lies to her family about her living status so she won’t be shamed. I like that you can dip in and out of the book without having to read it straight through as the, thus far, only connection between all of these characters is the street they either live on or are associated with. Highly recommended.
lifeafterlifeLife After Life by Kate Atkinson
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
Status: In progress
Wow. I started this book nearly two years ago and I haven’t barely made a dent into it. Interestingly, I have been carting it around with me from place to place as the only physical book in my possession with the hopes that I would someday finish it. New goal for January: Finish this fucking book!
 
 
 

Bagged and Boarded

greenlanternET
Emerald Twilight
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
Why is Hal bat shit crazy? What’s going to happen to the Guardians? These questions must be answered!

Watching

Now that I’m settled into my own digs, all of my TV watching is going to be done via apps like HBO GO or Hulu+. I’m just going to touch briefly on the shows I’m on this week since there will be a lot!

  • Banshee My favorite Amish mafia, anonymous anti-hero, Slavic mob influenced TV show is BACK. I am SO. EXCITED. I don’t know anyone other than TSTBEH who watches this show, so please, if you need a show that has fantastic writing, brilliant character depictions, and great plot lines, this is the show for you.
  • House of Lies They’re backkkkk. Kaan and Associates are back and ready for action. TSTBEH wasn’t a huge fan of this show, but I love the gossipy, stabby in the back feel to the plot lines and I have a huge lady crush on Kristen Bell.
  • Episodes Matt LeBlanc parodying Matt LeBlanc. Tamsin Greig. A whole rich cast of supporting characters. Screwing with the establishment. Another great show from SHO and while we wait for Game of Thrones, makes Sundays seems a lot more bearable.
  • Constantine No one seems to know if this show is canceled or not, at least as of late November. I, however, like this show. I adore Matt Ryan in the titular role and I like the weekly artefact/mystery building. It reminds me a lot of the old Friday night show, Friday the 13th, which ran in the late ’80s. I really hope this show gets renewed for another season.
  • Marvel’s Agent Carter Strong female lead? Check. Great clothes? Check. Great lipstick? Check. Kicks major ass without the Cap’n? Check. Has a male sidekick? Check. This show is so much WHY we need more female superheros in leads and less about the mens. This is also one show I will totally sign anything to get renewed as a proper series AND will be buying the DVD.
  • Galavant I am, typically, not a fan of musicals but I do love fairy tales. With that in mind, I was a tad skeptical of this show but ooh boy, am I ever glad I’m wrong. Subtle pop culture references galore, catchy lyrics, absurd yet fun plot line. Timothy Omundson and his magnificent beard! I plowed through the first three episodes in one sitting and I’m hungry for more.
  • The Musketeers The boys are back! Slightly kitschy, a titch of ridiculousness, but 100% fun.
  • The Librarians And of COURSE I’m watching. Wouldn’t you?

Links

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 1999

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for August 23, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
 
Dear Internet,
You can follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Writing

Ephemera – Prose Companion to The Lisa Chronicles

Reading

Finished
Bagged & Boarded: Bad Houses
fortunehunterThe Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
A digital ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This should have been a novel that got the pulse racing and the imagination quickening. Instead the pacing, the oft switching of POV, and the tedious of the description just slowed the story down. I read the first 75 pages and was bored stiff of what was going on. I could not find any compelling reason to continue, despite the fact the genre and period are right up my alley. I also could not find a character I could commit too or cheer for. I found Goodwin presented a lot of exposition that wasn’t necessary and as such at times, the story felt forced, as if she was hoping to wing it back into the path to keep it moving forward.
The technicality of the writing is fine and it’s not a terrible story, but I just feel the hype was much more than what the story delivered. This may appeal to readers who like Philippa Gregory.

Watching

  • Rectify
    This show is one of the best shows on TV. Full stop. Daniel Holden is one of the most compelling, complicated, and and sympathetic characters ever written. I love this show.

Weekly watching: Outlander, The Bridge, Project Runway, The Almighty Johnsons, True Blood, A Place To Call Home, Last Week Tonight with John OliverCosmos: A SpaceTime OdysseyElementary
What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in:

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for August 9, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
 
Dear Internet,
You can follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Reading

Finished
mistressoftheart Mistress of the Art of Death #1 by Ariana Franklin
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
An intriguing (though short lived) series about a 12th century female forensic doctor who is removed from her beloved Salerno, Italy to Cambridge, UK to help catch a child killer. The dead speak to her and they have a lot to say.
The plot was well developed and the characters were fully realised. Franklin does well in keeping with the time and place (12th century England) though she sometimes cheats with patrois and language, by having a character comment they could not understand what was being said between two other characters speaking the local tongue. Well, maybe cheating is not the right word but it is a clever device to get a better feel for the period.
The mystery itself was difficult enough to suss out who the killer(s) were, which is why this book endears itself to me and shows the author was skillful enough to drop hints but not so obvious as you figure out the entire thing in the first 50 pages but keeps you turning until the end.
Highly recommended.
bear Bear by Marian Engel
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
A month or so ago, someone posted on Imgur screenshot of the cover of Bear along with photos of the racier bits and titled it, “What the actual fuck, Canada?”. Since the crux of the story concerned a Canadian librarian who goes into the woods to find herself, I knew I had to read it.
And so did everyone else.
Random House Canada recently wrote a blog piece that discussed not only the new spike in sales of the book based on the Imgur posting but also Bear was much more than a woman getting it on with a grizzly. It is a deep exploration of a woman wondering how she got to where she was at, a sexual awakening of sorts, and a wake-up call to take charge of her own life.
It should be said Bear was written while Engel was going through her own divorce, and while I kept pointing out to people the sex scenes in Bear were not projections, metaphors, or similes, there is an undercurrent of exploration of those things that parallel the dissolution of Engel’s own marriage. The Random House piece also points out that Bear digs deep past the stereotypes of CanLit, a world that is typically imagined as rural romantics and pastoral cleverness, by really giving you the true worth of nature.
I was recently asked to compile a list of top 10s of various media that I thought made the difference to humanity, not just because I loved it or it was good, but it changed something inside. Bear is definitely on that list now — it’s brave, and weirdly wonderful; written like a prose poem rather than a story. It challenges us and by doing so, it enlightens us by giving us back our own humanity.

Watching

  • The Leftovers
    Good premise, bad timing. As we’re already watching a show that is depressing and slow paced (Rectify), having two shows in the same week was just too much. We felt Rectify was better developed and written, so au revoir The Leftovers, sorry it didn’t work out.
  • Halt and Catch Fire
    A strange little show built on the premise of what the heyday of the early ’80s computer wars were like — and it worked. Lee Pace and his eyebrows kept us guessing each week if he was going to have an American Pyscho moment, which hasn’t happened. YET, and all the drama that occurred surrounding him and his world. Word on the street is that it is unknown if this is going to be renewed for season two, but I hope it does.

Weekly watching: The Bridge, Project Runway, The Almighty Johnsons, True BloodRectify, A Place To Call Home, Last Week Tonight with John OliverCosmos: A SpaceTime OdysseyElementary

Links

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in:

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for July 26, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
 
Dear Internet,
You can follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Reading

Finished
sickofshadows
Sick of Shadows: Edwardian Murder Mysteries #3 by Marion Chesney
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
Our Lady of Pain: Edwardian Murder Mysteries #4 by Marion Chesney
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
(Reviews for book #1 and book #2)

There is no stretch in the research or imagination here, and if I had not been well attuned to Ms. Chesney/Beaton’s writing style from before, I would probably like the book even less but you know, at the end of the day, it’s a frippery of a read that while it may not have educated me, it did keep me entertained.

The Edwardian Mystery series provided a borderline dull, and often choppy, story arc of boy meets stubborn girl, boy handles his feelings badly, girl saves the day plotline that went three books longer than it should have. As I said in the review for the first book,
ourladyofpain
Books #3 and #4 were almost identical to books #1 and #2. There is really nothing I can say here that would be so markedly different from previous attempts to review the series other than to reiterate Beaton’s research prowess because that is where she shines.
If you’re looking for a story of substance, thought provoking, and full of win – this is not your series.
 
 
amadwickedfollyA Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
Something is missing from this novel. It could have been a lot more and yet, it played it safe. You knew what was going to happen in the very end, because the author made it all painfully clear this is what is going to happen through the entire book. There was no twist. No surprises. Not even a really original thought going into this book given the author’s history (she lived in England for nearly a decade and had access to primary sources) and the fairly nice bibliography at the end of the book. The book is just mediocre and a let down, but it gets 3 stars because technically it is well written, even if the storyline seems meh.
The author could have made this really beguiling and filled with wonder, but instead she made it feel tightly corseted and maybe a titch overedited.
Pros
Story was fast paced and read quickly
Plot was pretty well organized and was linear
There was not an abundance of useless characters
When the author was on point about a scene, she got it brilliantly well (but this was more rare than one would hope)
Cons
Use of language: Edwardian England is a class filled society, yet everyone spoke the same: Her parents, Will, the French boys at the atelier, and so forth. She could have least tried to make an effort, but instead, this seems sloppy and lazy.
Colloquialisms: Example: In the beginning, she had her parents say “Oxford University,” despite no one actually calls it that. She would often fob Vicky’s use of American colloquialisms onto Lucy, Vicky’s best friend from America. Considering Vicky and Lucy are not BFFs for first half of the book, this doesn’t make sense.
Flavor of the period: Despite her meticulous research, you don’t feel like you’re in Edwardian England. Something is just off when she tries inject something that would give it a hint of realism, so then it feels stilted.
Character development: Other than Will or Vicky, you don’t really get a sense of who these people are. Even Vicky’s mother, whom we find out has a connection to Vicky’s choice in life, seems to be absently shallow.

Watching

  • The Bridge
    The unbearable hotness of Demian Bichir is baaacccckkk! This time with more depressing topics. In the few episodes shown thus far, the storyline feels tighter and better thought out; there is less a million sub plots thrown against the wall to see what sticks and turning it into a hot mess. This show has grown on me but we cannot watch it every week because it’s just far too depressing.
  • Project Runway
    It’s pretty clear the series doesn’t work without Heidi Klum. Tim Gunn’s Under the Gunn was an interesting twist to the format, but it seemed stilted. Project Runway – All Stars, which is sans Klum, also doesn’t have the same appeal. Klum just cannot leave. The End.  Can we also request that Michael Kors not ever leave? Zac Pozen is no where Near Kors’ brilliance or bitchiness and Pozen feels overwrought half the time when he starts critiquing. TheHusband has already picked out who will win season 13 based on the very first episode. I wonder if he is right.
  • The Almighty Johnsons
    NZ show that is now being carried on SyFy here in the States; the premise is four brothers who become gods on their 21st birthdays, in reincarnated forms of the old Norse gods. Throw in destiny, some goddesses out to destroy, and half-hearted prophecy and boom, TV show. Interesting concept, not terribly well executed, but is loads better than what is available on most channels.

Weekly watching: The LeftoversTrue BloodRectifyHalt and Catch Fire, A Place To Call Home, Last Week Tonight with John OliverCosmos: A SpaceTime OdysseyElementary
What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2010, 2008

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for July 19, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
 
Dear Internet,
You can follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Reading

Finished
raisingsteam
Raising Steam by Sir Terry Pratchett
(Amazon | Worldcat | GoodReads)
What I love most about Pratchett is his fantastical ability to create a Discworldian history over the probable cause of a “thing” that we have always accepted as part of our reality. The history of rock and roll, banks, postal service, newspapers (to name a few), and now the steam revolution have all been given a history with a very Pratchett twist to them.
But here’s the thing that finally dawned on me as I read Raising Steam – PTerry has always, ALWAYS been a shower, not a teller. Witty dialogue, great character development, fantastic descriptions, and footnotes that would melt your heart are the reasons why he is one of the few authors I continue to pre-order their books. But something is shifting now — I noticed it in Dodger where things didn’t seem quite on the up and up with his writing but I couldn’t figure out WHY. And the more I got into Raising Steam, the more I realised what was missing — PTerry is becoming a teller. Less on the witty dialogue and character development, more on a “here is a few paragraphs to cover what is needed for this particular scene.” PTerry’s “embuggerance,” as he calls it, is starting to show its mettle.
There is enough soul of the man who writes to make the words fly in the way they need, and to make the story come alive. But it is a little less shiny. Little less bright. A little less, well, him.
cakesandale Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham
(Amazon | Worldcat | GoodReads)
tl;dr Cakes and Ale  is proof in the pudding dead white dudes could write whatever the fuck they want and have it hailed as literary masterpiece, even when it is utterly beyond crap.
Review
I picked this book up a couple of months ago and it has been the bane of my existence as the more I read, the more I hated it. It is poorly written and badly edited, with random thoughts dropped into the middle of scenes that do not make any sense to the story or plot. For example, near the end of the book while discussing the character, Rosie Driffield, in question, the narrator suddenly decides this would be a good time to go on a two page bender on the withal of telling a story in first person narrative. Then as suddenly as he leapt into that thought, he leaps back into his discourse of Rosie’s admirable/questionable qualities.
The book is littered with jumps like this. There was 30 pages leveled on the discourse of beauty, what it meant, how it was applicable to life, who got it, and who didn’t. Another 10 pages on the virtues of a secondary minor character who doesn’t show up until near the end of the book. Roughly 20 pages was spent discussing the attributes of a another character who never actually shows up later in the story.
Maugham name checks of the day famous literary talent, real and imaginary. He draws comparison between his protagonist, William Ashenden, and these literary giants and whom you realise is really a stand in for him. He fangirls over so many famous people, it gets kind of embarrassing.
The crux of the story is William Ashenden, the narrator, is asked by Alroy Kear, another London literary snob, to help him with his research on writing a biography of recently deceased late-Victorian author, Edward Driffield. Driffield’s wife, the second Mrs. Driffield, wants any mention of the first Mrs. Driffield, our supposed heroine Rosie, to be erased from Edward’s history for she was an amoral character to the ninth degree and whose influence over poor dear Edward nearly killed him. 
With this set up, one would think the whole of the story would be the bringing to life, discussion, and telling of Rosie Driffield’s relationship with Edward. Rosie is mentioned in the beginning of the book briefly and then it’s not until another 200 pages later she’s brought into focus again and then carried out. It was as if someone had said to Maugham, “Yo. You are far off plot here buddy, rein it in!” And he did.
The whole of the book is to examine the snobbery and the often absurd social mores of the late Victorians and later, the Edwardians, and how these attitudes were affected and perceived. I get that, I do. But in that vein, the book is so poorly executed I spent a lot of time wondering what the fuck I was reading. I checked the synopsis on the back of the book so often to verify that what it said was actually what I was reading and not something else entirely.
It is well documented Maugham had issues with women, as he often saw them as his sexual and affection competitors, so his women are often described and treated as if they scum on shoes because of their sex. It is also well established Maugham, despite impressive number of novels under his belt, is at his best as a short story writer. With that in mind, I would recommend you stay the hell away from Cakes and Ale. I cannot in good conscious even conceive how this book gets so much love because of how flawed it is from start to finish. It is not even coherent, and yet! Yet, the mere existence proves that a dead white dude could write anything and have it called a literary masterpiece.

Watching

  • You, Me, & Them
    An adorable and quirky show staring Anthony Head (Giles from Buffy) and Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper on Torchwood) as a May-December couple who have recently moved in together and struggling with the demands not only of their relationship, but also the demands of their respective families. Frothy and fun, I was pleasantly surprised by the series. Series 2 is coming soon!

Weekly watching: The LeftoversTrue BloodRectifyHalt and Catch Fire, A Place To Call Home, Last Week Tonight with John OliverCosmos: A SpaceTime OdysseyElementary
What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in:

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for May 31, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 
During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
 
Dear Internet,
Yesterday I updated Put A Cravat On It, the mother of all period piece series list that I wrote up back in December. It’s now closing in on nearly 100 shows to tap that vein when waiting for Downton Abbey or Miss Fisher. Enjoy.
P.S. You can now follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Reading

Finished
ravenswarrior
The Raven’s Warrior by Vincent Pratchett
(Amazon | Worldcat | GoodReads)
This book, a recommendation I saw somewhere, had all the right ingredients: Vikings, Arthurian legends, fantasy, and retellings. How can it be bad?
Hoo boy.
Let us start on page iv with the Editor’s note: Viken is a historical name in southwestern Norway, believed to derive from Old Norse word ‘vik’, meaning cove or inlet. Etymologists have suggested that the modern word “viking” may be derived from this place name, simply meaning “a person from Viken.”
This little note is almost entirely lifted from Wikipedia page for viken. The etymology of the word “viken” is correct, but how it relates to Vikings is horribly incorrect.
So there’s that.
The prologue which is a to give the book ambiance is lifted from Norse legend, except our bro dude here is Celtic (yes, there were some heavy influences but this is a very direct lifting of Norse mythology) and then we’re told the protagonist’s name is Vincent (Mary Sue much?). Vincent is kidnapped by Viken raiders who sell him at a market to a Chinese monk with a VERY mysterious past and then the story shifts to the monk’s backstory for a zillion pages that had no bearing on the story itself.
The prose is terrible. It’s written in mostly stream of consciousness with some dialog thrown in to make it a “story.” And there is description of everything everywhere about everything, which just reinforces the stream of consciousness technique. You have no idea who is talking when, about what, or to whom. The jump in direction and sudden shifting in points of view were edited badly.
Other points to consider:

  • He claims to be the nephew of Terry Pratchett – who is an only child. Vincent also marks it pointedly that he is related on his book bio.
  • His publishing house, YMAA, publishes titles mainly in martial arts / spirituality, but rarely fiction.
  • He (or someone) paid $69 to enter in the USA Best Book Awards, which after viewing their site just screams, “scam.”
  • People have commented on GR and other places they were embarrassed to hand his book out for World Book Night
  • The misuse of plain/plane, their/they’re/there, and other grammar and spelling atrocities.

I just can’t. Nope. Not gonna even try.
Currently reading
Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham
(Amazon | Worldcat | GoodReads)
Still plodding along.
unexpectedsuperhero
Unexpected Superhero by Kitty Bucholtz
(Amazon | Worldcat | GoodReads)
First book NOT in Worldcat, so that’s interesting.
I picked this title up via the author’s booth when I was at Cherry Capital Comic Con last weekend. The cover was eye catching, the concept of a local to the area superhero was intriguing, and lately I’ve been hunting down superhero as prose novels. See Kelly Thompson as another, yet delightfully better, example of this emerging genre.
First thing I need to note: This is a Christian romance, first and foremost. Full stop.
Nothing wrong with Christian romance, there is a huge market for the material, but it’s not a genre I regularly read in. I’m having a hard time with someone writing a superhero novel while integrating all of the reasons why the characters are so superhuman is because of The Lord.
I’m only about 40 pages in to Unexpected Superhero, and I’m finding other issues as well (mainly plot and editing issues), so there will be more later.
raisingsteam
Raising Steam by Sir Terry Pratchett
(Amazon | Worldcat | GoodReads)
After The Raven’s Warrior and Unexpected Superhero being disappointments for a variety of reasons, I decided to dig back into good old Sir TPerry, for this has been hanging out on my bedside table for ages. Sir TPerry’s wonderfully taut prose and gentle merry making is a palette cleanser after the dreck I read earlier in the week. Long may he reign.

Watching

  • Mad Men
    I am feeling much better as to how this season progressed and I’m a bit sad at how some of the things have turned — Megan/Don, Peggy, and of course, Burt. I thought I had a good idea of where the show was going, but it seems I do not. I hope this doesn’t end up becoming another Sopranos.
  • Mr. Sloane
    Nick Frost plays a conservative 1960s accountant whose life is not heading in the direction he wants it to go. Or as the tagline states, who found the 60s were not all that swinging for him. Funny and dorky — fundorky? — you can’t help but want to cheer Frost on.
  • The Crimson Field
    During 2014, the Beeb is planning on running 2500 hours of television dedicated to WW1, and this was one of the shows. Crimson Field is about three field nurses, near the front, during the Great War and the people they encounter, the lives they change, and those who work with them. There is a lot of FEELINGS and you can feel the heavy influence of Downton Abbey. I really liked this show and the ending was set up for a second season. I hope.

Weekly watching:  FargoLast Week Tonight with John OliverLouiePenny DreadfulGame of ThronesSilicon ValleyVeepCosmos: A SpaceTime OdysseyDoctor Blake MysteriesElementary
What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2012, 2012, 2012, 2012, 2012, 2009

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for May 17, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
 
Dear Internet,
You can now follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Listening

I’ve been really into BBC Radio these last few weeks and below is some of my current favorites. I’m not going to lie, Benedict Cumberbatch figures prominently in two of the series, so there’s that.

Reading

Finished
deadintheir
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce #6) by Alan Bradley
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
At this point, there is not much more one can say about this series that has not said before, so I won’t regurgitate it all over again. I will say I’m not sure where this story is going is the right path. The twists of where Flavia is headed, the AHA moment Bradley springs upon us, and how Bradley neatly ties up some lingering questions seem kind of amateurish. But obviously I’m on the hook now for what happens, so bring on book #7!
sexandrage
Sex and Rage: Advice To Young Ladies Eager For A Good Time by Eve Babitz
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
Earlier I said,

I was introduced to Babitz recently via a recent article about her in Vanity Fair. The idea of an intellectual good-time girl intrigued me as it should, and I was dismayed to find that her work is not only largely unknown but also out of print. I was able to get a first edition copy ofSex and Rage via interlibrary loan to read and boy, am I ever glad I did. Babitz is glorious as a writer, the work hums with the fastness of the era, of the good time unapologetic choices that Jacaranda makes, doing so with such easy going nature you are desperate for the drugs she’s on.

Two of the books main characters are cities (LA and NYC), who are plumped up in their finery to show you what they are really like during their heights. Make no mistake, this is very much a roman à cléf of Babitz’s life and I don’t think this book would have been successful any other way. The only way to capture the essence of the era and the city would have been to live it as wildly and as fully as Babitz. Once you get past this is a thinly retelling of Babtiz’s life and realise her wordplay is punchy and clean, the book sails forward in all of its gloriousness.
Currently reading
cakesandale
Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham
(Amazon | Worldcat | GoodReads)
This is supposed to be HILARIOUS. A laugh riot. Bawdy.  A modern retelling of Twelfth Night.  In reality? A trainwreck.
The premise of the story is a moderately successful writer is approached by the family of a  recently deceased big to do writer to write his biography. But there is a catch! The biographer has to erase all mentions of the dead writer’s first wife, who was so bawdy and outlandish, she turned him bohemian. Craz-zee.
Except, the linear story is a hot mess. We’re introduced to a nameless (at first ) 1st person unreliable narrator, a writer, at the beginning of the story who is fretting over accepting the call of a slightly more successful writer friend. Maugham then spends nearly 20 pages on what Mr. moderately successful is and isn’t.  Then as we start to get into the meat of the story, so-called Mr. moderately successful is then dropped from the story. I’ve spent the next 70 pages of the primary unreliable narrator basking in the glow of his youth, and where we find out he is the one who has met the dead writer when the dead writer was married to the bawdy first wife. While the crux of the story is to circle around the moderately successful writer writing the biography, I’m 1/3rd of the way through and Maugham is dragging this on.
Maugham is better known, and respected, for his short stories which are supposedly sublime. I keep thinking I have read Of Human Bondage, but I think my memory is faulty. So Cakes and Ale is meh.

Watching

  • Vikings
    The Vikings ended a few weeks back and I’m curious to see where this goes. Historically, Ragnar Lodbrok doesn’t last long past what we’re at now in history on the show, and they have been tap dancing around the settlement of England (and yo. Dane law.). Where will this go and how much will the producers manipulate versus the truth?
  • Penny Dreadful
    Gaslight retelling of various Romantic and Victorian nightmares (Frankenstein, Jack the Ripper, Dracula) starting a James Bond, a Bond Girl, and a Companion. One episode in and it shows a lot of promise. I’m curious to how they will continue intertwining the various mythologies into a single story.
  • Louie
    TheHusband is a big fan of Louie, so we’ve been watching this as it has been appearing. I find Louie’s comedy mostly great, but he always tends to have one or two jokes that fall flat with me.
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Another new news show encompassing the weekly worth of events in half hour, but with a British spin.
  • Fargo
    Starring Billy Bob Thorton and Martin Freeman, along with a host of other big actors, on a spin of the Cohen brother’s movie.
  • Eurovision
    I cannot possibly encompass the gloriousness of Eurovision in a mere paragraph.
  • At Home With The Georgians
    Originally aired in 2010, it was rebroadcast this past week to begin the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the first George of England. It stars one of my favorite academic/presenters Amanda Vickery. What is really interesting about this series is not just the historical view of the Georgian era, but how much we think is modern in terms of how we view homes and living actually is centuries old. DIY is not a novel or new concept.

Weekly watching:  Mad MenGame of ThronesSilicon ValleyVeepCosmos: A SpaceTime OdysseyDoctor Blake MysteriesThe AmericansSurvivor: CagayanElementary
What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2003

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for April 26, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
 
Dear Internet,
You can now follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Reading

Finished
clarice-lispector-near-to-the-wild-heart-entrekin
Near to the Wild Heart by  Clarice Lispector
(Amazon | WorldCat GoodReads)
I haven’t swayed too much from my original impression of the book, but one thing I need to note is to take this in small bites. I was so intoxicated by her work, I was drowning in her words.

Watching

  • Nurse Jackie, Reign
    I decided I did not care enough about either show to continue watching, so I stopped. I couldn’t take another season of Jackie fucking up her life and the when it became pretty clear the producers of Reign gave no fucks based on the sheer amount of anachronisms, I decided I did not either.
  • Archer
    Drug lords, a baby, cocaine, and a budding country star. Only Archer can contain this much awesome in such a short amount of time span and I’m thrilled they are coming back for another season.
  • Dead Famous DNA
    This three part mini-series was interesting in the search for dead famous DNA, how we react (and collect) that DNA, and what we will and won’t do with it. Spoiler: Turns out Eva Braun (Hitler’s love) was Jewish.

Weekly watching:  Mad MenGame of ThronesSilicon ValleyVeepCosmos: A SpaceTime OdysseyDoctor Blake MysteriesThe AmericansSurvivor: CagayanVikingsElementary
What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2003