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Luxx's Haunted Halls

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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1Luxx
Edited: Jan 2, 12:12pm Top

Welcome, all.


The Wagner House, photograph by Rob Yasinsac

Editing to introduce myself, inspired by Ellie's charm...

I'm Luxx. I am a PhD candidate studying Victorian literature and gender studies, pursuing a dissertation on the material performance of villainy, and effectively putting all of my nerdy eggs into one big basket. I was an adjunct professor of English for nearly ten years, but left the profession in December (by choice, and for soooooo many reasons). I haven't entirely broken up with academia - I still intend to speak and publish, and do so actively - but it was time for me to leave a bad situation.

I'm a (largely self-taught) seamstress with nineteen years of historical costuming experience and six years of cosplay experience. I soft-launched my own company in 2017, and am currently working towards a large official launch of my retro line, Vicious Poodle PinUp, this spring. A very exciting photo shoot is in the works, for which I've hired some amazing models and a stellar photographer, and I can't wait.

And finally, I'm an award-winning pinup (no joke, although it feels quite funny to say...), and made my burlesque debut in May of 2017. I don't intend to enter more pinup competitions (quitting while I'm ahead!), but I desperately love performing, and hope to continue to build my own brand and seek out more performance opportunities. In January of 2018 I will be participating in a literary burlesque show, which is more than a little exciting.

Though my participation dwindled to ghostly in 2017, I am pleased to return for another year of 75-reading.

2018 Reading Resolutions:
1. Read more, without getting stuck on what I "should" be reading
2. Seek out new series, to replace the ones that have recently fizzled (Anita Blake, Meg Langslow, Unfortunate Events)
3. Read more horror, old and new
4. Reach for the Kindle app instead of the FB app
5. Pull more from the TBR shelves

Every new year I list the books I've read, and include here a brief description of "Major Events" to help me put my reading in perspective. 2017 was another roller coaster, but it's helped me define what's really important in my life, which will in turn help me focus for the future.

The List of Links

Books Read in 2017 (-- Books. Major Events, excising rotten and hard: burlesque debut; won a pinup competition; decide to leave adjuncting; started my LLC; remarried my amazing wife in a fabulously gothic ceremony; spoke at two conferences; had two chapters accepted for publication - still pending; organized a panel for THE conference for my field (taking place in January); brought home a third poodle; started volunteering at an animal shelter)
Books Read in 2016 (108 Books. Major Events: Completed PhD coursework; passed PhD exams; taught in the spring semester; published a brief article, had a chapter accepted for 2017 publication, and two papers accepted for 2017 conferences; sewed two wedding dresses and one groom's suit; planned and executed two weddings for my best friend, who was diagnosed with cancer; finally built a website for my costuming portfolio; brought home a second poodle; general chaos and joy of living with my dear family)
Books Read in 2015 (75 Books. Major Events: Four semesters of PhD coursework (spring, two summer, fall); published two reviews, spoke and organized at two conferences; taught 20+ credits a semester; bought a house; didn't forget the names of my children or partner; costumed like the enthusiastic amateur I am)
Books Read in 2014 (96 Books. Major Events: First two semesters of PhD coursework; published three papers, two reviews, spoke at two conferences, and organized two conference panels; taught at two schools simultaneously and did my first (and last) stint in a writing center.)
Books Read in 2013 (87 Books. Major Events: Published two papers!)
Books Read in 2012 (81 Books. Major Events: New - additional - Teaching Position, Moving, Surgery)
Books Read in 2011 (101 Books. Major Events: Birth of Third Monster, Poor health and a death in the family)
Books Read in 2010 (100 Books. Major Event: Second Adjunct Position Obtained)
Books Read in 2009 (145 Books. Major Event: Birth of Second Monster)
Books Read in 2008 (61 Books. Major Events: Birth of First Monster, First Adjunct Position Obtained)
Books Read in 2007 (85 Books. Major Event: Finished my MA in English Lit)

Books Read in 2017

2drneutron
Dec 27, 2017, 9:35pm Top

Welcome back!

3Luxx
Edited: Dec 28, 2017, 12:54pm Top

>2Thanks for starting the group!

4LovingLit
Dec 28, 2017, 1:27am Top

My reporter/writer friend is researching spooky architecture for a piece he is writing. (That was what led me to figure out what your 2017 three topper image was!) I see another graces your thread! I will see him new years eve, so will ask him more about it, but I see a theme in your threads (it only took me many years....), so I will also be sure to pick your brains about sources for him if he wants to know more!!

Happy 2018-ing!

5elliepotten
Dec 28, 2017, 7:13am Top

Welcome back Luxx! Hoping to actually be more of a presence around here this year, so I'm starring all my old friends early! Happy New Year... :)

6richardderus
Dec 28, 2017, 10:31am Top

Hey Luxx! Sending love and hugs chez vous.

7Luxx
Dec 28, 2017, 12:50pm Top

>4 LovingLit: How fabulous! Setting is such a huge part of Gothic literature (my actual field), so I have an affinity for creepy architecture. I almost went with a local landmark, but couldn't find a proper attribution.

>5 elliepotten: Welcome, Ellie! I, too, am hoping to be more sociable, and tend to be happier here than FB...

>6 richardderus: Padre! So lovely to hear from you!

8elliepotten
Dec 28, 2017, 12:55pm Top

>7 Luxx: Oh yeah. I had a falling out with Facebook a while ago and I've never looked back. LT for the win!

9mstrust
Dec 28, 2017, 1:57pm Top

>1 Luxx: Dream home! Welcome back, and have a great reading year!

10Berly
Edited: Dec 28, 2017, 2:09pm Top



Happy reading!

11Luxx
Dec 28, 2017, 2:48pm Top

>8 elliepotten: I need to maintain a social media presence professionally, but I ditched my personal account last year and it was liberating! As my business account grows I find myself getting sucked in again, so I'm reevaluating my time spent. LT, on the other hand, is only ever "bad" for my TBR tower...

>9 mstrust: I know! Sadly, it was condemned (someone was living there when these photos were taken), and I believe it has since been bulldozed. :( Maybe I'll look for something that is a tad less of a fixer-upper

>10 Berly: The same to you!

12_Zoe_
Dec 28, 2017, 3:03pm Top

Happy new thread! I love your idea of listing major life events to put the years in perspective. Maybe I'll steal that going forward.

13Luxx
Edited: Dec 28, 2017, 3:11pm Top

>11 Luxx: Please do! It helps me make sense of my own reading habits.

I just borrowed Ellie's model of an introduction, myself...

14thornton37814
Dec 28, 2017, 3:21pm Top

Happy 2018 reading!

15elliepotten
Edited: Dec 28, 2017, 3:56pm Top

>13 Luxx: OH OH I JUST SAW YOUR NEW INTRO. I'm super happy that you were inspired by my own thread-top blathering and all that, but can I just say OH MY GOODNESS YOUR BIO IS AMAZING. Cosplay and historical costuming? Burlesque and award-winning pin-uppery? VICIOUS POODLE, which surely just went down in history as the best company name of all time?! *sighs happily* I want to be just like you when I grow up... :)

Also, your gothic re-marriage ceremony sounds frickin' awesome. Gosh, it's good to be back with all you lot, I've missed youuuuu!

16Luxx
Dec 28, 2017, 4:16pm Top

>13 Luxx: Ohmygosh I'm so glad you like the name. My wife gave me a hard time at first, afraid that people wouldn't be able to spell, but I won her over in the end (or maybe our girls did...).

I've missed you, too!

17elliepotten
Dec 28, 2017, 4:21pm Top

>16 Luxx: Yeaaaaaah I'm glad you held out on that one. It's awesome. :D

18LovingLit
Dec 29, 2017, 4:28am Top

Glad I popped back in to read the new bio up top- who knew you had so many feathers to your boa? ;)
Literary burlesque?? Sounds like a perfect match for you!

19Luxx
Dec 29, 2017, 12:14pm Top

>18 LovingLit: I started my costume last night, and I'm stoked. :-D

20Berly
Edited: Dec 30, 2017, 1:56am Top

>19 Luxx: So glad Ellie talked you into revealing more of yourself (ha!) in your intro bio. You are a many talented woman. : )

21FAMeulstee
Dec 31, 2017, 10:50am Top

Happy reading in 2018, Luxx!

22The_Hibernator
Dec 31, 2017, 12:37pm Top



Happy New Year! I wish you to read many good books in 2018.

23Luxx
Dec 31, 2017, 12:44pm Top

All's well that ends well - I finished my seventy-fifth book this morning. I hope you all enjoy a festive evening of your celbratory choice, and look forward to chatting in the new year!

24mstrust
Dec 31, 2017, 5:08pm Top

Congratulations!

25elliepotten
Dec 31, 2017, 5:27pm Top

Happy New Year, Luxx! Well, there's an hour and a half left here, but almost. I'm just sitting here in sweatpants eating mini pizzas anyway - no point going to bed the fireworks already going off (they do know they're meant to wait until midnight, right?!) - so I thought I'd use my last few minutes of 2017 wisely and come wish all my favourite book buddies a healthy, happy and hopeful 2018. :)

26PaulCranswick
Jan 1, 4:06am Top



Happy New Year
Happy New Group here
This place is full of friends
I hope it never ends
It brew of erudition and good cheer.

27LauraBrook
Jan 1, 2:37pm Top

Happy New Year! I was pretty much a ghost here last year too. Nice to see you back, and congratulations on all of your awesome accomplishments this last year!

28richardderus
Jan 1, 3:07pm Top

>23 Luxx: Great way to see off the annus horribilis that was 2017...comleting your 75th book! Congratulations.

29Luxx
Jan 1, 3:44pm Top

Happy new year, all!

30Berly
Jan 2, 1:10am Top



Happy 2018!!

31Luxx
Jan 2, 11:53am Top

>20 Berly: I was just scrolling through and landed on your pun. Yeah, I giggled.

Today is the official New Start of things. The Monsters are back at school, it's my official first day of unemployment, and resolutions still feel good. I need to accomplish a number of things either academic or burlesque-related, but at the moment I am relishing my hot tea and fleece-lined thigh highs. Trouble (our kitten) is stalking between my office and the missus', and I'm watching her while debating between working on my Nurse Ratched cape or finally cutting out the cloak I promised a fellow performer...

The first book of the new year is up for grabs, and will be either Are You My Mother, as Bechdel's memoir is the subject of my conference paper, or In Cold Blood, which I started this morning, and am finding quite good.

I hope you're all well!

32LovingLit
Jan 4, 2:48am Top

Oooh, I loved In Cold Blood. It was on David Bowie's top 100 books list, and now I am reminded that I meant to see all the related films after finishing that one. I must away to WL them on my Video shop website...

33MickyFine
Jan 4, 1:47pm Top

I'm late but I'm here. Happy to see you back again and I look forward to all the exciting things lined up for you this year.

34richardderus
Jan 4, 2:22pm Top

Hello sweetiedarling! Sending hugs and smooches.

35Luxx
Jan 5, 10:13am Top

>32 LovingLit: It's been engrossing, and I find I like it so much better than Capote's short stories.

>33 MickyFine: Good to see you!

>34 richardderus: I hope you're having a lovely day!

I'm off to a major conference today, to lead a panel of talks on Alison Bechdel. I'd be more excited if two of my panelists hadn't been snowed out, but I'm sure we'll make it through, and it'll be nice to have a weekend away with the wife. I hope everyone else has a perfectly enjoyable weekend!

36MickyFine
Jan 5, 1:26pm Top

Hope the conference hotel is cushy and the food is good. Oh and also that the talks go well. :)

37elliepotten
Jan 9, 3:48pm Top

>31 Luxx: - Oooh, In Cold Blood is one of my FAVOURITES. I didn't think it would be - I thought it would be a bit dry and dull, I just got it out the library on a whim - but it ended up being far and away my favourite book that year. I watched the old movie too, and read up online about the real deal, and now I've got Capote and Infamous to watch, wheeeee!

38Luxx
Jan 11, 3:26pm Top

>That's quite a kick!

>36 MickyFine: Hotel was fabulous, and the wife and I took the opportunity to go to dinner and a show in celebration of our "honeymoon" (two months too late?). Talks went ok, considering three of my panelists were kept home by snow.

1.
Title: Are You My Mother?
Author: Alison Bechdel
Genre: Memoir
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition:
Date Completed: January 3, 2017
Rating: ***

The subject of my own presentation was offensive and defensive clothing in Alison Bechdel's Are You My Mother? I prefer Fun Home, and my paper on Fun Home.

2.
Title: The Corpse Wore Pasties
Author: Jonny Porkpie
Genre: Noir
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Purchased used
Date Completed: January 8, 2017
Rating: ***

Gypsy Rose Lee did it first, and Gypsy Rose Lee did it better - a noir set in the world of burlesque, that is. It's silly on purpose, but takes its sense of meta a bit too far. Most fun for me was figuring out the who's-who of the cast (largely based off of still-current burlesque performers). I seriously love the cover.

39richardderus
Jan 11, 3:31pm Top

I love the cover! Glad the panel still came off (so to speak) and that you and the missus spent a good time away. xo

40Luxx
Jan 12, 5:02pm Top

>39 richardderus: Thank you, sir. :)

3.
Title: Omens
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Supernatural mystery
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library Book
Date Completed: Abandoned at 279 pages on January 11
Rating:

I have long enjoyed Kelley Armstrong, and her "Otherworld" series; in the face of what so many other series are doing, I especially liked that she ended her series at 13 books, as she had intended. But its absence left a paranormal hole in my reading list, and I was pleased to try out a new line in the Cainsville series.

It began well, with an interesting premise, good character building, and that things work a little too well was believable in the slightly-paranormal tone of the story. And then nothing happened. Nothing. Ok, things happen - Olivia talks to people and says she goes to work. But with so little action after so many pages it fizzled, and I was no longer interested in discovering the "truth" of the town or her parents' case or anything else.

This is not the new series I'm looking for.

41Berly
Jan 14, 2:20am Top

Luxx--Glad you got some time away with the Missus and that you were able to cover for your missing fellow panelists. I really like Bechdel. Boo on the latest read and better luck on the next one. Happy weekend!

42Luxx
Jan 14, 4:32pm Top

>41 Berly: Thanks, Berly. I am exhausted today, but last night was KILLER. The wife and I performed in a literary burlesque show, and we are so so pleased. It wasn't perfect, of course, but we each debuted new acts, and are happy with the first go-round. My Nurse Ratched was a surprise hit - I didn't realize it was a decent act until I saw the video myself. What fun.

43mstrust
Jan 16, 2:19pm Top

I read The Corpse Wore Pasties a while ago and gave it just under 3 stars. Some parts, like the backstage personalities of the performers, were interesting, but it fell flat overall.
>42 Luxx: Congratulations on your success!

44Luxx
Jan 16, 7:54pm Top

>43 mstrust: It was indeed. It's a novelty, but a novetly that's better achieved in other books... And thank you!

4.
Title: Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Fantasy
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library Book
Date Completed:January 16, 2018
Rating: ****1/2

This was one hell of a LibraryThing book bullet...

Down Among the Sticks and Bones tells the story of twins Jacqueline and Jillian, conceived by a selfish couple more concerned with image than the humanity of their daughters, and subsequently abusing them emotionally as they attempt to mold each girl into their respective "perfect" child: Jacqueline is driven to the point of anxiety over dirt as her mother dresses her like the soulless doll she intends to raise, and Jillian's hair is shorn and she's shoved onto sports fields, denied the dolls she would enjoy just as much, as her father determines his "tomboy" will be a suitable substitute for a son.

This all changes when the girls find a magical staircase to the Moor. There, separated by circumstances and their own choices, the girls become models of a different kind of story, one that draws on narrative and superstition and no small amount of magic.

Part fairy tale and part gothic horror allusion, the short novel was compelling and eerie from beginning to end. Quite enjoyable, in spite of the at-time heavy-handed narrator.

45LovingLit
Jan 16, 8:53pm Top

>44 Luxx: sounds like a good one, one I could even read....even with the magical element which I can't seem to warm to. My literal brain can't handle when things get fantastical, I become obsessed with how it would/could/should (not) happen.

46Luxx
Jan 16, 10:25pm Top

>45 LovingLit: It's magical in the "a door opened to an alternate world" sense, and there are classic horror characters, but no wand-waving-hocus-pocus-I'll-get-you-my-pretty magic. I'm not a fan of fantasy, personally, and liked this just fine.

47MickyFine
Jan 17, 3:28pm Top

>44 Luxx: Huzzah! Glad it was a hit with you. I had a feeling it would be entirely your jam. Now go read Every Heart a Doorway. :)

48Luxx
Jan 17, 7:33pm Top

49Luxx
Jan 18, 2:27pm Top

5.
Title: Before Watchmen: Minutemen, Silk Spectre
Author: Darwyn Cooke
Genre: Comic
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library Book
Date Completed:January 17, 2018
Rating: ****

I don't remember loving Watchmen, but was endlessly fascinated by allusions to the costumed heroes who came before, so I was optimistic when I picked up Darwyn Cooke's prequel to Alan Moore's IP. I found it to be just what I hoped - background stories on the original formation of the group, personality clashes and flaws, and the ugly underbelly of what was at times a giant publicity stunt. What's more, it's proving to be a fruitful object of study, inspiring a conference paper, a burlesque routine, and a cosplay.

6.
Title: Sweet Tooth: In Captivity
Author: Jeff Lemire
Genre: Comic
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library Book
Date Completed:January 17, 2018
Rating: ****

Perhaps even more ominous and depressing than the first, and equally compelling.

50Luxx
Jan 23, 9:04pm Top

7.
Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: YA Fantasy
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library Book
Date Completed: January 23, 2018
Rating: **1/2

This book, the first in the Wayward Children series, lacks the development of its sequel, rushing in its explanations and relying on tropes to develop character in the absence of narrative. There's so much more to be shared and paced and woven, and McGuire cheats her readers of the fantasy it could be with a quick and shallow murder mystery. What kept me hooked wasn't the book itself, but my fond memories of the one I had just finished - the joy I found in Down Among the Sticks and Bones, and my deep desire to see more of Jack. While I do appreciate the introduction of other identities - specifically a trans character and an asexual character - even this was done only with a glossing, and not developed to the strength it could be.

And now I'm torn - do I follow the third, or stop where I am? It seems I may have loved the second book for my own generic preferences, and I'm not convinced I'll enjoy a trip into Nonsense.

51MickyFine
Jan 24, 12:31pm Top

>50 Luxx: Can't help you there, Luxx, I haven't read the third book yet. Sorry to hear you didn't like this one more.

52Luxx
Jan 24, 9:50pm Top

>51 MickyFine: This may be one of those rare cases I prefer the second of a trilogy ... But really, I just wanted more. The concept is fascinating.

53Luxx
Jan 24, 9:57pm Top

>51 MickyFine: Ah, it just dawned on me - Down Among the Sticks and Bones is just my door

54MickyFine
Jan 25, 10:48am Top

>53 Luxx: That I could most definitely see. :)

55richardderus
Jan 25, 12:43pm Top

>50 Luxx: Oh dear. I might be able to help, so to speak, because I have this book coming into the library for me. I'll let you know when I review it.

Happy happy, joy joy!

56elliepotten
Jan 27, 4:40am Top

>50 Luxx: I've heard people RAVING about this one on BookTube, but I wasn't sure... I think I'll leave it be for the time being. Not like I need any more to go at just yet, haha. Book bullet AVOIDED, for now at least. ;)

57Luxx
Jan 27, 2:32pm Top

>55 richardderus: I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

>56 elliepotten: Just not my cup, it seems. This last one was more so:

8.
Title: Fairest
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA Fantasy
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library Book
Date Completed: January 26, 2018
Rating: ****

When I first came across the Lunar Chronicles, Cress and Fairest were new, and difficult to reserve at the library; it dropped from my radar, and so I was pleasantly reminded while browsing a teen section this week, and seeing the latter on the shelf. Dropping from the narrative arc of the first three books, Fairest tells the story of the lunar queen, and how she came to her position of power. It is an interesting story, particularly as it describes the queen's "logical" defenses for her actions, even as the events themselves are at times reprehensible. Consistent with what I remember from the books before, Fairest is an interesting examination of the justifications of the villainous, and an overall entertaining read.

58Luxx
Jan 28, 3:48pm Top

9.
Title: My Favorite Thing is Monsters
Author: Emil Ferris
Genre: Graphic Novel
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Library Book
Date Completed: January 28, 2018
Rating: ****

59drneutron
Jan 28, 4:35pm Top

Oooo, good one!

60Whisper1
Jan 28, 5:22pm Top

Luxx! It is so good to find your thread!

61Luxx
Jan 28, 9:21pm Top

>59 drneutron: It was! I'm having an emotional day, so I didn't really feel I could write a review, but it's good.

>60 Whisper1: So good to see you around! How have you been?

62Berly
Jan 28, 9:32pm Top

>58 Luxx: I really should get to that one. Hope your day improves, or at least tomorrow does!

63Luxx
Jan 29, 9:47am Top

>62 Berly: Thank you. I have circus school today (trapeze), which always puts me in a good mood. :)

64drneutron
Jan 29, 11:26am Top

Oh, cool! She flies through the air with the greatest of ease!

65richardderus
Jan 29, 1:27pm Top

>58 Luxx: Requested. Anything you liked that you're too emotional to write a review for is intriguing by definition.

Have a great time in the air, Fevvers.

66LovingLit
Jan 29, 4:38pm Top

Fevvers! Good one!

67Luxx
Jan 30, 2:49pm Top

>65 richardderus: It is disturbing and compelling and thought-provoking and very well done. I have an inkling you'll like it.

>64 drneutron: Sadly not flying. More like lying/hanging from/standing on a steel bar and pretending it doesn't hurt... ;) Aerial silks may count as flying, though; that's my Friday class.

10.
Title: History of the World in 100 Objects
Author: Neil MacGregor
Genre: History
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library Book
Date Completed: Abandoned January 30, 2018
Rating: Finished 81 Pages

I am abandoning this book at 81 pages, not because of poor writing (it's actually very well written), and not because of lack of interest (it's fascinating), but rather because it's so darn long, and I very literally don't have the time for it right now.

The book is just as it says, reading the long an ancient evolution of humanity through archaeological findings and artifacts, ruminating on their meaning, what they tell us about ancient peoples, and so forth. Each chapter considers a different object from around the world and throughout time, so it's logically organized and easy to follow. Recommended, should you have the time and interest.

68Luxx
Feb 5, 7:57pm Top

11.
Title: Kill Shakespeare: Vol. 1
Author: Conor McCreery
Genre: Graphic novel
Medium: paperback
Acquisition: Library Book
Date Completed: January 31, 2018
Rating: **

I picked up Kill Shakespeare for the title, and was ultimately dissatisfied when I found it to be Shakespeare in name(s) only. The comic puts characters named after Shakespeare's in epic conflict, and positions Shakespeare himself as a kind of god-like figure whose devotees are marked as either political rebels or religious fanatics. Hamlet as protagonist finds himself stuck between the "right" of Richard III and Tamora and "order," and the actions of the rebels who wish to protect the bard. The characters are not Shakespeare's; they are cut from the same archetypal cloth the poet used, but it is a shade of a reflection. And as most of the characters are dead when Shakespeare is through with them, the suspension of disbelief is all the more difficult. I found it to be a shallow work, and one that would have been far more engaging if it either tried to be more Shakespearean, or gave up the named author and instead used a writer who left a handful of people alive with whom the artists could work.

12.
Title: Macbeth
Author: William Shakespeare
Genre: Drama
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: First copy, received second-hand when I was nine
Date Completed: January 31, 2018
Rating: ****

No, I did not understand the play when I was nine, but I went through the motions of reading it, and learned to love the puzzle of language before finally understanding the plot itself. What intrigued me then, and keeps my interest now, is the presence of witches - powerful and feared women whose help is sought, and whose presence is rejected. Shakespeare is not "the greatest author of all time," but rather a product of eighteenth-century enthusiasm, but he could churn out a blockbuster in his day, and I enjoy them.

13.
Title: Goldenseal
Author: Gill McKnight
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Medium: Kindle
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: February 4, 2018
Rating: ***

Ultimately, it's a paranormal romance, and much that McKnight is doing is also done by most other paranormal romance authors. I did laugh continuously over McKnight's naming of the werewolf family: Garoul. She named the werewolves growl.

Trends in the genre I find problematic: sexual assault being excused under the pretext of "mate" (fate, destiny, she-wants-it-even-when-she-says-no; I've written a paper on this before, and am thinking about revisiting), the assertion that anyone who isn't "pure blood" is disgusting, evil, not worth accepting, dangerous

14.
Title: Before Watchmen: Comedian / Rorschach
Author: Brian Azzarello
Genre: Comic
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition:Library
Date Completed: February, 2018
Rating: ****

Gritty, uncomfortable, unapologetic, and far more engaging than the source material.

69LovingLit
Feb 6, 12:58am Top

Oooh Macbeth, a reprise from so long back too!
Little Lenny (6) is currently *reading* Mortal Engines, and is having to defend his status (of reading such a big book) to his brother who maintains *vigorously* that he isn't reading it. I maintain that if someone has a book open and is looking at the words, they most certainly are reading it. I think big bro is jealous, as he has extremely little interest in books (can't you just hear my heard breaking!!??)

70MickyFine
Feb 6, 1:32pm Top

>68 Luxx: Sorry to hear Kill Shakespeare didn't work for you. I found the first 4 volumes pretty enjoyable.

71richardderus
Feb 6, 3:14pm Top

>68 Luxx: Book #13...Garoul is also a mashup of "growl" and "loup garou", Cajun for werewolf.

72Luxx
Feb 7, 9:45am Top

>71 richardderus: Thank you for that, because it makes it even more ridiculous and enjoyable.

>70 MickyFine: I'm glad! I don't have a great history with literary graphic novels, though I love each genre separately. My problem is that I go into books like this with certain expectations, and when they're not met I'm disproportionately disappointed. It's me as a reader rather than the text itself, most times.

>69 LovingLit: Huzzah for Lenny! I say that IS reading - and a damn good start to reading more, without intimidation. And I feel your pain - B (age 10) is currently earning Cs in his "language arts" classes. WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE? A big part of the problem is his unwillingness to write, but his reading comprehension was spectacular last year, so I was very confused...

.... until I helped him with his homework this week. He was assigned some of the most dull poetry I've seen, chock full of words unknown to mots ten-year-olds, about which he had to answer three surface questions in a paragraph. It was a recipe for teaching children to hate poetry and writing. There must be a balance between pushing new vocabulary, new genres, and new ideas, and teaching kids they can actually enjoy this. Kid doesn't hate poetry - we read Beowulf and Poe together and he loves them - but he's going to assume he does after this.

73_Zoe_
Feb 7, 12:32pm Top

>72 Luxx: Ugh, I'm sorry about the horrible school curriculum!

74scaifea
Feb 8, 8:04am Top

>72 Luxx: Oh, that's nuts about the poetry assignment! YOICKS.

75Luxx
Feb 8, 3:02pm Top

>73 _Zoe_: and >74 scaifea: It's such a stinker! I always have, and still believe, we can supplement at home to encourage a love of learning, but .... I still have to make him do his homework, even if it makes my eyes want to cross. Blergh.

76LovingLit
Feb 8, 5:42pm Top

Humph to assigned poetry. There is so much out there to get kids interested. Surely. Lucky for him he has some mummas who can steer him towards better words.

77Luxx
Edited: Feb 14, 7:11pm Top

Running off to whisk first born off to the library, while the younger two have aerospace engineering club. Reviews pending...

15.
Title: Deadpool: The Complete Collection Vol. 1
Author: Daniel Way
Genre: Comic
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: February, 2018
Rating: *****

16.
Title: In Cold Blood
Author: Truman Capote
Genre: True Crime
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition:Library
Date Completed: Gave up after 102 pages
Rating: **

I was prepared to ardently love this book; I've heard its praises, knew its subject material, and had every expectation I'd become engrossed. And for the first movement of the narrative I was - as Capote established the characters of the unfortunate victims I found myself moved and terrified, knowing their fates before they came, and mourning as I knew the night was drawing near. The voice was respectful and relatively impartial, tinged by the expectation that such a place is supposed to be highly regarded, that such people are held in high esteem by such communities.

And then it happens, and the narrative quickly devolves into a series of ridiculous and redundant quotations, halting and clumsy as Capote forces individuals to carry the burden of their own words, while attempting to establish a superior ethos. One such passage is on page 97, when Capote writes: "Christ, it was incredible how he could 'con a guy.' Like the clerk in the Kansas City, Missouri, clothing store, the first of the places Dick had decided to 'hit.' As for Perry, he'd never tried to 'pass a check'" (97).

In the end, the book is a true crime narrative, and not a particularly good one once the crime has taken place. I've read a great deal of the genre, good and bad, and was disappointed that Capote did not actually lift his story beyond their masses.

17.
Title: Batman Venom
Author: Dennis O'Neil
Genre: Comic
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition:Library
Date Completed: February 13, 2018
Rating: ***1/2

18.
Title: Batman and Robin: Born to Kill
Author: Peter J. Tomasi
Genre: Comic
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition:Library
Date Completed: February 14, 2018
Rating: ***

78drneutron
Feb 14, 4:12pm Top

Aerospace Engineering Club. Totally freakin' awesome. 😀

79elliepotten
Feb 14, 7:06pm Top

That's two bookish buddies this month who've ended up hating In Cold Blood! I went the other way - I thought it would be dull as dishwater and just gave it a go on a whim, and it ended up being my runaway favourite read of that year. A Marmite book indeed. :)

80Luxx
Feb 14, 7:14pm Top

>78 drneutron: What a perfect phrase to describe it - a Marmite book. Yes. I am very honestly glad you enjoyed it so much!

>77 Luxx: It's such a cool idea. The little guys love it, and the only downside is that First Born is "too old" for this particular iteration. The organization that runs it is local, though, and I think I'll have to look for a good summer camp.

While 2 and 3 built rockets, 1 and I went to the library and curled up in the lounge to read together. It's a tough life.

81mstrust
Feb 15, 11:36am Top

In Cold Blood was absolutely fascinating for me, so I'm sorry that it didn't work for you!

82elliepotten
Feb 15, 1:45pm Top

>81 mstrust: *fist bump* :D

83LovingLit
Feb 15, 9:49pm Top

>77 Luxx: RE: In Cold Blood...yeah, but look at the pretty cover! (still not convinced?) ;) I like you r analysis, perhaps I have not read enough of the genre, as I was carried away by the story, or maybe upon reflection it was the events that carried me?! In any case, I finally have the film Infamous to watch. Im really looking forward to it.

>78 drneutron: a fan? You? *of course*!!

84mstrust
Feb 16, 11:57am Top

>82 elliepotten: Ha! Maybe we make up t-shirts that say "Cold Blood Club"? I'm sure it wouldn't spook anybody.

85Whisper1
Feb 16, 12:41pm Top

>77 Luxx: I totally agree with you regarding Truman Capote's writing. He really was a despicable character. He loved to stab his "best" friends in the back. He actually was incredibly guilty of Harper Lee's wonderful To Kill a Mockingbird and her pulitzer prize. He told many that he helped write her book. In reality, it was Harper who paved the way for him in Kansas.

86elliepotten
Feb 16, 12:56pm Top

>84 mstrust: The Psycho T-shirt I have on right now spooks people sometimes. I can't find a pic, but it's a Society6 one with Norman Bates wielding a knife, the motel in the background, and bloody lettering reading 'WE ALL GO A LITTLE MAD SOMETIMES'. I have the cushion as well. And a cuff bracelet with the same quote. :)

87Luxx
Feb 22, 12:12pm Top

>84 mstrust: Even not a fan, I think I need one of those shirts...

>86 elliepotten: Holy moly, I love it. I have a pillow on our bed that says "We're all mad here" and it brings me such joy.

Hello everyone! Thanks for stopping in!

I've been MIA thanks to a couple big deadlines: final chapter edits (submitted last week), and the major photo shoot I'm planning to launch my retro company. Huzzah! I'm spending way more time in front of sewing machines than books, but I think I'm due a review or two, and I'm nearly finished with History of the World in Six Glasses...

88mstrust
Feb 22, 5:40pm Top

Good to see you back, and I wish you luck with your launch! Starting a new business is a big step!

>86 elliepotten: Please tell me you also wear a grey wig with a bun in the back too. Your "Psycho" collection sounds awesome! The only thing I have, movie jewelry-wise, is a metal bracelet from my sister that has a quote from "Labyrinth": "It's only forever, not very long at all". I love it.

89elliepotten
Feb 24, 11:55am Top

>87 Luxx: Ooooh, I have that book on Mount TBR somewhere! I'll have to track it down...

>88 mstrust: It's one of my favourite movies. I had to do a creative writing mock exam thing on it at school once, before I'd even seen it, and I was totally hooked after that! I have all of Bates Motel, two of the original novels, all four original films, the documentary, the book about the making of the film, the film of the book about the making of the film - plus the shirt, cushion and bracelet.



My favourite thing is sitting down next to my mum and being all, "Hey MOTHER, let's talk about how Norman Bates is one of the most intriguing characters ever created" and watching her eyes flit ever so quickly to the knife block and back before she reminds me, yet again, that she's never actually seen the movie. Evil, moi? :P

Seriously though, I'm a sucker for movie/TV merch from my faves. I'm wearing my Community 'Team Abed' Greendale T-shirt today...

Sorry Luxx, I'll stop Bates-ing up your thread now! :D

90Berly
Feb 24, 12:09pm Top

>67 Luxx: I have been working though that one for two years! I just read a chapter here or there. I think it is fascinating, so I don't want to give up on it. Just slow going.

Boo on bad class curriculum! Keep doing what you are doing at home and save the day!

Best of luck on the launch and your aerial classes (fun!). You are a busy woman. ;)

91Luxx
Edited: Mar 5, 9:30am Top

19.
Title: Romancing the Inventor
Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: Romance
Medium: Kindle
Acquisition: Purchase
Date Completed: February 2018
Rating: ****

A re-read for comfort and a desperate need for a sweet lesbian romance.

20.
Title: The Night Off
Author: Meghan O'Brien
Genre: Erotica
Medium: Kindle
Acquisition: Purchase
Date Completed: February 2018
Rating: ****

The premise of this lesbian erotica is equal parts compelling and ridiculous: Emily Parker has saved and planned to hire a night of sex to indulge in fantasies otherwise absent in her tightly-controlled and regulated life, in which she has a successful career and full custody of her teenage sister, following the death of their drug-addicted parents. Emily's assertion that she "has" to remain single in order to fully care for her seventeen-year-old sister is a ludicrous, self-inflicted martyrdom that can only make one roll their eyes. However, the minimal agency she finds in exploring her sexual interests is what truly drives the narrative. Enter Nat, a butch dom sex worker with a less-than-stellar childhood who resorts to sex work as a teenager in a desperate attempt to support herself. Only the book doesn't dwell with pity on Nat: instead, it shows her growth both personally and professionally, comparing her past experience with an abusive pimp to the supportive fantasy agency where she works at the novel's opening, the compassion of her manager, and her respectful relationships with clients. The novel does not try to shame or save Nat; the career moves don't suggest that anything is wrong, but rather one can follow other passions and be a full person both as an active and former sex worker. That one such professional would "feel bad" about taking money for some "phenomenal sex" - the linchpin of the novel - is cliched and ridiculous, but such was the vehicle O'Brien used to move the narrative forward. Not without flaws, I was still very pleased with the treatment of Nat and the pure joy of the sexual narrative, and will certainly seek out O'Brien's books in the futures.

92Luxx
Mar 5, 9:30am Top

21.
Title: History of the World in Six Glasses
Author: Tom Standage
Genre: Popular History
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: March 4 2018
Rating: ****

A fun premise for a book, Tom Standage takes for his subject the defining beverages of history and explores their invention, consumption, and cultural significance. As a popular history book these examinations are brief, but the trivia is interesting and the approach is thoughtful.

93Luxx
Mar 5, 10:12am Top

It's done! First major product shoot is in the bag!

.... which means it's time to finish my prospectus, work on a small shoot for Tuesday, catch up on company paperwork, and execute some very important cosplay for the next month.

I spent 60 hours (ok, 58) in front of my sewing machine last week, skipping circus school and just about everything else to finish samples for the shoot. I neglected self care and paid the price, but now that it's wrapped I can get back to better eating, physical activity, and house cleaning. I feel refreshed and ready for brain work again, and though I swore on Friday I never wanted to sew again I'm actually looking forward to tackling a few projects this week.

Also, working with burlesque performers? It's magic. There was so much fun and positivity in that space, and it really affirmed my decision to go to the local performance scene. The photographer took 1500 photos, and it was so chaotic that I have no idea what 90% of them will be.

94MickyFine
Mar 5, 4:23pm Top

>93 Luxx: Congrats on the completion of the shoot. Sounds like it was amazing fun!

Good luck on catching up on the regular life things. :)

95Luxx
Mar 15, 7:58am Top

22.
Title: The Club
Author: A.L. Brooks
Genre: Erotica
Medium: Ebook
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: March 2018
Rating: ***1/2

The Club is a collection of stories centered a lesbian sex club, opened to give queer women a place to safely engage in sexual liaisons when heteronormative spaces (i.e. dance clubs) carry the risk of assault by straight patrons. Each character considered finds what they need in the space, whether it is a stepping stone to other relationships or a balm for a stressful life that leaves little room for dating. Sometimes I found it a little too real - i.e. cancer and death - but the stories are paced well, and most importantly are believable. They are human, and I appreciate that.

23.
Title: Queen of Shadows
Author: Dianne Sylvan
Genre: Urban fantasy
Medium: Ebook
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: March 10, 2018
Rating: ****

I found a recommendation for Queen of Shadows on social media and, feeling the absence of my former series, jumped at the chance to form a new bond. The world building is far from unique, apparently resembling a game specifically (a friend informed me when I described it), and nearly all other vampire enclave stories generally. The "Prime" of the Southern United States meets a frightened woman in a grocery store, is intrigued enough to seek out her music performance the next night, and that same night arrives just after she's killed the men who just gang raped her. (I'm not spoiling anything - this is all information given in the book description.) As is typical, he then whisks her away, she discovers she's quite special, and the narrative continues.

My flippant description is not borne of dislike - I very mush so enjoyed Queen of Shadows, and found it a welcome escape after my hard week of work. I sat on the couch and read it in a day with few interruptions, and it was lovely. But in reflection, I find little that is original. What I like most is Sylvan's awareness of contemporary social politics, and how she takes a protagonist who is created as a victim, and imbues her with strength and independence - she doesn't wait around for her male savior, but is no less of a romantic protagonist for her assertiveness.

24.
Title: Shadowflame
Author: Dianne Sylvan
Genre: Urban fantasy
Medium: Ebook
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: March 12, 2018
Rating: ***1/2

The second book in the series, I found Shadowflame to be less compelling overall, due largely to sloppy plot development; a whole narrative is introduced and then suddenly swept away like it needs no further attention, and the solution offered to the main point of action is careless and relies on development little-offered in the first book. Interesting in the book, however, is the ease with which queerness is addressed, as a character is outted, faces personal conflict for a lack of disclosure, but loses no ethos or authority for the revelation (although I suppose it was known to all but the protagonist and reader...). I don't know that I'll pursue the third, but I predict it could be good for a beach read this summer.

96richardderus
Mar 15, 2:57pm Top

Urgh...book-two sag is so disappointing.

Waaay back up there, the t-shirt discussion...my sister wears one of those Game of Thrones t-shirts that says "Winter is Coming." Her husband bought it for her.

The punchline is: Her first name is Winter.

Heh.

97Luxx
Mar 15, 3:02pm Top

>96 richardderus: Dirty puns are awesome

98LovingLit
Mar 15, 5:38pm Top

>93 Luxx: There was so much fun and positivity in that space
Yess! *fist pump*
That is something we could all do with more of :)

99Luxx
Mar 16, 8:40pm Top

>98 LovingLit: That is something we could all do with more of :)

So, so true.

100Berly
Mar 16, 11:44pm Top

So glad the first shoot was a success! Can't wait to hear your reaction to the final shots. And yay for liking the sewing machine again. Sounds like life ain't all bad right now. : )

101Luxx
Mar 17, 8:21am Top

>100 Berly: It's certainly not. :) Especially today, when my lovely wife is taking me away for the weekend to celebrate my birthday. I can't wait!

I've decided to officially launch my online store on Tuesday! There's still so much to be done, but I can do it after the launch because nothing is permanent, and the important stuff is ready. I'm kind of done sitting on it - I've been planning since November - and I'm ready for a big, exciting step forward.

I've also been invited to vend at local burlesque shows, which was a goal, and I've even been asked to teach a sewing 101 for cosplayers at a local comic book shop! Fun and games! Now, if I could just get a few more hours in the day I'll be in good shape.

102MickyFine
Mar 19, 12:48pm Top

All the exciting things!

Hope you had a fabulous birthday weekend away!

103Luxx
Mar 22, 2:17pm Top

>102 MickyFine: I did, thank you! Drunk Shakespeare exceeded my expectations - it's a comedic, half-improvisational production in the round with five cast members, one "inebriated" (actual extent is debatable). My very generous friends gave me the gift of monarchy for the presentation, so I was invited to sit on a throne with my lovely wife, drank a bottle of champagne while wearing a crown, was slaughtered by Macbeth, and had the privilege of stopping the show twice to make an actor drink. It was all very good fun.

On my birthday proper I officially launched my pinup company, Vicious Poodle PinUp! I was so happy to finally hit "publish," even if there's always more work to be done. Fair warning if anyone should wander that way: some content may be NSFW, depending on your place of work; I'm a burlesque performer who hired burlesque performer to model retro aprons, so there are pasties and happy butts. :)

I've even finished another book! But first I'd like to complain about one: Safe Words by Magnolia Robbins (no touchstone. That's telling).

Fanfic is a thing. I've never experienced it, but I know of it, and I know it's contentious. As a concept I have no qualms, and am even intrigued. But when someone sells content that is fanfic, passing it off as original content, I feel cheated.

This book is The Devil Wears Prada. The first nine pages, where I stopped in disgust, are nearly frame-for-frame The Devil Wears Prada, down to the stain on the protagonist's sweater to Angela the assistant to the bargain bin fashion/fashion history lecture. The office, the characterization, the mannerisms of phone conversations all come from the film. There is no attempt at any level of originality. And yes, there's nothing new under the sun, but the author could, perhaps, have tried to do a little more than change the name of the publication.

If I had stuck with it I would have found, reviewers say, a kind of BDSM relationship develop between the two, which is where the true fanfic elements come in. Now I'm glad I haven't made it, because I enjoy The Devil Wears Prada greatly, and don't want it tainted with 50 Shades of Grey.

The book I've just finished didn't make me much happier. Well, yes it did, because it's fantastic for research, and thus critiquing is actually productive.

25.
Title: Revelations of a Lady Detective
Author: William Stephens Hayward
Genre: Victorian Detective Stories
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: March 21, 2018
Rating: ***1/2

Look at that cover. Look at it! It's shocking! It's thrilling! It's so risque! She's showing her petticoat and smoking. Ugh, I love it.

But that's where my personal enjoyment of Hayward's lady detective stops.

As shared in Mike Ashley's introduction, Revelations is published in 1864, within months of Andrew Forrester's The Female Detective (which I read previously). Detectives are something new and interesting in Victorian England, and the introduction of two female detectives is altogether outlandish. For this reason, these books are hugely significant. But as a modern Victorianist, and one who loves the genre, it's a tough thing to slog through.

Mrs. Paschal, a nearly-40-year-old widow who works undercover for the police, is a repugnant character from a contemporary perspective, although the author attempts to bestow respectability on her at every turn. She is forced to take an occupation when her husband dies, but she is shown to be solidly middle-class (the most respectable class, of course), intelligent, caring for the less fortunate (in passing, of course - she laments the lack of sympathy others have when she sees the homeless kicked from shelter, and hires a homeless child as a kind of page boy), and strict in her morals.

She is also unabashedly and grotesquely critical of every woman she meets, save an elderly wealthy widow at the end ("Incognita"). She laments the marriages of "good" men to what she calls "baby wives" - pretty, stupid things, she says - whether those good men are bankers ("Fifty Pounds Reward"), or, no joke, a character we would now identify as part radical nationalist, part Italian mob boss ("The Secret Band"). In the latter, she scoffs at such an intelligent, passionate, devoted Italian nationalist attaching himself to any woman when he should be fighting for his cause, and even more so when the woman in question is found to be beautiful but not as intelligent or passionate as her husband (not that Paschal has any conversations with her, of course). In the former, the "baby wife" is treated slightly less harshly, only because a figure of disgust is introduced in Mrs. Wilkinson, described physically thus:
"She was enormously stout, and to such a size did her corpulence extend, that at the first glance the beholder imagined he was regarding a phenomenon who by some accident had escaped from the caravan in which she was carted from fair to fair, to be shown to the curious as a monstrous mass of humanity, whose adipose tissue had grown to a size altogether beyond reasonable or decent limits. In a house in which beetles abounded she would have been invaluable, for a few of the poor insects could have effected their escape from the crushing tread of those huge feet, which more resembled the hoofs of an elephant or a gouty rhinoceros than the lower extremities of a woman. The bloated and swollen lumps of flesh which in her composition represented hands, were like patches of dough formed into half-quarten loaves before they were subjected to the heat of the oven. Her face might have been made by the amalgamation of two turnips and a pumpkin, with two pig's eyes deeply sunk in the fatty mass. Nature was to blame for having created such a monstrosity, or if creation was unavoidable, for permitting it to cumber the earth, whose surface groaned beneath the imposition." (Hayward 195-6)

So. That's the bad guy, eh?

Still, good for research. Really good for research on the material representation of villainy. Awful read for enjoyment.

104richardderus
Mar 22, 2:39pm Top

>103 Luxx: In Order of Importance as Well as Appearance:

Yay!! Yay!! Birthday/Vicious Poodle

Boo! Hiss! ripoff repurposed fanficker

~meh~/Yay combo for the cool-covered crapulous Victorian lady detective dullness.

*smooch*

105Luxx
Mar 22, 2:44pm Top

106scaifea
Mar 23, 7:44am Top

Congrats on the launch! The site looks *amazing*!!

107Luxx
Mar 23, 1:33pm Top

>106 scaifea: Thank you! It'll probably always be a work in progress, but I'm pleased. I hired my brother as photographer, and he did me proud!

108Luxx
Mar 30, 9:15am Top

I went back to my old habit of reading multiple books at once, but unlike before, when this signaled a lack of real interest in any, it's because I'm very excited to read them all. I finished the first of the four today: The Butchering Art

26.
Title: The Butchering Art
Author: Lindsey Fitzharris
Genre: Popular History
Medium: Kindle
Acquisition: Library Book
Date Completed: March 30, 2018
Rating: *****

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine is about just that - Quaker surgeon Joseph Lister, and his lifelong efforts to improve the outcome of surgery through his identification of germs as the cause of infection, and his revolutionary antiseptic methods to prevent such infection. The book begins with the narrative of Victorian surgery as it existed when Lister first began his medical studies, and continues the narrative through his death and achievements. the books is well-paced, and well-balanced, recognizing the importance of Lister's personal life to his work, without overly indulging either the personal or the professional. Fitharris's voice is clear and direct, and the text allows the subject to speak without unnecessarily interjecting the author - a common fault in popular histories. The Butchering Art is both informative and easily readable, and an overall engaging text. Recommended for any interested in medical or cultural history, but not for the squeamish.

109Luxx
Mar 31, 10:43am Top

Good morning, everyone! Did you know that I'm pagan? You do now!

I recognize that tomorrow Christians celebrate a significant holiday, and I wish all who do a happy Easter.

Well wishes are always appreciated, regardless of affiliation, but I kindly ask that no crosses be posted to my thread.

Thank you for your compassion, and have a beautiful day!

110FAMeulstee
Mar 31, 5:02pm Top

So I should have wished you a happy Spring Equinox ten days ago :-)

111Luxx
Apr 1, 5:55pm Top

>110 FAMeulstee: I love it! I'm down with celebrating all happy days, but especially ones that take a moment to recognize the awesomeness of the natural world.

112Luxx
Apr 3, 3:07pm Top

27.
Title: Allegedly
Author: Tiffany D. Jackson
Genre: Thriller
Medium: Kindle
Acquisition: Library Book
Date Completed: April 2, 2018
Rating: ***1/2

Allegedly is a fascinating thriller about a murder that happened seven years before the opening of the novel. About a murderer who is tried and convicted. When she is just nine.

The book opens with nearly-16-year-old Mary, and tells her story in the present as she lives under house arrest in a halfway home, and her past, as she alludes to a kaleidoscope of abuse. Mary suggests throughout that she knows the whole story of three-month-old Alyssa's death, but hasn't told it, and only when she's properly motivated does she begin to tell an entirely different narrative.

Peppered with "true crime" excerpts, medical reports, and police interviews, much of the story is critical of the criminal justice system - a system that is unprepared for, and fails, adolescent "offenders." The strength of the book begins to unravel, though, when this same system is proven correct, and the author quickly condemns a number of characters. Ultimately, the argument is confusing, particularly in light of the conclusion. While the end is likely intended to inspire surprise and anxiety, I found it greatly disappointing and gimmicky, and took a half-star off of my review for just those few unnecessary pages.

113LovingLit
Apr 3, 6:08pm Top

>108 Luxx: this one sounds very appealing, in a gory kinda way!

>109 Luxx: no crosses here! They crop up at Easter time on posters/small billboards, and get the kids asking questions. It grosses me out to see torture advertised like that.

114Luxx
Apr 4, 10:10am Top

>113 LovingLit: It is very appealing! It's explicit, but not gratuitous, if that makes any sense - when writing about the history of medicine it's best to get gross to make the point, but not slasher-movie gross.

Here in the US it's everywhere. But that's a whole can of worms I don't care to open this morning...

Much more fun: I just scheduled the next two shoots for Vicious Poodle PinUp! The first is a singe model, or rather 1.25 models - a local burlesque performer and her four-month-old daughter. I asked her to model while breastfeeding, because it's something I think should see wider representation, and I'm thrilled that she's accepted. This also means I have an opportunity to make a teeny tiny petticoat and apron. It's been a second since I've sewn for babies - my oldest can wear my shoes and I can wear his shirts. :-o

The next big one will be a carnival at my mom's hobby farm, and I'm hiring sideshow performers to comes play and model goods. I have fire performers, professional clowns, and a grinder so far. I may even put together an aerial routine myself! It's going to be such fun!

115Luxx
Apr 15, 10:56am Top

28.
Title: The Art of the English Murder
Author: Lucy Worsley
Genre: Popular History
Medium: Kindle
Acquisition: Purchase
Date Completed: April 2018
Rating: ***1/2

Lucy Worsley is an historian, curator, and television host; across platforms her work is interesting, her presentations are engaging, and I generally just like her. But, though our interests coincide rather well, I am finding that I like her popular history books less for a very specific reason: no citations. I understand that she is writing for a general audience, I understand that she is trying to establish a general narrative, and I understand that these texts aren't peer-reviewed ... but as a cultural historian I'd really like to see her sources. Not to check up, really, but because I want to read more for myself.

The first part of the book, as Worsley considers the development of a cultural fascination with murder - real life horror stories that fueled penny dreadfuls, and brought them to the public stage. The hangings of supposed murderers were public events, and the ballads and stories lingered and grew and became a part of the cultural landscape. Newspapers helped prolong and engage this interest, and Worsley looks at the crimes, the cultural artifacts, murder tourism, and the judicial process through a length of time. Despite the title, Jack the Ripper is only very vaguely touched upon, so I feel like she's cheating a bit there - she doesn't have to touch on Ripper to write this book, but if she names the figure on the cover she should offer more than a byline, I think. The book fails for me as Worsley comes to write about the development of English crime writers - Agatha Christie and the like. Here, Worlsey's own fandom drives the chapters, and any who don't share her enthusiasm may find it less engaging. Overall, a largely fun read, but not the best; in the future I'll stick to reading Judith Flanders and watching Lucy Worsley.

116Luxx
Apr 15, 11:02am Top

Things are continuing on an upward trajectory around here - after the horrible year that was 2017, this one has actually seen some good. I was asked to lead a sewing 101 workshop for cosplayers at our local comic book shop, and last night was the big night. it went splendidly, despite leaving my notes at home and having to speak off the cuff; the students were great, the comic shop was enthusiastic, and I left on cloud 9. So lovely.

This week I'll be performing in a super fantastic show, called Do Both. The show asks performers to give a TEDx style talk on their field of expertise, and then perform a burlesque act, the premise being that burlesque performers can, in fact, "do both" - think and strip. I was initially turned down for space, but the producer contacted this week to invite me in, and I'm so so excited. I'll be speaking on Jack the Ripper and sensationalist reporting, and performing my Batman routine. It's going to be a fun night.

Next week I have another photo shoot for Vicious Poodle, this time with a local burlesque performer and her wee babe. I'm also working on our circus-themed shoot for July, and am bubbling over with design ideas. It turns out that life outside of academia is pretty engaging. It's amazing to be offered opportunities, instead of having to fight for them...

117MickyFine
Apr 17, 2:24pm Top

>116 Luxx: So, so happy to hear this update, Luxx! Go kick butt at ALL THE THINGS!

118Berly
Apr 21, 2:25am Top

>116 Luxx: WOW! That is all exciting news--congratulations!!

119Luxx
Apr 23, 8:18am Top

>117 MickyFine: >118 Berly: Thank you, thank you! The show on Friday went splendidly, I am happy to say, and the rest of our weekend was spent celebrating: I hosted a party for the lovely people who've helped me get my company started, and then attended a burlesque brunch produced by friends on Sunday. There's a bit of glitter crash going on today, but the whirlwind isn't over yet - tomorrow we go see Waiting for Godot, Wednesday is my photo shoot, and on Friday I am handing over a custom commission, with the resolution that it will be the last one I ever accept (I just don't enjoy them, and need to learn to say no).

The stack of books on my nightstand continues to grow, but I am currently halfway through Buzz: The Stimulating History of the Sex Toy. I admittedly fall asleep on it nearly every night, but that speaks to my level of exhaustion and business rather than the book itself, I swear.

120PaulCranswick
May 6, 7:22am Top

>119 Luxx: Happy Sunday, Luxx.

I don't think I should read Buzz : The Stimulating History of the Sex Toy at least whilst Hani is marooned in the UK.

121Luxx
May 9, 11:43am Top

>120 PaulCranswick: Aww. FWIW, it's not that ... stimulating. (I couldn't resist the bad pun.) Thanks for the reminder that I haven't yet posted a review...

122LovingLit
May 16, 8:52pm Top

>114 Luxx: my oldest can wear my shoes and I can wear his shirts. :-o
Ha!
I can relate! Although his t-shirts that I can fit are rather tight on me, and a tad too long for him :)

>116 Luxx: I was initially turned down for space
Turned down!!?? They'll be glad they turned that around, it sounds like your dual areas of expertise all rolled into one. Glad it went well, and the glitter comedown was averted :)

123LovingLit
May 16, 8:52pm Top

>114 Luxx: my oldest can wear my shoes and I can wear his shirts. :-o
Ha!
I can relate! Although his t-shirts are rather tight on me, and a tad too long for him :)

>116 Luxx: I was initially turned down for space
Turned down!!?? They'll be glad they turned that around, it sounds like your dual areas of expertise all rolled into one. Glad it went well, and the glitter comedown was averted :)

124Luxx
May 31, 2:39pm Top

Guys. I need help. Lots of help.

I have nothing to read.

This is nonsense, of course - I am literally facing my bookshelves and can pull down both favorites and things I've been meaning to get to. But I need escapist fiction - the comforting junk food books that I can consume and enjoy and move on. And my favorite genres are failing me.

I love horror. I love paranormal romance. I love cozy mysteries. These are the ones I turn to when I want to get lost in a book for awhile. The last several I have read have made it very clear that I am not the target audience, though, and I don't know where next to turn.

29.
Title: Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy
Author: Hallie Lieberman
Genre: Popular History
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Purchase
Date Completed: May 2018
Rating: ***

Less a "History of the Sex Toy," Lieberman's book is a repetitive account of the mid-century to modern sex toy industry in the United States. The account offers several surprising and interesting historical figures, and the accounts of the early industry are particularly interesting and rewarding. As the text continues, though, it becomes overly focused on particular individuals, and leaves a number of loose ends in favor of this focus. Writing this review nearly a month after finishing the book, I can only remember the drudgery of reading about the same two stores, and the lack of detail about other makers and innovators.

30.
Title: Deadly Class
Author: Remender, Craig, and Loughridge
Genre: Graphic Novel
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Purchase
Date Completed: May 2018
Rating: ***1/2

It's often said that there's nothing new under the sun, and this is certainly true of Deadly Class, which offers another variation on the same theme - children who are being trained to become assassins at a secret school. The protagonist of Deadly Class is engaging, though, and I especially appreciate the realism of the social conflicts he faces. Well-drawn, and consistently engaging.

31.
Title: If You've Got it, Haunt It
Author: Rose Pressey
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Medium: Kindle
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: May 2018
Rating: **1/2

Speaking of "nothing new under the sun," there's this awful cozy mystery. At first glance I was thrilled - Pressey has written a paranormal romance featuring a vintage clothes seller. What I found was a very weak shadow of Juliet Blackwell's series, with nothing to recommend it, and plenty to make me glad it was a library book and not one I had purchased. LT user WanderingLynn's review hits on all of the same points I have, so I'll just point you to her response if you'd like more detail; the book isn't worth that much of my time.

32.
Title: Of Grave Concern
Author: Max McCoy
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Medium: Kindle
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: May 2018
Rating: ***1/2

Max McCoy's cozy mystery featuring a nineteenth-century spiritualist was much more original and engaging. Admitting the con of her art to the reader, Ophelia Wylde nonetheless has a talent for seeing the dead - just not who she wants, or when she wants. The machinations of the plot are exceedingly artificial - Ophelia is kept in a small town because one lawyer argues she looks like a female serial killer for whom there is a substantial reward - and the conclusion is just as absurd. The meat of the book, though, which sees Ophelia perform, and sees her engaged in a mystery of the town, is good fun.

33.
Title: The Remains of the Dead
Author: Wendy Roberts
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Medium: Kindle
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: May 2018
Rating: **

While the premise is exceedingly promising - a woman who cleans crime scenes and can see the spirits of the departed - I found the ... humanity? ... of the characters unpalatable. Sadie started her death-scene cleaning company to "save" her clients the emotional turmoil she felt when having to clean up her brother's suicide - a point of "selflessness" that becomes self-serving drivel after she's repeated the same phrase a dozen times. Roberts repeats the chorus of Sadie's good intentions, which includes helping the spirits she sees cross over, to convince the reader she is a good person. There's plenty to not recommend it, from a social politics perspective, but the icing on the crap cake is the frequency with which Sadie and her "best friend" joke about sexually assaulting her employee Zack. He's a man, so it's ok, right? He'll either quit, or have sex with Sadie! The whole thing was gross, and wrong, and wasn't helped by the pot-shots taken at gay men, sex toy business owners, and more. Wendy Roberts is firmly on my "authors to avoid" list.

34.
Title: Victorians Undone
Author: Kathryn Hughes
Genre: Popular History
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: abandoned May 2018
Rating: **

The premise of Kathryn Hughes' historical examination of Victorians is one I find so important - looking to the bodies of Victorians themselves, in an age when the body is disgraceful and society is run with militaristic social codes. I so much wanted to know about "Lady Flora's Belly," "Charles Darwin's Beard," and more, but after 119 pages I realized that it wasn't as promised, and not worth my time. First, the chapter about poor Lady Flora is the same story everyone tells - of Queen Victoria, and not the afflicted woman herself. Lady Flora's fibrous tumor made her appear pregnant, despite her status as a virginal unmarried lady at court, and her treatment at the hands of a young Queen Victoria was abysmal. Instead of focusing on Lady Flora, though, Hughes writes most about Victoria, from her bad temper to her bad hygiene, and Lady Flora is again nothing more than a lens through which one can take another look at one of England's most notorious monarchs. This does not a bad book make, though, even if the first chapter did not deliver, and so I did not hesitate to press forward to read about Darwin's beard - and found the chapter to actually be about Darwin. Things were looking up. The scholarship of this chapter, though, was exceedingly poor, from sweeping and unsupported assertions (claiming Sweeney Todd is "the most popular theatrical production of recent years," for example - 108), to callous statements equating "holding reluctant animals together in coitus" with "artificial insemination" (99), and calling the children kidnapped by British explorers "specimens" (87). Being an historian doesn't mean having to casually adopt the dehumanizing language of the historical subject, and I do not think there is a reasonable excuse for calling humans "crossbreeds" as Hughes does (86). I will not be finishing her book.

125MickyFine
May 31, 4:42pm Top

>124 Luxx: Hmm, I quite enjoyed Come Hell or Highball recently, which might suit your need for a fluffy cozy mystery.

126scaifea
Jun 1, 6:30am Top

Hm. How about something funny instead? I would suggest Christopher Moore. I think you may especially like his vampire series, starting with Bloodsucking Fiends.

127Luxx
Jun 4, 4:50pm Top

>126 scaifea: Funny is good! I've read some Christopher Moore before, and maybe it's time to check out what else he has. Thanks for the idea!

>125 MickyFine: Your review sold me - going to look for it now! Thanks!

128LovingLit
Jun 5, 5:54am Top

I think that your genres (I love horror. I love paranormal romance. I love cozy mysteries) are beyond my ken :)
When I am in a book funk, I peruse my shelves and let myself to read a first page to see if it grabs me. Usually I am very hard on myself to finish a book that I start, so a little leeway is the least I can do to get out of a funk. I hope you found something!
I was talking to someone the other day who was shocked to hear that 80% of the books (of mine) on the shelves are ones I have not read. I tend to give them away once I have read them, and only keep the ones I love.

129Luxx
Jun 5, 2:35pm Top

>128 LovingLit: That's a good trick. These days I buy a lot of "brain" books - i.e. theory and history and largely things I'd like to think about. I need the escapism of genre fiction, though, and this is where I'm struggling. I'm going to try some fan-favorites in other genres (Otherworld and Geek Love were highly recommended) to see if I can't lose myself pleasurably for a hot minute.

On the other side of things, I have plenty of new endeavors to keep me busy. I have some burlesque applications in, and just got big news from one. I am rewriting my dissertation chapter descriptions for the third time, but finally like them. I'm practicing stilt-walking and fire-eating and am collecting glass for walking. Life is fun.

130Luxx
Edited: Jun 19, 5:49pm Top

35.
Title: Name of the Wind
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Genre: Fantasy
Medium: Audiobook beautifully read by Nick Podeh
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: May 2018
Rating: *****

For all of my humdrum and gloom, I forgot to share my joy for my first audiobook - Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, as read by Nick Podeh.

As someone who does not read fantasy, and had never listened to an audiobook, I was skeptical when my circus instructor (an avid consumer of audiobooks) suggested this one to me. His enthusiasm won me over (much like it gets me through hollow bodies), and I am so glad I gave it a try. Humorously, I ended up listening to it in 30-minute chunks on my way to and from circus school, and the story of child-prodigy and stage performer Kvothe, turned beggar, turned student captivated me from the start. There is mystery to the tale as Kvothe spins his yarn for the Chronicler, and the promise of so much more to come. It has shown me that there is a good reason why the genre is called "epic" fantasy - and why fans are so anxious for Rothfuss to quit the publicity circuit and get back to writing. Character development, pacing, story, voice, and performance are all top-notch, and I've been recommending this to everyone.

36.
Title: I am Gotham
Author: King and Finch
Genre: Comic
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: May 2018
Rating: *

A lazy book lacking in story and motivation sees the introduction of another regurgitated superman, and an awful adoption of a secondary Suicide Squad. My biggest regret is buying four in the series before reading the first. Not worth anyone's time. Correction - may be worth the time of Superman fans?

37.
Title: Come Hell or Highball
Author: Maia Chance
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library book
Date Completed: June 2018
Rating: ***1/2

I am glad for this recommendation from MickyFine - it washed the sour taste from my cozy-mystery-guzzling mouth, and gave me renewed hope I'd find a fun series for the summer. Recently-widowed and recently-destitute 1920s socialite Lola Woodby trips into a budding career as a detective, supported by her mystery-novel-loving cook Berta. The characters are charming, the author makes great use of the setting, and nearly all of it carries a sense of moderate plausibility. Very cute.

38.
Title: How to Marry a Werewolf
Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: Paranormal Historical Fiction
Medium: Kindle
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: June 2018
Rating: ****

Gail Carriger has proven herself a delight once more, with How to Marry a Werewolf. When Faith's reputation is irreparably ruined in America, for reasons not disclosed until the end, her spiteful and venomous society parents send her off to a distant cousin in London with the express order she marry a werewolf. The match is deemed suitable punishment for a daughter they wish to degrade - werewolves are, after all, just beasts, and she deserves nothing better. When Faith arrives in England, however, she experiences a whole new life - a happy home, love and support, parental love, and titled werewolves. She becomes the darling of London society, Biffy, and catches the begrudging attention of a certain beautiful werewolf everyone loves to hate. A lovely little romp.

Back for a few more shortly - now it's time to bake pretzels and finish our beer and cheese soup. Mmmmm.

131MickyFine
Jun 20, 11:03am Top

>130 Luxx: So glad Come Hell or Highball hit the spot. :)

132FAMeulstee
Jun 21, 6:39am Top

>130 Luxx: I also loved The name of the wind, and I loved the next book almost as much.
I have tried audio, but that never worked for me.

133Luxx
Jun 22, 3:48pm Top

>131 MickyFine: Thanks again!

>132 FAMeulstee: I've just ordered book 2, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Note to self: Add Geek Love, Rat Queens, Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, Lady Killer, and War of Jokes and Riddles

134Berly
Jun 29, 7:56pm Top

Delurking to say Hi!

135Luxx
Edited: Jul 1, 10:26am Top

>134 Berly: Hello!

39.
Title: Geek Love
Author: Katherine Dunn
Genre: Fiction
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library Book
Date Completed: June 2018
Rating: ***

This books hovers between two and three stars for me - it scores much higher for the quality of the writing, and the magnetic attraction of the narrative, and far less for the (perceived/potential) message and consequences.

Geek Love is a story of the "real," dark side of circus - at least, so its readers will claim. Told from the perspective of a former carnival family member/employee, Oly, the history begins with Al and Lil. Al is the heir of the carnival, and Lil is a socialite who runs away to the circus to escape her world, and, lacking other talents, becomes a geek. The two fall in love and marry, and decide to ... produce ... their own carnival attractions. There is historical and cultural basis for this narrative, from Guy de Maupassaunt's "Mother of Monsters" to The Man Who Laughs and scores of other horror stories of man-made "freaks." These stories are themselves contentious for accuracy and racism and other social constructs, and the story of Al and Lil is no less abominable, as they purposefully manipulate her pregnancies to physically impact the development of the fetuses she carries (largely through drug use). The end result is a collection of specimens in jars, and five surviving children who are put to work at, and completely isolated in, the carnival.

It's ugly and gritty, and to this point I am invested in all of it - the horror of it, the threat of isolationism, the dehumanizing of offspring. It makes one think in serious ways, and that's good.

And then it lost me in two ways - the introduction of a supernatural element, which destroys any sense of "realism" that Dunn attempts to establish and thus undoes a lot of the earlier work, and the horrific representation of Arty. Arty is the oldest surviving child of the carnival, and has a monetarily-motivated sense of self worth. He is moody and manipulative, incredibly emotionally abusive, and competitive with his siblings to the point of becoming an extraordinary tyrant. I won't get into much of what he does, because to do so spoils the book, but he generates a cult following and ultimately gains control of the carnival with dire consequences. And the result is confirmation of the dehumanization of sideshow attractions. This is what I can't shake after reading the book - affirmation that "they" are different, that "they" are bad, that "they" are monstrous inside as they are different outside. I feel that it's punching down, and could have horrible consequences. On one hand, it sends a powerful message of victimization, and the monstrosity of the parents that do these terrible things to their children - keep them locked away, keep them from human attachments, force them to do nothing but perform, etc. But on the surface the children themselves are the monsters.

Those who recommended it to me did so on the basis of the "complicated feelings" the book leaves, and to that I certainly agree. It's an antidote to the revisionist history of things like "the Greatest Showman," but be forewarned that it is gruesome on several different layers, some of which is purely for self-indulgent shock value.

40.
Title: War of Jokes and Riddles
Author: Tom King
Genre: Comic
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: June 2018
Rating: **

Tom King's take on Batman is pure garbage. It lacks development and originality, and manages to bore from first to last. The War of Jokes and Riddles is told almost entirely in voice-over, and is melodramatic and immature even for comics. There is a lot of hype over Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne getting married, but actually reading the books leading up to this "momentous" event have bored me to the point of not caring a fig.

The artwork is lovely, though.

41.
Title: Rat Queens
Author: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Genre: Comic
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Borrowed
Date Completed: June 2018
Rating: ****

A circus classmate decided I resemble one of the Rat Queens, and gave me her copy to let me see for myself. The comic was a fun romp, with compelling personalities. I enjoyed it, and think it'd be a good series to go back to in those moments of "ugh, I have nothing to read."

42.
Title: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzie Lee
Genre: Historical Fiction
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: June 2018
Rating: *****

My aerial instructor has become my favorite book recommender, now responsible for introducing me to The Kingkiller Chronicles and The Gentleman's Guide. The latter follows an 18th-century aristocratic heir on his Grand Tour, accompanied by his dear friend and secret love interest, his petulant and bookish sister, and plenty of shenanigans. It is fantastic in its content, but spun right on the edge of believable, reading like a grand adventure and not a farce. The characters are flawed and endearing and fascinating, and the relationships are natural and romantic. I thoroughly enjoyed this romp.

43. 44.
Title: Lady Killer
Author: Joelle Jones
Genre: Comic
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Owned
Date Completed: June 2018
Rating: ****

An enjoyable re-read for the purpose of planning a burlesque act.

45.
Title: Which Witch
Author: Eva Ibboston
Genre: YA
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Owned since childhood
Date Completed: June 2018
Rating: ****

136Luxx
Edited: Jul 4, 10:12am Top

46.

Title: The Truth
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre:Fantasy
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Owned
Date Completed: June 2018
Rating: *****

I forgot my reread of a very-well-loved favorite. This is the first Pratchett book I ever read, and gives a fictional satirical account of the development of the newspaper in "Anky Morpork," aka London. It's lovely.

47.
Title: Clockwork Scarab
Author: Colleen Gleason
Genre: Historical Fiction
Medium: kindle
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: July 1, 2018
Rating: ***

If it weren't for the utterly pointless and ridiculous introduction of time travel, this may have been an interesting little novel. But thanks to this nonsense the rest of the world building felt flat and ludicrous, and the novel as a whole then didn't deliver. The motivating plot is interesting, but the protagonists are flat.

137Luxx
Jul 6, 9:12pm Top

48.
Title: Prescription for Murder
Author: Agnus McLaren
Genre: True Crime
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Owned
Date Completed: Spring, 2018
Rating: ****

We have bookshelves running the width of our house, and my customary seat at our dinner table faces the shelves. Tonight my eyes came to rest on A Prescription for Murder, a book purchased on a whim in, I think, a used bookstore, and I realized I hadn't listed it.

My reading of the book spanned months and months, sitting on my bedside table and only picked up here and there. The contents of the book, however, are much more engaging than my reading pattern may suggest. Following the career of a Victorian serial killer, McLaren's account compellingly pieces the story of Dr. Thomas Neill Cream, another killer of nineteenth-century English sex workers - and family members. Not as flashy as the Ripper, Cream administered strychnine to his victims, often offering it as a tonic for other ailments.

The history itself is engaging, and I found the telling appropriate to the subject - i.e. without unnecessary purple prose and artificial tension. Recommended for fans of Victorian history and/or true crime.

138Luxx
Edited: Jul 16, 8:43am Top

49.
Title: Johannes Cabal the Necromancer
Author: Jonathan L. Howard
Genre: Fiction
Medium: Kindle
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: July 11, 2018
Rating: ***

The premise of Johannes Cabal the Necromancer was alluring - a man trades his soul to Satan to gain skills as a necromancer, and then agrees to a contest in order to win his soul back again. The contest is standard fare - Cabal must collect one hundred souls in exchange for his own - but the method was what caught my attention: a traveling carnival. The execution was as empty and largely thoughtless as one of the sods Cabal reanimates - nearly the entire year passes without elaboration, and the reader is cheerily told of Cabal's progress in a summary quip. There are allusions to Cabal's change in character by his brother, but the reader isn't given true insight into the protagonist until the very closing pages, and by then it's too late. Similarly, the actions that excite curiosity are ignored in favor of far, far too long in the head of another character introduced late int he game. Without true novelty or development, I don't think I'll return for the rest of the series.

139Luxx
Jul 18, 12:06pm Top

50.
Title: Quackery
Author: Lydia Kang, M.D. and Nate Pedersen
Genre: Popular History
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: Put down in disgust after 63 pages July 11, 2018
Rating: *

I was so excited about the premise of this book - an historical look at all of the atrocious ways humans have treated illness, disease, and injury. This is the kind of popular history that really appeals to me, and I was excited to learn new tidbits and trivia. It is a popular history book, so I expected brevity and perhaps some wit; I was not expecting lengthy development and analysis. The content was just as I'd thought and hoped, but the writing ... holy god, was it awful. The "casual" tone of the book is almost violently enforced between useful and interesting passages of explication, complete with snarky comments and pointless expletives that serve only to shout WE ARE SPEAKING IN A FUN AND CASUAL TONE NOW, HUMANS. YOU CAN UNDERSTAND BECAUSE I SAID "ASSES." It's grating and sophomoric. I object not for the language itself, but because I resent bad writing.

So I put it down in favor of two other popular histories, and two works of fiction, which are much, much better.

The Butchering Art was great.

140Luxx
Jul 21, 3:26pm Top

51.
Title: Competence
Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: Steampunk?
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Preordered
Date Completed: July 19, 2018
Rating: ****

The latest in Gail Carriger's "Custard Protocol" has just arrived, and proves itself equally charming to its predecessors. The mission and adventure - the Spotted Custard is sent to South America to rescue a rare species of vampire on the brink of extinction - is tertiary to the personal developments of its crew, and the story is thus firmly character-driven. Rue, safely ensconced in her professional role as captain and personal role as lover, takes a back seat to other developments aboard her ship, and the reader is treated to non-normative romances just as sweet as Rue and Quensel. I don't feel able to say much about the plot without giving away some of the best parts. I will say that I appreciate Carriger's continued respect and representation, and enjoyed the romp.

141Luxx
Aug 1, 10:18am Top

52.
Title: Teetotaled
Author: Maia Chance
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: July 30, 2018
Rating: ***1/2

53.
Title: The Sexual History of London
Author: Catherine Arnold
Genre: Popular History
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: July 31, 2018
Rating: ***

Rather than being a sexual history of London, Arnold's book is a broad history of prostitution in London, which I strongly believe is a distinction worth making. Focusing on the commerce of selling sex, Arnold offers general histories from the Romans forward, naming names and giving biographies as the history becomes more recent, and thus accounts are more readily familiar. Shockingly, given the content of the volume, I found Arnold's book to be rather dull, unnecessarily saturated with literary passages she does not actively engaged (what I would have called "quote dumping" in the work of a student), and offering development seemingly just when there's a male author to give comment. Already familiar with the sex industry of England, and having studied illicit narratives, laws governing English sexuality, and so forth, I had hoped to find either a broader history of sex as a whole (early fetish clubs, queer spaces, prostitution, and more), or more engaging anecdotes. In the end I think the subject is just too big for the limits of the volume.

54.
Title: Queer City
Author: Peter Ackroyd
Genre: Popular History
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: July 31, 2018
Rating: ***1/2

Another broad history, Peter Ackroyd's Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day similarly seeks to trace queer people and spaces through recorded history. Like Arnold's book, this offers limited space to a very large history, but Ackyrod balances the challenges of condensing his work much more succinctly, looking for laws, court proceedings, and notable figures to tell a larger history of queerness. Heavily balanced in favor of cis homosexual men, because these are the stories that have been recorded, the book makes the argument for homosexuality throughout the ages, and places real people in the cultural space better known to history. I did not love it, but would still recommend it as a decent introduction to the subject for any interested.

142Luxx
Aug 7, 9:05am Top

During one of our road trips this weekend I ended up having a conversation with my wife about why I disliked Catherine Arnold's Sexual History of London, and I found my snapshot of an offending passage in my phone. Unfortunately, I did not get the page number with it, but Arnold makes the claim that QE1 presided over a "most magnificent outpourin{g} of poetry and drama ever witnessed, in England or elsewhere, a considerable amount of which was composed by homosexual men." She then uses, exclusively, the example of Shakespeare, numerous times, and demonstrates her extensive lack of understanding of Renaissance culture, patronage, gender, and sexuality. She equates transvestism with being "transsexual," calling the Renaissance stage a "titillating mix" with "a plethora of transsexual teasing." Such boldface regurgitation of popular modern assumption rather than historical research and understanding is maddening.

Though without much depth, Ackroyd does a much better job at recognizing that queer people, transpeople, and performative identities existed looooong before we used these words for them, without falling into the normative trap of "it's something I don't understand so it's QUEER. I don't need proof!"

55.
Title: The Way of Shadows
Author: Brent Weeks
Genre: Fantasy
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: July 2018
Rating: Left off at page 151

I did not dislike Brent Weeks' fantasy story of an accomplished thief-turned-assassin, but it could never hold my attention, and I ended up reading several other things while this sat open on my shelf. I realized around page 150 that it was greatly reminiscent of the King-killer Chronicles, which I am listening to on audiobook, and I find the latter far more engrossing. So I returned it to the library for someone else to enjoy.

56.
Title: The Amityville Horror
Author: Jay Anson
Genre: Horror
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: August 7, 2018
Rating: ****

I first experience The Amityville Horror as a b-movie film series as a teenager, and it's one of the properties that made me fall in love with bad horror movies. I haven't seen them in well over a decade, but I still carry an excessive fondness for b-horror, and Amityville specifically. Oddly, I had difficulty finding the book in the library system, and it was only with my recent discovery of interlibrary loans that I managed to borrow a copy of Jay Anson's book - and boy howdy, am I glad I did.

It's awful. Just like the movie. I loved it.

The tone, content, and writing are all reminiscent of the choose-your-own-mystery horror books I read when I was eight, complete with all! The exclamation points! You could want! It is melodramatic and juvenile, pandering to social codes (i.e. the mother Kathy being concerned for the cleanliness of her house), and utterly ridiculous. I loved every page for being hugely silly.

143Berly
Aug 11, 7:22pm Top

"It's awful. Just like the movie. I loved it." Yes! Love that book and your review. : )

144Luxx
Aug 15, 8:20pm Top

>143 Berly: Ha! Thanks ;)

57.
Title: Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Historical Fiction
Medium: Hardback
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: August 14, 2018
Rating: ****

When I begged on social media for book recommendations, Outlander was a widely popular suggestion. this historical fiction, placing a mid-century nurse in eighteenth-century Scotland, has garnered quite a bit of attention in both its original representation, and as a television show (and, subsequently, increased enthusiasm for eighteenth-century costuming, pattern making, etc). I was cautious approaching this book, because I find it difficult to read historical fiction that attempts to be too historical - an inevitably fails, because stories for modern audiences carry modern ideas and lenses. The same was true of the early pages of Outlander, and I snob-scoffed at Claire's first movements and interactions in an unexpected place. This went triply-so for a gratuitous and ridiculous supernatural cameo that adds nothing to the plot .... And then the story went on. And as it did, characters developed and built and the narrative found a natural rhythm, and kept me engaged for over 600 pages. Before I knew it I was wrapping it up, in half the time it took me to slog through the series of 300-page flops I've read this summer. It really is quite charming, and I'm glad I gave in to peer pressure over this one.

145MickyFine
Aug 16, 1:59pm Top

>144 Luxx: Glad it was ultimately an enjoyable read for you, Luxx. The books get increasingly hefty but I'm so fond of the characters by now that I don't even mind.

146Berly
Aug 21, 12:54pm Top

I forgot where I left off in that series...number 4 or 5? I really should find out!

147LovingLit
Aug 22, 6:02am Top

>142 Luxx: I now have The Amityville Horror -film!- on my wishlist.

148Luxx
Aug 24, 10:06am Top

>147 LovingLit: It's a lovely (ridiculous) romp. I haven't seen the more modern remake, but I've seen three or four of the 1970s series. Enjoy!

>145 MickyFine: >146 Berly: It was much-needed. I am not so enthralled that I'm running out to get the whole series, but it's one I'll keep in mind the next time I hit a slump.

This week will be all DragonCon prep. I am speaking at the academic conference that takes place within DragonCon, and then performing with DragonCon burlesque. I'm very excited, but it means rehearsals of two sorts, and lots of travel for the weekend.

58.
Title: The Lady Eudora Henley
Author: Rosalarian
Genre: Erotic Comic
Medium: PDF
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: August 2018
Rating: ****

Recommended by an online friend, The Lady Eudora Henley is a self-published erotic comic by artist Rosalarian. The story follows a new Victorian newlywed as she accompanies her husband to the home of the notorious Lady Henley, whose husband is a business partner. There, the protagonist is introduced to bdsm and sapphic love, and will never be the same. I liked this book for several reasons, including the detail of foreground and background character development (no two are alike), and its devotion to showing both good/healthy relationships and abusive relationships in a narratively-sound and engaging way. It's a lovely little book, reasonably priced at $10, from an artist that seems to be worth supporting. I am grateful for the recommondation.

59.
Title: Soulless
Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: Steampunk
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: August 24, 2018
Rating: ****

A re-read of some old fun, necessary to distract myself from the awful events of the last week.

I feel like I've forgotten to list a few, so I'll probably be back soon with an "oh!" or two.

149Luxx
Sep 2, 5:04pm Top

60.
Title: The Hostile Hospital
Author: Lemony Snicket
Genre: YA
Medium: Kindle
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: September 2, 2018
Rating: **

Meh

61.
Title: Locke and Key
Author: Joe Hill
Genre: Horror comic
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Library
Date Completed: September 2, 2018
Rating: ****11/2

A beautiful and engaging little horror comic, that offers a twist on the haunted house motif. The illustrations are perfectly colored to fit the tone of the story, and the first volume offers a well-paced introduction that quickly moves the story forward, while maintaining an appropriate level of mystery and unknown. I am excited to move forward in the series to find out just what happens to the Locke family.

150Luxx
Sep 3, 8:35pm Top

62.
Title: Changeless
Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: Steampunk
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: September 2, 2018
Rating: ****

151Luxx
Sep 7, 9:57am Top

63.
Title: Blameless
Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: Steampunk
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: September 5, 2018
Rating: ****

152Whisper1
Sep 7, 10:44am Top

>44 Luxx: Hello Dear Aubrey.

I am headed to the library to see if I can obtain a copy of Down Among the Sticks and Bones.

I haven't been as active on LT as I would like. I retire from academia at the end of October. I can certainly understand your comment about leaving academia because of a bad situation. I am surprised that as the date growers nearer, it am resurrecting some very bad memories of jealousy by my co-workers. So many very hurtful comments that I thought I had put aside. I guess I am discovering more and more that when I am hurt badly, it get stored away, only to be resurrected and events that trigger the memories.

After winning an award that I thought reflected well on my performance in the department and brought recognition. Instead, I was told, when no one else was around to hear it, that I "simply didn't know my place!" The same critter told me that people were wondering why students kept in touch with ME!

I am saddened at this dark side of my personality that I still remember it 36 years later.

I hope your incident(s) were not as hurtful as mine.

153Berly
Sep 10, 12:22am Top

Luxx--You are on a Gail Carriger roll!! Must mean you like her stuff. Wishing you a great week ahead.

154Luxx
Sep 14, 2:40pm Top

64.
Title: Heartless
Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: Steampunk
Medium: Paperback
Acquisition: Purchased
Date Completed: September 2018
Rating: ****

>152 Whisper1: I wouldn't call it a dark side - it clearly hurt you, and that's difficult to let go. Congratulations on your pending retirement, and remember those "surprising" students who clearly keep in touch for good reasons.

>153 Berly: I do like a lot of her steampunky stuff, and it's a series of comfort reading re-reads for me. The truth of it is that my best friend of twenty years died of cancer three weeks ago, and so I'm finding comfort where I can. I've been struggling, so my head space isn't right for a lot of challenging reading. The escapism has been good for me.

I had a very therapeutic tattoo appointment this week. In fond remembrance of my friend I got Granny Weatherwax's hat on my forearm; the two of us were always a bit of a Weatherwax/Ogg duo, and so it suits. We also mutually love Pratchett, and it's as much for him as her.

I also had Sappho's "Fragment 38" tattooed on my left hand. It felt quite bold to do, but also right, as it's a poem I've long loved, and one that my wife and I have adopted as "ours." I hate waiting the week for tattoos to heal, but I'm so glad to now have them.

Oh, what else has been going on. Conferencing, which is good. Final final edits on a journal article and book chapter, which should all come about in short order. Oh! I should be defending my prospectus soon, which means I'm finally going to be able to move on to my dissertation writing proper. And I am performing in four shows in October, and vending at a fifth, which is very fun for me.

Thanks for popping in to say hello. :) I hope you have beautiful weekends!

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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