07 November 2014 @ 08:27 pm
Books Round-up: November 1  

Hornby, Nick: Funny Girl
The lives and exploits of comedy wireless and TV writers in the sixties. This part of the book I adored- the characters were believable and lovable, the plot funny and engaging. I was not too keen on their last hurrah in the 2000ies, but I can see the merits of this ending.


London, Jack: White Fang
Doesn't everybody want to be Weedon Scott? I remember reading this when I was around ten and disliking it because there were hardly any female characters who interacted with White Fang, while my experience with my household and raising dogs was that most of the work was done by my mother-the-hunter and grandmother, though that was mostly due to the fact that my granddad, also a hunter, was a disabled WWII veteran.
I love White Fang and the dignity Jack London lends to his animal characters, though White Fang's body count is a bit worrying. I'm also not convinced that a dog as badly mistreated as White Fang would recover so quickly, but who can resist this scene:
"What of his joy, the great love in him, ever surging and struggling to express itself, succeeding in finding a new mode of expression. He suddenly thrust his head forward and nudged his way in between the master’s arm and body."


Katja Schwarz, Katja; Trost, Rainer: Kinder Und Jugendliche Mit Autismus-Spektrum-Storung: Neue Wege Durch Die Schule
A lot of the content of this book weren't really news, but it was an interesting overview of the more specific needs of children with Asperger's. I'm very pleased to note that a lot of the things mentioned as helpful in this book are things that I already do, since I consider clear language and structure to be something that most students find very beneficial.
Other things (replacing oral with written assignments, for example) I found less helpful for my subject (languages - you do have to talk sometimes, and the kids with Asperger's I teach right now hate writing and love speaking (it's the language they speak on Star Trek!) or don't mind it).
Still, I was very glad to be reminded of the basics again and be able to recheck whether I was still sticking to things that are helpful for students with this symptom and that make my classes safe for them.


Kaling, Mindy: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
As someone who neither watches SNL nor The Office it surprised me how much I still enjoyed this biography.


Frau Freitag, Frl. Krise: Der Altmann ist tot
This was a very slow crime novel in which two teachers who usually work at a school in a multicultural and "difficult" part of Berlin solve the murder of a sleazy colleague of theirs. They are helped by former students, friends, boyfriends, and whole lot of "coincidences" that make this book very hard to buy.
As usual, they get the language students use spot on and it is funny, but especially during their various dress-up games they're less convincing than The Three Investigators (which might be a German thing? Does any one else remember the three investigators and their disguise shenanigans...?). I dis not buy it. Their attempts at sleuthing are fumbled and its a miracle they don't get in more trouble than they do, the resolution is foreseeable.
They also treat a close friend ("Onkel Ali") pretty exploitatively, using him as bait for one of their plots and then teaching him how to "be Turkish" to get rid a suspects unwanted romantic advances, and since they're middle-class Germans with German ancestors this seems... off.


Sprenger, Marilee: Damit was hängen bleibt
Nothing entirely new in these seven steps for more effective learning, and the examples don't really fit my subjects and generally always require more prep-time than I have for any classroom I teach in, but the general gist is helpful and presented in a motivating way. I can't see any of this implemented any time soon, though, as long as everything in our work depends entirely on every person's individual intrinsic motivation to do better than before and does not come with regular team meetings - at least at my school. Innovating alone surely isn't effective.


Maitland, Karen: The Vanishing Witch
Was alright. I didn't really get that attached to the characters living in the city, but did feel for the rebels.


Carey, M. R.: The Girl With All the Gifts
The zombie apocalypse from the point of view of a gifted pre-teen. Who could resist! The characters all make sense and are complex and compassionately portrayed, with their flaws and motivations.
The resolution of the book was fitting with the premise of the book, but really depressing. As always in a zombie apocalypse setting it isn't advisable to get too attached to the characters, but as always, I did, anyway.
Also, to the end, I wasn't sure who to root for, whose new beginning to hope for in this end of the world.


Mats; Bergmark Elfgren, Sara: Feuer
I'm a hopelessly devoted fan. Developed female teenage characters with believable flaws and interactions and insecurities and strength and growth who continue to be badass. And have magic. And save the world. While struggling with school and parents.Read more... )


Strandberg, Mats; Bergmark Elfgren, Sara: Schlüssel
Back in Engelsfors, the remaining Circle witches are still busy trying to stop the apocalypse. Can they trust the strange forces trying to protect them? What about the Council, can they be trusted after all when they offer help? It is engaging enough for me to keep reading so as to finish it in two sittings and is still as character-driven as the first two instalments.Read more... )
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
Current Mood: okay
31 October 2014 @ 08:02 pm
Books round-up: October  

Heppermann, Christine: Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty
Feminist fairy tale poetry, a really enjoyable combination. The subjects often address issues of body image and self-worth as well as eating disorders, sometimes a little unsubtle, often times enjoyable through the lens of fairy tales. Some experiences are too US America specific to resonate with me, others seem truly universal.


Abedi, Isabel: Isola
Only read this book if its in your library, or don't, because you already know it and the cardboard characters never really come to life.Read more... )


Rothfuss, Patrick: The Slow Regard of Silent Things
More later, I have to reread this a couple of times to savour it. For now: The only thing that spoiled my reading experience of this beautiful volume was the author's constant need to apologise for this story which isn't run-off-the-mill and normal. This is incredible to me, and wrong - more of an apology would be needed for a story that is yet again the same as any other story.
This wasn't, and it was beautiful. I could have done without the frame story of Auri waiting for Kvothe, as I'd have loved to hear more about her time before the beginning of the plot of the Kingkiller Chronicle and her relationship with the masters. As it is, it remains a charming and saddening insight into her wonderous world in the belly of the university.


Snicket, Lemony: Shouldn't You be in School?
I really enjoy this new series, though not as much as I did the ASoUE.


Jung, Marius: Singen können die alle!: Handbuch für Negerfreunde
Sometimes cynical, sometimes funny account of racism in Germany by a black comedian. He talks about his youth growing up as the black child of white middle class parents, his experiences as an actor in a country that still doesn't really realise not all of its inhabitants are whitee and white wannabe saviours.
I don't agree with the fact that political correctness is a bad thing, though I agree that it should not be the only underlying reason for changing one's behaviour.


Harris, Joanne: Gospel of Loki
I like this modern version of the Lokabrenna, which works as a prequel to Runemarks, though some details are different. The contemporary phrases that crop up annoyed me vaguely to the and I didn't see their point. They didn't endear the characters to me, if that was the idea.
Loki is as entertaining and human and as a prequel he couldn't have been much different, though I'd really like to see a Loki that does not suffer from this civilising softening. It makes us understand the characters as humans, but in their original context they were different, revered as forces of nature and arbiters of life a and death. they were also human, of course, but they were still fundamentally different. The difference seems to have home lost and turns gods into powerful mortals, superheroes. In the words of the novel, named and tamed.


Strandberg, Mats; Bergmark Elfgren, Sara: Zirkel
This is the first book in a long, looong time that I found that is:
1.) centred more or less exclusively on female teenaged characters,
2.) whose main plot isn't a love plot,
3.) who don't get raped.
Read more... )


Elsberg, Marc: Zero
The book seems more hurried and breathless than
his last one and less convincing. It is still an entertainingly fast-paced thriller, but the plot has its holes. Especially the random underground chases in Vienna and New York were too much, and while the concerns it raises about tech and choice are valid, it doesn't always do that in a very subtle way. I am also not overly keen on the ableism and the way neuroatypical people are portrayed here.


Carey, Jaqueline: Kushiel's Dart
I really enjoyed this book, and the world, and the fact that there was not as much slut-shaming and whorephobia as might have been expected in a book in which the main protagonist is a prostitute. The world's religious system is believable and interesting and the characters lovable. I don't recall it passing the Bechdel test, but there are several strong female characters and some of them are queer.
I did not like that there are no romantic relationships between women, hardly any sadistic or dominant women, no sadistic/dominant women who aren't evil, no romantic relationships that aren't heterosexual. One toe outside the box and then straight back in


Boie, Kirsten: Ringel, Rangel, Rosen
Read more... )


Beagle, Peter S.; Gillis, Peter; De Liz, Renae; Dillon, Ray: The Last Unicorn
I have to admit that I've only read the book two or three times and have seen the movie version so often that I have no memory of how well the book version translates into the movie, which is one of my favourites. So I was not so much worried about the book as I was about my memories of the movie, but it translates, as I suppose this book does into all possible media. The short passages of text seem well-chosen, although as I mentioned I don't remember the text well-enough to judge, but my gut says they are.
The artwork is stunningly beautiful and I could stare at some of those panels for hours. The one thing that bugged me was that Schmendrick and Molly have undergone a serious makeover and the way the human unicorn looks is scary because she is so thin.


Brosgol, Vera: Anya's Ghost
I heard from this via Graphic Novels 4 Girls and really liked it. Anya and the difficulties she faces as a Russian immigrant ring true, although it is strange to me that she doesn't speak Russian at home, though I do understand that would be inconvenient for story purposes. I'd have liked seeing more interactions between Siobhan and Anya, but I can see that it wouldn't have fit into this very compact tale.
I was also positively surprised by this graphic novel as a graphic novel - it's good to see that there are diverse and positive role-models for younger girls at least, even though I find it hard to see the same applying to the "mature" end of this genre, which features gratuitous boob and gore panels more than truly mature topics.


Green, John: Looking for Alaska
The over-the-top love that my students have for this book shows me that I'm probably missing out. But I just don't understand it. I see very interchangeable, uninteresting characters involved in things that I, as a teenager, would have had no interest or part in in their situation because it seems designed to make things worse for them (no matter how bored or depressed, taking up drinking and smoking was never that attractive to me). Though the signs of characters' mental health issues are there in places, they don't ring true to me. The romance plot is superficial and only shows once more how mundanely boring "Pudge" is.


König, Tim: Ich bin ein Kunde, holt mich hier raus
I'm so embarrassed to have read that, even though I did get the audiobook at a very reduced price. It's really bad.
Read more... )


Pratchett, Terry: Dragons at Crumbling Castle.
Adorable short stories presented in a way that I can see children liking as much as adult fans.
Current Mood: happy
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
30 September 2014 @ 12:14 am
Books round-up: September  

Vernon, Ursula: Dragonbreath
I bought this because I like Ursula Vernon's drawing style and thought this might be fun to have in our class library for my ESL students. While the drewings did not disappoint I'm not sure that my ESL students will understand the language well enough for them to be reading this book, and the ones who do might find this a bit too juvenile. The ones old enough to have past the mortal coolness threshold would benefit from trickier stuff, so I am not sure what to do with this apart from giving it to my wife, who adores all dragons.


Lowry, Lois: The Giver.
The experience of reading about this dystopian future of a society which has embraced Sameness and assigned spouses, children and jobs and a very strictly regulated, safe life devoid of choices ages well.
I think it makes sense that I loved it when I was eleven, but I am not sure that my students would still enjoy it as much as I did. I'm also very apprehensive about the movie adaptation, because Jonas looks quite a bit older in that one, so I am rather sure that Gabe did not make the cut and they'll focus more on Jonas and his budding lust for Fiona.


Harris, Joanne: Runemarks.
Completely blew my mind in some parts and bored me in others. What a wild, unpredictable ride! The characters were fun, though I didn't really far for those not Maddy, Loki, Skadi or Hel. I didn't like Maddy's relationship with her believed biological faster, it seemed too distant to be entirely realistic to me. I'm also not too find about the axe someone seems to have tho grind with Christianity.


Kirkman, Robert and Moore, Tony: The Walking Dead Vol.1: Days Gone Bye.
You probably have to like comic books to get like this. In this one, zombies and people with breasts or with muscles do things that ordinary people with intact brains (living or dead) most likely wouldn't do.
The artists don't look at women the way they do at men. Men have various looks and have diverse features, women have large breasts and make-up in spite of the apocalypse (no, female eyes don't naturally look like that). They can't draw fat women worth a damn, too, but, er, points for trying. All in all you get 2D male characters and 1D female characters (with DD breasts, though). You also a really oddly placed gratuitous sex scenes out of nowhere with full-page female nude panels and female characters reflecting on the fact that she is only staying with her partner because he's so good at sex. Sure, sure.
So, all in all, you get the picture of
the target audience is and why I'm not it. If something contains enough sex and gore to make the target audience adults I expect the content to be more mature, too, and less concerned with "Yay, boobs!" or "Cor, all the brains are gooing out! Yeuch!".
All in all, I'm fairly surprised, butt his has nowhere near the depth or emotional impact of Telltale's rendition, something which I also missed in the TV series.


Gaiman, Neil and Vess, Charles: Instructions
I love this poem, and I really enjoy the illustrated version.


Pritchard, John: Going to church: a user's guide.
Interesting tidbits on the stages of faith, and the different kinds of vicars and churches.


Kerman, Piper: Orange is the new Black.
I like the non-dramatic nature of this account. What does bother me still is that it takes this white middle class woman to make people care about the prison system and prison life. I can't BELIEVE what they did to Piper's and Pennsatucky's relationship in the TV series, for example. It makes much  more sense in the book.
I also loved the chapter on Mother/Daughter surrogate constellations in prison because that sort of bonded hierarchy is very in keeping with what I've observed in (obviously far less restrictive) women-only groups."
I'm not surprised, but still confused why the TV series would eroticise and dramatize Piper Kerman's stay to this extent. Of course lesbian sex sells, but if it wasn't part of Kerman's day-to-day reality in prison the way it is in TV OITNB, why force it in?


Ngozi Adichie, Chimamanda: Americanah.
I had a long review written for this, but it disappeared. The short version: Culture, continents, integration, finding yourself and race in Africa vs. race in the USA, this book had everything. I didn't really like the ending, which I found a little too convenient, but overall, it is a great read.


Vermes, Timur: Er ist wieder da (and Christoph Maria Herbst as a narrator)
In this critical comedy Hitler is back in 2011 and finds fans on YouTube and on TV. This is a dangerous book, although I think that it does nail certain trends that do open people up to extreme movements and how prone people still are to fall for rhetorically clever extremism that is not too on the nose and can blend in.
It's also not unhelpful to see that people you find funny can be responsible for horrible, terrible crimes. I would like to believe that this helps people to realise that you have to have a differentiated, critical view and really listen instead of making but based blanket statements of "Vegetarians who like children can't do wrong", "I've known that guy all my life he would never" up to "well maybe it wasn't all bad".
However, in the current climate that glorifies villains and their sop stories to explain away their crimes and instead swerved to humanize the criminal and take away any focus on the victims, who often stay faceless.


Wiedmann, Anna and Daniel: Fuck you, Kita!: Eine unglaublich wahre Geschichte.
Teacher and person doing "something with media" have a child, search for a place in one of the kindergartens, find out what a hassle that is and how crazy kindergartens can be these days, and recont episodes of their daily lives as new parents.
Read more... )


Rowell, Rainbow: Fangirl
Shy young woman goes to colleague, is shy, finds friends delivered to her dorm room, meets young men, falls for young man, dates young man. Oh and also she's a twin and her father's mentally ill and her mother left her when she was eight. I really enjoyed those second bits about the main character befriending her much more interesting roomie, or the complex relationship she has with her absent mother, or her twin. I did not enjoy (read before) fanfic, which sadly showed up too much for my liking. Or the bits about her love life.
Read more... )


Benni-Mama: Große Ärsche auf Kleinen Stühlen
The mother of toddler talks about her attempts at trying to provide her son with one of the rare places in Berlin's kindergartens. She only succeeds in getting him into a Kinderladen, the kindergarten of a parents' initiative who funded their own. There, she encounters helicpoter parents, parents overly invested in their children's diet, as she puts it: "The only normal people in a kindergarten are the children." It's meant to be funny, and is, but the gender norms are really scary. If this book can be trusted, the default is still that the mums are the ones that bear the brunt of the work.


Bridges, Robert (ed.) Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Complete Poems
I have to admit that I skipped the platonic dialogue. This is a very readable edition of the poems which I had hoped would feature more annotations.
Read more... )


Wales: A Nation in Verse.
To start of with something positive: this collection of poems has the always pleasing Welsh dragon on its cover.
Read more... )
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
31 August 2014 @ 11:30 pm
Books round-up: August  

Frost, Toby: Space Captain Smith
It was... overall ok, really. You will most likely enjoy this book if you already like action comedies and using the words "romp" and "tongue in cheek". I don't, really, so I didn't. The British Space Empire parts were a fun premise, but the cardboard characters didn't deliver, for me. Also, I didn't get all the pop culture references, which I didn't think mattered that much, though. I don't think that pop culture references alone don't necessarily make things funny. The humour also wasn't always right for me- I don't think "does my butt look big in this?" is always funny, for one.
I don't like books that are trying hard to be funny, and this one did. The unrealistic action scenes were funny, but too over-the-top, some of the main character's convictions on being right about things like the inferiority of female characters and entities or their role weren't dealt with as funnily as the author may have intended. Complex characters this book doesn't have, but I still found myself caring about them enough to finish the book.


Healy, Christopher: The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle.
Crocky and I were reading this together and liked the unexpectedly complex characters, especially Briar was a pleasant surprise. The mixture between very PG-friendly lack of graphic detail and the violence getting stronger was a bit strange, because it is not likely that everybody survived the violence they encountered, but we aren't shown any of the dead bodies and there are no described corpses or dead bodies, so there's that. The various love stories bumble along, but they stay interesting.


Gier, Kerstin: Silber: Das Zweite Buch der Träume.
Crocky and I listened to thsi together, and did finish it, but it was extremely boring, and the heroine suffers from loss of intelligence ever since she got together with her equally boring boyfriend.
My favourite example is the part in the book in whcih she believes someone to be in grave danger and it would be sensible for her to go and warn someone, at least the next day, but she completely forgets about it for two chapters because her boyfriend shows up. Her


Gier, Kerstin: Silber: Das Erste Buch der Träume.
This book read like the premise for a very boring, very bad teenage het-romance story written by somebody who can write well but who can't write interesting characters. It was entertaining, Kerstin Gier certainly can write and knows her teenagers, but there are a lot of flaws. The short version: the way she is Not Like All Those Other Girls while not only being Exactly Like Those Other Girls, and also being One Of The Guys while berating other girls to backstab other girls. Also, all the male characters are assholes and don't treat her with the respect they'd give one of their own group.
Read more... )


Abdel-Fattah, Randa: Does My Head Look Big In This?
This novel detailing a "hyphenated Australian" teenager's experiences while wearing the hijab full time and her life in general offered me an interesting insight into multi-cultural Australia in the early 2000ies. I don't know much about this topic and the stories I'd heard before mostly detailed how horrid everything is for non-Anglo immigrants and especially for indigenous people.
Refreshingly, the author writes believable teenage girls that differ from each other in more than just one describing adjective (the NERDY one, the RELIGIOUS one, etc.). Many authors who write about teenagers can learn a LOT from this book, especially most of the insipid Fantasy romance types whose characters fall into this category.


Healy, Christopher: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.
This fairytale retelling mash-up of the stories of several Princes Charming won't change middle grade literature, but it's fun, will most likely be enjoyed by some the (rather younger) target demographic, and had us chuckling.
Read more... )
31 July 2014 @ 11:25 pm
Books round-up: July  

Robinson, James A., Acemoğlu, Daron: Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty.
It's makes its main points, "democracy and a certain level of centralisation are important for success" and "extractive regimes cause nations to fail" over almost 500 pages, with many examples. I enjoyed it, overall, and I believed it, though I am not knowledgeable enough to fact-check the economy behind it all.
Towards the end, it seemed to grow tame, too. I'd have wanted a more detailed insight into the US and other western states, because though the book keeps making the point that extractive regimes lead to the downfall of a nation, nowhere does it take the plunge and say what else these regimes can look like and that they don't need to be governments. It seems pretty clear that if you look at the US in the right light, the very companies who shrotlisted it as their book of the year have an awful lot in common with the extractive people causing the poverty in millions throughout history.


Davis, Lindsey: Enemies at Home
I liked the last Flavia Albia mystery and this one was no exception. Even though the solution to the crime is not entirely unexpected the characters really grow on me. The outlook that slaves in Rome could expect is expectedly bleak and the characters react as unsympathetically as one might expect, though this is hard to bear especially from the main characters (especially coming from Flavia I'd have hoped more, though that, in turn, would not have been realistic, I suppose).


Levy, Michael: Kosher Chinese: Living, Teaching, and Eating with China's Other Billion
As "Western person travels to "exotic" location and writes about it" books go, this was a good one. I'm neither very familiar with Jewish culture in the US nor rural Chinese culture, and the book offered both. The cultural divide and the difficulties the characters met bridging them were fascinating as well.


Peters, Julie Anne: Lies my girlfriend told me
I really wanted to like this book, but can't. I think that under the right circumstances, say, if you were a very middle-class US-American female teenager and had had a struggle with coming out, then that makes sense. A lot of the issues Alix faces are informed by her background and upbringing and drove me nuts. (Why does she say she "deserves" a car? If she wants a car so badly, why can't she be bothered to even research cars she thinks would be good herself?).
The parts at the beginning of the book in which Alix is still trying to figure out what happened to her girlfriend are interesting to read, after finding a new fling things get old. Thirty pages on it just gets cheesy and after that I just stopped caring, though I did finish it.
The preachy parts about coming out and The Gay Experience I could have done without, but I suppose in a different mindset I might have appreciated them.


Lo, Malinda: Huntress.
Maybe it's because I listened to this as an audiobook, but I could never really get into the characters the way I did in "Ash". I enjoyed the world building and the plot as ever, and the style and words make this book definitely worth the read.
30 June 2014 @ 11:08 pm
Books round-up: June  

Giles, Lamar: Fake ID.
I really love that there are more YA books around with lead characters who aren't all white, but this one still left things to be desired for me.
It was a bit difficult to see past the sexy-lamp-female characters whose main motivation is often looking good for the guys. The main character also has the issue that he's said to have certain traits and doesn't really show them, and the big reveal of the main twist also fell a bit flat.


de la Pena, Matt: The Living
There none of the two female characters pass the sexy lamp test. Some of the things that happen are also a tad too convenient and the book reads as though it really wants to be an action movie. Still, I read it while wandering around in Munich, and it works. I am looking forward to the sequel, hoping that the female characters in the book will also get their chance to shine.
It's really refreshing to see a main character who is not white and whose background informs his character and many of his decisions without the entire story being about his race. He's also not the only PoC in the novel, there are a diverse cast.


McKinley, Robin: Beauty.
I like McKinley's world, and her heroines. I did not like that "beauty" really must end up beautiful because there can't be any non-beautiful heroines anywhere ever. I also didn't like the invisible servants, or the continued proposing, even though that, of course, is there also in the original.


McKinley, Robin: The Hero and the Crown.
I should have read this book when I was a lot younger, I would have really loved it. I love that the heroine has to work to get where she wants, and I was happy to revisit the world of The Blue Sword.


Lo, Malinda: Ash.
What drew my interest was the beautiful cover and the heterocentric pearl-clutching I'd seen over this online over bisexual Cinderella. It's as though some people were shaken down to their fundamental because this wasn't the "Original" fairy tale. Given the fact that fairy tales are an oral tradition and versions tend to vary wildly this is a pretty strange outlook, and it got odder. Apparently even today Disney's Cinderella is many people's romantic dream. Well, good for them, they've got their billion-dollar-franchise, and now those whom Cinderella doesn't fit have this book.
I liked the beautiful style, the bisexual characters, that same-sex couples exist, that it has strong female characters and even occasionally people who communicate. I enjoyed what the author does with the fairy world, the dreaded love triangle, the fact that there are characters who take the initiative and have plans.
I didn't like the plot holes and moments in which characters went off the rails and acted in unexplained and plainly odd ways that didn't seem in keeping with traits established earlier.
31 May 2014 @ 07:20 pm
Book round-up: May  

Charlton-Trujillo, E.E.: Fat Angie
I adore the voice of the main character Angie, as I shared some of her experiences, but I hated the way she is treated by other characters. Her romance with K. C. Romance seemed a bit over the top, but I liked that she finds love. The book tackles a lot of complex and dangerous issues - abuse, eating disorders, bullying, self-harm, depression, broken families, attempted suicide - and its always in danger of being too much, but it worked for me, and I think it'd probably work for teenagers and does show that people deal with pain in different ways.


Donovan, Anne: Being Emily
I loved this book, though I find it hard to pinpoint why. We watch the heroine Fiona O'Donnell become obsessed with Emily Bronte and grow up until her world is all but shattered by the death of her mother in childbirth. Her father breaks down and turns to drinking, and she has to be the responsible adult in the family. We see her get back to her feet, find love, have her heart broken, and get back to herself as an artist. 
The narrator's beautiful rendition of the Weegie accent made me feel right at home and has a lot to do with why I loved this book.


McKinley, Robin: The Blue Sword.
No huge love plot, no rape, racism, interesting world building. I love the characters in this book. They have motivations and limitations, they have thoughts and agendas and plots. The one thing that I'd have appreciated is a bit more detail on the fancy swordfighting the main character so effortlessly learns, I didn't quite buy that anyone would get so effortlessly good at something as intricate, but this is only a minor gripe.
What I loved especially is the complete absence of sexual violence and the fact that this fantasy book manages to get by without graphic sexual violence, you so rarely see that, and mostly without a love plot, though the main character is female.
What I'm no a big fan of is the colonialism and racism. I'm not sure why we need a saviour with a white background from the coloniser's country.


Zeh, Julie: Corpus Delicti. Ein Prozess.
A very understated and quiet novel with believable main characters (though German authors might want to pick up a dictionary of names and browse anything but the letter "m") in a dystopian society based around hygiene and health, with a government which outlaws all health-threatening behaviours and has something like mandatory sports requirement, the skipping of which is punishable.
Our heroine Mia, a biologist working for the government and in full support of The Method, has to make up her mind about her position in the totalitarian system when her brother is killed for subverting the system and having someone pin the murder and rape of a young girl he was seing on him.


Fforde, Jasper: The Well of Lost Plots
Quick, count on your fingers the number of pregnant heroines. I'm coming up with one, and she's a character in a novel by Terry Pratchett.


Fforde, Jasper: Lost in a Good Book
I really love the Thursday Next series and this book was now exception. The book has it all: strong female characters, interesting plot twists, and excellent world building. It's funny and entertaining and I'm already on to the sequel.
30 April 2014 @ 07:12 pm
Book round-up: April  

Westerfield, Scott: Cutters
I still enjoy reading about Shay, still don't enjoy the artworks unoriginality.


Westerfield, Scott: Uglies: Shay's Story.
The story presented in this book is fine and interseting, and most of the problems I have with this novel are down to the art work.
I don't have very high expectations of the vast majority of people regarding female characters, even less so for the ones creating graphic novels (Why? Escher Girls). This book is in keeping with that. There aren't a lot of changes from "ugly" characters to surgically prettified characters, and while this is in keeping with the concept of "ugliness" introduced in that world, but I would have expected more diverse characters, and, since we're at it, truly ugly people. It can't be that difficult to draw ugly people, most artists seem to manage drawing ugly men just fine.


Summers, A.K.: Pregnant Butch
Interesting read dealing with some of the thoughts that I have about pregnancy. I'm not presenting butch a lot, but that does not mean that I am dying to be lumped in with the pink soft femmy world that is expecting these days.


Westerfield, Scott: Specials.
I would have really liked a happy ending for Tally and Shay, sad that that was not to be.


Stoker, Bram: Dracula
A band of believable, different and likeable characters interacting in believable ways, using communication and Science(TM), Supernatural Powers as well as Cutting Edge Technology(TM) to achieve their aims in defeating a very complex, intelligent and interesting Big Bad. This is the grandfather of all vampire stories and I thought I would hate it. Then I read it for a Gothic Novel course at uni and fell in love. Not only with Action!Willhelmina or her host of weeping men, but also with the complexity and transgressiveness of Dracula.


Westerfield, Scott: Pretties
The second part of Scott Westerfeld's dystopian unrealistic beauty standards series. A character from the first part becomes Turned into a pretty superhuman form of themselves and fight the anticipated and unanticipated effect this transformation have.
We encounter a trapped warlike tribal hunter-childminder/cook society with rigidly binary gender roles. In which part the book gets preachy in spite of the double standards shown within the world of the Pretties. In which there seems to be a whole lot of imbalance when it comes to the description of who does beautification surgeries, in descriptions of looks in general, in distribution of ugly main characters/love interests, etc.- which still points to the fact that if female and "ugly", you need to be at least called "beautiful" by your loved one while you can get away with being considered bootfaced by your loved one if you are an "ugly" male character in the novelverse (which can be explained away within the world, mostly, however).
Again the main conflicts are between female characters, but the degree to which they are about male love interests strikes me as overdone regardless of the fact that most of them are teenaged. Again a fun read, less interesting world building, and plotting, however. Our heroine is just a bit too lucky, all things considere


Westerfield, Scott: Uglies.
The demands to conform with media-dictated unrealistic beauty standards taken to an extreme: This dystopian teen novel features female action heroine Tally Youngblood who lives in a society in which everybody undergoes drastic cosmetic surgery procedures at 16. They do this enhance their biological features and become a Pretty, the rite of initiation in a society in which pre-surgery Uglies count for nothi
The book passes both Sexy Lamp and the Bechdel test. It also has a slightly tacked-on love triangle and strange social dynamics. Refreshingly, the central conflicts in the books are all between female characters, while all the alliances sadly seem to be between the main character Tally and her love interests. The word building leaves things to be desired, but glosses over this fact due to being told from the limited POV of the main character. Still, an entertaining read.


Fforde, Jasper: The Eyre Affair.
Jane Eyre is one of my favourite classics, Wales is my favourite country, Fantasy is my favourite genre, it is a miracle to me that it took me so long to discover this book.
Humorous Fantasy is difficult because its often trying too hard and not particularly funny or crude, this one isn't, the main character is a very believable and female, there is a love plot, but its a mild one, it's got a world in which everybody is as invested in literature as people are in things like sports and movies today, and it reads like paradise (I don't think there's many places on our earth today in which you can strike up conversations with Inn receptionists about which of Chaucer's works they liked best).


Fermer, David: The Pit.
The standards for original stories aimed at ESL students are extremely low, I'll give you that, and by that standard this book is excellent. It's well-paced, engaging, has very short chapters and a vocabulary section in the back. The language is simple, but still evocative. The characters could have done with more nuance, but they will likely still engage students.
Seen as a novel, however, I quickly became frustrated not only with the fact that it just barely passes the Sexy Lamp test and the status-quo-upholding ending that... doesn't really feel as though anything much has been accomplished. The characters don't develop, the dystopian world is still dystopian, and the rather heavy subjects that the book barely hints at are also not unpacked but sort of nonchalantly glossed over (eugenics, forced labour, race, classism, etc.)
I find it difficult to decide at this point if this is intentional to leave us teachers room to make up our own endings with our students or if this just fell prey to the common problem of the genre.


Swindells, Robert: Abomination.
I read this book because I'm on the lookout for a book to read with my students and this seemed like a good choice. It has very good characters, an interesting story, though the ending left me a bit frustrated. It is very realistic and you cannot expect non-adult characters to make adult choices, but it still left me wanting things to be different for them.
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
Current Mood: okay
31 March 2014 @ 06:30 pm
Books - March  

Graves, Ranke: I, Claudius.
Ever since I borrowed this book from [ profile] angie_21_237's family it's had a special place in my heart, and I reread it every couple of years. Though I am not overly fond of Claudius himself I enjoy reading about Livia, and our trip to Rome was motivated a lot by my interest in this extraordinary woman.


Snicket, Lemony: When did you see her last?
I still find this series much less accessible than the A Series of Unfortunate Event. I also don't have as much patience for obtuseness because I am not reading this series all in one go as I did ASoUE, so I find it much harder to remember plot points from the last novel, and also am not invested in the characters enough yet to reread. The Beaudelaire orphans certainly kept my interest more.


Fey, Tina: Bossypants
Funny and entertaining biography by the ever-talented Tina Fey.


Davis, Lindsey:The Ides of April (Flavia Albia 1)
Ok crime story with ok twist, strong female characters and enjoyable romp through Rome. The one thing that I would have liked even more is to leave the Aventine behind this time and spend more time at other places. Still, the diverse host of characters (deaf people! mentally disabled people! black people! gay people! butch female people!) are enthralling, entertaining, and think this is worth a recommendation.


Binnie, Imogen: Nevada.
There are hardly any book about trans women out there, and this is one of them. I find it hard to write about it because i wanted to like it so much and didn't like it as much as I expected. It left me feeling rather hopeless and sad for the main character, because her future has such a bleek outlook. I loved that it was, for once, not a coming out novel. Still, it has engaging and lifelike characters, even though they make me sad.
28 February 2014 @ 05:00 pm
Book Round-up: February  

Rowling, J.K.: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Crocky and I are probably not the best fans considering how little we've actually been reading the books ever since the last movies came out. Sure, I've certainly flicked through them occasionally, but the last time the two of us read a book together was when DH came out. I love reading with her.


Pratchett, Terry: Dodger
I really wanted to like this book. I don't. And ... I don't know what to say. I judge this author by much higher standards than any other, anyway, because his books meant and mean so much to me.They have a huge influence on how I see the world, their humanism and underlying optimism inherent especially in his late eighties and nineties books changed me and how I see people forever and made me a much happier person.
Sadly, somewhere around, oh, it may have been around Thud!, that seems to have gone lost forever and taken over more and more by the mandatory cynical grittiness that are apparently a mandatory hallmark to achieve depth these days. Dodger... I was scared of this book. There were many possibilities and pitfalls, and... it just doesn't work. The characters don't, the Dickensianism... also sort of doesn't, the historical figures didn't. Oh, and that love plot, too, but there aren't many love plots that I'd ever consider entirely necessary, so. Shame -there are many things that could have worked if he'd picked a different main character instead of writing Harry King's biography in Dickens' London.


Davis, Lindsey: The Silver Pigs
Private Eyes in Vespasian's Rome, strong female characters, a walk through the underbelly of the Aventine, a fun read.


Goldacre, Ben: Bad Science
Re-listening after finishing Bad Pharma.


Galbraith, Robert: The Cuckoo's Calling
A very decent crime story by an not entirely unknown Scottish author who's shown before that they can do plots, and didn't disappoint here.
I liked the characters, I didn't like the moment when our sleuth tells the murderer what they'd done and they never actually confess or say much to agree or disagree with the sleuth's version. It seems strange that anybody would sit and listen at length to someone laying out what happened without any input from them, but this is a gripe I have with many crime novels with sleuths.
Current Mood: cheerful
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
31 December 2013 @ 09:37 pm
Book Challenge 2013  
Book challenge 2013 round-up. I seriously hope that my editor will allow me to post this without empty lines.

50 books this year )

Half-assed statistics:
Male Authors: 28
Female Authors: 22
New books: 35
Old books: 15
01 June 2013 @ 01:31 pm
Book challenge  

Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
Con artist Moist von Lipwig is pardoned, in a way, by Lord Vetinari who asks him to run the Ankh-Morpork post, which may or may not turn out more dangerous than the hanging he just avoided.
I book would have been around 300% better if it had been about Adora instead of Moist, but it's still fun to watch him run around.


The Truth, by Terry Pratchett.
Two dwarves and a human start an Ankh Morpork newspaper together.
I'm here mostly for the dwarves, not too big a fan of William de Worde, though it's an interesting attempt of showing someone overcoming privilege. Not entirely successful, but cookie points apply.
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
Current Mood: bouncy
20 May 2013 @ 02:48 am
Book: Scriber  

Ben S. Dobson, Scriber
A Fantasy story about medically trained historian Scriber Dennon Lark who is living in the country after destroying a priceless religious artefact and losing the trust of the Academy. When people under a zombie-like-influence attack several villages, Cpt. Bryndine Errynson fetches him to investigate the past of their kingdom and the origin of the strange influence.
I have not finished this book yet, but I'm in love. Bryndine is a miracle. She is a strong, masculine, tall, a trained soldier, gruff and vulnerable and amazing. Both characters are flawed and I can't remember when I've been as impressed by a character as I am by Bryndine, though presented with burly soldier girls whom the author doesn't instantly turn into someone wanting to bone the male lead I'm easy to please and quite excitable. And this book is not too expensive, the Kindle edition comes at under $4!
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
Current Mood: hopeful
Current Music: Guided by Voices: Queen of Cans and Jars
18 May 2013 @ 02:04 am
Book Challenge  
Read a lot on the trip to Munich, two bus tours of over ten hours took care of that, and even without that I love listening to audio books while walking around the city during breaks.


Terry Pratchett, Good Omens
Angel Aziraphale and Demon Crowley have been stationed on earth on opposite sides for so long that they've not only become quite fond of earth, but also become something like friends. When Crowley is asked to plant the Antichrist in a family to bring about Armageddon the two change plans to try and stop it. However, it soon turns out that the baby that they believed to be the Antichrist isn't. While they set out to find the real one, professional descendant Anathema Device prepares to stop Armageddon with the help of the prophecies of her ancestor witch Agnes Nutter. She is helped by modern Witchfinder Newton Pulsifer and soon discovers that she is closer than she first thought.
I've re-read this book at least once a year ever since I was sixteen years old, and whenever I feel down. I love the characters, and though I notice the problems (casual racism, classism, gender issues, slightly flat magic) it is one of my favourites for the characters and how the authors see humans.


Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay
In the main plot, Samuel Vimes' life has become busy after his marriage to Lady Sybil Ramkin as well as his promotion elevated him to knighthood. The Assassins guild keep trying to kill him, people are killed gruesomely and there does not seem to be any trace of them left on the scene, and as though this is not enough, Lord Vetinari, benevolent tyrant of Ankh-Morpork, is poisoned.
One of the books that I keep re-reading when I feel down.


Nella Larsen, Passing
Two black women, Clare and Irene are able to pass as white in twenties Chicago. While Irene does not rely on this in daily life and avoids confrontation with racism wherever possible Clare is married to a white racist who does not know that she is not white. Both women navigate their identities and personal happiness differently until the discovery of one has disastrous consequences.
I spotted this novel when I looked for books on passing and was surprised to find out it was so old, published in 1929. It's a fascinating insight, but also depressing.


Donna Jo Napoli, Hush - An Irish Princess' Tale
Shortly before Melkorka's family is trying to avenge an offer of marriage by a Viking trader by her father she is captured by Slavish slavers together with her eight-years-old sister. Worried that anyone'll find out about their royal birth they keep silent to keep their secret.
The tale tells the story about how Melkorka became a slave and travelled to Iceland. I quickly grew fond of the characters, but it's a very depressing read. The first sexual assault of a thrall happens about 20% in, she starts having fond feelings for the rapist who purchased her at about 70%. Fuck that.
Current Mood: amused
11 May 2013 @ 10:06 pm
Book rec: Gossamer Axe  

Gael Baudino: Gossamer Axe
An Irish mortal-turned-immortal harpist-turned-guitarists forms a Heavy Metal band to rescue her lover from the realm of the Sidhe.
When I first heard the premise for this book I found it hard to take seriously. It sounded heard to pull off, to say the least. And yet, Gael Baudino somehow does it. Yes, the book becomes a bit preachy at times and silly at others, but it mostly works, and she always pulls it back so that it does. The main character is thoroughly enjoyable because she is competent, confident, and purposeful in what she does. The biggest hit with me was the author's music theory framework for her magic system, it's not often that you read about anyone using phrygian mode anymore.
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
Current Mood: surprised
Current Music: Yngwie J. Malmsteen - Black Star
06 May 2013 @ 09:37 pm
Book challenge  

Mildred Taylor, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Mississippi in the thirties told from the POV of nine-years-old Cassie Logan. In many ways, Cassie is lucky, growing up on land owned by her family with her father working for the railroad to make ends meet and her mother as a school teacher, but that does not mean that they are unaffected by the Great Depression and the terrorist activities of those of her white neighbours who are members of the KKK.
Reading about racism through the eyes of nine-year old Cassie is both heartbreaking and scary at times because she often doesn't envision consequences of her or others' actions that older readers are doubtlessly aware off. It works well and makes this book really scary at times. The characters are all fleshed-out and lovely, and the language Taylor really brings them to life for me. I really enjoyed this book.
Current Mood: busy
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
19 April 2013 @ 07:16 pm

Kevin Werbach,For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business
What gamification is and how you can use it in businesses primarily, though other applications are also explored.
I'm hoping to learn more about how to apply these techniques to the classroom to make learning more fun. I already noticed that whenever little quizzes are included in exams students are wild about them and are really motivated not only to find out the right solution, but also really eager to get started on it - they rarely have this reaction to regular exams. I've included different ones in all of the simple tests I give them and so far, it's been working great.
Current Mood: okay
19 April 2013 @ 06:50 pm
Kissing book  

Kerstin Gier, Smaragdgrün- Liebe geht durch alle Zeiten 3
The plot thickens after the cliffhanger-ending of the second instalment: is it possible that Prince Charming double-crossed the main lady and only faked being in love with her to be able to do so?
Of course not. This is teen Fantasy romance. The ending to the series is as well-written as the other two parts, but the plot bellyflops severely several times. I suppose you have to care most about the romance plot to like it, and I don't. It was still fun to read, though.
Current Mood: okay
08 April 2013 @ 09:26 pm
Book challenge  

Kerstin Gier, Saphirblau - Liebe geht durch alle Zeiten 2
Crocky and I are still entranced by the idiomatic German style of this author. It's basically Dan Brown for romance-novel-liking girls, and it does this well. Very light reading, but fun, and it's interesting to see what my students are reading.
Current Mood: blah
06 April 2013 @ 02:22 pm
Book challenge  

Kerstin Gier,Rubinrot - Liebe geht durch alle Zeiten
A story about a 16-year-old girl who has a rare time-travelling gene that runs in her family and causes her to randomly jump through time. Her family is protected and guided by a secretive masonic lodge who have found a way to control her time-travelling, but she soon finds out that they have sinister ulterior motives.
Since it looks like an extremely superfluous love story I was pleasantly surprised by the movie and the book  especially. It is a love story aimed at teens and filled with the expected angst and awkwardness, but the main characters are somewhat more developed than I'd have believed and seem to have character traits beyond a hair colour and klutziness/hunkiness, which is a plus.
Current Mood: okay
01 April 2013 @ 09:51 pm
Book challenge  

Phillipp Möller - Isch geh Schulhof
A book about someone who studied adult education and works as a substitute teacher at a primary school in one of Berlin's poorest, most ethnically diverse and violent areas, his students, his struggles, failures and successes.
Another lower-class-zoo book. I worked with similar children, their fates are heartbreaking, though their lower-class second language acquired German does sound funny sometimes it feels uncomfortable to poke fun at them. They really don't know any better. Their lives are filled with neglect, loneliness, abuse, and deprivation, so a lack of grammatical correctness can be permitted under these circumstances, surely? Still, the book is entertaining to read especially for the school politics and recognisable classroom situations, though the occasionally very sanctimonious preachiness of the author does get old. He keeps saying he is no expert - which isn't entirely true - and then goes on to complain about his burnt-out, overworked, overtaxed co-workers as though it were a personal failure rather than a political failure that put them in that position. So, mixed feelings about this one, but entertaining enough to keep me reading. Bremen and Berlin have very similar school politics with staffing decisions and the release of official position numbers being delayed until seconds before the beginning of the holidays, untrained substitute teachers being employed instead of real teachers to cut costs, class sizes increased to unmanageable numbers, school reforms being employed frequently and haphazardly without any realistic plans being made as to their concrete implementation. It's a nightmare, and it's somehow good to see that this city is not alone in its chaos.
Current Mood: content
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
22 March 2013 @ 07:42 pm
Book challenge  
Two German books - one a comedy on poor, out of work Germans living on welfare and one on the German school system written by a mother.

You can imagine how both turn out.


Kai Twilfer, Schantall, tu ma die Omma winken!
I found this one at the train station store bargain bin when I had an hour to kill and bought it in spite of the little red sticker on this book calling this a "Spiegel bestseller". Being familiar with SPON, I absolutely believe that. The book says that this is a social worker's account of his experiences on his job with a family. So this is an account of what the social worker in question imagines the life and decision-making-process of his charges to be like, though that particular character himself is never introduced, he merely narrates the story. Since he is a middle-class white German and his charges are lower class, it's obvious this would not end well, and so it is what you can deduce, a middle-class German attempting to show that the family he is looking after are a bunch of morons with their priorities completely wrong who cannot live unsupervised. Well. You are a social worker. Who did you think you were going to look after? So don't waste money on this.


Lotte Kühn, Schulversagen
A mother outraged at the German school system works out her frustrations in writing therapy. At least that's what I took away from the experience. She does raise interesting points, but her sources are ridiculous and she doesn't really follow through on any of the points she is making or draws any conclusions other than "teachers are terrible, incompetent people" and "school doesn't live up to all of the parents' expectations and the childrens' needs". Which... well, no, of course it doesn't, and how would it? How would anything but a private tutor do that? She does not have any answers, she does have a lot of frustrations that German schools are not like Swedish schools, (and I remember reading studies don't differ that much from problems German city schools are facing in Swedish city schools). So - if you feel like reading a hearty gripe at the German school system, evil teachers, and poor parents and students, this is the book for you.
17 March 2013 @ 10:20 am
Book challenge 2013  
Backdated, because who cares.

I am not convinced I'll do much better this year, as the main reasons why I didn't make it last year still exist and I'm down to barely two books a month. Also, I'm rereading so many books that I am not sure whether to count them or not.


Jim Butler, Storm Front
See my longer account on the book here. The short version: I did not like it much because of the misogynistic male character, though I wasn't that thrilled about the world either. And I thought you couldn't go wrong with a wizard private detective!


Kirsten Boie , Skogland
A shy girl takes the place of a princess after winning a casting show.
Not sure about this one yet. So far, I've only met one of the two main characters and she is very likeable. Maybe this goes onto the potential books I might read with my fifth grade, though.


Nora K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
I'm not very far in - so far the heiress of a slightly dilapidated Northern kingdom called Yeine Darr travels to the court and is named one of the potential successors of the current ruler, her grandfather, who disowned her mother for marrying a commoner. Various of her cousins are also interested in ruling the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and thus she is thrust into a power struggle in which both gods and mortals play a role.


Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum
The Lancre coven is up against a group of modern vampires, an indecisive Omnian gets in an ax fight with vampires and a crisis of faith.
This goes well with Small Gods because of what Granny Weatherwax and Mightily Oats have to say about relativism.


Terry Pratchett,Small Gods
While the Omnian church is powerful and is busily being spread by the sword and the inquisition, their god finds himself incarnated into a small tortuous and sets out to find out what happened to his church with his one remaining believer.
Terry Pratchett once said in an interview that he got very positive reactions on this book both from Christians who consider this an incredibly pro-Christian book as well as from atheists who think this is a very anti-Christian book. This makes sense, because most atheists I know have issues with the OT rather than the NT, and this is a very pro-NT and a very anti-OT-book.


Patrick Rothfuss,The Wise Man's Fear
Kvothe leaves the university, becomes a court musician, sleeps with a sex fairy, is a Nice Guy(TM), kills lot of innocent people, takes a roat trip, and is a douche bag.
I'm torn on many parts because they piss me off, especially how the main character treats women. Pacing is a little off, but the author's language and world are still interesting enough to keep me interested.


Patrick Rothfuss,The Name of the Wind
An intelligent boy of varied talents called Kvothe grows up in a group of traveling performers in a renaissance European world, loses his parents to demonic fairy creatures, becomes a street urchin and a thief, gets his way into university, and starts searching for the forces who killed his parents.
I love this book because of the world building and the impeccable pacing of the narrative. The author is incredibly good at language and style. His main character is a bit of an annoying tit, but if you can get over him, this is a really rewarding and fun read.
Current Mood: okay
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
Current Music: Spektrum - Florence and the Machine
20 February 2013 @ 09:37 pm
Dresden File #1 - in which lovable chauvinists aren't.  
I like my escapist fantasy literature frustration-free and therefore can't enjoy fastfood literature anymore. )
Current Location: Bremen
Current Mood: tired
Current Music: Haydn's Creation Nr. 12 (or 13? Who knows).
17 February 2013 @ 01:46 am
Wolfy stories  
Periodically, I browse the internet in search for werewolf books. Most of what I find reads like a PSA for why it's a great idea to stay with an abusive partner ("Not his fault that he turns into a werewolf, it's the curse! He's not himself! It's just his violent nature that wants out!") or porn (really lulzy porn).

Female werewolves are far and few between, and they're often either porn stars, or sidekicks to male werewolf love interests (hi Leah), or exotic monsters for male heroes to sleep with (I suppose even Angua, my favourite female werewolf, falls into this category).

There are exceptions, of course, but the last werewolf stories I read - Patricia S. Briggs novels and Gill McNight's lesbian werewolf oeuvre - have left me rather underwhelmed. So I went looking and added these to my books-to-search-at-the-library-pile:

  • Helen Kate (aka She-Wolf)'s Wolf-Girls. An anthology exploring a variety of female werewolf stories. I don't like short stories, but this one has been on my list for a while. This I won't find at the library, but it's available as a not too expensive ebook, though I don't use my slow ebook reader unless forced to.

  • Carrie Vaughn's Kitty series. I'm trepidatious about this series mostly because of their covers, but the main character appears to be a female werewolf, so why not.

  • Naomi Clark's Silver Kiss. This one has lesbian werewolves in a world in which werewolves and humans know about each other.

  • Martin Millar's Lonely Werewolf Girl. It has an eccentric self-harming teenager as the main character. Why not.

  • Allison Moon's Lunatic Fringe about a College group of feminist werewolves sounds a bit choppy, but both FeministFantasy and She-Wolf were ok with it, so why not give it a whirl.

I am also reminded to put Ash and Huntress by Malinda Lo on my to-buy-list. And possibly The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer.

I'm grateful for any wolfy recs that you have! 
Current Music: Howl - Florence + the Machine
Current Location: Bremen
Current Mood: sleepy
29 December 2011 @ 06:51 pm
Book Challenge 2011 Masterlist  
I have to try keeping closer tabs on my list. Most of the books I read during the first half of the year are on my Oyo - which died in November, which makes it harder to piece together what I've been reading. Though since the books I read and forget probably shouldn't count, anyway, this list works just as well. The bold titles are my top seven of this year's books. 

Complete list and top 7 (bold) )
    Half-assed statistics: 
    Female authors 143021
    Male authors 363629
    Re-read books 180911
    New books 325439
    Current Music: Maurice (1987)
    Current Location: Home
    Current Mood: dorky
    27 December 2011 @ 04:42 pm
    Bookchallenge round-up  
    I can't seem to get the hang of keeping track of these challenges. Since my last entry was once again in May I can't remember what I read this year, especially the ones that I borrowed from the school library, but these are the ones that I could either remember or could piece together from my Amazon account. HTML

    I left out re-reads if I read them more than once this year and some books by Terry Pratchett, and as always everything I read for school. 

    25-52 )
    01 May 2011 @ 07:28 am
    Book challenge (backdated)  
    Interesting Times, by Terry Pratchett.
    A reflection on holidays sparks a revolution in the counterweight continent and Rincewind is thrown in the middle of it.
    Even though this was the first book I read in the Discworld series I did not read this one more than twice. Reading it now I can see why. The grey horde, much as I love the idea of aged heroes kicking butt, really make me extremely uncomfortable because of the "pillage, plunder and rape, hur hur hur"-aspects of it.. Rape is not funny. Killing is not funny, and in other novels, this seems to be clear to him as well.
    Current Mood: disappointed
    12 April 2011 @ 12:34 am
    Nichts: Was im Leben wichtig ist, by Janne Teller. (Nothing)
    When Pierre decides that nothing in life is worth living for, his classmates want to convince him otherwise and start collecting things that mean something to them. What starts innocently with favourite comic books quickly spirals out of control as people are required to give up more and more important things until it ends in excavating bodies, cutting off fingers and, inevitably, rape. Of course. But it's still a very good book and captivating.

    Unter Verdacht, by Joyce Carol Oates (Big Mouth and Ugly Girl).
    When a joke goes wrong Matt is suspected of having planned to blow up the school. The only one who does not believe that is Ursula, sports star and outsider no one likes. Haven't finished this one yet.

    Die Lebensfahrt auf dem Meer der Welt - der Topos, by Christoph Hönig.
    A book on the topos of life as a sea voyage and the world as that sea, something of a guided tour through different periods with different texts and analyses of what they make of this topos, how they use it and how it changes over the years. Ever since I read Crossing the Bar and listened to a lecture on it by Professor Haas, who was one of the best speakers I have ever heard I've had a soft spot for this topos and enjoyed encountering it elsewhere subsequently (like in Gregorius).
    My Gender Workbook, by Kate Bornstein.
    Very practical, hands-on introduction to gender, workbook-style.
    Haven't finished this one yet but had a good time with the articles and the way they're written as well as the questionnaires. The interludes do feel gratuitous at times, but they don't bother me, it's still very informative.

    How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
    Holds what the title promises: a guide on how to win friends and influence people, or rather,  how to modify your interpersonal skills so as to facilitate that.
    Ever since I saw the thread in the Slytherin forum on CS back in the day I've been wanting to read this book. I bought it now that covering communication with my students is imminent and it's enjoyable to read.

    The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss.
    This one deserves a bigger review. I did have a good time reading it, but the longwinded pointlessness of vast part of the middle (Felurian. Oh god did that ever end), some flaws in the setting (would Bast really have sat there for six hours and listen to Kvothe talk about the fairy realm without comment? Hard to imagine) and the increasing level of NiceGuyness of the main character made this hard to enjoy - regardless of just how much I looked forward to this. I liked how the world opens up and still love the magic system, though I'm getting increasingly uncomfortable at the moral framework of our hero (slaying old ladies begging for their lives is not ok even if you think that they were conspiring with rapists, especially if it's likely that they were forced to play along themselves, asshole). The amount of times in which the Rule of Cool is used to make something work also baffles me. All in all enjoyable, but there are things that are off.

    The Lucifer Effect - How Good People Turn Evil, by Philip Zimbardo.
    This one centres pretty heavily on the Stanford Prison Experiment. Again not news, but the conclusion he draws and what he extrapolates about similar scenes from Guantanamo is still worth a read.

    Das Milgram-Experiment, by Stanley Milgram.
    An account of the experiment. A classic. I've read it before, and I keep being amazed and terrified at the results.
    Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney.
    Greg's adventures as a small boy in Middle School. A typical story about a non-stereotypically male hero type whose sidekick inevitably has to be even less stereotypically masculine to affirm them, or something. I can't really say I am care that greatly, but I watched Wonder Years enough in my teens to recognise the narrative enough to sympathise. My students love this book so I gave it a read.
    Current Mood: tired
    04 February 2011 @ 02:13 pm
    2011 Book challenge II  

    Myth Directions, by Robert Asprin.
    Tanda wants to go shopping for a birthday present for Aahz and decides that the incredibly ugly civil-war-preventing war game trophy on the odd planet of Jahk is the best choice. Needless to say stealing this piece is not as easy as it sounds and they soon find themselves in the midst of the war game preventing said civil war. 
    Another for the train-book pile. Ok read, not terribly great in terms of consistent characterisation, and dear god, the fatphobia and misogyny. Still funny enough to get through, and every Fantasy book that manages to get around an epic battle in the end deserves a cookie.


    Myth-conceptions, by Robert Asprin.
    Court magician sounds like a cushy job and Aahz forces Skeeve to try out for the job, which he promptly gets. Little do either of them know that an army is heading their way and they're the kingdom's first line of defence.
    I have serious trouble with the unlikely character development of the main character, but I do like that this does not have an epic final battle and I thoroughly enjoyed reading how they find a way around fighting. Well done.

    Another Fine Myth, by Robert Asprin.
    Magical apprentice and wannabe thief Skeeve is impressed when his master summons a demon, the more so when said master is killed and the demon introduces himself as Aahz, dimension traveller and his master's co-worker. Together they travel through various dimension to find his master's murderer.
    Very funny, though it's clear that this series comes from the late seventies. I can't stand how Tanda and other female characters are treated, but that was only to be expected.


    The Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul, by Douglas Adams.
    A story about  holistic detective Dirk Gently, norse gods, and man-eating fridges.
    Humorous, but dear god, eighties gender-based humour is really not my thing. Also remind me why that poor cleaning lady is working for this person, again. 


    America - The Book, by Jon Stewart, Ben Karlin and David Javerbaum.
    Another humorous history, this time of America. Very entertaining and critical account of American history.


    A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle.
    How did I miss this? It has an unattractive female character! Who gets into fights! And wears braces! And glasses! And who is not an academic overachiever, either! Awesome. It reads a bit like a mix of The Demon Headmaster, and A Series of Unfortunate Events.


    The Name of the Wind, by Patrock Rothfuss.
    First instalment in the Kingkiller chronicles though we don't know which king that was yet. The account of the young life of Kvothe, trouper, street urchin, student, arcanist and subsequent inkeeper as narrated by himself.
    I re-read this again and am re-reading it with Crocky, only counting it once. In spite of its gloominess I very much enjoy the read and still love the language of the author. The audiobook is terrible, however.

    Reaper Man, by Terry Pratchett.
    The Auditors of Reality decide that Death has developed too much of a personality and send him to retire, during his absence life force builds up and as he comes to term with his newly acquired life, so do other things because death effectively stops.
    I hadn't read this one in a while and I must say that once more, I rather enjoy reading my electronic reading experience on the Oyo, though it doesn't beat real books. 


    How to Speak Dragonese, by Cressida Cowell.
    During another pirate training lesson Hiccup, fishlegs and Bog Burgler heir Camicazi are abducted by the Romans
    Obviously I'm a big fan of Camicazi and I couldn't wait to read this with Crocky.


    How to be a Pirate, by Cressida Cowell.
    During pirate training lesson Hiccup encounters Alvin the Poor but Honest Farmer who is anything but and successfully resists the temptation that a great big treasure offers.
    Re-reading the series with Crocky and I remember why I love it so much.

    An Utterly Impartial History of Britain, by John O'Farrel
    Very entertaining history of Britain that still informs, much like the Horrible Histories. Can't wait to somehow use this in class.
    Valor's Trial, by Tanya Huff.
    GySgt Torin Kerr fights her way out of an underground POW camp and has to cooperate with the enemy to do so.
    I've come to rather enjoy this series, it makes good train reading, even though I still shake my head at her Star Trek idea of what's universal and continue to be disappointed at the lack in progress in robotics this future has (why do living soldiers have to go everywhere? Why don't they ever send recon drones or whatever?). What's also fun: look at the cover of this book, how long d'you think her hair is? She's supposed to have a crew cut in the books, but GOD FORBID anyone female has short hair on book covers, though I suppose that for whoever drew this this is what "short" hair would look like on a woman.
    Current Mood: busy
    09 January 2011 @ 01:08 pm
    2010 Books I  
    The Heart of Valor, by Tanya Huff.
    After her encounter with the alien in the previous instalment curious readers are now left with the following clues: (1) there is an alien space ship which could read minds and create places taken from the content of their heads (2) the escape pod created by the ship with which they escaped in the last novel has gone AWOL (3) the Major whom Torrin is supposed to babysit right now mysteriously has a acquired a new arm made from an unknown matter (4) no one can remember the escape pod from the mysterious alien vessel, as though their minds have been wiped (5) the training programme on the planet on which they're on is starting to act ~strange~, as though someone had reprogrammed it.
    Even though it takes a bit long for the main characters to figure out the plot, this was still entertaining enough to get through. Challenge-wise, I'm counting the love story between Torrin and her civilian, so it doesn't beat it.
    The Better Part of Valor, by Tanya Huff.
    Sgt. Torin Kerr and a crew of diplomats and other civilians encounter a big yellow alien space ship which is not as harmless as it seems and are soon in the midst of danger.
    Her plots are a tad forseeable, but I'm entertained and I appreciate the main character, she's fun to read. I'm not overly impressed with the world building or the violence, but didn't really expect much, either.
    30 December 2010 @ 03:13 pm
    Book Challenge 2010 Masterlist  
    As always, I forgot to note down most books and had to reconstruct my list once I remembered, and as always, I excluded job-related stuff. I think I didn't include all the Discworld novels I re-read, either, or some of the audiobooks I listened to, which I do count as books if they're unabridged.

    1. Privilege - A Reader, edited by Michael Kimmel
    2. Zero, by Brian McCabe
    3. How to train your dragon, by Cressida Cowell.
    4. How to Be a Pirate, by Cressida Cowell.
    5. How to Speak Dragonese, by Cressida Cowell.
    6. How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse, by Cressida Cowell.
    7. How to Twist a Dragon's Tale, by Cressida Cowell.
    8. Die männliche Herrschaft, by Pierre Bourdieu.
    9. Wie ein Vogel im Käfig, by Heike Brandt.
    10. Racing the Dark, by Alaya Dawn Johnson.
    11. Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin.
    12. Introducing Romanticism, by Duncan Heath and Judy Boreham.
    13. Introducing Feminism, by Cathia Jenainati.
    14. Der Totentanz der Marienkirche in Lübeck und der Nikolaikirche in Reval (Tallinn), by Hartmut Freytag.
    15. Bad Science, by Ben Goldacre.
    16. Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex, by Eoin Colfer.
    17. Wie man mit Fundamentalisten diskutiert, ohne den Verstand zu verlieren by Hubert Schleichert.
    18. Ein Volksfeind, by Henrik Ibsen. (An Enemy of the People)
    19. A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines.
    20. Killer in the Dark, by Colin Foreman.
    21. Kissing the Witch, by Emma Donoghue.
    22. Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! by Laura Amy Schlintz.
    23. Delusions of Gender, by Cordelia Fine.
    24. Praktische Anleitung zur Abfassung Deutscher Aufsätze, by Karl Leo Cholevius.
    25. The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, by Barry Lyga.
    26. I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett.
    27. Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen.
    28. Wolfsbane Winter, by Jane Fletcher.
    29. Fire, by Kristin Cashore.
    30. Die Verwandlung, by Franz Kafka.
    31. Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen.
    32. The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss.
    33. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
    34. Holes, by Louis Sacher.
    35. Geek Chic: Smart Women in Popular Culture, edited by Sherry Inness.
    36. Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby.
    37. A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby.
    38. I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee.
    39. The Year of Living Biblically, by A. J. Jacobs.
    40. Johnny and the Dead, by Terry Pratchett.
    41. Lustrum, by Robert Harris.
    42. The Owl Killers, by Karen Maitland.
    43. The Company of Liars, by Karen Maitland.
    44. Millionärvon Tommy Jaud.
    45. A Star Called Henry, by Roddy Doyle.
    46. Die Vermessung der Welt, by Daniel Kehlmann.
    47. The Nixie's Song by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.
    48. The Wyrm King, by Toni DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.
    49. Boy2Girl, by Terence Blacker.
    50. Ich hätte nein sagen können, by Annika Thor.
    51. Notes On A Scandal, by Zoe Heller.
    52. Ambereye,  by Gill McNight.
    53. Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum oder: Wie Gewalt entstehen und wohin sie führen kann (The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, Or: how violence develops and where it can lead), by Heinrich Böll.
    54. Die Feuerzangenbowle, by Heinrich Spoerl.
    55. The Princess Bride - S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure; The "Good Parts" Version, by William Goldman.
    56. Föhn mich nicht zu, by Stephan Serin.
    57. Lehrerzimmer, by Marcus Orths.
    58. Valor's Choice, by Tanya Huff.
    59. Deadline for Murder, by Val McDermid.
    60. The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan
    61. King Solomon's Ring, by Jonathan Stroud
    62. Masques, by Patricia Briggs
    63. The Shattered Chain, by Marion Zimmer Bradley (currently)

    Female authors 1430
    Male authors 3636
    Re-read books 1809
    New books 3254

    Current Mood: flu-having
    27 December 2010 @ 08:29 pm
    Book challenge  
    Valor's Choice, by Tanya Huff.
    Follows an infantry division's unusual diplomatic mission to a strange planet officials want to join the Confederacy of planets which turns out not to be as peaceful as it looked, through the eyes of their staff sergeant.
    In spite of the fact that there is no full-on love plot, the fact that main character and staff sergeant Torin Kerr and her Lt. hook up in the first chapter in a scene reminiscent of Grey's Anatomy's pilot episode this disqualifies it from beating the challenge. I'm not much of a Sci-Fi or military Sci-Fi reader, so I was never likely to be too fond of this, and many of the things that bother me in other military Sci-Fis are true for this one, too. It's a bit too simple and convenient when it comes to alien enemies (the enemy is ugly, the enemy is barbaric, the enemy looks like a lizard, the enemy's culture is barbaric and inferior to our own, etc.), and even considering my past as a Star Trek fan I'm not impressed with what passes for universal traits which even transcends species in this series - which probably won't even transcend cultures on this one planet.


    Deadline for Murder, by Val McDermid.
    Recently returned from her exile, Lindsay Gordon finds that an old friend is dead, another friend is in jail for her murder, and her lover has left her for the murderer's lover, who hires her to clear her exes name.
    Dear Lord, the moral framework of this novel. Oh, so you prefer young,  underage prostitutes? Yeah, that's fine, they're also drug addicts. e're not going to comment on that, move right along. You're seventeen, a drug addict and a prostitute  and so used to being exploited you've come to expect it? Good, we'll do some more of that, then.
    Oh, so you murdered a friend, implicated another friend and put her behind bars and stolen someone'a South African's script and published it as your own? Whatever, I say, I've still got feelings for you, why don't I help you escape.
    While I like heroes that don't have clear cut morals (Snape fan here!), I don't like it if I get the feeling that we're supposed to agree with this.
    Current Mood: sick
    23 December 2010 @ 12:54 am
    Book challenge  
    Lehrerzimmer, by Marcus Orths.
    Grotesque German satire on schools after PISA, though it's closer to reality than one might assume, sadly. Trainee teacher Kranich arrives at his new school in Baden-Württemberg where the headmaster's draconic regime has caused the teachers to form a secret resistance. This very short novel is sadly too absurd to entertain on one end and too realistic to be funny on the other. The plot, much-lauded as Kafkaesque and Orwellian, is more of a collection of bizarre anecdotes loosely connected by a very short plot. I was disappointed.

    Föhn mich nicht zu, by Stephan Serin.
    Another novel on the pains of being a trainee teacher in Germany. Some anecdotes are funny, at times the humour is extremely forced, and where it is forced, it's completely out of line and very crude, but the parts which aren't forced really are funny. There were several situations which I sadly immediately recognised and it makes sense that most of the trainees in my year purchased and read this book. Still, it has serious issues, like the fact that I think we're meawnt to sympathise with the narrator, but I am not about to sympathise with a trainee intent on rating the breasts of his students or telling them to work as a sex worker if they get their answers wrong. 
    Current Mood: busy
    26 November 2010 @ 10:21 pm
    Book challenge  
    I did not write entries for the books I read this year, so this'll have to be from memory and it'll be very incomplete.

    59 books I can remember reading this year )

    It's become pretty obvious that I don't have as many long train rides anymore as I used to.

    Next on the reading list: 

    - Boy2Girl  by Terence Blacker- a story of a boy who cross-dresses as a prank. Sounds horrid and is on the reading list for our 6th graders.
    - Ich hätte Nein sagen können by Annika Thor - a book about mobbing, also on the reading list for our 6th graders.
    - Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller,
    - Ambereye, by Gill McNight. Here's hoping my fears about the quality lesbian werewolf fiction are unfounded.
    - Wit'ch Star by James Clemens. Found this at a sale at the local library. Not sure about this because it's the sixths part of a six-part-series and I only have this one, but might be worth dipping into.
    - Die vollkommene Ehe - Eine Studie über ihre Physiologie und Technik by Hendrik van de Velde. Surprisingly open German sex ed from the 1920ies.
    - The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer if I ever have the patience.
    - Middlemarch, by George Eliot. This'll be the third time I start that novel.
    Current Mood: calm
    02 January 2010 @ 02:13 pm
    50 book challenge 2009  
    Half-way through 2009, I abandoned the project of keeping track because I was busy with other things. This is an attempt to reconstruct what I have been reading that year.
    1. A Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, Ian Mortimer
    2. Homosexualität und Crossdressing im Mittelalter, Stefan Micheler
    3.  Making Money, Terry Pratchett
    4. Going Postal, Terry Pratchett
    5. The Black Jewels Trilogy, by Anne Bishop
    6. Schwuler Osten - Homosexuelle Männer in der DDR, by Kurt Starke
    7. Harvard's Secret Court, by William Wight
    8. Die Stumme Sünde - Homosexualität im Mittelalter, by Brigitte Spreizer
    9. Sodom und Gomorrha - zur Alltagswirklichkeit der Verfolgung Homosexueller im Mittelalter, by Bernd-Ulrich Hergemüller
    10. Guards! Guards! - The Play. Adapted by Stephen Briggs
    11. Wyrd Sisters - The Play, adapted by Stephen Briggs
    12. Thud!, by Terry Pratchett
    13. The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud
    14. What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, by Daniel Pool
    15. Magic Kingdom for Sale - Sold!, by Terry Brooks
    16. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
    17. The Golem's Eyeby Jonathan Stroud
    18. Ptolemy's Gate, by Jonathan Stroud
    19. Nation, by Terry Pratchett
    20. Men at Arms, by Terry Pratchett
    21. Feet of Clay, by Terry Pratchett
    22. Graceling, by Kristin Cashore <- read this book. You won't regret it.
    23. Fire, by Kristin Cashore
    24. Victorian London, by Liza Picard. In large parts, that is.
    25. Fighting Talk, by James Inglis.
    26. Privilege: A Reader, Michael Kimmel.
    27. John Donne: Selected Letters, by P.M. Oliver (ed.)
    28. John Donne: The Reformed Soul: A Novel, by John Stubbs.
    29. Brown Angels, by Walter Dean Myers <- This is a real treasure.
    30. Push, by Sapphire. Brutal at times, but definitely worth reading!
    31. Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris
    32. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris
    33. Blonde Roots, by Bernadine Evaresto.
    34. The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry, by Gerard Moore (ed.)
    35. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
    36. The Nixie's Song, by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
    37. A Giant Problem, by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
    38. The Wyrm King, by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
    39. The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis
    40. Circle of Magic: Sandry's Book, by Tamora Pierce
    41. Circle of Magic: Tris's Book, by Tamora Pierce
    42. Circle of Magic: Daja's Book, by Tamora Pierce
    43. Circle of Magic: Briar's Book, by Tamora Pierce
    44. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon
    45. Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his son, by David Roberts (ed.)
    46. Renaissance Self-Fashioning, by Stephen Greenblatt
    47. The First and Second Dalhousie Manuscripts, Ernest Sullivan (ed.)
    48. When Jeff Comes Home, by Catherine Atkins
    49. Unseen Academicals, by Terry Pratchett.
    50. Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano. <- You need to read this book.

    There are more, but I can't seem to remember them right now. Most of them I did not buy but borrowed at various libraries, so it's hard to remember which book I read when.
    Current Mood: annoyed
    12 March 2009 @ 06:16 pm
    Dragonflight and tent pegs  

    Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey.
    Ick ick ick ick. I don't think I can read this. It is a story about Lessa, last remaining heir of a died-out aristrocratic family, Fax, the evil overlord who has seized power over seven of the dragon holds and killed Lessa's family in the process, and F'lar, sent to search for a female rider for a newly hatched queen dragon. That rider will of course turn out to be Lessa, who is hiding as a kitchen drudge in Fax's hold. They'll also most probably dispose of Fax somehow and then Lessa has to get a love interest, most likely F'lar.

    Just no. )

    So, no great big space dragons for me. I heard that other series by McCaffrey are less failtastic, though.

    As an added bonus, the author strikes me as incredibly dense, going by her supposed views on human sexuality. )
    Current Mood: lazy
    03 March 2009 @ 12:04 pm
    50 book challenge  
    Let's see... homosexuality in Harvard, the GDR and medieval times and some old favourites. If I pass out half-way through of this, it's because I breathed in some dust of the bleach that I used to get our terribly grey towels white again. Just what I needed after the sudden attacks of nausea yesterday.


    Magic Kingdom for Sale - Sold!, by Terry Brooks.
    I am reading this with Crocky. We have talked about this series several times, and while I now don't enjoy it as much as I did when I read the series with fifteen, I still think he's handled the main character's acclimatisation and his various predicaments and his new surroundings very well. I had never realised how poor the writing is - but I wouldn't have. When I first read it, I had studied English as a foreign langauge at school for five years and my proficiency had me struggling with this book. I really dislike is Willow. Her characterisation drives me crazy. Even though she has a lot of potential the entire premise for their relationship is terrible, and her position in the story is frankly disappointing. No cookie points.


    What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, by Daniel Pool.
    Provides a very sound overview and some very nice in-depths accounts on the various topics relating to etiquette and everyday life in the 19th Century.

    The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud.
    When I read the first page of this novel five years ago, I fell in love. I am still in love, and re-reading this makes butterflies reappear in my stomach. Bartimaeus, Nathaniel and their relationship is incredibly charming.
    I'm rereading this because Crocky has to read it for her paper and I want to be able to discuss it with her on a more informed basis.


    Thud, by Terry Pratchett.
    I could read P'Terry's descriptions of fatherhood all day and I love the various darknesses, such beautiful ideas.

    Wyrd Sisters - The Play, adapted by Stephen Briggs.
    Another one Crocky and I read and voice-acted together. She's a decent Granny, I must say, and I am rather happy with my rendition of Nanny. Neither of us makes a very good Vetinari or Carrot, though.


    Guards! Guards! - The Play. Adapted by Stephen Briggs.
    This was actually Crocky's birthday present. We're reading it together, voice-acting the different parts. It's great fun.


    Sodom und Gomorrha - zur Alltagswirklichkeit der Verfolgung Homosexueller im Mittelalter, by Bernd-Ulrich Hergemüller ("Sodom and Gomorrha - on the everyday reality and persecution of homosexuals in the Middle Ages")
    The gist seems to be that they weren't, really, not methodically, that is, up until the rise of the inquisition and the witch hunts. Homosexual behaviour was forbidden, of course, but apart from the few accounts which do exist of trials in which anal sex and homosexual paedophilia was the primary charge, people engaging in homosexual behaviour seem to have led a rather undetected life. The trials which do mention homosexuality seem to do so only on the grounds of adding more charges and underlining the moral depravity of the people charged - usually with large-scale theft and murder. It is noteworthy that homosexuals were referred to as Ketzer (heretics), and anal sex was known as ketzern. To go against the order of nature as god apparently intended it was heresy. When the witch hunts began and the tempers started to get tetchier the mere accusation was enough to light torches and the wooden stakes.


    Die Stumme Sünde - Homosexualität im Mittelalter, by Brigitte Spreizer. ("The Silent Sin - Homosexuality in the Middle Ages).
    Very recommendable - it has many origininal sources in the appendix, and reading medieval laws for the proper behaviour of monks in convents makes fascinating reading, even though in some cases my Latin is too rusty to really understand everything.
    Especially interesting for me was the development of the laws regarding anal penetration - it was always considered an Especially Bad Sin, but at first, during the times when pueri oblati were uncommon and men entered monasteries as adults, homosexual behaviour was merely one sexual sin among many. As novices entered the monastery at younger ages and the monastery was no longer a place for individuals to share a living space who usually would have become hermits, but took the place of the family in many cases, laws against homosexual behaviour became increasingly strict. Towards the end of that development, those penetrating the other man during anal intercourse were excluded from the monastery, while the one penetrated could hope for redemption.

    It is important that medieval sex was divided into "natural" vs. "unnatural" sex and "active" and "passive" parts. "Natural" was only the sex which led to babies, every other sexual practice was "unnatural", therefore against the will of god, and forbidden. "Active" were those penetrating, "passive" the other ones. The "active" partner was usually punished more severely than the "passive" one.
    In the beginning, monks had individual cells, but as sexual sins became increasingly bad, dormitories were reintroduced. In those, a young monk would sleep between two older monks to prevent the youngsters from being tempted to commit sins of the flesh. Monks were not allowed to see anyone naked, including themselves, and bathed in light shifts.They were never permitted to sleep in one bed together.

    Also fascinating is the pornographic detail in which the kinds of forbidden sexual contact among nuns is described. Nuns were allowed to sleep in one bed - if it was a young and an older nun - but only if there was at least a room of two spans between them, they lay back to back, and did not speak a word until morning. Female homosexuality was regarded as less bad than anal penetration, but female sexual sins were as discouraged.


    Harvard's Secret Court, by William Wight.
    It's an account of the purges of gay students from the campus after the suicide of one of them that occurred in the nineteen-twenties. Very shocking stuff, especially considering that the purges themselves led to more suicides and completely ruined the lives of the students in question. Not only did Harvard purge their names from the permanent records, they also sent out letters to explain why they dismissed this students if they chose to associate themselves with the university in any CV they wrote for an application to other schools or jobs. This meant that many of these students could not hope for further education at other schools at all or for jobs. The last of these letters was sent in the early seventies, if I remember correctly.
    What struck me as very strange is Wight's last chapter which outlines the possibility that homophobia may be as genetically induced as homosexuality. While I get that he probably had to include something of the sort to stop him from being in trouble with the renowned university, it was still rather baffling to see him struggling to explain and absolve these decisions which had ruined the lives of some twenty students for decades to come, sometimes on the basis of mere association with gay students.

    Schwuler Osten - Homosexuelle Männer in der DDR, by Kurt Starke. ("Gay East - Homosexual Men in the GDR)


    The Black Jewels Trilogy, by Anne Bishop.
    Wow. Bad. Already ranted about it here. I don't mind the torture, but the writing and the characters are so incredibly, horribly dull that we probably won't make it through this. It's a book about an evil, magical matriarchic society in which males are used as sex slaves. Needless to say, all the main characters with the exception of one little girl are male woobies. The girl has extra-special superpowers, but her only function seems to be to make the abused males feel better about themselves. The scary sexual violence and abuse is not as bad as the rampant paedophilia and I don't know how I'm going to face the person whose favourite series of novels this is when we give it back.


    I think I'll attempt to eat some lunch now. I can't stand the sight of pretzel sticks and tea any more.
    Current Mood: nauseated
    22 January 2009 @ 10:51 pm
    50 book challenge 2009  
    Going Postal, Terry Pratchett.
    I decided to re-read it to find out whether I really like Spike. I am still not sure.
     Making Money, Terry Pratchett
    I wonder whether I should be worried about the fact that Spike is growing on me.

    Homosexualität und Crossdressing im Mittelalter, Stefan Micheler (ed.)
    Very interesting indeed. Apparently, there were several cases of crossdressing in the middle ages, even though only a comparatively small number was documented. Women usually cross-dressed to get around being raped at war times, and men cross-dressed to avoid being killed. Women also cross-dressed to make an army appear bigger, and men to get out of warzones.
    Homosexuality between men was frowned upon, though there are only few documents. Most of them are monastic documents. They have homosexuality as one sin among many and don't single it out, even though that changed as monastic tradition in Europe changed. In the beginning, they were places in which individuals who wished to isolate themselves to get more deeply in touch with god lived, each of them wanting to remove themselves from company, looking for loneliness. That changed in later years, when people started entering monasteries as children rather than adults. That shifted the structure of monasteries - suddenly, they needed to provide structure substituting families for the pueri oblati, and meant that rules to cull sexual innuendos among growing males were kept rare. This was achieved by introducing dormitories (younger brothers were placed between two older brothers) and rules about physical contact (monks were required to keep one cubit apart at all times) and nudity (outlawed - monks were encouraged not to look at their own naked body and to bathe in shrits). Active homosexual behaviour was punished  heavily (by exclusion from the monastery), and "passive" homosexuality faced seven years penance.

    A Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, Ian Mortimer. 
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The set-up, the individual chapters, the topics, the time frame he chose - all is really good. The only thing that seriously bothered me and made me an increasingly frustrated reader is that this book is aimed exclusively at male time travellers. All the examples in which he attempts to write interaction have people adressing the traveller as "Sir", and the way he describes women makes it obvious that they are strange beings worth observing. It drove me up the wall, and I can't believe that someone who, like Mortimer, can put himself in the shoes of deeply religious plague-stricken peasants from the fourteenth century can find it so very hard to put himself in the shoes of female peasants. I suppose that one could argue that time-travellers to the fourtheenth century would be advised to appear as male as possible to avoid trouble, but I seriously doubt that he had this in mind.

    Current Mood: tired
    31 December 2008 @ 12:00 pm
    The 50 book challenge 2008 masterlist  
    ... in which I read too much Terry Pratchett for my own good.  This entry is backdated.

    ★ - I really did not enjoy this book.
    ★ - Not too bad, not that good either.
    - Ok.
    - Very decent read.
    - Excellent!

    1. Wicked by Gregory Maguire -
    2. Winnie and Wolf by A. N. Wilson -
    3. Benachteiligung gleichgeschlechtlich orientierter Personen und Paare, von Hans P. Buba -
    4. Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer -
    5. Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman -
    6. The Stone Gods, by Jeanette Winterson -
    7. Tintenherz, by Cornelia Funke -
    8. A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian, by Marina Lewycka -
    9. Penguin's Poems for Life, Laura Barber (ed.) -
    10. Art & Lies. A Tale for Three Voices and a Bawd, Jeanette Winterson -
    11. New Moon, by Stephanie Meyer -
    12. Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby -
    13. Imperium, Robert Harris -
    14. Slam, by Nick Hornby -
    15. Pompeii, Robert Harris -
    16. Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy -
      The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane
    17. Homeland, by R. A. Salvatore -
    18. Mein Herz so weiß,by Xavier Marias (I only half-finished this one, I'm going to finish it in '09)
    19. Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi -
    20. Middlemarch, by George Eliot -
    21. Eric, or Little by Little, by Frederic William Farrar -
    22. The English Language - a guided tour of the language, by David Crystal -
    23. Drachen, by Joseph Nigg -
    24. Who cares about English Usage?, David Crystal -
    25. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris -
    26. Homoplot - The Coming-Out Story and Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Identity, by Esther Saxey -
    27. A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Bad Beginning, Daniel Handler -
    28. A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Reptile Room, Daniel Handler -
    29. A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Wide Window, Daniel Handler -
    30. A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Miserable Mill, by Daniel Handler -
    31. A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Austere Academy, by Daniel Handler -
    32. A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Ersatz Elevator, by Daniel Handler -
    33. A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Vile Village. by Daniel Handler -
    34. A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Carnivorous Carnival, by Daniel Handler -
    35. A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Slippery Slope, by Daniel Handler -
    36. A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Grim Grotto, by Daniel Handler -
    37. A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Penultimate Peril, by Daniel Handler -
    38. A Series of Unfortunate Events - The End, by Daniel Handler -
    39. Herr Lehmann, by Sven Regener -
    40. Slam, by Nick Hornby -
    41. Equal Rites, by Terry Pratchett -
    42. Truckers, by Terry Pratchett -
    43. Diggers, by Terry Pratchett -
    44. Wings, by Terry Pratchett -
    45. Autumn Term, by Antonia Forest -
    46. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Sparks -
    47. Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer -
    48. Sons and Lovers, D. H. Lawrence -
    49. Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox, Eoin Colfer -
    50. Monstrous Regiments, Terry Pratchett -
    51. Nation, Terry Pratchett -
    52. Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris -
    53. Maskerade, Terry Pratchett -
    54. Breakfast with Scot, by Michael Downing.
    55. I, Claudius, Robert von Ranke-Graves -
    56. A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett -

    Current Mood: cheerful