Mothwing
07 November 2014 @ 08:27 pm
Books Round-up: November 1  
92.

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.

91.

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."
Awwww.

90.

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.

89.

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.

88.

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.


87.

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.

86.

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.

85.

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.

84.

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... )

83.

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 Mood: okay
Current Location: Germany, Bremen
 
 
Mothwing
31 October 2014 @ 08:02 pm
Books round-up: October  
82.

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.

81.

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... )

80.

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.

79.

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

78.

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.

77.

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.

76.

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... )

75.

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.

74.

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

73.

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

72.

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.

71.

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.

70.

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.

69.

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... )

68.

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
 
 
Mothwing
30 September 2014 @ 12:14 am
Books round-up: September  
66.

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.

65.

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.

64.

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.

63.

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.

62.

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

61.

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

60.

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?

59.

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.

58.

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.

57.

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... )

56.

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... )

55.

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.

54.

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... )

53.

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
 
 
Mothwing
31 August 2014 @ 11:30 pm
Books round-up: August  
52.

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.

51.

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.

50.

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

49.

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... )

48.

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.

47.

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... )
 
 
Mothwing
19 April 2013 @ 06:50 pm
Kissing book  
13.

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
 
 
Mothwing
08 April 2013 @ 09:26 pm
Book challenge  
12.

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
 
 
Mothwing
06 April 2013 @ 02:22 pm
Book challenge  
11.

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
 
 
Mothwing
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.

9.

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.

8.

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.
 
 
Mothwing
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
 
 
Mothwing
12 March 2009 @ 06:16 pm
Dragonflight and tent pegs  
16.

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
 
 
Mothwing
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.

15.

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.


14.

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.


13.
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.

12.


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


11.
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.


10.

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.

9.

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.

8.

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.

7.

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.
 

6.
Schwuler Osten - Homosexuelle Männer in der DDR, by Kurt Starke. ("Gay East - Homosexual Men in the GDR)

5.

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