Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top Ten Characters I Would Want to Be for Halloween

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

True story: I have dressed up as most of these characters at one point or another.

1. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter

I never actually dressed up as Hermione, but I always thought I looked way more like her than Emma Watson did. For one thing, I have DARK brown hair, and for another, my hair is/was actually messy most of the time.

2. Jo March from Little Women

I have dressed up as Jo. With a patch on the back of my dress. Nobody got it.

3. Eponine from Les Miserables

I did this in middle school. Suffice it to say, NOBODY got it.

4. Arwen from Lord of the Rings

I've been told I look kinda like Liv Tyler?

5. Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation

So, not a book character, but I acquired a Data mask at a Star Trek exhibit at a young age, and my sister and I went trick-or-treating as Worf and Data respectively. The best, most appropriate costumes for elementary-schoolers.

6. Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager

Also not a book character, but when I reprised my role as Data for a Science Theme Day this past summer at camp, a fellow teacher told me she had once dressed up as Janeway. And I wish I had too.

7. Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter

I'm not a blonde, but I've definitely got the dreamy, far-off stare. And then I could wear really weird things like griffin hats.

8. Elphaba from Wicked

From the book, before it was a musical. I painted my face entirely green, and there's a prominent photo in my high school yearbook. The only time I was ever pictured outside of the standard photo. Not to brag, but the next year, I saw a couple of younger girls with green faces and witches' hats. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

9. The Wizard Samarkar from the Eternal Sky

Haven't done this yet, but a strong woman in wizard's robes sounds up my alley.

10. Hrahima from the Eternal Sky

I'm not sure how I would do this, but it would be cool to be a tiger-woman.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A South Asian Feminist Sci-Fi Utopia: You're Welcome

Today I saw an article from Tor.com that had me nearly jumping out of my skin with anticipation.

The Tor newsletter described it as Utopian. Sci-Fi. From the Subcontinent. Three of my favorite things! In one! And as you can see above, it's actually FOUR of my favorite things in one.

So, go read this rad introduction at Tor, and then immediately read "Sultana's Dream" by Rokheya Shekhawat Hossein.

My only disappointment is that it's so brief; as a book, it could be the South Asian Female Man (except better, because science. And South Asian.).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Ten New Series I Want to Start

Happy Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and the Bookish.

Not to mention series that I want to finish...

1. The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

2. The Uplift Trilogy by David Brin

3. The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde

4. A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell

5. The Promethean Age series by Elizabeth Bear

6. A Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

7. River of Souls by Beth Bernobich

8. The Dreamblood Duo by N.K. Jemisin

9. Glamourist Histories by Mary Robinette Kowal

10. Dies the Fire series by S.M. Stirling

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Fragrant Message

34. Messenger by Lois Lowry



"It was a quick and fragrant touch to his lips that gave him courage."

-Messenger, Lowry, p. 113

Lois Lowry's prose is stark. As opposed to the pyrotechnical language of Catherynne Valente, Norton Juster, or even Suzanne Collins, Lowry's stories feel almost naked. And yet, it is their barrenness that highlights what is truly important.

When I read The Giver many, many moons ago, I long recalled the definition of "apprehension" that Jonas mentions in the first few pages. It is that particular word that captures Jonas' state of mind, and the reader's state of mind for most of the book. Likewise, in Messenger, the word "fragrant" is distinguished among its more simple compatriots. It is important that the lips are fragrant, because they stand in contrast to the growing corruption in Matty's town. (Matty, a character first seen in Gathering Blue, is the protagonist in Messenger).

Messenger is not as iconic a book as The Giver, perhaps because the secret has already been given away. We know there is "something rotten in the state of Denmark," even in the (more genuinely) utopian-like community Jonas has fled to. My "Hamlet" reference seemed appropriate there, but it's actually the far more disturbing (in my mind) "Macbeth" that is referenced in the book. "All my pretty ones? All?" will echo in your mind when it is done. Though not quite as captivating, this is the more realistically somber book that Lowry teased us with at the end of The Giver.

I read it in a day, and yet it's a book that lingers in subsequent weeks. It's not like the experience of savoring Shakespearean puns or Valentean tongue-twisters, but it's like a subtle perfume that remains even when other scents overpower it. A message. Quiet, but fragrant.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR List

My fall TBR list is quite short this year:

1. Whatever I feel like reading.

I've taken on quite a workload this fall, and so anything outside of work will be purely auxiliary.

Probably, a lot of articles, short stories, re-reads, and impulse library grabs will abound.

However, it would be nice if I read some of the yet-to-be-read books on my shelf, namely:

1. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

2. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top Ten Authors I've Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

Thank you Top Ten Tuesday, I feel like this is always happening to me!

1. Karen Lord

I read The Best of All Possible Worlds almost two years ago now, and I still need to read Redemption in Indigo. At least I'm not too far behind!

2. Marge Piercy

I really loved Woman on the Edge of Time, I imagine I would enjoy her other works as well.

3. W.G. Sebald

I really enjoyed The Rings of Saturn, have been meaning for years to check out his other work.

4. Elizabeth Gilbert

I found Committed to be a very thoughtful read, and The Signature of All Things is sitting on my shelf. Maybe I'll even get around to Eat, Pray, Love one of these days.

5. Karen Joy Fowler

The Jane Austen Book Club is one of my favorite books, but I wasn't really riveted by the idea of the next couple of books she put out. The latest sounded interesting though.

6. Philip Pullman

Not sure if this counts exactly, since I did read the whole His Dark Materials trilogy, but I haven't read anything after that and I really want to read The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.

7. Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I read The Shadow of the Wind, but haven't read the other books, though The Angel's Game is in my collection.

8. Catherynne M. Valente

I read the first two Fairyland books, but I need to read her adult novels.

9. Deborah Feldman

Unorthodox was one of my favorite books of 2012, and she just came out with Exodus this year. And-again, yay!-I'm not too far behind.

10. Tanuja Desai Hidier

Until last month, Hidier only had one book out, Born Confused, one of my favorite books of all time, but which I'd long since given up on a sequel to. And then, magic, the end of last month, the sequel came out and I got to see her at the National Book Festival. And Bombay Blues is tucked away until a someday soon when I need it!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

As Good As New by Charlie Jane Anders

Although I've been reading more collections of short stories, I'd stopped reading as much individual short fiction as I did last year. My primary source has been Tor.com, and for a while I wasn't very impressed with the offerings. But I decided to take a chance on "As Good as New" since I recognized the author name, and the plot description intrigued me.

"As Good as New" is one of the cleanest, most satisfying short pieces I've read in a while. Marisol, a playwright turned medical student, is possibly the only person to have survived the end of the world. Holed up in a panic room, she eats frozen dinners and watches "The Facts of Life." And then she finds a genie in a bottle.

Read it if you like classic, thoughtful stories. It's pared down, with just two characters, and just one clear plot with a couple of underlying ideas that underscore the whole piece. Enjoy!