Thursday, January 30, 2020
Three Interesting Things
Monday, January 27, 2020
"A Thousand Splendid Suns" at Arena Stage
Content warning: onstage traumatic miscarriage and pregnancy delivery, interpersonal violence, sounds of shelling, onstage bombing, onstage murder, onstage execution, onstage suicide
The play attempts to cover a huge amount of time, the characters shift in age and the cast did a wonderful job of demonstrating the shifting ages and maturity. Having now read the summary of the book, it appears the play collapses time a bit, using some flashbacks to narrow the focus. Also, theater age is a fleeting thing, but it was hard to tell that Rasheed was supposed to be older than Mariam. Particular kudos to Mirian Katrib as Laila who is pregnant about half the play. Also, Justin Xavier Poydras played Zalmai the night I saw it.
I think the play will be slightly more successful for book fans, but certainly if you enjoy a quick run through about two woman becoming close in very difficult circumstances, and the choices and sacrifices they make for survival, this play does that.
Thursday, January 23, 2020
Three Interesting Things
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
2019 Reading Tally
The earliest was from 2008. 74 from 2019. 54 from 2018
I read 115 distinct authors, 68 of which were new to me. The new to me category seems a little odd, when you factor in it includes Michelle Obama, but I had not previously read her, so that is how we are counting.
Kris Ripper's Queers of La Vista series made them my most read author this year, at 5.
June and July were banner months with 22 each. (It helps to have a bunch started. And then have some travel.)
33 audio books, 110 were ebooks. 45 library books, some of which I already owned in another format or purchased later.
17 non-fiction, but romance remains my number one at 69 (heh), and YA at 44. 73 contained diverse main characters or people, by my count at least 66 of these were ownvoices across one of the represented marginalizations, or were non-fiction.
-Blair Braverman's Welcome to the Goddamn Icecube is a travel memoir, looking at journeys to cold places. But it was an interesting reminder of how so many travel memoirs are about folks who get to travel without worry. Not always an easy read, but Braverman's frankness about the challenges of facing those moments where you know nothing has happened to you yet, but it might, and how tough that can be to communicate to others, made it a memoir that seemed truer to me than some others I have read.
-Jessie Mihalik's Polaris Rising was recommended to me several times before I finally decided to give it a shot. Sci-fi is often far more interested in the bits of climate or the operation of space doors than I am. Polaris Rising is for me, a delightful on the run, maybe my fellow prisoner wants to help me escape not just this ship, but the even bigger group chasing me story that just happens to involve interplanetary escape. It was great. I have marked the arrival of the next story on my book calendar.
-Anna Zabo's Syncopation has a new band member joining after another leaves following a video being posted online making it look like the lead singer is violent. It involves some kink and everything about the two characters love of music as they learned to appreciate each other was really wonderful
-Therese Beharrie's One Day to Fall - I loved this story of two somewhat cranky people who run into each other at the hospital and have to deal with altered family relationships and figuring out their new place and if they even have time to think smoochie thoughts at each other.
-Caitlin Crews' A Baby to Bind His Bride - For those familiar with the Presents line, this is bonkers in the way of Presents in that a woman shows up at a commune to discover her husband who was presumed dead in the hopes of being like, cool, cool, please take your awful family back and I'll be on my way. And then of course she ends up pregnant and they have to figure basically everything out. There is some imprisonment, because Presents dudes are terribly controlling. I felt the groveling balance made up for it, but YMMV.
-Olivia Dade's Teach Me - We read this for romance book group, and it was everything I had hoped for. Full disclosure, I am friends with Dade. This book about two teachers of a certain age navigating a shifting school year, divorce (more recent for him), and what it might mean if they fell in love was just delightful. My angst meter is very broken. But to me this felt low angst, there were career concerns, and of course, can I trust happy concerns, but this demonstration of mature people falling in love was a delight.
-Claire Kann's If it Makes You Happy - I loved this Gilmore Girls-esque story of a young Black woman going to visit her grandmother for the summer, and ending up in a summer royalty situation where her ungirlfriend and her possible crush compete for her attention. Warning: Her grandmother and others do participate in some fatphobic behavior. She handles it well, but it is tough.
-Aminah Mae Safi's Tell Me How You Really Feel - Also Gilmore Girls-esque, but if what you really wanted was Rory and Paris to be a enemies to girlfriends style couple. Sana keeps firing the lead in her movie, so her film club advisor forces her to cast Rachel.
-Ruby Lang's Playing House - I adored this story of two New York urban planners finding each other at various open houses and then discovering that maybe there is something there. Sure, come for the real estate nerdery, but stay for the moment where a mom tells her kid in front of the siblings that they were right.
-Tara Pammi's An Innocent to Tame the Italian - This is also a Presents, and also bonkers. She hacks his system, he locates her and basically is like so now I need you to both patch my security and be my fake fiancee. And off they go.
-Becca Syme's Dear Writer You Need to Quit - Syme and I met when we both worked on a contest together, and I've admired her posts on how knowing yourself can lead you to better sort through the conflicting productivity advice out there. She in this book, and in the Quitcast podcast focus on writers, but I think a lot of this advice works for other folks to.
-Olivia Waite's The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics - This book did everything I had hoped for when Waite first announced a story with an embroiderer and an astronomer. The ideas about who gets to be at the table, why it always looks like the women there are just listening, and what it means to face publicity.
-Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert I read alongside Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz. These two ended up pairing well together in that both were books about folks with chronic conditions and discussed how that changes and alters your relationships with others, and creates some additional angst when healthier folks in your life don't quite get it. Enjoyed both a lot.
-Priya Parker's The Art of Gathering took me a while to read, not because it wasn't great but because it created so many aha moments. Parker looks at how some of the ways we create gathering work at cross purpose to the event we wish to create and how to dig deeper on that.
-Angie Thomas' On the Come Up - I started out reading this and then switched to audio (thanks, library!) and found I really liked listening to it. All respect to the reader, I'm not sure she has a career ahead in rap, but it helped to animate those sections. The story is about Bri, who feels like the least helpful member of her struggling family, and is focused on making it big as a rapper so she can change that. Angie Thomas writes some of the best, layered sibling relationships. It was also a really modern look at the choices we make about living up to or defying stereotypes.
-Rachel Spangler's Edge of Glory - This is the story of two winter Olympians, a skiier and a snowboarder. It is a slow burn, but also just a really great look at two athletes who do not have time to be distracted, unless of course, they just are.
-Sara Rees Brennan's In Other Lands - Speaking of riffing off other fantasy tropes, this book made me exceedingly happy as it poked fun at literally every thing I have ever whined about in fantasy. The main character is super snarky and barges into everything, so you have to be willing to go with that, but I snickered and texted someone halfway through that they had to read it.
-Kris Ripper's Gays of Our Lives - This is the first in a series about a small California town that has an active and social LGBTQ community. This story features the classic grumpy hero and the ball of sunshine hero, and I just adored it to pieces. And immediately bought the next one.
-Mia Garcia's The Resolutions - I read this in one day, specifically New Year's Day. This book is a wonderful story about four friends who decide to make each other's resolutions. And one of the characters is so clearly struggling with the burden of living up to this, all while smiling and telling everyone that everything is fine, that I do not think I could have read this over a few days and not really been mad at everyone. So, for me, the one day read was the way to go. It does all get resolved and the journey was well worth it.