spock: logic is sexy

Book Review: Salvage the Bones

Title: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Genre: Literary fiction

The story: Esch is a 15-year-old African-American girl who lives in desperate poverty in the deep south. Each of her family members is on a desperate quest for hope and escape, whether by breeding prize-winning pit bulls, winning the love of a neighborhood boy, or hanging onto the memories of a dead mother. Each of the characters tries to go on living a normal life with Hurricane Katrina on the horizon, ready to shatter everything they know.

My review: My enjoyment of the book suffered because the jacket copy set me up for a different story from what I got. I expected it to be an entire novel about preparing for and surviving a hurricane, with each character trying to hold onto whatever gives them hope. It is actually about 75% about the characters' day-to-day lives with a hurricane at the end. The writing is gorgeous, and the main character is achingly human, so I think I would have liked the book if the story line hadn't been misrepresented. As it was, I kept getting impatient for the hurricane and the suspense it promised. Read the book if you want to witness a slice of life that's probably very different from your own. Do not read it if you want to read a daring tale of surviving a natural disaster.
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spock: logic is sexy

Keep Swimming

I started my second eight-week swimming course tonight, and they put me in the advanced class this time. Eek! I mean, I was getting frustrated in the beginner's class last time, but I thought I might go in the intermediate group? I am in over my head. Literally. We are practicing in the deep end of the pool.

The thing I like about swimming is that I am good at figuring it out. I've never felt like I was good at anything physical before -- and objectively, I'm still not a good swimmer, but I am good at figuring out what I'm doing wrong and how to improve. Tonight I wasn't getting my left arm to rotate correctly, so I started practicing with only that arm. Then I made up a drill where I passed a kick board back and forth between my hands, and by the end of the night I was using both my arms much better. Usually, when I try physical things I can't improve like that.

Anyway, it's fortunate that I took swimming lessons before the big Panama snorkeling trip (which I will make a separate post about this weekend). It was not drifting lazily around near a boat. It was stuff like, "jump out of the boat here, then swim between these two islands and come around the rocks. The boat will pick you up on the other side. PS the current is really strong." I would have been in real trouble without the lessons, but I made it! Sometimes I was even ahead of the rest of the group!
spock: logic is sexy

Book Review: Radium Girls

Title: Radium Girls: The Dark History of America's Shining Girls by Kate Moore

Genre: Narrative Non-fiction

The story: Americans once viewed radium as a "wonder element" that could cure almost any illness. It was used in countless inventions, including paint to make glow in the dark watches for soldiers in World War I. While the scientists at the paint factory took precaution, the female painters were encouraged to use their mouths to hone radium-dipped brushes into fine points for painting tiny watch faces. They allowed radium dust to fall on their clothing. They used leftover paint to create glowing designs on their faces and even their private parts -- all without a word of warning from the factory owners who employed them.

My review: I was riveted by the medical drama of diagnosing the women's myriad illnesses and the legal drama of getting compensation from their employers. The glimpses into women's lives in the twenties were equally fascinating - not just the factory workers, but the whole hidden array of women in the medical and legal professions who eventually helped them. Occasionally the prose is overwrought, but not enough to get in the way of the subject matter. Sensitive readers should beware that some medical content is graphic, and there are disturbing medical pictures in the middle of the book.
spock: logic is sexy

Book Review

The Title: Blindspot by Jane Kamensky & Jill Lepore

The story: Stewart Jamieson, a Scottish painter, flees his debts by sailing to Boston. As soon as he sets up shop in America, he advertises for a painter. Fanny Easton is a "fallen woman" from a prosperous family who longs to paint, so she dresses up as a boy and takes the job. The situation becomes complicated when Stewart falls in love with Fanny, still thinking that she's a boy.

My review: The authors could have cut out a good 100 pages without losing anything, but overall I quite enjoyed the book. It's written by two Harvard history professors, so they really excel at bringing the period to life with small details. I enjoyed the book as both a love story and a satire of Jane Austen-ish tropes, and it was interesting to read about a queer character in a time period when they are very rarely portrayed.
spock: logic is sexy

January/February Fic Roundup

I posted 5 stories in the last two months! For comparison, I only wrote 9 stories in all of last year.

Game of Thrones
Title: The Oath Breaker Keeps His Word
Characters: Jaime Lannister, Arya Stark, Brienne of Tarth, Sansa Stark, Jon Snow, Bran Stark, Lyanna Mormont
Rating: Teen
Summary: After arriving at Winterfell without an army, Jaime Lannister sets out on yet another mission doomed to certain failure: befriending Arya Stark.
Word Count: 6000

Star Trek AOS
Title:Rule 69
Rating: Teen
Characters & Pairings: McCoy/Uhura, Gaila, Sulu
Summary: When Nyota agreed to let Gaila set her up on a blind date, she never imagined it would be with Dr. McCoy -- and she definitely never imagined that she would end up liking him.
Word count: 9,000
Notes: Set in an AU where Spock and Uhura amicably chose to part ways after Into the Darkness

Star Wars Original Trilogy
Title: A Human Resource Problem
Rating: Teen
Characters: Leia Organa, Kylo Ren
Summary: Kylo Ren captures General Organa. It does not turn out as planned.

Star Wars Sequel Trilogy
Title: Useful
Rating: Teen
Characters: Leia, Han, Luke
Summary: Leia tries to figure out how to fit in on the Falcon.

Title: Squad Goals
Characters & Pairings: Leia Organa, Poe Dameron, Rey, Finn, Rose Tico, Kaydel Co Connix, background Poe/Kaydel
Rating: Teen
Word Count: 11K
Summary:
"We should take the general on a mission," Rose said. "One that's useful and not fatal."

“We have those?” Finn asked.

“Probably not fatal if well-executed,” Rose amended.

The surviving members of the Resistance decide the best way to help Leia is to take her on a recruiting mission to Rose's home world.
avengers: darcy approves

Black Panther

I saw Black Panther last night. I don't have many organized thoughts, but I loved it even though I'm pretty burned out on the Marvel franchise movies. The most fun thing about it was listening to the audience react - even a week out from the premiere, people were pretty vocal! The visuals are stunning, the plot actually held together, and the female characters are quite lovely (more interesting than the male lead, IMHO, but that's how I usually feel). I cherish a small, personal belief that Wakanda is actually based on Rwanda, a tiny central African nation hidden by jagged peaks that did not escape the ravages of colonialism but did reunify and rebuild in a way that defies Anglo stereotypes.
star wars: leia smile

Two more Star Wars fics

Here are my last two Chocolate Box stories. For the past two years, I've really struggled to write anything short. Everything I write turns into some 10,000 word epic even when I don't mean for it to. It was a nice break to actually manage to write a couple small treats.

Title: A Human Resource Problem
Rating: Teen
Characters: Leia Organa, Kylo Ren
Summary: Kylo Ren captures General Organa. It does not turn out as planned.

Title: Useful
Rating: Teen
Characters: Leia, Han, Luke
Summary: Leia tries to figure out how to fit in on the Falcon.
spock: logic is sexy

Game of Thrones Fic: The Oath Breaker Keeps His Word

This is the second longish story I wrote for Chocolate Box, and my first in a new fandom since 2015. I'd forgotten how nerve racking it is to try and get the character voices right, but also how much fun it is to explore a whole new world. Unusual friendships are one of my favorite things to write about, and I had a good time figuring out how Jaime and Arya could find common ground.

Title: The Oath Breaker Keeps His Word
Characters: Jaime Lannister, Arya Stark, Brienne of Tarth, Sansa Stark, Jon Snow, Bran Stark, Lyanna Mormont
Rating: Teen
Summary: After arriving at Winterfell without an army, Jaime Lannister sets out on yet another mission doomed to certain failure: befriending Arya Stark.
Word Count: 6000
spock: logic is sexy

Star Wars Fic: Squad Goals

In news that will surprise no one, my first post-TLJ fic is a little long! In hindsight, Chocolate Box is not the place to debut an 11,000 word story, and I'm kinda sad that not many people read it. On the other hand, my recip *loved* it, and I am very happy with it, so no actual regrets.

Title: Squad Goals
Characters & Pairings: Leia Organa, Poe Dameron, Rey, Finn, Rose Tico, Kaydel Co Connix, background Poe/Kaydel
Rating: Teen
Word Count: 11K
Summary:
"We should take the general on a mission," Rose said. "One that's useful and not fatal."

“We have those?” Finn asked.

“Probably not fatal if well-executed,” Rose amended.

The surviving members of the Resistance decide the best way to help Leia is to take her on a recruiting mission to Rose's home world.