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Hello, hello! [ profile] c_katherine and I have abandoned our old "proper" blog for "Anna Katherine" and have moved to doing more brain radio over at Tumblr. You can follow us here:

You will notice, if you head over there, one of the most recent posts is about fridging, manpain, and failure. It took us a long time to write this post, because it's embarrassing and humiliating and felt awful, but we ultimately felt like it was important enough to us that we needed to write it and put it out there.

Attached to the post is a short story that is the last thing we're going to write in the Salt and Silver universe specifically focused on Ryan and Allie, but I urge you not to scroll right to it. Read the top bit.
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I'm watching Justified. Have y'all ever seen it? It is a really awful show that is nevertheless incredibly enjoyable. I love Timothy Olyphant's teeth, and his walk is, like, the definition of a "loose-hipped gait," isn't it? Like a romance novel hero.

I thought for a moment that my grasp of geography has been getting worse when in the last episode I watched, Timothy Olyphant's teeth and hips tracked a fugitive to the Mexican border. What?! Since when does Kentucky border Mexico? Then I realized that while I was counting my knitting stitches, I somehow missed them heading out to California. Haha. In this episode I'm watching now, Buster Bluth deals in art painted by Hitler! Double haha.

Today I was nosing around the book racks in WalMart, and I couldn't help but notice that two of the four bookshelves were all romance novels. One entire bookshelf was taken up with Harlequin series -- they're putting out Christmas books already! Harlequin, it is only October. You should be selling The Devil's Halloween Baby, not His Christmas Love! The other romance novel bookshelf was entirely contemporary paranormals and contemporary westerns. Now, I am a big fan of paranormals (obviously), and I do have a (not so) secret love of the western romance, full of ranches and Montana and women in cowboy hats. But... a whole bookshelf? And nothing else? That seems pretty excessive.

(If you're interested... Bookshelf #3 was all YA -- Cassandra Clare and Rick Riordan and J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins and Stephenie Meyer. Bookshelf #4 was all action/adventure and bestselling hardcover nonfiction.)

Speaking of books! I started reading Dust by Joan Frances Turner. I can see why people are making a big deal of this book, especially since it's told from the POV of a zombie. Cool, right? But I thought it was supposed to be a grim, scary book. I'm about a third of the way through, and so far it's just sort of wandering around the worldbuilding with no real story being told -- and it's gory. It's really gory. I don't think things that are gory are scary or interesting; I think gory tends to be pretty boring. I don't get off in any way on torture porn, written or visual.

I think it would probably really interest thirteen year olds, though.

That's one of the problems with being an adult and reading YA. Were I acquiring YA for a YA audience, I would be reading with a different eye. But I'm an adult reading YA fiction for entertainment. I'm not necessarily looking to completely dump my critical reading skills, but I'm also not looking to replicate my uncomplicated childhood reading experiences, either. So I want a lot more things -- complicated things -- from YA books. And I get that from some authors, I really do. And from others... well, I can see why the target market would enjoy it, but I personally am not.

I'll probably finish the book anyway, especially since the prose is not torturous, but darn it. I was really hoping it would be super dark and super grim and super depressing and more traditionally "post-apocalyptic." Sigh!

Hey, you know what else about books? The first draft of the sequel to Salt and Silver is finished! Two weeks ahead of schedule, too. Now it's time to reread and revise!
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Yesterday I acquired rhubarb, and last night I chopped it up -- most of it went into the freezer to store while I wait for my pectin to arrive. (Mail ordering pectin. I can't believe it's come to this, that grocery stores no longer stock it. What a world.) I took this opportunity to practice my brunoise skill. Brunoise is a type of cut -- first you julienne whatever you're cutting, which means to cut it into sticks that are 1mm x 1mm. This itself is incredibly difficult. Then, to brunoise, you cut the sticks into a cube that is 1mm square.

I am not very good at this, but it's fun to practice. (It is fun for me any time I get to wield a sharp knife and chop things.)

Some of the rhubarb indeed went into the freezer to await the pectin that will turn it into jam (well, strawberries will also be involved); the rest of it, though, went into a bowl with cornstarch and sugar and powdered ginger, and was baked into Smitten Kitchen's rhubarb coffee cake, which was a big hit when I served it to guests this morning. That recipe calls for the rhubarb to be cut into 1" slices -- but I did that when I made this recipe for my birthday, and found that such large pieces of rhubarb stay too tart/sour, and get a little too stringy and slimy for my taste. The rhubarb I cut into an imperfect brunoise was exactly right, though -- a little tart, a little sweet, not at all stringy or slimy. Highly recommended.

Day 27 - If a book contains ______, you will always read it (and a book or books that contain it)!

This might be my favorite prompt in the whole meme. Here are things I love in books:
  • Lesbian detectives! Bonus points if she falls in love with a reformed criminal (a la fandom's version of White Collar). (Oh, gosh, if White Collar was about a lesbian FBI agent with a significant other and they ended up in a poly relationship with a female con artist, I would... well, I'd be thrilled, but also shocked as hell, since that would never end up on TV!)
  • Mossad agents. Bonus points if they are hunting down Nazi WWII criminals.
  • CIA agents. Bonus points if they team up with the Mossad to hunt down Nazi WWII criminals. (Triple bonus points if the CIA agent and the Mossad agent are lesbians who fall in love.)
  • Diners. I love diners. I want every book to be set in a diner. Okay, maybe not every book -- but I will definitely pick up almost any book if the main character owns a diner, works in a diner, or frequents a diner so often it's mentioned in the cover copy. (A million bonus points if the book is about a lesbian CIA agent and a lesbian Mossad agent who fall in love while catching Nazi criminals while... running a diner? Perhaps time travel is involved so there can be a WWII setting...)

Okay, looking at this list, I realize it is much more of a wish list than a list of things that books I've read have actually contained/been about. I mean, I have never read a book with a lesbian CIA or Mossad agent, much less one in which they fall in love while running a diner and hunting Nazi criminals. If you have, please share the title!

So here's a new, real list:

  • YA set during WWII. I read a lot of this when I was growing up, thanks to the huge library at my shul. My favorites in this genre include:

  • Books with diners in them. Seriously! Like Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen -- or, oh! Salt and Silver by Anna Katherine!! (Haha.) (But seriously.)

  • Secret agents. CIA, FBI, Secret Service, Mossad, MI5, MI6, I don't care. Give me a secret agent -- particularly with a romance. I'll read action-adventure books, too, but I am much more discriminating about the action-adventure/espionage books than I am about romance novels. I will read any romance novel with a secret agent romance, especially if the romance is cross-agency or happens on a mission. My favorite is probably All the Queen's Men by Linda Howard -- yes, please! Or Shining Through by Susan Isaacs, which incorporates many of my favorite things, including spies, fighting Nazis, a WWII setting, and a heroine from New York City. Thumbs up! I actually read Shining Through at least four times when I was nine years old. It is very important that neither of the secret agents die at the end of the book, and that they do end up together, not fighting or betraying each other! They don't need to get that "traditional romance novel happily ever after" (which I often loathe anyway!) -- I just want them to be semi-committed to a relationship (polyamorous is fine, monogamy not required!) with each other and not be killing each other or killed themselves. You see? I don't want a lot!

  • Dystopia. Although... I am not sure this really belongs here. I will read any fanfic that has a dystopian setting (especially if it's set in the near-future or in the present with a slightly alternate history), and I will watch any dystopian TV show for at least a few episodes, but those, to me, require less of an investment than novels. And dystopian novels, as we all know, can be very very very awful. So I am partial to dystopian novels, but I will not read just any dystopian novel. However, obviously, if you write a dystopian novel about a lesbian Mossad agent fighting Nazis and falling in love with a lesbian CIA agent whilst running or spending a lot of time in a diner, I will absolutely read it with no hesitation.

Your turn! What gets you going every time? Any book recommendations for me?

Other days of the book meme )
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Day 08 - A book everyone should read at least once

Ooh! Ooh! I know this one! The dictionary!!!!!!

I try to take some time to read the dictionary every week. I don't always learn words that I didn't already know, but I think it's fascinating to take a look at dictionary definitions of words. It is good for impressive words during Scrabble games, but also I like to know a lot of words so that I can say what I mean more specifically if I have to. Plus: words. What could possibly be bad about words? Words are wonderful! To know them is divine! Etc.!

The dictionary I use right now is Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed.

My favorite part is possibly the tiny bit of etymology that one gets in the dictionary, but don't hold me to that.

...if you want a work of fiction that I think everyone should read, well... there I am stuck. Honestly, I don't think it's that important that everyone read the same thing. I don't think Shakespeare is all that amazing, and I don't think the "classics" are really that classic at all. I would never tell someone they had to read, like, Hemingway, or their life isn't complete. Certainly reading certain "classics" felt like a huge time suck to me, with zero practical benefit. I didn't even get the benefit of feeling like I was absorbing some kind of art that would make my inner life more rich. The Scarlet Letter did not make my life more rich -- it just made me really annoyed.

(I was told in high school that I didn't like The Scarlet Letter because I read it when I was nine or ten and therefore too young to understand what was going on -- but I read it around the same time I read The Handmaid's Tale, which I'd understood just fine. I read it again anyway, at age 14, and again at age 20 -- understood it perfectly fine, still did not like it, or think it was at all some kind of amazing work of genius. Yet still sometimes when people find out I didn't like it, I'm asked how old I was when I read it, like it would somehow get better with age. Although I will say that no one ever says that to me who's also self-identified as a feminist/womanist of any stripe. Interesting, right? Just my experience.)

The disappointment I felt when I read On the Road and The Catcher in the Rye -- two books a lot of people insisted were necessary to my reading education -- is almost indescribable. So many adults in my life told me that they couldn't wait until I was old enough to read Catcher that I picked it up when I was 12 or so. Even the local librarian was encouraging when she saw me with a copy of it. I was shocked as hell to read it and realize that it was just about a whiny, pretentious kid with no problems except that he was really annoying.

(Also, I couldn't help but wonder if that was actually what all the adults in my life saw when they looked at me, and didn't trust an adult for many years after that.)

I'm not saying that these books aren't historically important to the way literature is written and the way published fiction "evolved" (for lack of a better word, which I guess is ironic considering my embrace of the dictionary!) -- certainly many books had a huge effect in their time, and continue to affect people to this day.

But I wouldn't say they are necessary reading.

Instead of encouraging me to read Catcher and Shakespeare, someone should have handed me a copy of We Who Are About To... by Joanna Russ -- for a 12 yr old kid who read a lot of stuff with science fiction and fantasy elements, that would have been invaluable reading. And I wish I'd read Joanna Russ's How to Suppress Women's Writing when I was a teenager as well -- I think it would have been invaluable to me at sixteen or seventeen.

Oh, you know what? I guess I think everyone should read Salt and Silver -- talk about a good book! (Haha.) (Actually, it is quite a good book, if I do say so myself.)

So... do you agree? Disagree? As always, feel free to post your own answers to the meme in the comments of this post, or link to your own blog entry.

Other days of the book meme )


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anna genoese

November 2015

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