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About Venneh

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    Glad we're all on the same murderous page.
  • Birthday 11/20/1988

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  1. Venneh

    What You've Read Recently

    And continuing for 2019!
  2. Venneh

    What You've Read Recently

    97. The Winter of the Witch, Katherine Arden: So. I applied for ARC access for this book on a whim, on the basis that I had the first book in my library and not thinking I’d get it. And then I did. So I decided that to be fair to it, I’d read that first book, along with finding a copy of the second book, before I got to this ARC. I found some of the ideas in the first book interesting, but found they got thrown aside for elements I wasn’t that interested in. The second book was frustrating attempts to set groundwork for the third book and things bought up to be thrown aside suddenly in favor of oh hey third book! And then we get to this. I have a thing where I will read an entire book, even if it makes me want to throw it against a goddamn wall, because I want to be fair to it. And then I tear it a new one. This is me doing that, because I read through this book, all 384 pages, in the last twenty four hours or so, and Jesus fucking Christ this book. I should’ve fucking quit when the author decided to explicitly code the supposed big bad with queer villain tropes. I thought maybe someone would tell her maybe this wasn’t a good idea. They didn’t. I came this close to throwing the book when the priest he seduced was described as having “lips and hands as delicate as a woman’s”. Did you know our main character is both Russian folk spirit AND witch AND Russian royalty descended? And beloved of the winter king? And also Baba Yaga’s heir? AND the sister of a mythical monk character from history that Arden wanted to have as her final battle in the book, but didn’t realize that she made it seem like the book was over two thirds of the way through? Oh and the big bad sides with her because she’s just that awesome. Throw in a bunch of rape threats, clumsy wrapping up of loose plot threads, sex that the author can’t commit to describing, and pretty mediocre writing, and I am actually somewhat angry that I committed the time I did to this trilogy. It’s her first book series, and I guess the editor didn’t really want to criticize her?? Or they wanted to get on the “fantasy set in not European cultures” wave but didn’t actually want to put effort in. Mediocrity is something I can usually let well enough alone. But shit like this actually makes me angry, especially when it’s a white woman getting a chance to publish this shit while NK Jemisin takes 20 years to get a career under her. 98. Silence, Shusaku Endo: To know why this is so affecting, you need to know that Endo is a Japanese Catholic who wrestled continually with the role of his faith versus the culture he was raised in, and the history of what that culture had done to that faith. The story focuses on a Portuguese priest who goes looking for a mentor of his who may have apostatized, and is eventually captured and the crisis of faith that he experiences as the Japanese believers and fellow priest are martyred for his refusal to apostatize, but he himself is never tortured. The priest ends up taking on the role of Judas, and the examination of faith and the ensuing novel is a hell of a read, even almost fifty years removed from publication. It’s a classic for a reason - read it if you can. 99. The Fated Sky, Mary Robinette Kowal: Sequel to The Calculating Stars. Technically “hard” sci-if in how much it relies on science to explain space flight, but written well enough that it was something I could easily put down for a few weeks and still be able to pick up with ease when I did so again. I’m impressed at the depth to which Kowal built out the social aspects of the world, and in particular in this book, how racism and sexism would be exacerbated, especially in contained quarters in space. Our POV character isn’t perfect and does make mistakes, but she tries to learn at least. There's stuff we don’t see by way of being limited by our protagonist’s POV (especially since half the book is spent in space), but I do hope we get a bit of that corrected in the sequel. There’s one particular aspect (a particularly racist astronaut who is on the flight to Mars) that I do feel like was slightly not dealt with entirely, but I imagine that’s for the sequel. Not anywhere near my top twenty, but still a good solid read. 100. How Long Till Black Future Month?, NK Jemisin: I am genuinely surprised by this collection. Unsurprisingly, Jemisin is insanely good at writing short stories, and there are several ones in here that I actually wish were published elsewhere or at least online, because I want to share them with people. (The most notable of these is the story that opens the collection, “The Ones Who Stay and Fight”, which is a direct response to Ursula LeGuin’s famous short story.) There are almost no stories in here that I would consider passes, and I would gladly read any of these again. There are several proof of concept stories in here for novels she’s already written, too, so it’s fun to see where some novels originated. Basically, one of my top ten, and definitely worth another read. 101. Red Doc>, Anne Carson: This is a sequel to Autobiography of Red, definitely an experimental verse novel and moves into being more of its own thing. The first two thirds or so are very surreal but also a touch meta in that it feels like it’s Carson settling into what she wants to do with this narrative as Geryon figures out what he wants to do with himself. This didn’t hit for me until the last third or so, where he goes to be with his mother as she’s dying. Definitely worth reading through if you find it in a sales section, not sure if I’d read it at full price though. 102. The Light Between the Worlds, Laura Weymouth: Its very rare for me to go through a book in the space of a few hours (in this case, spent in the bath). That alone should tell you’re in for an amazing read. This is very much a response to CS Lewis and the Narnia books, and focuses on the sibling relationship, particularly between the sisters, and what their return to England after having lived several years in another world back in the bodies they were in when they left would actually look like. The two sisters have small markers that indicate that they’re responses to Susan and Lucy Pevensie, but they are their own characters, and watching their relationship be shaped by their time in the other world and their responses to it afterward is a gorgeous read. The only thing I’m mildly uncomfortable with is that a suicide attempt is posed as the fix to depression that results from one of the characters’ return to England, which is a bit iffy with the YA audience it’s aimed at. But otherwise, the frank look at depression and grief and trauma are a refreshing response to portal fantasy. Definitely worth a read. 103. A Paradise Built In Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster, Rebecca Solnit: This is a pretty dense read, but this is a pretty extraordinary look at disasters and the reality of the aftermath and support that tends to pop up in their aftermath. There’s some historical coverage - the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, 9/11, the idea of the Mandate of Heaven, the London Blitz, the Halifax explosion, and other historical disaster scholars and media portrayals of disaster aftermath. But most interesting to me, and where the book likely began in earnest, was the narratives of the Katrina aftermath versus the reality of the racism of the government and National Guard and what happened to the citizens of New Orleans because of it, versus the community taking care of their own. It’s a pretty thorough rebuke of the post apocalyptic “every man for himself and everything will go to hell” narrative using actual historical examples. Definitely worth a read if you find it. 104. Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag: An essay about the role of photography in war, and how the exposure to the horror of war through war photography plays into or against the anti war sentiment. It’s a fantastically written essay that uses critical art theory and war history to interrogate the argument that media involvement in war actually numbs us to it, and it’s a pocket size hundred fifty page book that you can get through in an hourish read on the bus, for example. 105. Swordheart, T Kingfisher: God bless that she’s continuing this series - this is the same universe as Clockwork Boys, but a completely new setting and characters. This is basically her response to the character of Blackwall in DAI. The main plot is a romance between a middle aged widow trying to get her rightful inheritance, and the man in the magic sword she’s inherited. There’s priests who are lawyers, slime parasites, a great middle aged character, and more strokes that fill out the universe. Plus, it turns out there’s two more swords, and this is the start of a trilogy. YES. Great final read for the year.
  3. Venneh

    Every comic you've read in 2018

    Fuck it, I give up for now.
  4. Venneh

    Every comic you've read in 2019

    Harrow County v8: Hell of an ending to the story, and fantastic art to boot. Trades: 1
  5. Venneh

    Every comic you've read in 2018

    (Reminder to self to attempt to remember what all I've read since August 21st, probably not gonna remember it all but by god I'm gonna try)
  6. Venneh

    What games are you currently playing?

    Overwatch: Still fun, picking up Ashe and a bit of the Ham Ham, still mostly a Moira main, with sides of Lucio and Mei. I just hit gold in terms of levels, which I think puts me at something like 1500? I've played this game a lot. Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance (aka the PS4 port of the 3DS game): So, this is something you do need to play on a fairly regular basis or you will forget certain mechanics (see: my spending twenty minutes trying to remember how to do Reality Shift after putting it down for a week plus the other night). The mechanic of switching between Sora and Riku on something like a timer keeps gameplay interesting, but man oh man, I would REALLY like to see more frequent save points. The Spirits as Pokemon mecahnic feels a bit extra, but can be fun, even if I'm not entirely sure how it works half the time. Command decks are back, so I'm betting we see that in KH3. Flowmotion can be mildly irritating when you go into it when you don't mean to, but it's gotten a bit better as the game's gone on. I'm currently stuck on a boss battle in the Tron world on Sora's part, and I was up till 1:30 last night before giving up for the night. I kind of missed doing that, except for the part where I wanted to throw the controller.
  7. Venneh

    What You've Read Recently

    91. Swing Time, Zadie Smith: Ehhh? I got it remaindered, read half of it in line to vote bc there wasn’t much else to do. The story follows two biracial girls in London throughout their lives, but really only one and the other through her eyes. If you squint there’s some stuff about how people form identities and appropriation and privilege and the interference of well meaning superrich individuals in international communities causing more problems than they solve, it it flits away before actually commits to commentary. It feels like it can’t decide if it wants to be a chick lit novel about these girls’ friendship or a Novel About Things, and it suffers for the indecision. It’s a solid book, but could be better if it actually committed to what it wants to be about. 92. Middlegame, Seanan McGuire: ARC, comes out next May. A hell of a novel, and something I actually would be interested to see Seanan expand on world wise. A story of two kids and the alchemical powers they end up embodying, them growing to adulthood and figuring out what’s going on with them, time travel, fiction used as a way to frame the way the world thinks of things and as a framing device for the story itself, and all kinds of things in between. The opening is also a very clever chess reference that if you know it frames the book very well. Definitely one you should read when it comes out. I also wouldn’t mind more about characters like Reed and Baker and Leigh, honestly. 93. Vicious, VE Schwab: Man, do I have some feelings about this. One the one hand: quickly paced solidly written prose, and once it starts to get fully going plot wise (first half of the book is basically setting up the FoeYay), it takes the hell off. And they don’t try to portray either of the two main male leads as heroes, either. On the other: two of three female characters in this end up dead, which is deeeeeeply fucking irritating, especially when the second female character was seemingly positioned to become the big bad, and the first just felt like a straight up fridging. I also had to check that Schwab didn’t have a past in fanfic, because man, this felt like a scrubbed serial killer Charles/Erik AU. It got to the point where I was reading parts out loud to the boyfriend when I found the various expies (Emma Frost and Nightcrawler stand out in particular). There’s a sequel, but I’m not sure that I want to give it the shot, and given that it’s only out in hardback currently, ehhhh. It was a fun read but it was also irritating the hell out of me by the end of it. 94. The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden: Got this for free at C2E2 in recent years I want to say. Russian based fantasy novel that takes a bit to find its footing, and once it does, it feels like it takes off at a gallop, but stumbles a bit when it gets towards the end. The juxtaposition of the Russian Orthodox Church against the folk tales and how the darker side of Russian folklore uses a priest to play into his hands makes for a deeply compelling conflict in the middle of the book. However, the set up to get there and the sudden turn it seems to take at the end towards not being self contained are deeply frustrating. It’s a first novel, and I’ve essentially gotten this and the soon to be released third part for free, so I’m willing to gamble and see how the rest turns out. 95.The Bird King, G. Willow Wilson: ARC, comes out in February I believe. I mainly knew G. Willow through her work on Ms Marvel and Vertigo, but this is the first of her novels I’ve read. And I love it. It’s the story of a concubine and a gay mapmaker with mysterious powers that are caught up in the fall of Granada, and the reach of the Inquisition, and their attempts to make a life for themselves. This is a fascinating and well paced novel that gets its hooks in you early and doesn’t let go. The characters are wonderful, the setting is one that is not normally explored in historical fiction, much less historical fantasy, and the fantasy is just a very practical and useful aspect of the story - being able to draw maps of places you’ve never seen before, being able to be unseen by being what those around you expect to see, things like that, with a touch of otherworldliness from the jinn. Most fascinating to me though is the use of stories in the novel, and how the stories we tell to each other shape us and our experiences, especially those that are passed on from others. There’s a line I can’t find at the moment but will try to find in the morning that talks about how all they have are stories from the people trying to conquer them, that really stuck with me. Of particular note for me though is the big bad of the story, who is a white woman who is an Inquisitor, and while there is a story trope that is reminiscent of the Snow Queen/the Bible (the mote in the eye), but the novel makes it clear that while she is influenced by evil, the actions she undertakes and her beliefs are very much her own, and are absolutely terrifying. She looms over the story even when not there, and I have to wonder how having her in her headspace went for G Willow. Get this when it comes out. 96. The Girl in the Tower, Katherine Arden: Second book in the trilogy, and the only one I paid money for. Kind of regretting that I did, currently. A pretty aggressively mediocre girl masquerading as a guy story with a side of “but oh the frost demon fell in LOVE with her” and a sudden right turn into hey larger treachery going on and oh btw Koschei the Deathless. There’s also some pretty significant padding in the beginning, which is frustrating. I’m going to read the ARC of book 3, because maybe it somehow gets better, but I’m not holding my breath. How the hell did this get a fucking trilogy?
  8. Venneh

    Happy Birthday Hannah!

    Thanks so much kids!
  9. Venneh

    What You've Read Recently

    86. Stealing Life, Antony Johnston: A novel that Johnston published earlier in his career (about 11 years ago) that’s being rereleased, and hoo boy, let’s just say that it shows. About two thirds of this is mediocre fantasy with a slap dash of scifi to be unique. And then in the final third, it gets to a genuinely interesting twist that, if it had been introduced sooner, would have given this a leg up. That said, it’s clearly a very early writing attempt with Johnston still getting his sea legs under him. This apparently was part of a shared universe in the original edition, and underwent edits to remove references to the shared universe in this edition. Apparently no further edits were done, which is surprising to me. (The fact that all three of your female characters are whores and one of them is protagonist’s mother and the other is his love interest is not a point in this book’s favor.) Got an ARC (though I don’t know that it could be called that because of the previous release) of this, it’s out November 1st. If you really like Johnston’s work, and want to see what his early work looked like, go for it! As a revised novel.... not the best thing I’ve read this year but certainly not the worst. 87. Kingdom of Needle and Bone, Mira Grant: Clearly something this author has been itching to write for a while. A novella that uses a theoretical pandemic to go deep into immunology and herd immunity and is a very angry cautionary tale about the antivax movement, while also giving us a hell of a protagonist in Izzy. The side effects of the disease were a great unexpected twist, as were the people that the vaccination movement ended up getting in bed with politically, as was the lengths that Izzy was willing to go to. Short, haunting, and definitely one that’s going to stay with me a while. Side note: Subterranean really needs to work on formatting their digital ARCs, it’s mildly frustrating. 88. Homesick for Another World, Ottessa Moshfegh: A collection of Moshfegh’s short stories, most of which I believe were published in the Paris Review. They can best be described as creepy, mildly surreal, bleak, and will leave you feeling mildly uncomfortable throughout most, even if some are relatively happier. She’s nailed the art of the abrupt ending here, and there are some stories that will make you want to peel off your skin with how they leave you feeling about their characters. They don’t all hit home for me, but I still read through this relatively quickly. Definitely worth a read. 89. The Raven Tower, Ann Leckie: Was lucky enough to have a friend pick me up an ARC copy of this at NYCC this year, it comes out in February. Pre-order it now. I am incredibly interested to see how people react to the POV (combination of first and second, and a reveal of who exactly the "you" in the second person pov is is a real fun moment, as is the revelation of who the first person pov is). The two separate threads come together slowly, but the moment they converge the story starts galloping to the end, but still gives it a great resolution. On top of it, it doesn't feel like it's trying to be a stealth trilogy, it feels like it's happy being a one and done. All I can tell you is don't believe the Hamlet adjacent marketing hype on the back - it's not solely about the power struggle, it's also about the power of language and how it's used (and I would not be surprised to hear that this was inspired by the 2016 election in some way). One of my favorites of the year so far. 90. The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal: A really fun alternate history that doesn’t hesitate to lean into the hard science and the sexism and racism of the period. Basic premise is that a meteorite hits the eastern seaboard of the US and results in a slowly occurring climate change/extinction event that requires an accelerated and international space program, and an environment in which the human calculators could have gone into space. The pov doesn’t just call out period sexism but also racism (and even admits the pov character’s own shortcomings but keeps her open to learn and advocate due to her Jewish background). It goes out if its way to explain the physics and calculations that go into space flight, too, but still keeps a fast pace. The meteorite is a great way to get your attention in the opening, but the way the rest of the book ensures that your attention is kept. This was an arc when we got it originally, but by the time I started reading it the sequel was out, and I picked it up just on the strength of what I was reading. I can’t wait to read it.
  10. Venneh

    What You've Read Recently

    76. The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard: Sherlock, except set in de Bodard’s Vietnamese sci-fi. mindship universe, where Sherlock is a female scholar, Watson is a female mindship with a good dose of PTSD, and a faint sapphic undertone running through the novella. It’s a great quick read, and a nice twist on the formula. 77. Not Here, Hieu Minh Nguyen: A friend posted a poem from this book on Twitter, and on the strength of just that poem, I picked this up at our local bookstore. And good Christ that was a good decision. This is up there for the best poetry I’ve read so far this year. Nguyen writes about being gay and Vietnamese and loss and strained parental relationships and grief and sexual assault and depression and hits fucking home with just about every poem he writes. A collection that can drive me to almost sobbing on the bus ride to work should tell you how good of a poet you’re reading here. Pick this up. You won’t regret it. 78. Valerie Solanas: The Defiant Life of the Woman Who Wrote SCUM (And Shot Andy Warhol), Breanne Fahs: Another remaindered nonfiction book about a subject I hadn't heard a lot about (mainly, the woman who shot Andy Warhol, and her own radical feminist leanings). I read this over a period of a few nights in the bath, usually as a prelude to either a nap or bed. That's not a knock against the quality of Fahs' writing, it just seemed a bit odd to me that her recounting of what was by all accounts an incredibly tumultuous life would usually put me in a state to fall asleep easier. Would say it's a bit dry. However, it's a very thorough accounting using fairly limited sources (as her mother destroyed her documents), and an interesting, if depressing story (yay for the mental health system and associated abuses of the 60s and 70s)! Also focuses on her as a person rather than as the crazy lady who shot Warhol, as well as the SCUM Manifesto. I also just found out that Lena Dunham played her in an episode of AHS. Ugh. 79. The Black God’s Drums, P. Djeli Clark: Ehhhh? This has a bunch of genuinely interesting ideas, but the story never really fleshes them out or handwaves on fairly important details, relies a bit too heavily on cliche (the plucky orphan!), and accidentally has its protagonists low key commit a war crime in what is either the author reaching for an easy solution or just genuinely not thinking too much about the situation. Alt history steampunk is also just genuinely not my thing except in very few cases, and as interesting as the idea here is, Clark doesn’t make the case for it. I also feel like this got extracted from a longer story, cause it feels like there’s explanations for things just beyond the hundred or so pages we get with this. Maybe it’s a hook for future material? Idk. That and the emphasis on You Need To Do A School feels like the author is covering his butt for the message he’s sending to a possible teenage audience. There’s some genuinely interesting ideas here, it’s just not executed well. 80. Night Moves, Jessica Hopper: Hopper collects her personal journal entries from her early years in Chicago, with crazy anecdotes and her falling in love with the city. A nice, relatively light, and quick read. 81. In the Vanisher’s Palace, Aliette de Bodard: It’s a lesbian reimagining of Beauty and the Beast, only the Beast is a female dragon, it’s set in a post alien invasion world (also an a+ postcolonial landscape commentary), and has a touch of biopunk mixed in with traditional Vietnamese lore. She manages to build out a hell of a world in the space of a novella, and still resolve all her plot threads well. This comes out October 16th - pick it up when it does! 82. Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay: You’re going to know in the first paragraph of this anthology’s introduction whether or not you’re in the space to be able to read it. The essays range from academic to personal experiences, and all of them are amazingly written and heart breakingly hard to read. But once you start reading it, you’re likely going to go through it in several large chunks, because the collected essays are by and large deeply compelling. There’s only a few that fall a little flat. It’s by no means an easy read, but it is a necessary one. 83. Rock Manning Goes for Broke, Charlie Jane Anders: A short novella where a boy who loves slapstick comedy uses it to navigate his world, which is slowly falling to fascism, and what happens when the government wants to fund his work. Accurately captures of what it feels like to be in a nation that’s slowly but surely and irrevocably changing. There’s a few things that feel a bit hand wavy towards the end, but in a way that I’m willing to let go. I finished this over about an hour or so on the bus ride home here. The version I had had some formatting wonkiness, but I’m pretty sure that will be fixed on the released eBook edition. 84. My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love, Dessa: A collection of essays from the rapper Dessa, some previously published, but the vast majority new. She always has had an amazing way with her lyrics, so it’s interesting to see how those writing skills get applied to creative nonfiction - some science writing, some general thought experiments, some descriptions of her life growing up, switching between all these varied modes with ease. There are some common themes between essays, but for the most part, each is its own experience. I’ve read this both in the bath and before bed the last few nights, at the same time devouring it and trying to savor it. I saved the last two essays for tonight, and it was an A+ life choice. Definitely a thing you want to read through if you find a copy. 85. The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter: A collection of short stories that are primarily feminist fairytale retelling, that is apparently 75 years old, and that I had never heard of until reading it. I got this as a part of a contest that MCD and Electric Literature, who collected a bunch of Maria Dahvana Headley’s favorite books by female authors, and ran a giveaway. I somehow won, and now I have a bunch of books by female authors who I’ve never read before. Carter writes beautifully, savagely, and inverts the fairy tales we know so well - the beauty becomes a beast too, Bluebeard’s wife is rescued by her rifle wielding tiger slaying mother, and so many other twists that I’m genuinely surprised I haven’t heard of her before this. Definitely pick this up if you get the chance.
  11. Venneh

    Everything DC

    Reminder that the long red hair is a wig!
  12. Venneh


    All I've heard about this from my timeline is that the Symbiote is.... *glances at timeline* "real fucky".
  13. Venneh

    What You've Read Recently

    74. The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang: The super simple way to sum this up is Chinese history meets the X-Men (and also the Phoenix). I read through this book in about three days tops, and got through half of it in one few hour session in the bath alone. It’s incredibly well written, weaves together both history (this is based on both the Opium Wars, the Rape of Nanjing, and Unit 731 in particular) with fantasy (shamans, accessing the gods, etc), and straight up historical rage. The shamans are pretty reminiscent of the X-Men, in terms of how their powers are explained and used. Oh, and drugs. It very clearly seems to be leaning towards a sequel, and apparently the deal included sequels, so I hope her sales do well enough that she gets it. 75. An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon: I’ve been meaning to pick this one up for a while, and now that they got a deal to make Clipping’s “The Deep” into a book, I figured I should check this out. This is brutal like the Poppy War, but in different ways, because it transplants the plantation way of life onto a generation ship. The opening chapter is our ambiguously gendered, neuroatypical main character amputating a child’s frostbitten foot. It doesn’t let up from there. You can tell that this is Solomon’s first novel, and there’s random bits of first person POV that I’m not entirely sure need to be there, and flashbacks added in at deeply awkward times. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the attempt at a romance triangle added in. The verb of noun naming structure is mildly frustrating, but does effectively refer to the effects on the living of those who’ve died, both before and during the novel. With regards to the ending... it feels very mid season four of Battlestar Galactica, without spoilers? I’m not sure if there’s a sequel to this coming, but it just kind of feels like it skids to a stop. Definitely worth a read through though.
  14. Venneh

    What You've Read Recently

    73. No Flight Without the Shatter, Brooke Bolander: A short novelette about the last human, and the lessons she learns from the ghosts of the animals that humans drove to extinction. Short, but haunting as Bolander always does, and reels between anger and grief equally. Hoping to see this on the awards list next year.