Venneh

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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

    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.
  2. 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.
  3. Venneh

    Everything DC

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

    Venom

    All I've heard about this from my timeline is that the Symbiote is.... *glances at timeline* "real fucky".
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Venneh

    Every comic you've read in 2018

    X-Men Gold Annual 1: Seanan's first X-Men foray, and manages to be a good stand alone that also reinforces who a character is while visiting an episode from her past that just allows her to be who she is. Wotakoi v 1-2: If you've seen the first season of the anime (on Amazon Prime), then you know this pretty well. It's still super sweet and nerdy as hell - two otaku run into each other at one's new job, and decide to start dating. Their work friends are also a couple and otaku. Shenanigans ensue. WicDiv 38: WicDiv still good and somehow gearing up for the end of the arc and going to be even more of a devastating twist somehow, news at 11. Previews: 2 Zines (kinda): 1Single Issues: 104 (not counting rereads from this year)Trades/Tankobon/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 51Omnibuses: 1
  8. Venneh

    What You've Read Recently

    67. In the Distance, Hernan Diaz: I understand why this was nominated and was a finalist for the Pulitzer this year. It’s a Spanish author using the story of a Swedish immigrant and the weird ass situations he gets himself into as a naive kid and later as an adult to critique the standard American western/frontier myths. It’s beautifully written. That said, the cycle of loneliness -> oh now connection with another human whether by choice or not! -> a bad thing happens to this other human! -> and now loneliness again gets real old after about the third or fourth repeat. It especially gets old when I can predict that a character is going to die within two pages of getting close to our main character. I like that we don’t really get a proper resolution to this either; he just kind of fades into the distance, if you will, at the end. 68. Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik: I read the short story this was based on (Russian Jewish moneylender version of Rumpelstiltskin) when it was in The Starlit Wood, and I was interested to see how Novik would expand it out. The way she added the multiple POVs into the spinning of the story was a clever way of doing things, but there got to be a few too many POVs that actually cut off the development of some of the POVs, which was mildly frustrating. Also, after about the sixth POV, just fucking switch to third person limited rather than first person POV. The weaving of Russian Jewish history, vaguely Russian mythos, and Fae lore, and the three main female POVs were incredibly well done. But though the convenient het ending is probably a fairy tale reference thing, it feels like lazy development especially when we know more about the demon than we do the man he possesses. Still a great read. (Supposedly she gave her editor a fake outline for this, which, bless your editor for putting up with you.) 69 (niiiiiiice): Sorry to Disrupt the Peace, Patti Yumi Cottrell: A girl’s adopted brother commits suicide in her childhood home, and she goes back to Milwaukee to try and piece together the why of his last days, and also deal with family/childhood trauma. This has been in my purse a few weeks, but I finally started it today, and I finished it today. Seeing how things come together, and learning more about our main character and her and her brother’s shared childhood, is exquisite. I know the grief haze that is depicted here very well, and Cottrell does an amazing job depicting the aftermath of grief. Definitely read this if you find it while you’re out and about. 70. Preparing the Ghost, Matthew Gavin Frank: A slightly indulgent pocket-size essay about the guy who took the first known photograph of the giant squid, death, mythology, and one dude’s obsession with the first guy. It gets slightly self indulgent in places, but has some genuinely good passages. I found it remaindered, and for that price, totally worth it. 71: Night and Silences, Seanan McGuire: The twelfth book in the Toby Daye series, and shit still manages to get even more serious/game changing, which I continue to be impressed at. The reminders of shit that happened in past books are the least awkward they can be given the nature of the beast. I’m interested in seeing how the new status quo effects the upcoming books, and continue to be surprised at how Seanan works Tam Lin into this. Additionally, the fact that she now gets to add a novella onto the end of the book expanding on things that happen either just outside of the novel's focus, or off screen, is a real value add. Comes out in September, if you’ve been following the series, definitely pick it up. 72. Finding Baba Yaga, Jane Yolen: ARC, comes out at the end of October. A young girl runs away, is found by Baba Yaga, and has some low key queer themes in a novelette that’s entirely in verse. It’s a quick, breezy read, under 100 pages, could easily fit in your bag
  9. Venneh

    What You've Read Recently

    66. My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh: Short, and a hell of a ride, let me tell you. The pitch is an orphaned young girl with an inheritance quits her shitty gallery job, and uses a questionable psychiatrist to try to use sleeping meds to hibernate for a year. You think it’s about her mourning her parents and the end of her recent on again off again relationship, but actually, it’s about her friendship with another woman. And yes, it’s set in the early 2000s, and specifically in the 2000 - 2001 timeframe in NYC. Yes, 9/11 comes up. Not in the way you expect. I keep forgetting how Moshfegh uses her stories to slam you into a wall at the end of them. This is no different. Definitely go and pick it up. It’s worth your time.
  10. Venneh

    Every comic you've read in 2018

    Again!!! vols 2-3: We get more of the effort to save, and then build, the ouendan back up, and thank god, they don’t forget about the female character who also came back. A lot of the chapters also poke fun at other time travel media, which is amusing. A nice, light read. Land of the Lustrous v6: This, on the other hand, gets straight into the body horror barely three pages in and doesn’t let up for the rest of the volume. Gorgeous art to go with it at least?? I want the next volume already - can it be November now? Previews: 2 Zines (kinda): 1Single Issues: 102 (not counting rereads from this year)Trades/Tankobon/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 52Omnibuses: 1
  11. Venneh

    What You've Read Recently

    65. The Portable Veblen, Elizabeth McKenzie: I got this book on a very deep Kindle sale, and my partner picked it up in physical form from our bookstore’s remaindered shelf, at the recommendation of one of our favorite authors. I’ve been working on this book on and off since May. At its core, it’s about a couple, their engagement and approaching marriage, and how their childhoods affect how they approach it. Woven in are squirrel POVs, the military pharmaceutical complex, a Norwegian economist and socialist and his criticism of capitalsm, and a hundred thousand things in between. It drifts a fair bit, but in a way I’m okay with, and resolves in a happy, neat sort of way that leaves me deeply satisfied. The pictures inserted into the text have their own story, if you follow just them, and add some interesting context. Also uses appendixes in a way that doesn’t frustrate me, honestly. If you’re looking for an interesting, cheap read, go pick this one up.
  12. Venneh

    Every comic you've read in 2018

    Runaways 11: Really good breather issue, we get to touch base with all of our mains, but we especially get to focus on Gert, who's been feeling a bit "girl out of time"-ish, and decides to take things into her own hands. Interesting backup story with Karla, too. East of West 38: Dragotta does crazy good things with art here, interested to see what the outcome of this particular chapter is. Tokyo Tarareba Girls v 1-2: From the mangaka who did Princess Jellyfish, and man, you can tell she's taking aim at some things she's seen among her friendsgroup (even to the point that she points it out in her writer's notes at the end). Three women who are in their 30s (which is considered past the prime age for marriage/relationships in Japan) deal with their love lives, and it's a fun and honest look at such. Again!!! v1: One of the two people who worked on Yuri on Ice did this - it's basically a story where a guy falls on his face, travels back in time to the first day of high school, and gets the chance to do it all over again. A girl also does the same thing and ends up back in time with him. He decides that the best way to fix his high school life is to make sure the traditional cheer club (ouendan) doesn't go under. Amusingness ensues. Proxima Centauri 2: There appears to be a narrative here? Kind of? Darymple's art is still a hell of a thing. Descender 32: So, I kind of got spoiled for this already by a press release, bc Image released a thing about the follow up series, then put a "do not share until 7/25" on it, and by then it had gotten out so less than a half hour later we got a "never mind". Hell of a thing, and interested to see where the new series goes, since it'll be more fantasy focused, and Nguyen on fantasy = oh hell yes. Leviathan 1: Pitarra feels Stokoe-esque on this. Though the Trump-esque page was certainly not a thing that I was expecting. Other than that - ehhhh? Doesn't feel like anything particularly new on that front. Seven to Eternity 10: Well at least there's a recap so I can remember what's going on here. Opena continues to be godmode here. Remender is practically writing from a stencil at this stage (I'M A BAD MAN WHO DOES BAD THINGS ETC ETC ETC), but the fact that we've basically got this guy and the devil on a road trip will be fun if nothing else. Previews: 2 Zines (kinda): 1Single Issues: 102 (not counting rereads from this year)Trades/Tankobon/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 49Omnibuses: 1
  13. Venneh

    What You've Read Recently

    63. The Mere Wife, Maria Dahvana Headley: This is tied with In Other Lands for my favorite book so far this year. This comes out in two days from when I’m writing this. Go to your bookstore (or Amazon, if it so pleases you), and get this the moment it comes out. Yes, Beowulf in American suburbia is a reductive description, but the way it looks at gentrification and recenters women in the story and reframes the monstrosity at the center of the tale is incredibly well done. There’s also some really good craft work too - as an example, there’s three translations that lead off the book (pictured below), and the sections of the book are titled after each of the translations of the hwaet, and each chapter’s first word or first sentence includes the section’s translation. Go read this, and enjoy the ride. 64. Commonwealth, Ann Patchett: I found this remaindered around the time someone in a FB group I’m in posted about it, and I decided to pick it up. This was a very interesting experience. This book is basically centered around three major events; the one that opens the book, the act that creates the novel in the book (which, coincidentally, totally has the same title as the book itself), and a death that has a ripple effect over the next five decades. I liked the style, and how the narrative jumps from character to character at different points in their lives, and makes sure that all the loose ends are tied up. The diversion with a famous novelist that just so happens to write a novel loosely about the central family and where everyone is bitching about various publishers and it gets turned into a movie feels a bit too eye rollingly meta. It was also an experience as someone who had her dad marry someone new in the last year, and then died suddenly two months ago. There’s some parts of this that I recognize intimately, but others that I’m never going to get to experience, and it’s rolling in my head as such. Definitely an interesting read.
  14. Venneh

    What You've Read Recently

    62. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami: A small collection of essays about writing and running and the crafting overlap between them. Good, quick read.