Ms Marvel vol 1: No Normal by G. Wilson, Adrian Alphona. Comic series rebooting Ms Marvel as an Asian Muslim teeanager in New Jersey. Seemed pretty good with some nice low-key superheroics, learning of powers, and conflicts with her family. This first volume doesn't come to any satisfying plot conclusion though, ending halfway through a conflict.
What I'm Reading 2
Ha'penny by Jo Walton. Second book in the "Small Change" alternate history trilogy where Britain signs a peace treaty with Germany in 1941 then slowly slides into fascism .
It's a very good series, feels far more plausible than the usual successful-invasion school. Particularly good is the way even sympathetic characters have believably neutral or favourable views of aspects of fascism, rather than always being righteously hostile. I read the first volume a while ago but put off the sequels as while good, it's very downbeat.
The second volume is equally good but equally grim. It focuses on policeman Peter Carmichael from the first, who investigates an explosion in London on the eve of a state visit by Hitler to Britain; and also an actress with an aristocratic Mitford-Sisterish background. Very tense and believable, with excellent world building.
Definitely a series worth reading, but has to be read in order.
What I'm Reading 3
Half a Crown by Jo Walton is the final volume in the "Small Change" trilogy. Peter Carmichael has now risen to a position of precarious power in the fascist regime, which is now threatened by even more extreme elements annoyed amongst other things that Britain relies on Continental death camps rather than handling things itself.
Again his story alternates with a female character, a seemingly politically oblivious "deb" concentrating on her imminent introduction on the social scene.
Another tense, fast moving and plausible story. This one isn't as depressing as the others. It feels slightly implausible but I think it's necessary to have some hope.
Overall a great trilogy, one of the best alternate histories I've read. Great characters, moral ambiguity and a believable world.
What I'm Reading 4
The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth. Goes though many of the classical "figures of rhetoric" from Alliteration to Zeugma with a chapter on each, giving examples of great writing in English and explaining how they can be used.
It's actually fascinating and compulsive reading. He gives a example of how Shakespeare took a passage from Thomas North's translation of Plutarch and shows how he turned clunky prose into great poetry. It's partly a class on writing, partly a celebration of beautiful English.
Each chapter ends with a passage that includes the next Figure, which acts as a kind of cliffhanger to keep you reading.
I thought this was a fantastic book, well worth reading. Currently it's free on Kindle for Amazon Prime subscribers.
What I'm Reading 5
The Heart of Haiku by Jane Hirshfield. Long essay ("Kindle Single") rather than a book on Haiku and how the poet Basho revolutionised the art. I liked it a lot, explains a lot more of the context behind them. I didn't realise that a haiku is also a unit of verse used in longer Japanese poetry. At the time there was also a fashion for group poetry called Renga where different authors would make up long poems haiku by haiku. In some ways a haiku seems to be the Japanese equivalent of a rhyming couplet, something that can be a building block as well as a tiny poem in its own right.
Been doing a bit of running. Was using a phone app with GPS to track the distance. I did check it at first when I was just running round the local park and it seemed accurate. I then started to rely on it for longer runs, but the distance doesn't seem accurate: got one wildly over-flattering reading, then when I checked it against Gmaps Pedometer the other distances seem fairly wide of the mark too (e.g. 6km came up as 7km). It's annoying since I can't track my improvement and I'm even slower than I thought.
Definitely doing a lot more reading of books since I gave up using the Internet in the evening. Feels good so far.
What I'm Watching
Saw the 2014 Godzilla version because I heard it was underrated. Seemed OK, makes a few nods to the old multiple-monster movies but nothing special. The black and white footage of 1950s Godzilla was a good touch. Has a lot of night-time monster slugfests which were a bit murky on the small screen. Not particularly recommended.
Socioeconomics. Hold My Mead: A Bibliography For Historians Hitting Back At White Supremacy.
Politics. Voters who change views with the leader: "people who identified themselves as strong Republicans were among the most malleable voters". Government's own review recommends changes to gagging "Lobbying Act", Govt. refuses to change.
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