Writing

Aug. 25th, 2016 08:51 pm
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
[personal profile] china_shop mentioned helpfully that [community profile] seeingcolorcomm were looking for pinch hits, including in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so I wandered over to take a look. And then pounced on the first one I saw. I'd been thinking about a Finn backstory piece anyway, I had the novelisation out from the library; all I had to do was resist the urge to write T'Challa backstory instead, which was surprisingly tempting given that all I know of canon is the Civil War movie. (and then all I had to do was write it in three days and badger [personal profile] china_shop into betaing).

It's not my most cheerful piece ever (off-stage genocide etc) but I enjoyed writing it. I wanted to sort out Finn's past in my own head, and I wanted to provide some sort of explanation as to how the Republic is apparently unaware of the First Order's main base, and this is one possible explanation. I've never done a pinch hit before, mainly because I haven't really thought of them outside the Yuletide context, and I'm always working on my main story right up until the final deadline (ahem). I really enjoyed doing it, though, and will keep an eye out for more in the future.

Dirty Jobs (3179 words) by Cyphomandra
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Finn (Star Wars), The First Order (Star Wars)
Additional Tags: Prequel
Summary:

Someone has to do them.



Other pieces I really enjoyed from the challenge: two artworks, both very sweet -

Jaeger (0 words) by Irusu
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Pacific Rim (2013)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Mako Mori & Stacker Pentecost
Characters: Mako Mori, Stacker Pentecost
Additional Tags: Fanart, i have many feels
Summary:

"A daughter is not a passing cloud, but permanent, / holding earth and sky together with her shadow. "



Just After the First Kiss (0 words) by sqbr
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Finn/Rey (Star Wars)
Characters: Finn (Star Wars), Rey (Star Wars)
Additional Tags: Fanart, Fluff
Summary:

Taking joy in rain and freedom.



and two stories, one from a canon I am unfamiliar with but featuring Mathnet self-insert femslash, which I didn't realise how much I needed, and another from Sorceror to the Crown; I had issues with the canon itself, but I really enjoyed this:

To Cogitate and to Solve (1758 words) by SapphoIsBurning
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (TV), Mathnet
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Rosa Diaz/Amy Santiago
Characters: Rosa Diaz, Amy Santiago, Ray Holt
Additional Tags: Characters Writing Fanfiction, Stakeout, Pining, Fic within a Fic, Canon Character of Color
Summary:

Amy tries to explain fanfiction to Rosa while on a stakeout, but when she decides to reveal a very telling work of her own, it goes to an unintended destination.



The Earth Will Reach The Sky (1607 words) by Merit
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Sorcerer to the Crown - Zen Cho
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Prunella Gentleman/Zacharias Wythe
Characters: Prunella Gentleman (SttC), Zacharias Wythe (SttC)
Additional Tags: Fluff
Summary:

They were going to create their own world together.

cyphomandra: fluffy snowy mountains (painting) (snowcone)
I wrote a pinch hit for a fic exchange this week, so I haven't finished any of the in-progress stuff from last week. Instead, I read bits of two books needed for the fic and an m/m romance on Kindle that had absolutely nothing to do with what I was writing.

Just finished:

The m/m romance, Off-Campus, by Amy Cousins. First in a series. Tom Worthington's (the third, I think) father is convicted of a ponzi scheme; Tom tries to finish college on his own terms, which means gypsy-cabbing and sleeping in his car between semesters. He ends up sharing a room with Reese, an out gay student with backstory trauma, Reese tries to scare him off by bringing back a series of guys to their room for blow-jobs, everybody oversteps their boundaries and romance ensues. I liked a lot of this - Tom actually does feel like he's struggling and studying, their back-up friends are interesting, the resolution isn't too over-the-top and Reese is also working on his problems independently of Tom pushing him. What I didn't like - towards the end there's a clutch of events that seemed oddly sequenced - possibly a formatting issue? There was a missing page break at one point that confused me for quite a bit - and the evil guy who persecutes Tom because Tom's dad ruined his parents *and* evil guy is secretly gay and in denial is really not a successful character for me. I see he is the hero of the next book, which possibly explains some of the characterisation contortions but does not incline me towards it.

In progress:

In addition to everything previous, I am a few chapters into Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, which is good but making me want to re-read Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. I managed to think of not one but two fictional angels I have actually liked (Aziraphale in Good Omens and Proginoskes in A Wind in the Door) so girded my metaphorical loins and am about 200 pages through Aliette de Bodard's House of Shattered Wings). From my point of view it is just not the sort of story I'm interested in - it reminds me a bit of a vampire novel, with everyone otherworldly and full of strange magic, and spending their days setting up rivalries with each other and being terribly elegant, and there's magic as addiction and so forth - but two of the characters, so far, feel real, and there are hints of tension in the overall set-up that are interesting. Also, there is an evil creature stalking people through mirrors, which is a set up that always terrifies me (I blame Gerald Durrell's short story The Entrance. If you haven't read it, don't).

I am also about 50 pages into The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle and I read the first three pages of the first Benjamin January novel before deciding that I really had to finish something else first.

Up next:

Finishing stuff.

Picture book section:

I have loved John Burningham's picture books since I was a small girl with too much imagination and read Come Away from the Water, Shirley and Time to Get Out of the Bath, Shirley, which are both about small girls with too much imagination. Recently I read It's a Secret, where a girl discovers where her sleepy cat goes to at night, and Aldo, about a child's imaginary friend, and they're both great. His art is fascinating - some of the landscapes in Aldo look apocalyptic, great abstract gouts of paint, and then these fine, minimalist line-drawings in the foreground. Aldo is also quietly heart-breaking; the narrator is a lonely child who is bullied, whose parents' fight, and whose sole consolation is her imaginary rabbit friend, Aldo. "Once I woke up in the night after a bad dream and Aldo was not there and I thought Aldo would never come to see me ever again/But Aldo had only gone to get a story which he read to me until I went to sleep."
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
I have individual entries planned for Ninefox Gambit (loved it), Too Like the Lightning (in the last few pages it finally developed a plot line that interested me; will read sequel but not out til next Feb), and Mary Berry's autobiography (am on season 6 of The Great British Bakeoff as my attempt to get back into watching television), but in the meantime I am trying to finish off everything I have out from the library before a clutch of deadlines.

Just finished:

Louise Doughty, Apple Tree Yard. Starts with a court scene where the case is deliberately not revealed, a gimmick of which I am not fond, then flashes back to the moment when the narrator, a scientist in her early fifties, begins a no-strings attached affair with a security consultant at Westminster. I was not particularly grabbed by either concept and stalled out on this, and gave it one last chance before abandoning it. At which point it suddenly took a very interesting turn and had a fascinating middle, almost noir, before back to courtroom drama, which was solid and had some twists but wasn't quite as flashy. Would read another by the author on the strength of the middle.

Alex Adams, White Horse. Works through "Now" and "Then"; in "Then", a cleaner working at a pharmaceutical company finds a mysterious jar in her apartment and seeks therapy (she's in New York); as she deals with this, a mostly fatal plague, weather chaos and a war account for most of known civilisation. In "Now", it's after the collapse, and she's trying to find her former therapist (who became her lover in what the book does not consider to be a boundary issue at all), tracking him across the world through the blighted remnants. This is not a book where there is much point getting attached to characters as anyone remotely sympathetic who is not the narrator is killed off rapidly and graphically, an authorial tic that unfortunately pushes the book into farce. Zoe (the narrator's) first companion in "Now" is Lisa, a young blind woman Zoe rescues from sexual servitude to her father and uncle; Lisa goes on to get captured a few more times, lose an eye, make poor sexual choices and eventually die in a scene that manages to combine abortion and torture by a serial killer, although it's the serial killer's motivation that I actually found most offensive in this list. Spoiler. ) I do actually like some of the writing, and I feel for the author as the book, part 1 of a projected trilogy, does not seem to have done well - the second one may exist in ebook form? audiobook? the author (she has an NZ connection, which pushed me into picking this up in the first place) seems to have disappeared off the internet - but while I'm not opposed to destroying all of civilisation in literary prose Station Eleven did this much better without giving up on all of humanity in the process.

Tana French, The Secret Place. I read one other Tana French - Faithful Place and liked the writing a lot while being a little irked by the solution to the mystery. However, this was on the returns shelf, and I promptly fell into it and read nothing else until it was all over. Excellent writing, excellent characters, excellent mystery. And I am particularly impressed at any murder mystery that is set at a private girls' boarding school (most of the action, in fact, takes place over one day, with a retrospective parallel narrative leading up to the murder) but where the body is not female, something which should not be so refreshing. It is also brilliant about teenage girls, specific and abstract, and I liked it a lot. I have put the first two in the series on hold despite all my resolutions to stop reserving books until I've caught up.

Mabel Esther Allan, The ballet family again. Sequel (go on, guess the title of the first one) to a book I think I read in a hurry late at night at a relative's place some years ago. Nicely observed - Allan is one of those writers with a good sense of place, and this goes from London in winter to the north of England in winter, and then to Paris in spring. Good on ballet, too, and there's a plotline with the son of the ballet family getting disillusioned by a girlfriend using him for his connections, which is unusual for this sort of book and time period, although again I think that's something Allan's good at - her The School on North Barrule was, if I remember correctly, one of the very few boarding school books I read as a child that had a co-ed school and believable characters (the last rules out Enid Blyton's Naughtiest Girl, a kind of Summerhill with carefully illustrated morals).

Mercedes Lackey, A study in sable. Elemental Masters again, grown-up Nan and Sarah are sent to assist John Watson (yes, that one) and his wife Mary, elemental masters themselves who take on the cases that Holmes refuses to believe in. The main thread revolves around ghosts haunting an opera singer, with other things going on in the background; it's a much more coherent book than The Wizard of London, but it still doesn't really catch fire, and I miss the training neepery of many of her other books. However. The scene in which Holmes and an elemental master play a violin duet to ensnare the villain is great. Holmes in this overall works reasonably well for me but I found Watson a bit too domestic (I don't mind if he's happy! I just like a little edge).

Martin Millar, The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies. Aristophanes is trying to put on a play for the Dionysia against all manner of earthly opposition (the ongoing war with Sparta, an offended patron refusing to fund the performance, an annoying lyric poet who keeps bothering him) when someone summons Laet, goddess of discord (granddaughter of Eris) to the city. The writing is very tell-don't-show and there are a number of verbal tricks that for me fall just on the side of irritating rather than endearing ("Walking down the street with Socrates, Aristophanes was disconsolate. "I'm disconsolate," he said. [Socrates] "You look disconsolate." ) but I ended up liking it a lot more in hindsight - it's fluffy, it's light, it gets through a lot and hits all the right beats, and underneath it there's quite a lot going on about war and responsibility. It comes down to a choice by Aristophanes - Laet will enter one room, and the people there will make the wrong decision. Either he picks the room with the judges of the Dionysia, or the one with the peace conference between Athens and Sparta.

Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish, Siblings without Rivalry. Nonfiction parenting book, very good on both parenting strategies to use with siblings and on examining your own sibling relationships and how they influence you as a parent. Very good, very useful. General principles; oversee, but where possible let children solve their own issues (they may surprise you), don't compare, don't stick people in roles, describe rather than judge, you can treat children unequally and still be fair. Example I liked - siblings arguing pancakes - "she got more than me!". Suggested response, rather than adjudicating over numbers sizes average density etc - "Are you still hungry? Would you like a whole pancake or half of one?" (yes, obviously need to work on this if all out of pancakes, but useful in how to think about problems differently).

In progress:

Jim Grimsley, How I shed my skin: unlearning the racist lessons of a Southern childhood. Memoir. Starts when he's eleven and three black girls begin attending his school.

Yoshitoki Ōima, A Silent Voice, v1 (manga). On [personal profile] gramarye1971's rec, about teenage bullying. I am at the bit where it is not that bad but I know it's going to get worse and I needed a break.

Mark Haddon, The red house. The other things I need to write up are theatre reviews; I picked this up because I was going to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Four adults and four children spend a week together in a house on the Welsh border; things happen. It's very well written, although all dialogue is in italics (arrgh!), but it hasn't really grabbed me.

Up next:

Well, deadlines. However. Aliette de Bodard's House of Shattered Wings has one chance left to convince me to like angels (I have really enjoyed all of the short fiction of hers that I've read), and while tidying out the car I found Jeanette Winterson's Why be happy when you could be normal?, both of which are due back within the next week. I also inexplicably ordered the first two of Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January detective series.
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
Warcraft
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Captain Fantastic
Love and Friendship
Ghostbusters


I enjoyed all these movies, actually, for an assortment of different reasons. Warcraft is by far the weakest and is a terrible movie in many respects; the world-building unbelievable, the characters weak (the lead is trying very very obviously to be Viggo Mortensen in LotR, without his talent or the worldbuilding of Weta), the story often cheesy, the effects unconvincing. And yet. It is the only one of these that had anything in its ending that was both surprising and satisfying, not once but twice; two moments which really worked, for the characters and for me. I am not sure it will get a sequel and even if it does it may be entirely dire, but so many things these days have unsatisfactory endings. This didn't.

I also have fond memories of playing Warcraft, in its pre MMORPG incarnations. I saw the movie with the friend that I have been going to see similar movies with for over 20 years now, and in addition to movies (and books) we also game. There were games I played that he didn't and vice versa, but Warcraft was a common interest, played over some years, and it does give a depth to moments in the film that probably aren't there without that - and yes, I do agree withthis review. I don't think I would recommend the movie as a movie, ending aside, but if you have a similar soft spot it might be worth a look.

I saw Ghostbusters with the same friend and we both loved Holtzmann/Kate McKinnon and the ghostbusters themselves, while not loving the cameos or the storyline, which got more incoherent in the second half. I also thought there was a little too much Chris Hemsworth (I liked him! Just not - that much). However. I have never before seen a western mainstream action movie with four female leads (I am struggling to think of one with two - Fast and the Furious 6, possibly?), let alone one where they're all treated as people and as women. That was brilliant. And Holtzmann. I have fond memories of the original Ghostbusters that might well not stand up to rewatching, but I can't help thinking what it would have been like to see this version instead of that one, and what it would have meant to me then.

Captain Fantastic has actual Viggo Mortensen as a father of six children he's raising off the grid in a countercultural wilderness setting, and what happens when they are forced to come back into regular American society and it's a very well done movie, the acting is great, the characters are great, and I liked it a lot. And the ending irked me a little at the time but has bothered me more and more over the last couple of weeks.There was a moment where it could have finished, and I would have had questions but been okay with things, but then it kept on going, and going, and now I'm just bitter. I did like it, I'd recommend it, but if I saw it again I'd make some sort of excuse ten minutes or so from the end and disappear.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople was good and had a lot of great moments, and Sam Neill unusually did not annoy me by his mere presence. However with this and Boy and Untold Tales of Maui (a play by Taika and Jermaine Clement, for any baffled readers) and Two Cars One Night I am totally done with Taika's exploration of straight young Māori males on the verge of adolesence, and after two years of NZ literature at university I'm a little bit over the Man/Men Alone in NZ bush as well. I liked Oscar Kightley in this, I loved Rima Te Wiata, it was fun. The ending suffers from having to not be a tragedy, unlike some of the stories it references, while not quite working out how to positively be something, and also flips the focus from Ricky to Heck in a way that didn't work for me.

Love and Friendship is not actually Love and Freindship, Jane Austen's juvenile novel that was the first of her books that I read and actually liked (having at that stage ploughed grumpily through Northanger Abbey and Emma, and started and failed Persuasion. I liked it a lot and it actually changed the way I approached Austen when I tried again, particularly in making me realise her sense of humour. This is, however, a film of Lady Susan (which I haven't read) which borrows the title. It's fun, it's light, and it lets its characters get away with things.
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
Probably about a month's worth.

Just finished:

Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests. Things did indeed go wrong - it turned into Lesbian Noir, with a side of court drama and class issues, but although it was still very well written it lost me quite a bit in the process - it's a tenuous thing, maintaining sympathy for characters in these circumstnces. Part of the problem is that the viewpoint character isn't at the very centre of the story - this does make for some interesting tensions but it shuts down options for action. I also had the same problem with this as I did with Waters'Affinity; moving into the novel's endgame, two options for resolution are presented, one of which opens up the story and the other shuts it down. As the pages tick by it becomes apparent that there is only space left for the latter option. Waters does pull a grace note out at the end that makes me like this better than Affinity, but it's still mostly shutting down. I haven't read The Little Friend yet but possibly the reason I've enjoyed The Night Watch most is because its structure means the ending isn't actually there at the end to bother me.

Mercedes Lackey, Wizard of London. Lackey seems a bit unclear whose story she's telling here. We start off with Sarah, the psychically gifted orphan with an African Gray parrot companion, being sent from her parents' incredibly tolerant mission in Africa to London for training, and then it's all about Nan, the Cockney girl she befriends who is also a psychic warrior and gets one of the Queen's Raven's from the Tower for her companion, and then it jumps between Nan and Isabelle, the teacher who runs the school the two girls are at, and juggles a psychic threat to the school with an Elemental magician Isabelle used to be in love. Most of the Elementals series have a fairy-tale basis, as well, but this didn't really - bits of A Little Princess and The Snow Queen, perhaps, but nothing more. Oh, and Puck has a significant guest role. It wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't particularly good. However. I have just picked up A Study in Sable, which has the same characters plus Sherlock Holmes, and I'm fascinated to see what she does with it - her not-quite Peter Wimsey is endearing.

Jane Duncan, My Friends from Cairnton, and My Friend My Father. Arrgh. I finished the latter in the work lunchroom and then had to avoid eye contact with everyone as I was crying. Cairnton is lighter - it goes back to her time in Cairnton, and then forward to St Jago, and basically ends up with one of those nightmarish dinner parties to which an impeccably decorous married couple, the longstanding mistress of the husband and the drunk platonic companion of the wife have all been accidentally invited. My Father goes back more, into early childhood, and has some great sections on the process of realisation children go through, that click in the mind as they work out how to count, or to tell the time, and then this carries on into other realisations. There's a particularly neat piece about realising for the first time that everyone else exists at the centre of their own universe (something quite a few adults have yet to realise), there's the relationship between Janet and her father changing and deepening over the years, there's the war again - and then the end. I think I need a small strategic pause, not least because I have half a shelf of pending reads, but she's such a great writer that I just want to keep going.

Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor and Park. The romance in this worked much better than that in either of the other two of hers I've read, possibly because I am a total sucker for a couple bonding over sharing issues of Alan Moore's Watchmen. I'm just a little bit younger than these characters (I read Watchmen in the collected trade) and the references really worked for me. As did the story. It's a very delicate book, neatly constructed, and I liked it a lot.

Stephen King, End of Watch. More sobbing at the end. It's good; not as good as Finders' Keepers, and I felt King ducked out a bit on really pushing the villain here, but it still ticks along and I still cared a lot. Nice use of social media and ereaders. I do wish King would do more historicals, because his research is always so solid.

Not entirely:

Leslie Parry, Church of Marvels. Turn of the century (20th) New York, an odd assortment of characters interact in the darker parts of the city. A nice hook where a night soil guy finds a baby and takes it home with him, which is why I picked it up, but then it becomes yet another book about People with Secrets, about which they will allude frequently without elaborating until the inevitable revelation at the end. I skimmed most of the middle. Nice writing, some good images, but I didn't really connect with it.

In progress:

Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning. Arrgh again, but for different reasons. I want to love this book - it is doing so many interesting things! The prose style, which is 18th century with universal personal trackers generating the (apparently) omniscient point of view, the unreliable narrator, the post-Scarcity future semi-utopia setting, the toying with gender (the narrator assigns gendered pronouns according to what they think will make things easier for their imagined Reader, who is, um, definitely not us), the use of languages, the fact that I love the author's blog and want her to do well. Etc etc etc. And yet I'm 307 pages in and it's still a bit of a slog.

It's a weirdly static book. Reading it makes me feel as though I'm contemplating a series of paintings while a very educated guide with their own peculiar agenda describes them to me (everyone in this book apparently picks out every piece of clothing and accessory to convey a particular message, which is not "this was the nearest thing on my floor and it's comfortable"). It's an enjoyable experience, but not what I want from a novel. There's very little actual witnessed action and when it does happen, it's not convincing - Cherryh's Cyteen is equally full of people who sit around talking incessantly, but when she does action, I'm there. Arrgh. It is also two days overdue from the library and on hold, so I have to finish it tonight.

Louise Doughty, Apple Tree Yard. Woman has affair with the wrong man. Framing sequence has everyone in court, for what I am not yet sure. Not really my thing, but I am finding it compelling enough to keep going.

Up next:

The next Mercedes Lackey, plus a bunch of thrillers I have picked up, and Yoon Ha Lee's Ninefox Gambit to which I am looking forward.
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
This is the story of Medea's children - two, in this version, Leon and Jasper (Aedan Burmester, aged 12, and Quinn Bevan, 10 - there are two other children playing the parts on alternate nights). They have been shut in their (modern) bedroom while Jason and Medea argue; Medea comes to visit them several times throughout the evening, as events proceed and the final tragedy approaches.

The child actors were incredibly good. I've seen excellent child actors in film, but I haven't seen a play with such major parts for children - they are on stage for the whole 70 minutes. I thought Quinn was particularly good - there's a bit where he's been describing all the fun he's going to have in the mansion where he'll be living with his father and his new wife, and then he says to his mother that obviously she'll be invited over for dinner every night, so he can sit next to her. It was touchingly believable and heart-breaking.

Spoilers for 2500 year-old play. )
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
This is Albert Belz’s play for Te Rēhia Theatre company - the other play of his I’ve seen was Awhi Tapu, which was much more along the expected Māori playwright line (small forestry town, economy dying, young people running out of options make bad choices) whereas this is cheerfully Victorian gothic melodrama and is all about Jack the Ripper. The Ripper parts of this are basically Alan Moore’s From Hell with less architecture and, sadly, no Inspector Abberline – heir presumptive to British throne gets shopgirl pregnant and secretly marries her, Queen Victoria assigns William Gull to hunt out and destroy all witnesses, Gull & the Freemasons go a bit batty in the process. Instead of Abberline as a protagonist we get Walter Sickert, the artist (and another candidate for the identity of Jack the Ripper in some theories), who is supposed to be keeping a watchful eye on Prince Eddie and instead falls for Mary Kelly. Despite all odds - and numerous corpses - there is technically a happy ending.

More detail, some spoilers; basically, mostly great performances but not convincing as an explanation. )
Despite these issues, though, an excellent production, and I'd be keen to see what the group does next. Awhi Tapu also had a bit of a dud ending, if I recall rightly, so I'd be more cautious about the playwright.
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
Just finished:

Tim Pratt, Heirs of Grace. Arts student grad Bekah, adopted at birth, inherits a house from her biological father, who turns out to have been a near immortal and powerful magician. The house is full of magical gadgets and traps, and Bekah also has an older half-sister who thinks the inheritance should have been hers.

I like Bekah herself, and there are some fun bits to the book. I am less convinced by the romance with the handsome lawyer Who Knows More than He's Telling, and there's a tendency to set up each danger/conflict and resolve or defuse it very quickly. I was also deeply irked by the "Little did I know that everything was going to go wrong" comments that are far too frequent, largely because I have no idea where they were coming from - Bekah at the end of the book, knowing the ending? Bekah from the next day? On the other hand, the time-travelling spoon and the cost for its use was great, and the opening where Bekah writes down three questions for the lawyer, who then presents her with the answers written by her father years earlier worked really well.

Tiny spoiler. )

Jane Duncan, My Friends the Mrs Millers. Absolutely brilliant. The first few books set on St Jago set me on edge a bit at times with Janet's reaction to the black inhabitants there, and her apparent reliance on the opinions of the established white locals. What becomes perfectly clear in this book is that the author has been aware of these weaknesses all along, and this is where she exposes them. It is also a book which deals with something I knew was coming and didn't want to have happen, and does so with impressive and unflinching specificity. I am very glad the library seems to have all of this series available but I think I am going to want to track down my own copies as well.

Rainbow Rowell, Carry On. Hmm. I liked it more than I feared, less than I hoped, and I am still not a Harry/Draco fan. This book has to do a lot - set up an imaginary fandom, riff on it and on the original inspiration, resolve everything - and it does this via multiple points of view, some of which worked for me better than others (Lucy and the Mage did not work at all; on the other hand, Simon worked better for me in Baz's viewpoint than in his own). I enjoyed it but it didn't really have much of an impact (apart from Ebb. I liked Ebb a lot). Also, I have yet to read anything by Lev Grossman that doesn't irk me, and he continues this by providing a blurb here that says, "you have never, ever, seen a wizard school like this". This is not even slightly true. The only unexpected thing about Watford for me was that they used to have a creche for the children of the staff, which although a good idea is hardly world-shaking.

In progress:

Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests. Post-WWI genteel poor mother and daughter take in married lodgers, daughter falls for the wife. I'm about halfway through and am pretty sure I'm at the bit where everything is about to go horribly wrong but as I have avoided reading the blurb I'm not entirely sure how this is going to happen.

Jane Duncan, My Friends from Cairnton. Just started.

Mercedes Lackey, The Wizard of London. I am sure I've read this before - it's the fifth Elemental Masters book - but can't remember details. I am not sure if it's going to turn into a specific fairy tale or carry on being vaguely like A Little Princess with all the typical Lackey bits where people explain the best way to do things to each other. Soothing.

Up next:

All the books listed in this update are library ones - I'm trying to clear my account out. Finishing all of these will leave me with one random acquisition that I think is about a magic circus, another Rainbow Rowell, two more My Friends and a book about the emotional life of the toddler. This will justify my picking up Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning, which I just got the reserve notification for today and am very excited about.
cyphomandra: fluffy snowy mountains (painting) (snowcone)
Arrgh. So much for keeping this updated.

Most significant literary discovery:

I have owned Mo Willem's Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity for at least six years, and read it a reasonable number of times. Last week my daughter turned over what I have always thought was the last page and revealed an unseen epilogue. I am now eyeing up many of my other books cautiously.

Just finished:

Jane Duncan, My Friend Cousin Emmie. The first one of these I've re-read, and there are many apparently casual phrases in it that become positive fishhooks when you read it knowing what else the book contains. And this time around it has the depth of the previous ones behind it as well. I look forward to eventually re-reading the others, but first I have to get through the unread ones.

Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl. Hmm. This is readable and enjoyable and has many great moments of fan experience while also having lots of bits that I didn't buy into at all (e.g. the idea that Cath is actually doing any other classes at university besides the plot-necessary and equally unlikely creative writing class). I have Carry On on my shelf and will try and come back to them both once I've read that one, assuming I can get through it (I am not, usually, a Harry/Draco fan).

Abandoned;

The Anne Perry, which was not grabbing me at all.

Somewhere on my Kobo:

KJ Charles' Jackdaw, which is poised just under half the way through, at a delicate point that means I could a) press on to the end or b) re-read all the rest of the Magpie series in order to refresh my memory of important details and then tackle it again. Hmm.

Up next:

I optimistically ordered a bunch more My Friends from the library at the same time as having a lot of commitments that didn't fit with reading (I haven't had my usual bus trips for the last three weeks), plus a bunch of other things I grabbed from the library shelves (yet another Mercedes Lackey etc) plus various electronic commitments. Will see what happens.

Picture book section:

In addition to the revealed epilogue, I will state that "The Highway Rat leapt off his horse. Into the cave he strode. The duck took hold of the horse's reins, and galloped down the road," from The Highway Rat, by Julia Donaldson, is a couplet that always brings me great satisfaction to recite.
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
Just finished:

Circling the Sun,, Paula McLain. Fictional biography of Beryl Markham, about whom I wrote my Yuletide story last year. I put off reading this then because I didn't want it to get in the way, and ended up reading it on a recent plane trip instead (obviously I started reading the opening shortly after take-off and then remembered how many plane crashes were likely to be canonically involved in the text...).

It starts very near the same place I did - 1936, although it starts with Beryl's transatlantic flight, which I think was September, and I put my story in July (ish). Then, however, it goes back to Beryl's childhood, and works forward to end with the flight arriving in the US. Nothing after is included. I can see why McLain's done this, but it did leave me feeling a little shortchanged. If I hadn't known some of the rest of Beryl's life? Probably yes, although I would have lacked the detail. I'd have no idea Markham wrote herself, for example, because picking that section of her life cuts out the appearance of her highly acclaimed memoir, West with the Night (and means McClain doesn't have to deal with any of the controversy over whether or not she did actually write it. It also means that the shape of the narrative becomes Out of Africa with occasional horses and planes, being much more about the tangle of relationships, licit and otherwise, among the white landed settlers in Kenya, than about Beryl herself.

It's not a bad book but it lacks any sort of edge or uncomfortableness to it, qualities which I feel the real Markham had no shortage of.

JL Merrow, Relief Valve and Heat Trap, volumes 2&3 in the Plumber's Mate series. Psychic plumber solves crime and works on his relationship with a PI who bullied him as a child. I find these soothing, entertaining and very British. I also read the first of her Shamwell Tales series, Caught! and liked it but something is putting me off about the blurb for the next one.

KJ Charles, Rag and Bone. Magpie Lord universe but different leads, and I've just realised on checking the author's webpage that the interesting decision to start *after* they've begun their relationship is because I missed the short story prequel. Oops. Taking place at the same time as Jackdaw, which I have in progress, and I will probably comment on both more when I finish. Excellent. Also has a black British lead, which is vanishingly rare in historical romance.

In progress:

KJ Charles, Jackdaw, as above.

Up next:

The read, renew or return unread decision. I have an Anne Perry (one of the Monk books, yes I know, but I get them from the library), Georgette Heyer's An Infamous Army and Sarah Waters' The Paying Guests on the books from the library shelf, all due back in the next 5 days. Hmm.

Weekly picture book concern:

The bit in Pip and Posy: The Scary Monster by Axel Scheffler (more well known as the Gruffalo artist) where Posy makes cupcakes, putting them into the hot oven very carefully with lots of textual warnings. Then Pip comes over and they go outside to play in the garden until tea time. They then eat the cakes which are a) not burnt to crisps and b) iced. No one else appears to live in the house. I keep wanting to add a bit where the oven's on a timer or where an obliging but invisible relation handles things.

Thoughts

May. 4th, 2016 08:54 pm
cyphomandra: (balcony)
I saw Zootopia today and liked it a lot. I may come back with more comments later, but I've been trying to think of any other western animated movies I've seen with an adult female protagonist. Chicken Run was claymation and Persepolis was predominantly child protagonist. I am not sure The Last Unicorn counts but I am happy to be argued with.

Trailers - live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, all very male. Angry Birds, adult male. Ice Age number whatever - I haven't watched any of these but my understanding is that there's a bunch of adult male characters and occasionally a female love interest shows up. Finding Dory - maybe two in one year? (!!!) The trailer is a bit heavy on Nemo & his dad but I will definitely be there.

In not unrelated news, my continuing fondness for all of Sandra Boynton's works and part of the reason why I bought two of Emma Virján's Pig in a Wig picture books during my latest bookshop raid, owe not a little to the fact that neither of them feel compelled to put long eyelashes on their female animal characters. Plenty of artists do a lot more than long eyelashes, but there are a determined bunch who just use long eyelashes and only put them on one or two of their animal hordes, just so no-one (female) gets any ideas about over-representation.
cyphomandra: (balcony)
Three weeks' or so:



Finished:

Jane Duncan, My Friend Madame Zora and My Friend Rose. Back to Scotland and England, predominantly, and I do prefer these. Madame Zora is a fortune teller and a fiercely independent and unpleasant woman with too many cats and no desire to spend any of her money, and the plot has paintings and amnesiacs and wins on the football pools, but it's a pleasure just watching all the pieces slot carefully into place and still manage to reveal things that weren't expected. Rose goes back a bit in time - Rose is the second wife of an employer Janet had before WWII, and the stepmother of Dee, an unhappy child Janet ends up looking after; this is more of a character study and less of a revelation, but again it's all very well managed. Next up is Cousin Emmie, which I actually started with but which will probably feel quite different with all of these behind me. However, I have a bunch of work deadlines and so haven't put any more requests in yet.

H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald. Finished this a while back. Excellent writing and the hawk bits and her grief are so well intertwined. I am less sure about the TH White bits, less because they're included than because she spends a lot of time giving the true narrative of what was happening (his goshawk's behaviour etc) and I am less convinced there is one true explanation behind them. It did not make me want to have my own hawk.

Shooting the Moon, Frances O'Roark Dowell. Vietnam war, US experience; the teenage son of an Army Colonel heads off to Vietnam instead of medical school. His 12 year old sister Jamie (the narrator) is thrilled and doesn't understand why their father tried to talk him out of it. Then, rolls of undeveloped film start arriving. Jamie learns how to develop them and things change.

I picked this up because I do get irked by the number of historical war books (for children/YA) that assume everyone thinks war is a bad thing. This problematises it a little but not as much as I wanted (the Colonel thinks this particular war is a bad one, not all wars) and the gimmick of the film never really worked for me. What did work was Jamie playing crib in a summer-long tournament with one of the GIs on the base, a man whose brother has been killed in Vietnam and who is waiting to hear of his own orders.

A Game for All the Family, Sophie Hannah. Picked this up because the name looked familiar - I actually vaguely thought Guardian columnist - but apparently it's because I read her authorised Poirot (Agatha Christie) sequel, although I don't think it's on here. I wasn't wild about it - initial set-up interesting, development unconvincing, and unfortunately that's what happens here as well, along with a totally unbelievable ending.

Justine leaves her glittering TV career in London under a suitably vague cloud and Does Nothing on a large country mansion. However, her daughter starts writing a macabre story about murders, anonymous phone calls accuse Justine of being someone she isn't, and every attempt to investigate things uncovers more problems. For a while this worked and then Hannah has to reveal what's actually going on, and the more of this there was the more unbelievable it was, both as the overall plot and as individual events (Ellen, Justine's daughter, has to write down a story she has apparently been told once over the course of some weeks and gets every detail right; however, it is impossible for her to summarise it or answer any questions about the details).

To spoil it all - Justine's departure from London is due to a twitter spat over cis privilege by an actor she wanted to cast in a drama (the spat I believe in. The ending of her career over it I don't). The woman calling her is a compulsive liar who is annoyed about having her pet dog taken away from her as a child after her sister became allergic to it. It ends with Justine bashing her stalker's brains out at the house of a dog-breeder who has somehow been pulled into all of this and there being no repercussions for the murder. I ended up feeling somewhat insulted as a reader.

[ETA: Huh. Googling has just revealed Sophie Hannah did this rather good column about the "rediscovery" of women writing crime fiction, which I read a while back. I do recommend this column and a number of the books she mentions there.]

Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosch. Have read many of these in blog form but still great.

Abandoned:

I had Angela Thirkell's Pomefret Towers out and ended up returning it a couple of chapters in; it was perfectly fine but I didn't have the time and wasn't quite in the mood. I've only read her Wild Strawberries but will probably pick some more up again at some stage.
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
I have watched just over 15 minutes of The Durrells, the latest adaptation of what is apparently called Gerald Durrell's Corfu Trilogy (I am not enthralled with this description, as it sets up much more of a separation between three of the books and his others than I think is warranted, but this is probably also because in my head Fillets of Plaice is the sequel to My Family and Other Animals, because it was the other one we had a copy of when I was small and I read them both excessively).

I am also not enthralled with the adaptation so far, but it's hard to know how fair this is because My Family and Other Animals was such a formative book for me. This adaptation has made Louisa Durrell, Gerald's mother, the main figure, and started off with her rescuing him from school where he has been caned for feeding rats instead of studying, and then has a lot of heavy father figure imagery as well as a neighbour proposing to Louisa while she hits the gin bottle before they all head for Corfu. The book, if memory serves me correctly (there is a gap on my bookshelf where my copy should be and I know I've seen it somewhere else), starts with a very short scene in which everyone is sick, miserable and bitchy, and is much funnier and far less heavy-handed. They have also skipped the hotel and Greek sanitation and the bit with all the other villa shopping (but they've kept Lucrezia, who I do like) and possibly I shouldn't have even tried (I couldn't watch the 1990s adaptation either) but I keep thinking I should try visual narratives again. Hmm.

On the bright side, I am now 27 pages into Birds, Beasts and Relatives, which was in its correct place, and now giggling helplessly as Gerry, various eccentric relatives and eight Bedlington puppies navigate the London Tube on their way to a spiritualist meeting.
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
I am working my way through Janet Duncan's My Friends series, mentioned briefly before; nineteen books of semi-autobiography that demonstrate just how well a skilled writer can put shape and structure into what seems to be a simple retelling of events. I picked up one of these years ago in the school library and couldn't get into it - I was expecting a school or children's story from the title (and the location!) - but, although late, this is actually a good time to read them because there are reprints currently in print from Bello, an arm of Pan McMillan. I am ordering these through the library and most have been the Bello imprints, but two have shown up as elderly hardbacks from the Stack, complete with date stamps in the front ("a fine of One Cent per Day will be charged for the first week...") and given me nostalgic feelings (as a teenager I did shelving at the central library, which afforded me staff access to the stacks and I read all sorts of things there).

Anyway. My Friend Sandy takes Janet and her husband out to the British West Indies and into the accumulated feuds among the white population there, as well as having a theatrical production to execute, My Friend Martha's Aunt deals more directly with the consequences of slavery and the colour bars that do or don't exist, and I am halfway through My Friend Flora, which has gone back to Scotland (and back to Janet age 5 starting school, but it's now moving forwards again and I'm in 1930). I prefer the Scottish setting - the St Jago ones do set out quite clearly the immediate and longterm consequences of slavery on both white and black populations, but although there are lot of generalisations about both which may not have any authorial backing, Duncan really only goes into specific individuals on the white side (or those considered part of the white community), and it does unbalance things.

My only other comment at the moment is that they all drink like fish. Everyone is constantly having another wee dram, and at one point there's a bit about not giving pregnant women whiskey, to which the pregnant woman in question replies that she's only had three small ones...

Picfor1000

Mar. 1st, 2016 10:08 pm
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
So,[personal profile] china_shop talked me into doing the [profile] picfor1000 challenge. Sign up, get a picture (all, for this challenge, on the theme of "money") and write a thousand words, exactly, in any fandom you choose.

My photo prompt was here, and this is what I wrote.

Ball in Hand (1000 words) by Cyphomandra
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Young Wizards - Diane Duane
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Carl Romeo/Tom Swale
Characters: Carl Romeo, Tom Swale
Summary:

Fortunately, Tom's interpersonal skills are better than his pool-playing.


This is a postscript to An Unwilling Heart, which I wrote ten years ago. No one is going to accuse me of rushing into a sequel, but AUH as it stands is a little over a third of what I originally plotted. I hadn't been able to re-read it since - I did for this, although I bailed the first time and skimmed some bits the second - but I've had my version of the characters in my head the whole time. I am thinking about going back again, although I'm not promising anything in terms of time.

(I am also amused to see that Carl and Tom's entries on the Errantry Wiki are still as minimal as they were when I did AUH. I was convinced while I was writing it that Duane was going to update them with something that would completely joss all my attempts at generating backstory. So far, so good!)
cyphomandra: Painting of a bare tree, by Rita Angus (tree)
No More Dancing in the Good Room. Chris Parker, who played David Halls in Hudson & Halls Live! (the tall extroverted one) does a solo show - multimedia memoir, growing up in Christchurch with conventional parents while being gay and into dancing. It's affectionate and touching, and the bits with the videos of his own childhood work very well, especially the ending where he dances with his younger self (on a video that includes an intruding younger sibling and other distractions, given that he's in the kitchen!), but I always find solo shows a really tough sell and, also, this was kind of going backwards - he did this show before Hudson and Halls Live!, and this is a repeat season. It is a piece that makes me want to see what he does next, but I've already done that. I do want to see what's after that, though.

The Book of Everything. This is based on the Dutch children's book Het boek van alle dingen by Guus Kuijer, which I have not read, and is back for a repeat season (of which this was the last night) before touring. It is about Thomas Klopper, almost 10, prone to seeing things no-one else does (mainly a very bro version of Jesus, whom he chats to frequently) and living with a rigid religious father who rules the household - Thomas, his older sister Margot, his mother - with fear and violence, and is set in 1951 with echoes of WWII and the Nazi Occupation very definitely present. It is however cheerful, moving, and not as depressing or as obvious as this set-up might sound (fellow NZers traumatised by having to study The God Boy at school will find this a much more refreshing alternative).

Discussion, no major spoilers. )

They've been marketing it as a family play, which is unusual for the Silo, but it definitely works as one (probably 10 and up - a friend took 11 & 9 year olds), and it'll be interesting to see if they try something like that again. They have kids on stage for Medea later in the year - it's a version done from the point of view of Medea's children - but I can't imagine that'll be kid friendly to go to.
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
For Chocolate Box I wrote Rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation (5138 words) by Cyphomandra
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Poe Dameron/Finn
Characters: Poe Dameron, Finn (Star Wars), BB-8, Leia Organa
Additional Tags: Get Together, First Time, Hospitals
Summary:

Finn doesn't like feeling useless.



This is the first time I've actually finished a story in a visual media-based fandom (woo hoo! Somewhere, multiple abandoned stories in Blakes' 7 and X-Files are feeling slightly resentful). It was fun to write but a bit terrifying, both because of that and because this is also a much larger fandom than I usually write in.

I received two gifts:

the two of us (772 words) by pichu
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Missile (Ghost Trick) & Sissel (Ghost Trick), Missile & Sissel
Characters: Sissel (Ghost Trick), Missile (Ghost Trick)
Additional Tags: Relationship Study, Animals
Summary:

A short conversation between Sissel and Missile after everything that happened.



A post-game tag for a game that made me cry; great to revisit the characters and the world.
Travelling (0 words) by MissHammer
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Dragonlance - Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Caramon Majere & Raistlin Majere
Characters: Caramon Majere, Raistlin Majere
Additional Tags: Doodles
Summary:

Even if he's heavy, Raistlin indulges his brother who fell asleep leant on his shoulder.



My first art gift! And for one of my distant nostalgia fandoms. This was really cool and gave me lots of warm fuzzy feelings.

I am planning on doing some more challenges this year, but not sure exactly which yet. Mini-challenge is to actually manage to write at least one treat. This requires me to a)improve my time management and b) write short. I'm not sure which is more unattainable.
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
This is more a couple of weeks' worth.

Just finished:

CS Pacat's Captive Prince series - re-read the first two and then read the new (and final) one, Kings Rising. I am very fond of this series and will try to discuss them properly later. Spoilers for emotional reaction to <i>Kings Rising</i> )

Jane Duncan's My Friend series - I finished My Friends the Miss Boyds (Janet's childhood) and read My Friend Muriel (bits of WWII, Janet meets Twice), My Friend Monica (early days of Janet & Twice's relationship), and My Friend Annie, (back mostly to Janet's school days and then university, and then on to her and Twice going out to the West Indies). More enthusiasm. )

Mercedes Lackey, Blood Red. Elemental Masters series, does the fairy tale in the prologue. Competent, especially compared to the terrible Tin Soldier one.

Reading now:

Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk. I've been meaning to read this for a while and found it at the library. Still too early to say.

Up next:

I also snaffled Kate Elliott's Court of Fives from the returns section, and am looking forward to Hugner Games/Little Women crossover action. I also really do want to get to the latest Bujold and must find a way to get it on my phone.
cyphomandra: (balcony)
Just finished:

The Martian, Andy Weir. I saw the movie first because reading a sample on-line made me unsure whether I could handle the narrator at book-length, but in many ways the book narrator ended up being less annoying than the film. This is probably mostly because I’m not all that fond of Matt Damon, and even when he’s doing survival puzzles in space I still have to look at him, whereas the book narrator tends to be much more tolerable when the author is caught up in the technical details and not trying to give him a personality. Watney is supposedly the catalyst that makes the astronaut crew function; he is also that annoying guy at the party who will not shut up about his pet topic and his personal brilliance, and who keeps trying (and failing) to come up with funny one-liners. There’s almost no suspense about whether the rest of the crew will be happy spending another year and a half in space to rescue Watney, so they must inexplicably find him more appealing, but then it’s not a book for interpersonal conflict, or even for anything much outside of Watney and his fight for survival. The bits not from Watney’s point of view are barely 2-dimensional - I kept envisaging stick figures in empty rooms holding up bits of cardboard with their names on them.

In terms of book versus movie I preferred the book - the dust storm sequence is particularly effective, and I also liked that Mark loses contact via Pathfinder. The final grab - hmm. The movie does oversell this, but the book undersells it because it takes the action away from Mark, and there’s not enough for it to work as a team redemption (it could, possibly, have worked if the key manoeuvre was made by Lewis). The book doesn’t return to Earth: I didn’t like Matt Damon lecturing at the end of the movie, but I did like that you saw he’d got back. In both cases, I wanted something between.

Neither book nor movie explain why Mark is going through every other crew member’s stuff looking for personal items and has nothing of his own. I am still bugged by this.

My Friends the Miss Boyds, Jane Duncan. First in the series. I will come back to these. By contrast to The Martian this is positively bursting with a sense of place, period and character. It’s a sad book without feeling grim or even downbeat, which is an interesting achievement, but it is limited by the narrator being a child, and I’m looking forward to the next ones.

In progress:

My Friend Muriel, Jane Duncan. Second etc. I like that we move very briskly through the second world war with only a few paragraphs referencing her time in Air Force Intelligence, most of which are about the batty arguments she gets into with her highly strung co-workers. She is quite casually brutally in assessing her own personality as well as others - not as much so as Doris Lessing in her memoirs, but it reminded me a bit of the approach.

Parenting from the Inside Out, Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell. How your own experiences (especially but not only those of your childhood/being parented) influence your own approach to parenting; recognition, understanding and allowing the potential for change. I like Siegel’s other books and this is useful but a bit more wordy and less specific than his later works, or so far anyway.

Coming up:

Expect a swathe of My Friends. Also, I suspect that the Ancillary books are going to lose out to a re-read of the Captive Prince series, because book 3 is OUT IN FIVE DAYS, OMG.
cyphomandra: (peter siddell)
I have never managed to find the perfect (for me) banana bread recipe, but this was pretty good. As it was an amalgamation of two on-line recipes (one US, which is why the butter measurement is so odd) plus some improvisation, I'm putting it down here for future reference. It's light, the brown sugar gives it a caramel taste that goes well with the banana, and the buttermilk has acidity.

Future notes: try reducing sugar and think about banana coconut again (I found a good recipe for this - coconut cream/milk, can't remember which, plus lime and shredded coconut - but can't find it again).


114g butter
1 c brown sugar

Cream together. Add, already combined:

3 mashed ripe bananas
Vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 c buttermilk

Mix.

Add (if I had more time I would have sifted these separately together and then added, but I was on a deadline)

1 3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda (I should work out what the soda's doing here and whether I could cut this back)
1/2 tsp salt

Mix.

Bake 180 degrees for about an hour.

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