Tag: reviews

Journals, Planners, & Pens – Daily Journal

I’ve always loved journals, planners, and pens but the past few years innovations (and rediscoveries) have uped my game. I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from others, so here I start to pass along the love. Or maybe I just want an excuse to go on about leather, stationary, and pens.

This is my daily journal set-up. It’s a traveler’s notebook with two inserts, three fountain pens, and a pen case that I love to look at (it is a loved gift <3) containing markers.

I’m obsessed with traveler’s notebooks–leather cut to a standard paper size and fitted with elastics onto which anything of said standard size can be strung. My daily journal is a B6 size. The leather is Chic Sparrow‘s classic Mockingbird dark bluejay. The color and texture is relaxing to me and helps me wind down as I journal before bed.

My daily journal consists of two inserts. A plain paper insert by PaperPenguin (pictured on left and top) and a Staology 365 notebook (pictured on right and bottom). The plain insert is strung on the first string, and the Staology on he second and fourth strings around its front and back covers. The sticker on the Staology is a reminder of balance (it is a captured cochlea!) from Liv Rainey-Smith. I use one page of the Staology per day. I color-map my hours and write about my day to remember things and decompress. In the plain paper insert I make statistics and charts about my time management because I’m a science dork, and also because it helps keep me accountable to myself and my impulse control is often, uh, limited. I also keep lists like of books read, shows watched, etc. over the year.

Shall we talk about pens? Yes? Pens?

I’ve been obsessed with fountain pens since back when they were impossible to find. Now they are easy to find which makes my monthly allowance hard to manage. These three I use daily in my journal. (Note: the links are all to Goulet Pens because I think they do the best job of listing technical specifications on the pens and inks, but you can purchase them in a wide variety of places–none of these are rare pens or inks.)

The Pilot Falcon (the black one with gold trim on the left) is a soft gold flex nib, extra-fine, and my top pick for price and quality on flex nibs. The ink capacity is small but it makes an incredible range of marks based on pressure, and is easy to control. It’s filled with archival, waterproof DeAtramentis Document Black ink (yes, it is labeled wrong in the picture) which allows me to color over the lines it makes with the water-based markers. I use the Falcon extensively for drawing too.

The TWISBI ECO (the clear one with the squared-off ends in the middle) is a 1.1 mm steel stub nib. I have used this $30 fountain pen every day since I got it like two years ago. Every. Day. It has a huge ink capacity, a reliable smooth nib, is fun and easy to disassemble and clean, and is perfect for headings. I always put shimmer ink in it cuz the fun! The stub nib lets me pretend I actually have beautiful calligraphic handwriting LOL.

The Pilot Custom-74 (the translucent purple one on the right) is among my favorite daily work-horse pens, and my favorite 14k nib pens for under $200. I have these in many colors, but the purple may be my favorite. I use this to write all my journal entries. It is smooth and light and fits my hand perfectly, and has a good ink capacity with the Con-70 converter. It matches perfectly with Iroshizuko Juro-jin ink.

The markers are Tombow watercolor markers. They blend well and are relatively inexpensive for art markers.

Lastly, I’m kind of a crap craftsman for beadwork, but I love arranging beads, and make my own bookmarks for my notebooks. I bead both ends of a strip of string/ribbon/elastic and loop it through the traveler notebook strings or string holes, nothing complicated. The result is pleasing and the book marks are fun to touch and play with. Yay!

Review of Hoshi by Wordgathering

I learned of a lovely review of my novel yesterday. This is my favorite part. This is exactly the sort of conversation I think we need to be having about disability in literature, and what I hope to trouble for mainstream readers:

“By telling the story from an autist’s point of view, Raymaker is able to invert the usual situation in which the main stream point of view is in the driver’s seat. Merely by identifying herself – the story teller – as the Operator, and those who do not share a similar experience of embodiment, as non-Operators, she manages to the put the reader who usually identifies as main stream into the margins.”

For readers who may also be Operators though, my intention is to create more heroes like us.

Also, both my sense of social justice and my ego is partial to this part:

“Science fiction has proven to be one of the most fertile genres for discussion of issues that affect the disability community. Recently, disabled writers have been wresting control of these narratives by authoring work themselves. Even without this context, Hoshi and the Red City Circuit would be a good read, but in that context it is much, much more. It is an important novel that anyone interested in the growth of disability literature should be familiar with.”

Many, many thankyous to Wordgathering: Read the full review.

Review of Hoshi by Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism

Kelly Israel provided an excellent, in-depth review of my novel, Hoshi and the Red City Circuit. In it, she breaks down a number of the disability rights themes of the book, and how the story is situated within our current reality. Also, she says, “I found myself obsessively devouring chapters to try and follow Hoshi to the next clue, eager to learn more about how the book’s impossible crime was committed.” So there’s fun stuff, too 😀

Read the full review: Hoshi and the Red City Circuit: An Excellent Debut by a Neurodivergent Author About Neurodivergent Protagonists

Summer Reading: Melissa Scott, Steven King, Mercedes Lackey, me!

I went epic this summer–three “books” that were more like seven. Here are teeny reviews.

★ ★ ★ ★ Melissa Scott – Trouble and Her Friends A friend pointed me to this book because it’s feminist cyberpunk with queer characters, which is pretty much my Thing. As a gen-Xer who grew up in the counter-cultures and technologies Scott riffs off of in her book, I had enormous fun reading this–and had I picked it up back in 1994 (HOW DID I MISS IT?), it would have been an instant favorite. As a 21st century reader, however, old and literarily-jaded, it didn’t age well with how technology, LGBTQ+ rights, or writing styles have developed into what is now close to the timeline of the story. I’m not sure how a younger reader would feel. It may seem naive, or even silly. For anyone keen on the early promise of the BBS, the mystique of the first internet adopters, or interested in the particular flavor of criminalization of sexuality that permeated the late 80’s / early 90’s it will probably deliver. As a writer, it reminded me why I don’t do near-future stories.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Steven King – Different Seasons Novella, novella, novella, novella! This collection of four novellas spawned three movies–one of which, Shawshank Redemption, is on my favorite movie list–and contains what is now one of my favorite stories of all time, The Body. This collection is: 1) Not a mixed bag; every story is excellent; 2) Not for the faint of heart; absent King’s supernatural elements, these stories explore a realistic horror I found far more terrifying; 3) Not trivial; these stories are enormously complex explorations of big questions like…what is freedom? what drives monstrous acts? what lurks on the terrifying, wondrous ledge of adulthood, and what is the price of passage? what are stories, really, living as they do on the ambiguous edge between hope and nightmare? Sooooo good.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Mercedes Lackey – The Last Herald Mage trilogy This is one of the most formative pieces of fiction from my young adulthood, and every now and then I wander back to it, literary comfort food that simultaneously makes me cry and feel uncomfortable because I relate so much to Vanyel. Still. Even now. Yes, parts of the world seem over-simplified or brow-raising to the modern reader (like, what’s with the institutionalized sexism that’s never mentioned?). But I don’t care because what’s not oversimplified is how much these books did–and still do–to keep so many of us, without hyperbole, alive in our most hopeless hours. ♥

Dora M Raymaker – Hoshi and the Red City Circuit Yes, I re-read my own book because it takes so long between the writing and the publishing that I felt a need to remember what I’d even written before I got down to the business of readings and the like. I won’t review myself, but here’s an excellent, astute review from Kelly Israel.

Q1 Book Reviews – Jeff Noon, Lavie Tidhar, Richard Morgan, Annalee Newitz

★ ★ ★ ★ Jeff Noon – A Man of Shadows Jeff Noon is one of my favorite writers. The mind-bending prose-poetry hallucinogenic math-punk media beat of his story-telling has destroyed and rebuilt my view of what fiction can look like more than once. So at first I was almost confused to get what felt like fairly conventional noir-detective fare, albeit in a quirky setting. Noir-detective also being one of my favorite things, this was fine, so I kept reading. And then it got weird. And weirder. And the mind-bending hallucinogenic storytelling emerged from the setting and characters like a monster from the Dusk. Noon challenged my sense of what fiction can look like an entirely different way, in how assumptions around conventional story-telling formats like the detective template can be turned against the reader weapon-like. Plus, it’s a damn good detective story!

★ ★ ★ Lavie Tidhar – Central Station It didn’t help that I started this book directly after reading Charles Stross’ essay on “Why I barely read sf these days”, which rants about lack of solid world-building in much of today’s mainstream SF. It also didn’t help that the book is largely about Judeo-Christian religious traditions which I’m apathetic toward on a good day, but didn’t realize until after I had committed to the book. It had high promises of AI and liminal spaces, a fascinating setting of a spaceport city, literary prose, and multi-POV character-driven story–all things I like. But mostly I spent a lot of time irritated because the world was just props, and rolling my eyes over why robots would resonate with an ancient human abusive-daddy-god. I admit, I finished it mostly because I had paid for it and the prose was high quality. It wasn’t awful, just not the right thing for me. I wish I’d known it was so religion-focused at the start. Now you know and can maybe avoid my mistake (or I dunno, maybe that makes it appealing).

★ ★ ★ ★ Richard Morgan – Thirteen Thirteen pokes in painful places of institutionalized oppression, especially for those who are simultaneously perceived as both sub-human/inferior AND powerful/advantaged, and the complex awfulness society does in its fear of us (a theme I trace over in my own writing, again and again). I’m not sure how Morgan gets what that feels like so well, but it makes me love and identify with his characters–in this book especially antihero Carl, who is, in a way, neurodivergent like me, and the conversation between Carl and Svegi on the boat about the black lab refugees made me weep curse you, curse you, curse you fiction gah! BUT ALSO!–action-packed adventure-mystery in a fascinating near-future where the US splits three ways along current ideological lines, gritty gangsters and evil suits, hard-boiled cops and solid prose, excellent world-building, and plenty of just plain fun story.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Annalee Newitz – Autonomous I don’t give five-star reviews lightly. Will this book be unforgettable in five years? Will it be re-read? Yes, someone made a list of all the elements that go straight to my heart: freedom and activism, AI and sentience, gender- and sexual-fluidity, the cost of trauma on damaged characters who disrespect good-guy-bad-guy boundaries like we are/do in real life. But also, the world is believably grounded in science, and meticulously realized in that way of the best SF; it asks the hard questions about WTF we are doing right now and where it might lead. The prose is tight and gorgeous. The story is as brave as its characters.

Review – Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

BorneBorne by Jeff VanderMeer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a sucker for themes around making sense of trauma, and even if the rest of the book were complete drivel I would have enjoyed it for the traumatized characters/city/world. However, it’s also beautifully written and nicely weird. I may be spoiled by less mainstream fiction, but where the story fell flat for me was in not pushing itself as far as it felt like it could have gone, both in terms of the prose, and the weirdness and complexity of the story. It was a bit like “you set me up for an experimental symphony but in the end I kinda just got pop. It’s good pop, but I almost heard something I’d never heard before…”

View all my reviews

Recommended Reading List Right Now

“I’m updating my content. What would you like to read?” I asked the Lazyweb.

“Your book recommendations!” The Lazyweb answered.

Well alrighty then, here are writings currently on my mind.

Long Fiction

SyFy’s The Expanse hooked me. Bait taken, I’m still reeling up the serial-reading-line of Epic that is James S.A. Corey’s near-future space-opera. I love the exploration into that oft-overlooked time between now and interstellar economy. I love “being” in space, feeling the shifts in gravity, the need to reconsider three-dimensionality and fragility; like the opening to 2001, it puts me there. I love the rich politics where no one is right and everyone is right. I love the multi-cultural cast and the shifting terms of what culture even means. I love that there are a million of these books.

Short Fiction

I’m a sucker for poetic, genre-fuckit, experimental, multi-layered lit that subverts the easy answer. Even more, I’m a sucker for literature written about people like me, by people like me, for people like me–but that’s a good deal harder to find. Spoon Knife Anthology 2: Test Chamber delivers a vastness of short stories, poetry, memoir-fueled essays, and unclassified short works exploring intersections of neuro/gender/sexual/racial/cultural diversity, curated not as education for normies but as a howl to those of us it represents. As an anthology, it’s a mixed bag at times, but the top-notch stuff is top-notch, and all of it is worth the time.


At work, in the kitchen, there is a white board with a monthly question. For July: favorite non-fiction rec?. This translated to me as: if your colleagues read only one systems-thinking book ever, what should it be? My choice is the slightly dated Frijof Capra’s The Web of Life. At its essence, Capra’s take-away message from much of his work is that holistic thinking is how we get out of this global wreck we’ve made. Capra’s writing is accessible, the systems-thinking frames are key to good decision-making in a global ecology, and it’s a gateway to deeper readings on complexity.

Graphic Fiction

Someone made a list of all of my favorite storythings and handed it to Cryoclaire and then she made Drugs and Wires. 90’s nostalgia cyberpunk dystopia brain-computer anti-heroes lowlife broken hearts bestfriends cyberparts evil-corps back-ground-art easter-egg references to industrial bands and william gibson screaming self-destructive edge-of-beauty. Yes, please. Free online weekly. Read it, love it, buy her merch.

Theme: Overlay by Kaira 2020 Dora M Raymaker
Portland, Oregon