HanGerg is aiming for the magic 75 in 2019
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Hi everyone! Welcome to my thread for 2019! I'm Hannah. A 40 year old living in Lincoln, UK. This is my...eighth? year on LT, and although I don't get here as often as I would like, I really treasure this community of lovely people and all the great reads they have led me to! I read a lot of Science Fiction, a fair bit of mainstream contemporary fiction, and some older stuff too. I also read a smattering of non-fiction. Climate Change and what we can do about it are a big theme with me right now, so lots of books about that will probably be in order this year.
I'm doing a big ongoing reading challenge, reading 150 books taken from this list : https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/jan/23/bestbooks-fiction, one for each year of the years 1865-2015. I've read only 29 from the list so far but I'm content to do it at that kind of meandering speed.
So, my big LT goal this year is to really try and get to the magic figure of 75 books! I haven't done it yet, but I really want to try this year! Also, the usual stuff about trying to get round to visit more threads and be more present on my own. Also REVIEWS! This year, I really, really am, going to keep on top of them. No really, just you watch me. Seriously. I mean it this time.
1.The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place - Julie Berry 3.5/5
2.Sapiens - Yuval Noah Harari 4/5
3.Visitor - C.J.Cherryh 4.5/5
4.Ancillary Mercy - Ann Leckie 4.5/5
5.A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Maas 3.5/5
6.The Moving Finger - Agatha Christie 4/5
7.Tower of Dawn - Sarah J. Maas 4/5
8. A Princess of Mars -Edgar Rice Burroughs 2/5
The big ongoing reading challenge:
1868 Little Women - Louisa May Alcott *
1875: The Crime of Father Amaro - José Maria de Eça de Queiroz
1876 Daniel Deronda - George Eliot
1878 The Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy
1879 The Red Room - August Stringberg
1880 The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoevsky
1881 Bouvard and Pécuchet - Gustave Flaubert
1882 The Prince and the Pauper - Mark Twain
1884 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
1885 After London; or, Wild England - Richard Jefferies / King Solomon's Mines - H Rider Haggard
1886 Kidnapped - Robert Louis Stevenson
1887 She: A History of Adventure - H Rider Haggard
1888 Pierre and Jean - Guy de Maupassant
1889 Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog - Jerome K. Jerome
1890 News from Nowhere - William Morris
1891 The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
1893 The Odd Women - George Gissing
1894 The Prisoner of Zenda - Anthony Hope
1895The Time Machine - HG Wells
1896 Effi Briest - Theodore Fontane
1897 The Invisible Man - H.G.Wells
1898 The Turn of the Screw - Henry James / The War of the Worlds- HG Wells
1899 The Awakening - Kate Chopin
1900 Sister Carrie - Theodor Dreiser
1901 Buddenbrooks - Thomas Mann
1902 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
1903 The Way of All Flesh - Samuel Butler
1904 Nostromo - Joseph Conrad
1906 The Man of Property - John Galsworthy
1907 The Secret Agent - Joseph Conrad
1909 Institute Benjamenta - Robert Walser
1910 The Vagabond - Colette
1911 Zuleika Dobson - Max Beerbohm
1913 Sons and Lovers - DH Lawrence / Remembrance of Things Past - Marcel Proust *
1916 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce
1917 Christine - Elizabeth von Arnim
1918 The Magnificent Ambersons - Booth Tarkington
1921 Rosa Sacaramouche - Rafael Sabatini
1922 One of Ours - Willa Cather
1923 A Lost Lady - Willa Cather
1925 The Polyglots - William Gerhardie
1926 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
1927 Steppenwolf - Hermann Hesse
1928 Ali and Nino - Kurban Said
1929 The Last September - Elizabeth Bowen / Berlin Alexanderplatz - Alfred Döblin / All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
1930 Narziss and Goldmund - Hermann Hesse
1931 Afternoon Men - Anthony Powell / Sanctuary - William Faulkner
1933 Frost in May - Antonia White / They Were Counted - Miklos Banffy / Love on the Dole - Walter Greenwood
1934 Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller
1935 Untouchable - Mulk Raj Anand
1937 Star Maker - Olaf Stapledon
1938 Count Belisarius - Robert Graves / The Beast Must Die - Nicholas Blake
1939 Goodbye to Berlin - Christopher Isherwood / Rogue Male - Geoffrey Household
1940 The Man Who Loved Children - Christina Stead / Darkness at Noon - Arthur Koestler
1941 No Bed for Bacon - Caryl Brahms and SJ Simon
1942 Darkness Falls from the Air - Nigel Balchin
1943 Two Serious Ladies - Jane Bowles
1944 The Shrimp and the Anemone - LP Hartley
1945 The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford
1946 Zorba the Greek - Nikos Kazantzakis
1947 Manservant and Maidservant - Ivy Compton-Burnett/ The Plague - Albert Camus
1948 I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
1949 The Parasites - Daphne du Maurier / The Sheltering Sky - Paul Bowles
1950 The Case of Comrade Tulayev - Victor Serge / A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
1951 Foundation - Isaac Asimov / My Cousin Rachel - Daphne du Maurier
1952 The Family Moskat or The Manor or The Estate - Isaac Bashevis Singer / Excellent Women - Barbara Pym
1953 The Go-Between - LP Hartley /The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow / The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler
1954 I Am Legend - Richard Matheson / Lucky Jim - Kingsley Amis
1955 Memed, my Hawk - Yasar Kemal / Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
1956 A Legacy - Sybille Bedford / Palace Walk - Naguib Mahfouz / The Lonely Londoners - Samuel Selvon
1957 The Fountain Overflows - Rebecca West / The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham *
1959 Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut / Zazie in the Metro - Raymond Queneau /Absolute Beginners - Colin MacInnes
1960 The L Shaped Room - Lynne Reid Banks / Rogue Moon - Algis Budrys / God's Bit of Wood - Ousmane Sembène
1961 Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A Heinlein (*)/ Solaris - Stanislaw Lem / The Moviegoer - Walker Percy
1962 The Garden of the Finzi-Cortinis - Giorgio Bassani / One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
1963 The Group - Mary McCarthy
1965 Dune - Frank L Herbert
1966 The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov
1967 The Third Policeman - Flann O'Brien / A Season in Sinji - JL Carr
1968 A Kestrel for a Knave - Barry Hines
1969 The French Lieutenant's Woman - John Fowles / Travels With My Aunt - Graham Greene
1970 Ringworld - Larry Niven
1971 Chronicle in Stone - Ismael Kadare
1972 My Name Is Asher Lev - Chaim Potok / The Harpole Report - JL Carr
1973 Carrie's War - Nina Bawden
1975 Hello Summer, Goodbye - Michael G Coney
1976 The Painter of Signs - RK Narayan / The Hearing Trumpet - Leonora Carrington
1977 Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison
1978 Who Do You Think You Are? - Alice Munro
1979 Kindred - Octavia Butler / Sophie's Choice - William Styron
1980 Riddley Walker - Russell Hoban *
1981 Good Behaviour - Molly Keane / Sharpe's Eagle - Bernard Cornwell / Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie (*)
1982 Sour Sweet - Timothy Mo / The Color Purple - Alice Walker / An Ice-Cream War - William Boyd
1983 Look At Me - Anita Brookner
1984 Money - Martin Amis
1985 Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy /Illywhacker - Peter Carey / White Noise - Don DeLillo
1986 The Sportswriter - Richard Ford
1987 In the Country of Last Things - Paul Auster:
1988 The Swimming-Pool Library - Alan Hollinghurst / Nice Work - David Lodge
1989 Hyperion - Dan Simmons * /A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters - Julian Barnes
1990 Vineland - Thomas Pynchon
1991 A Thousand Acres - Jane Smiley
1992 The Children of Men - PD James / Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson / Hideous Kinky - Esther Freud/ Fatherland - Robert Harris
1994 Only Forward - Michael Marshall Smith / The Sorrow of War - Bao Ninh
1995 The Unconsoled - Kazuo Ishiguro /Blindness - José Saramago / Behind the Scenes at the Museum - Kate Atkinson / Microserfs - Douglas Coupland
1997 Great Apes - Will Self
1998 Death in Summer - William Trevor / The Restraint of Beasts - Magnus Mills
1999 Darwin's Radio - Greg Bear / Cryptonomicon - Neil Stephenson / The Mighty Walzer - Howard Jacobson
2000 Revelation Space - Alastair Reynolds * / The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon* /White Teeth - Zadie Smith
2002 Light - M John Harrison / The Years of Rice and Salt - Kim Stanley Robinson
2003 Personality - Andrew O'Hagan
2004 Suite Francaise - Irene Nemirovsky
2005 On Beauty - Zadie Smith / Beyond Black - Hilary Mantel
2006 Genesis - Bernard Beckett
2007 The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett / A Quiet Belief in Angels - RJ Ellory
2008 The Night Sessions - Ken Macleod / The Sacred Book of the Werewolf - Victor Pelevin
2009 The Earth Hums in B Flat - Mari Strachan
2011 Embassytown - China Mieville
2012 2312 - Kim Stanley Robinson
2014 The Goblin Emperor - Katherine Addison
2015 The Just City - Jo Walton
A year full of books
A year full of friends
A year full of all your wishes realised
I look forward to keeping up with you, Hannah, this year.
>4 drneutron:. Thanks Jim! First as always!
>5 FAMeulstee:. Hi Anita! And the same to you!
>6 ronincats:.Hi Roni! What a cheery looking star it is!
>7 PaulCranswick:. Thanks Paul. I shan't promise to keep up with you, but I shall certainly try and look in from time to time!
>8 SandDune:.Hi Rhian! Thank you - it was taken on our summer Euro road trip. This was on the home leg of the trip, when we stayed in Lausanne in Switzerland. Here we are down at the shore of lake Geneva. We went on to Geneva itself a day later. Both lovely places I would like to return to again.
Right, well, I've finished a book, and in keeping with my pledge to keep up with my reviews this year, I'm going to review it right now!
1.The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place - Julie Berry 3.5/5
A YA novel I picked up in the library because it looked like it would be fun, and it was, although I found it unexpectedly stressful too. It's a sort of historical murder mystery farce, in which seven young girls on the cusp of womanhood decide to cover up the death by poisoning of the disliked headmistress of their little boarding school, and that of her unpleasant brother, in order to retain their independence and not be sent home to their stifling family lives. It's meant to be a bold and daring thing to do, and one which leads them into all kinds of scrapes as they have to quickly start telling all kinds of lies and do all sorts of weird things to cover up the deaths. To me it was a fundamentally immoral thing that they did, and all the subterfuge I found stressful rather than fun. But it was well researched for period details and well written, the moral aspect of their behaviour is addressed at the end, and I liked the central conceit of a band of capable young women coming together in a common endeavour. I just didn't find it the hoot I was supposedly meant to. The murder mystery angle was what kept me turning the pages, and that was all done pretty well I think. So, a mixed bag for my first read of the year.
>10 HanGerg: I hope the rest of your reading year improves from here on out, Hannah!
>Hi Stasia! Me too! I'm currently reading Ancillary Mercy so I'm fairly confident that will be the case...
>Hi Susan! Thanks for the fireworks! They definitely add a touch of style to the thread!
Hi Hannah, sorry about the mixed bag of a first read- hope the next one is better. I love the topper: so much beautiful blue.
Hi Hannah! Happy New Year! I remember reading The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place a few years ago, and I gave it the same rating you did. I thought it was annoying how they called all of the girls by their long nicknames throughout the entire book. That's pretty much all I remember from that one! Hope your next read is more enjoyable!
>15 aktakukac: Hi Rachel! Thanks for dropping by! Yes, the nicknames were annoying, but then I was getting the characters a bit muddled, even with the nicknames to help me identify them. I had to keep flicking to the front to look at the little portraits to get it clear in my head who was doing what. A sign that the characterisation could have been a little better, I think!
I see you have a little one too! My little (or BIG! as he claims) one is slightly older; three last August. Still, it might be fun to swap book recommendations. I don't actually know how many British kids books make it over your side of the pond, and vice versa. I follow a few people on Instagram that are sharing recommendations for kids books in the US and very few of them are titles I recognise, but we shall see!
2.Sapiens - Yuval Noah Harari 4/5
I've finally finished this, after dipping in and out of it for months. The early chapters about pre-history were totally mind blowing for me - which just goes to show how little I knew about this era. All the stuff about the extinct megafauna was a complete revelation ("there were 6 foot high giant armadillos!?!! Whaaaat????" *mind blown* would be a typical thought), as were some of his, presumably original observations, such as the fact that moving from a nomadic hunter gatherer society to a static, farming based one was actually catastrophically bad for the average human, even as it advanced human civilisation as a whole. Most provocative of all from my perspective, is that he debunks the idea that most societies are patriarchal because of men's superior physical strength. As he points out, most men that attain power in societies worldwide do not tend to be the strongest, rather the smartest, or most ruthless, or best at persuading others to do their bidding. Therefore, he argues, we don't really know why women haven't risen to the top in more instances. I found this an insanely interesting idea, but he didn't really go into it any further. I wanted a whole book on just this topic - perhaps it exists. But he was off again, onto the next thing, which was sometimes the weakness of the book. Also,I found it got less mind blowing as he moved into areas of history I was more familiar with, but even there he had some extremely thought provoking ideas. At the end he starts looking at what the future might hold - I believe the sequel is entirely about this and not doubt expands on some of the ideas here, about how our descendants might eclipse us to the extent that they can hardly be called human anymore, and all of humanity might just become a footnote on the road to something else. There were moments towards the end of the book where it felt like he was being deliberately obtuse, saying things such as, to paraphrase, "peasants in the middle ages were probably happier than us because they believed in an afterlife, so they were happy because they were deluded. But we modern humans, by trying to ascribe meaning to our meaningless existences, are equally deluded." Perhaps he's right, but I refuse to entertain that idea. Deluded I suppose. It's a rambling review, because the book is packed full of so much stuff it's hard to take an overview. Some of it is fascinating, some less so, but his analysis feels fresh and new in many areas, even if I find myself rejecting some of his conclusions.
>17 HanGerg: That one sounds very interesting. I suspect my reaction to the early chapters will mirror yours. Thanks for the recommendation and review, Hannah! I will have to see if the local library has a copy.
Right, well after that very meandering review (hey, at least I'm keeping up to date!), there's time for a quick RL update before I turn in.
So, it's been a funny time lately. We were in Hungary for Christmas, which was largely fun, although with some of the family tensions that characterise our trips to Budapest in recent years - nothing serious, just background tension stuff with a side order of resentments that occasionally break the surface. Normal family stuff, in other words. Anyway, the main thing is, when it nearly came time to fly home, we noticed a few ominous looking spots on Leó's torso....yep, it was chicken pox. So after an hour or two of furious brainstorming of possible ways to get back to England (my husband and his brother were driving Leó back to Lincoln in my husband's aunt's car at one point!), it was decided that I would travel home alone on the original flight on December 28th, and my husband would get tickets for himself and Leó for January 6th. That date was chosen as we were assured by everyone he would be pox free by then, and on the 8th of January we were due to go to Tenerife with my mum, so it was almost the very last moment they could return and still make that trip. So, that's what we did. I was looking forward to several days of just doing exactly what I pleased - every parent's dream! But as it turned out, I was mainly just missing the man/boy folk and procrastinating instead of filing a travel insurance claim and doing my tax return. But, I did manage to fit in some painting in the studio, and a couple rides on my lovely new electric bike. (That deserves a few posts all of its own - another time perhaps). Meanwhile, my poor husband and L were getting rather cabin fever-y, cooped up in my father-in-laws flat for much of the time, as L was so contagious. Anyway, I picked them up from Manchester airport yesterday, after a very nice day in Manchester re-visiting some old stomping grounds. Leó keeps saying "it's so nice to have you back mummy" which is both funny, and melts my heart into a little puddle. And we are flying to Tenerife for ten days tomorrow. So everything has come together in the end, despite a few nervous days of not knowing if he would recover in time, and having lots of disruption to our plans so early in the new year. I'm taking lots of books to read, some painting and sketching stuff, and I'm looking forward to eating lots of fish and seafood, although maybe not octopus, as we were discussing on Rhian's thread at the end of last year - as clever as the average three year old, apparently! They are so delicious though! I'll let you know how that one gets resolved, plus everything else, when I return.
>18 alcottacre:. Hi Stasia! You snuck in whilst I was composing my RL update! Yes, it is pretty fascinating. I would certainly recommend it, for the early chapters alone it's worth a read.
Just stopping by to drop a star and I get hit by Sapiens. Now to figure out where to fit it in.
>10 HanGerg: Excellent review. Even as I read it, I found myself nodding along with your concerns over the girls' actions. I'm also with you in that the premise of the girls coming together for some other reason would have been more entertaining.
>16 HanGerg: Yes, I'm always interested in children's book recommendations. I order books for all ages at the library I work at, and I love getting ideas for my son, nieces, and nephews, too!
<19 Oh chicken pox is a pain! I once lost a lot of respect for someone when she took her entire family camping in France while two of the younger children had chicken pox. I mean, how could you do that, it’s so contagious. I managed to avoid it as a child though, and got it as an adult which was not fun.
Welcome back Hannah! Hope you are enjoying your time in Tenerife and glad Leo's feeling better.
Hi, Hannah. Just stopping by to drop a star. Hope your trip to Tenerife turns out much better than the one to Budapest!
I bought Sapiens for my older son for Christmas last year, with the intent to read it after he was finished. He has been dragging it out for over a year now, so I think I'm just going to have to sneak it out of his room while he's not looking.
>3 HanGerg: What a great reading list.
Ooh, visitors! Hi! Pull up a comfy cushion and help yourself to some of these Hungarian pastries my husband made. No really, have as many as you like, I'm still recovering from Christmas!
>21 swynn: Hi Steve. Glad to provide a bb! THIS is why I have to post more reviews! It feels good to add to someone else's teetering TBR pile for a change!
>22 brodiew2: Hi Brodie! Welcome! Yes, I like that the book didn't have them squabbling and falling out as many would have - they did actually have each other's back to a pretty good degree. It's just a shame they weren't doing something a bit more worthwhile!
>23 aktakukac: Noted Rachel! I just discovered this beauty at the library the other day - do you know it? Hello Hello - Brendan Wenzel Beautiful illustrations linking animals of very different species by a single shared attribute. Very clever and fun to read with a 3 year old, and with an important message about protecting animals too. My husband brought home a copy of his other great book They All Saw a Cat from a trip to Toronto last year, which was the first I had heard of this author.
>24 SandDune: Hi Rhian! Yes, once you accept the fact that you can't fly because of the dangers of passing on chicken pox, you have to accept that you can't really go anywhere where other people might catch it, so you kind of have to go into quarantine! Loads of people offered advice along the lines of "just smuggle him onto the plane, the spots aren't that noticeable!", but I couldn't imagine that. And actually, by the day of the flight he was covered in spots all over his face, poor little love, so if that had been our plan it would have probably failed spectacularly!
>25 souloftherose: Hi Heather! We had a lovely time thanks! And L was fighting fit by the time we got there, although even now the spots are still pretty visible, on his torso mainly. They seem to take a long time to clear up!
>26 PaulCranswick:. Hi Paul!
>27 sibyx: Thanks Lucy!
>28 rretzler: Hi Robin. Budapest was fine actually, I really shouldn't moan. Generally a lovely bunch of people in a great place to visit, just they're family, so all the baggage that implies - especially with a big family celebration at the heart of the visit. Luckily, L only got sick towards the end of our time there, so it didn't overshadow Christmas. He loved hanging out with his big cousins, who he doesn't see that often. Bigger boys that are prepared to play with you! A three year old chap can ask for no more!
3.Visitor - C.J.Cherryh 4.5/5
Well! I did not see that coming! Something of a twist in the tale here, which has the potential to take the rest of the series in a completely different direction. Elsewhere, it felt like the series was winding down, as Bren faced one of his stiffest challenges to date, that made him draw on all his vast reserves of diplomatic skill and cunning, and caused him to reflect on what a long way he's come since we first saw him in book one, the cocky young padhi who tore up protocol left, right and centre. I really thought we were entering the endgame, but I see she has already written another book in this trilogy, and begun another. That must be the last one, surely, but with the surprise at the end of this one, it's anyone's guess where we might go from here. Exciting stuff!
4.Ancillary Mercy - Ann Leckie 4.5/5
More excellence from the new SF superstar. I loved this, there was so much to admire and so many satisfying moments. Breq has to be one of the best characters of recent memory, although also maybe trumped in this book by the Presger translator. Every book should have a character like her, she's an absolute marvel. But I do have questions, not just abut this book but about where SF is going in general. It seems that in this series, and in the Becky Chambers one as well, there's this slightly lazy assumption that AI would be kindly disposed towards humans and would behave in ways we would understand and be able to interact with. I mean, it's a nice idea that an enormous space station would care if a few of its inhabitants got sucked into space, but is that really likely to be the case? The cynic in me thinks it would be more like the Sea of Rust version - the AI robots would wipe us all out entirely, and then have the good grace to feel slightly shamefaced about it, occasionally. (That's not a spoiler btw, that's the case at the start of the story). Another issue is with this ancillary thing, and the fact that the ruler of the galaxy has made herself virtually immortal by claiming for herself the right to grow an unlimited amount of bodies to host her consciousness. Are you really telling me that this doesn't cause a bit of friction with other people in the Empire - surely they fancy a bit of that immortality too? Oh, and why is everyone so shocked when the ruler comes on the station and starts executing people and being generally horrible? The Radch was after all, formed by brutally annexing lots of planets. Do they really believe that the fact they they are citizens of the Radch will protect them from that same brutality? And yet, it does seem to be a deterrent. So, the universe she has created, although fabulous in many ways - I look forward to many more stories set in it - seems a little inconsistent at times. But I was drawn in completely and loved so many aspects of her creation, so these seem like minor quibbles really.
5.A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Mass 3.5/5
I'd passed over this one in the library a few times, but my Fantasy loving friend is a fan, so I gave it a go. I'm not generally that keen on stories with Faeries in, and I didn't really warm to this aspect of the story. Or the romance angle. And the book is weirdly paced, with the first half being about our heroine being forced to leave the land of the humans and enter the land of the Fae, were she must lounge around in a huge palace with only hot young male fae Lords for company, eating lovely banquets, going for horse rides and painting pictures. Oh, and being inexorably drawn to the tortured soul with the big muscles who is in charge. Something is very wrong in this land, but she only gets glimpses of what, and it's really on the periphery of all the flirting and whatnot. I was really not a fan of this first half. Then, after a weird interlude back in the human world, it abruptly shifts tone and tempo, and we have the villain of the story revealed, and a kind of Goblet of Fire style series of challenges. I was a much bigger fan of this half of the book, and wondered if we couldn't have got the first half over much quicker to get to this more meaty section. Still, I liked it enough that I will probably venture on with the series at some point.
6.The Moving Finger - Agatha Christie 4/5
I read an AC years ago and didn't particularly enjoy it, so got the idea into my head that she wasn't an author for me. But after really admiring the recent BBC adaptation of The ABC Murders (I must mention John Malkovich doing an excellent job in the Poirot role, playing him very much against type for those of us brought up on the rather more bright and breezy performance of David Suchet), and after lots of interesting Christie chat over on Heather's thread, I resolved to give her another try. This was my first foray, and it was very good. A Miss Marple story with very little Miss Marple in it, but the main character, who does a lot of the sleuthing, is engaging, although the love interest angle with him was a little creepy. The whodunnit aspect kept me guessing to the very end, but more importantly for me, she has that elusive quality that the very best writers have, I think. Which is, that she seems to have that special insight into human behaviour, and an ability to communicate it with all its many nuances. I wasn't necessarily expecting that of her, and it makes me eager to read a lot more of her work.
>32 PaulCranswick:. They are Paul! One of my husband's favourites to make - he gets very into baking around Christmas. This is called a Gerbaud after the famous coffee shop where it was first made. It's layers of light pastry filled with apricot jam and walnuts, and topped with chocolate of course. I wish I could say these artfully photographed ones were some of his, but alas, it's just an internet sourced one. (As a slight aside, although I'm a keen photographer, and would back myself to take a decent shot in most situations, I think food photography is very tricky to get right. A real Art - either that or there's just lots of industry tricks that I don't know).
Anyway, the reading continues, and in keeping with my new year's resolutions, that means, so doth the reviews!
7.Tower of Dawn - Sarah J. Maas 4/5
Well, what do you know? A YA Fantasy novel where the central romance actually didn't suck! I was quite drawn in by it, in fact, and found the conflicts and moment of drama in their deepening bond very well portrayed. It even made me feel some feels. And I'm not one for the romance angle at all in these types of books normally, so that seems like an achievement. Elsewhere, there's some action that moves the story in the Throne of Glass series along into some interesting new territory, which kind of surprised me as I thought this was a spin off novel, seeing as all the chief protagonists are off stage for the entire time. It needs to be part of the series proper though, because there's stuff in here you need to know before moving on to the recently published final book in the series. So that's an interesting choice by the author, and one that I think pays off. I have a few quibbles with the book, the main one being, it's been a while since I read the previous five books and Maas really doesn't help folk like me with any re-capping of the backstory - you just get thrown a bunch of names and prior events that you are meant to recall in quite a lot of detail to figure out what's going on, which made my understanding of what was happening suffer at times. And the romance is really the main thing in the whole book - it isn't just one strand, it is THE thing, with the main narrative elements kind of squeezed in round the edges. There are two secondary characters who have an interesting storyline and romance of their own that could have been developed more I feel, and there's a bad guy identity-guessing angle that's completely underdeveloped, but overall a strong entry into the series, that's wet my appetite for the final instalment very well.
>30 HanGerg: 'Breq has to be one of the best characters of recent memory, although also maybe trumped in this book by the Presger translator.'
Yep, completely agree about this!
' The Radch was after all, formed by brutally annexing lots of planets. Do they really believe that the fact they they are citizens of the Radch will protect them from that same brutality?'
I don't know - that thought process seemed to reflect how most people view their own countries in the real world to me. If I think about how a lot of people in the UK view immigration and foreign policy and trade negotiations at the moment there seems to be an expectation that there'll be one rule of behaviour to an outside group but that this won't mean the same people will turn around and behave badly to us. So the Radch view of how their own Empire would treat its own people didn't seem unrealistic at all. (I might not be explaining that very well.)
And Sea of Rust has been bumped up my list based on your comments.
'she must lounge around in a huge palace with only hot young male fae Lords for company, eating lovely banquets, going for horse rides and painting pictures. Oh, and being inexorably drawn to the tortured soul with the big muscles who is in charge'
Yeah, I think I'll skip that one....!
>31 HanGerg: Yay - so glad you enjoyed The Moving Finger!
>33 HanGerg: In general, do you recommend the Throne of Glass series? I'd sort of assumed that it would be the type of YA fantasy series that has a sucky central romance which would annoy me too much. But it sounds like that's not the case? Or was it just this instalment?
Hi Heather! Interesting comments all. I shall address them point by point:
1. Yes, I do see what you mean, and I agree with you. An aside about Britain and Brexit could be introduced here, but let's take it as read and skip to the book bits. (My brain is on the point of shutting down about the B-thing. It would be an act of self preservation to avoid a total systems failure). The thing that surprised me was more that it did seem to reign in Anaanda Minaai's behaviour when she realised her actions were being broadcast across Radch space, so it seems she cares about negative publicity. Perhaps a bit late too worry about that!
2.Sea of Rust is good. Pretty bleak, but good. I admired it more than loved it, but that's just my take. It's definitely very memorable; one of those books you think about long after it's finished.
3. Well, I did say the second half was better! But yeah, a bit annoying, for sure.
4.I think I do recommend the Throne of Glass series, but with some caveats. There isn't A central romance as such, as our main character is rather fickle (and annoying as hell in many ways, but I think that's deliberate), but the romance stuff can be a drag, especially in later books. There is a lot of violence, some very convoluted plotting, inconsistent character behaviour....several flaws suggest themselves. But I did race through the volumes until I'd finished what was currently published, so the story hooked me, and as it develops and the scale of the conflict widens, some really cool additional characters come on board, the universe of the story gets fleshed out more and it all gets pretty exciting. So, not perfect, but certainly worth a look.
Checking back in to say I have 10 hearts in the Valentine's Day Heart Hunt! Very exciting! I haven't taken part in one of these before, it's loads of fun! Part of me would quite like to be entered into the draw for a T-Shirt but I'm not sure if I've got it in me to get many more...
Back again to pose a question. So, I've just started getting interested in the question of badges, seeing as I will get a badge for the Heart Hunt. I started looking into what you can get badges for etc. Now, as I understand it, one should get a Bronze "Published Reviews" badge for posting 10 reviews. I've posted 27, and yet, no badge! It says the reviews have to be "published". Is that different from just putting them up on the book's page? And if not, then who can I complain to?! I want my badge, darn it!
>37 HanGerg: Did you post them recently? The badges have been awarded in rounds, so you'll get an email from Tim when they update them. That was the only thing I could think of why it wouldn't be showing on your account. I really like the 'spam fighting' one (more for the name than anything else).
>29 HanGerg: Mmm, Hungarian pastries! I miss a lot of Hungarian desserts, and food in general. Does your husband cook too, or just bake around the holidays? Yes, we have both Brendan Wenzel books at my library. I can see how they'd be fun to read with a three year old :) He has another one coming out this summer, and it sounds like it's going to have some environmental similarities to Hello Hello.
>40 aktakukac:. Oh, hey Rachel! We cross posted! Exciting news about Brendan Wenzel. He may become a favourite. Other favourites currently include Oliver Jeffers, Rob Biddulph, relative newcomer Benji Davies and the undisputed champ of children's writing for the under 5's in the UK, Julia Donaldson. Does your library have any titles by these guys?
My husband, I'm delighted to say, does cook! A lot! I have to demand time at the stove in fact, although that's changing a bit now that I am trying to become largely vegetarian. That's not a journey he's too keen to come on, although he said he'd be willing to give Pescatarian a go, and he has cut down his meat intake a lot, just because of the change in the way the whole family eats now. So, yes, he is an amazing cook! He loves making Hungarian stuff, but also British, French, Italian, Chinese, Indian... he's a real all rounder! Do you have a favourite Hungarian dish? Mine has to be Paprikás Csirke, with Nokedli, but it's essential to have a nice bowl of Uborka Saláta on the side. And then, for pudding, I do love a good Mákos Guba!
For any non-Hungarian speakers out there (Really guys? Seriously? It's only the second hardest language in the world, and only spoken by 15 million people worldwide - what's stopping you?!), that's Chicken Paprika with home made pasta, cucumber salad, and poppyseed er, guba. Not sure how you translate that. Sweetened dough balls? Something like that.
Gosh, this thread is in danger of becoming a Hungarian foodie thread! Let's change things up a bit with a quick run down of "recently finished things from my studio". All preoccupied with the sea to some extent, ranging in style from semi-figurative to very abstract, one of them already sold (yay!) and all of them works I'm pretty pleased with, in one way or another. After a long hiatus, I'm going to start trying in earnest to sell my work via the internet again. Do check out my page on artfinder if such things give you pleasure: https://www.artfinder.com/hannah-cawthorne#/. In true "me" fashion, none of these pictures are up on the site yet, but those that are unsold at the moment will be there soon.
>42 HanGerg: My mom's maternal ancestors spent some time in Hungary, although at the time the Austro-Hungarian empire was large, so who knows where really they were, and came out of there with a really good cucumber salad recipe, a tendency to fry yeast dough dumplings, and a tart beet borscht. Unfortunately, no pastry recipes were passed down.
yum! Stopping by to admire Hungarian food and your art! My dad's family is Hungarian and I have some great memories cooking with my grandma. I just made kolach with my mom and sister a few weeks ago and kifles are a family favorite (I've heard them both called different names- kolach=nut roll, and kifles are a filled, rolled cookie. Are those the terms you use?).
Beautiful paintings! The top left reminds me of Lake Michigan :-)
>35 HanGerg: Well Sea of Rust is definitely on the list and I think the Throne of Glass series I will keep as a maybe. But I suspect there are other books and series I'll read first if I'm in the mood for some YA reading.
>37 HanGerg: The Published Reviews badge is for adding links and extracts to book reviews published in newspapers and journals. But I agree it's not very well described anywhere. If you go to the work page for any book and scroll down there's a Published Reviews section below LT user reviews (or that's where it is when I look at it - I can't remember if the order of those sections is editable or not).
>42 HanGerg: Oh, yum!
>43 HanGerg: Oh wow to those pictures!
>43 HanGerg: I love three of the four, Hannah! I have to admit the bottom left one doesn't do anything for me, but that may also be due to the way it is photographed. My husband would adore the top right one, with so much of his favorite color!
Oh, I'm loving all the people with Hungarian connections popping up!
>44 quondame:. Hi Susan. The cucumber salad recipe IS fantastic, I agree. I'm not sure about fried yeast dumplings - will have to check with the husband about that, and Borchst is not made in Hungary all that much, so I wonder where they got that recipe from?
>45 jennyifer24:! Hi Jennifer! Welcome! Thanks for the art love! The painting you like is actually of the sea from a beach where I have spent many a happy hour playing, both as a child and latterly, with my own son. I love that it can remind you of somewhere totally different though! I always go for universal feeling over localised detail in my work, so you're clearly picking up my vibe! : )
I recognise the name Kalács and Kifli, but not the description! But the husband says, and I quote "there's enormous regional variation of sweet brioches even within current day Hungary, let alone the wider region." So now we both know! He says kalács is generally a "plaited brioche loaf" Like so:
Kifli is the name for a crescent moon shape, and describes bread rolls in that shape, or these amazing crumbly biscuits made, (I think) with lots of ground almonds. A friend of the family makes them, only around Christmas time, and they are amaaaazing!
So, when I did the search for that image, I also found this:
That sounds kind of like what you described. I guess because the name is to do with the shape rather than a specific thing, there could be lots of variations.
This is reminding me, I need to get a recipe for those kifli biscuits. They are extraordinary.
>46 souloftherose:. Hi Heather! Yes, no need to rush at Throne of Glass. It's not going anywhere, and as you say, there's plenty of other YA Fantasy series that are more deserving of your time. Not bad though, if you ever do see it at a charity shop or something.
Thanks for clearing up the published reviews thing. That was starting to bug me!
>47 PaulCranswick:. I shall certainly do my best to oblige Paul! Just a word to the wise though: you're safe with me, but be very wary of ever telling a Hungarian you want more Hungarian food; you may never be allowed to leave the dinner table again!
>48 ronincats:. Lovely feedback, thanks Roni! Now I am very intrigued what your husband's favourite colour is. Hmmm, let me guess! Turquoise? (Second guess: Fuchsia)
It's interesting you like that abstract but not the other one. That is the most "out there" and experimental I think - a VERY abstract take on wave formations - kind of inspired by the movement of the ocean in the picture above, but taken to an extreme. It's not my usual style, but I think I achieved what I set out to do with it. As you noticed, it's really meant to be displayed portrait rather than landscape, although that makes it even more removed from its source of inspiration.
Enjoying the seascapes and the pastries! Lovely combination there. Kind of an ideal art appreciation class (but maybe that's just me!)
He loves red, Hannah, and that painting's lower half has lots of that color, although I'm guessing it tends to the fuchsia end of the spectrum in reality from your comment. That painting has a landscape quality to me that is very restful to the eyes despite the bright colors. The other two I like for the movement, the swirling effect of the waves. The other abstract is too static for me, I think. It doesn't flow.
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