HanGerg aims to be around more in 2018
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I'm back for another year, and aiming to be around this lovely place a lot more often than I was last year!
So I'm Hannah, 40 this year - yikes! I spend most of my time looking after the lovely little guy in the picture, although he will start getting 15 free hours of childcare this year so that will hopefully free me up to pursue other projects a bit. I'm an artist and self employed art educationalist (if that's a thing) when not mumming (that's definitely a thing). I have a fairly newly launched website where you can see examples of my artwork and the work I facilitate with children: www.weheartart-lincs.co.uk Hopefully there is lots of exciting stuff happening on that front this year.
On the LT and reading front, I am a massive Sci-Fi fan, and seem to read more and more of it as time goes by. But I also try and keep up a varied diet of other stuff too. In the last few years I have deliberately been seeking out a lot of older fiction for part of my ongoing 150 reads from 150 years challenge. So one of the last books I read last year was Middlemarch which I enjoyed a lot, and may have never got round to reading without the challenge. So my main reading goal is to just keep plodding along with that at my tortoise-like pace. This will be the fourth year of the challenge, and I'm starting it with only 23 books eliminated of the 150. But I'm not going to force it; lots of the books are not ones that naturally appeal to me so I'm not always in the mood to start something challenging. But continue I will, as Yoda might say. Apart from that, the only goal I'm going to be silly enough to openly declare at the start of this year is that I will endeavour to be around here a lot more, both on my own thread and that of others, as I was very absent for large chunks of last year. I've missed you all and look forward to re-connecting this year. Ok, let the great reading adventure of 2018 commence!
1.Thunderbird - Jack McDevitt 2/5
2.Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie 4.5/5
3.Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor 4/5
4.Days of Blood and Starlight - Laini Taylor 4.5/5
5.Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 2.5/5
6.Fortune's Pawn - Rachel Bach 3.5/5
7.God Stalk - P. C. Hodgell 3.5/5
8.Dreams of Gods and Monsters - Laini Taylor 4.5/5
9.Enchanted Glass - Diana Wynne Jones 3/5
10.The Flower Show/ The Toth Family - István Örkény 3/5
11.Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb 5/5
12.Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb 4/5
13.The Blinds - Adam Sternbergh 2.5/5
14.Case Histories - Kate Atkinson 3.5/5
15.All Systems Red - Martha Wells 4/5
16.Dark of the Moon - P. C. Hodgell 4/5
17.Honour's Knight - Rachel Bach 3.5/5
18.Railsea - China Miéville 2.5/5
19.Assassin's Quest - Robin Hobb 3.5/5
20.The Undoing Project - Michael Lewis 3/5
21.Luna: New Moon - Ian McDonald 3.5/5
22.Death Comes For the Archbishop - Willa Cather 4/5
23.Full Moon - P.G.Wodehouse 4/5
24.Tracker - C.J.Cherryh 4/5
25.Stargazer - Colby Hodge 2/5
26.Angelfall - Susan Ee 3/5
27.Your Art Will Save Your Life - Beth Pickens 3/5
28The Vanishing Witch - Karen Maitland 3/5
29. A Closed and Common Orbit - Becky Chambers 5/5
30. Heaven's Queen - Rachel Bach 3.5/5
31.Leviathan Wakes - James Corey 4.5/5
32.Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson 3.5/5
33.When Will There Be Good News - Kate Atkinson 3.5/5
34.The Descent of Man - Grayson Perry 3/5
35.Capital - John Lancaster 3/5
36.The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - Robert Tressell 2.5/5
37.20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne 2.5/5
38.The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Orzy 4/5
39.The Post-Birthday World - Lionel Shriver 3/5
40.Empire in Black and Gold - Adrian Tchaikovsky 3.5/5
41.The Friendly Ones - Philip Hensher 3/5
42.World After - Susan Ee 3/5
43.End of Days - Susan Ee 2/5
44.Ship of Magic - Robin Hobb 4/5
45.The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman 3.5/5
46.La Belle Sauvage - Philip Pullman 3.5/5
47.The Mad Ship - Robin Hobb 4/5
48.Hillbilly Elegy - J.D. Vance 3/5
49.Ship of Destiny - Robin Hobb 4.5/5
50.M Train - Patti Smith 4/5
51.Ancillary Sword - Ann Leckie 4/5
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
1912 A Princess of Mars - Edgar Rice Burroughs
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 Nin - 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
Hi Roni and Charlotte! Lovely to see you round these parts! Well, I have already finished a book in January, mainly because I was nearly done with it anyways, but it was a bit of a snoozefest so I'm not straining at the leash to get to the review, although as always, I'm telling myself to keep more up to date with reviews this year sigh
But I will give an update of some real life stuff, as I was around so little last year that I didn't do much of that. So, I have a website now! Finally, after years of procrastination. I also got myself a kind of corporate identity, and a logo and business cards and all that jazz. It's for my artwork, but also for the art classes I offer as a kind of peripatetic art teacher. I hadn't done any of that kind of work since my son was born, but in the final stretch of last year I did an after school art club at the local primary school. It was really fun, earned me a nice little bit of money and in general gave me the feeling of being back in the saddle again professionally. Alas, the club won't continue for the foreseeable future (they got a Maths club in instead boo!hiss!) but I'm hoping to maybe get a toddler art group going instead. The main challenge to achieving these things is finding time to plan them out around the times I'm looking after the little guy. And my trusted childminder is hanging up her...er...childminding hat? soon too, making it even more tricky. But he'll be off to pre-school soon enough, and actually I really cherish this time with him and realise that actually it will be gone in what feels like the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things, so I just try to take things slowly and enjoy them and not get too frustrated about planning the next steps professionally.
Art wise for me, I'm still doing my Wednesday afternoon art club, and have recently hit a rich vein of crazy abstract painting form - I'll try and post some pics soon. This is good timing as I've got another exhibition lined up for the small gallery I was in last time, for May. Also good timing is the completion of my super awesome home painting studio, which the builders finished just before Christmas. Stupidly, I said I'd paint it myself, so I just have that to do before I can start painting for real in there - I really cannot wait!! Very, very, exciting! I'll put a picture of that up soon too. There was also vague plans to maybe start a MA in Fine Art at the local uni in September, but with everything else on my plate that might be overstretching myself a bit, I'm not sure. Still, all in all 2018 is already shaping up to be an exciting year!
Happy New Year
Happy New Group here
This place is full of friends
I hope it never ends
It brew of erudition and good cheer.
Well howdy and thanks for popping by Paul, Beth and Lori! The same to you!!
So, there are a lot of tantalising Sci Fi film adaptations coming out this year that are worth taking a look at. Here's a run down of a few of them with trailers: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jan/03/cutting-edge-sci-fi-movies-2018-ste...
The one not mentioned here is an adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time, which hasn't been on my radar until now but sounds rather intriguing, so I might try and seek the book out. The Marvel adaptation aside, I've read all the books that the films will be based on (that's Annihilation, Ready Player One and Mortal Engines) so I'm really interested to see what all three films turn out like. The Annihilation adaptation looks the least interesting actually; it's such an eerie, creepy book, and the filmic version looks a bit too straightforward and obvious. I think it would have suited a really experimental filmmaker, David Linch being an obvious choice. Also, I tend not to like horror films so I might well skip this one.
Ready Player one looks like a great thrill ride, which is pretty much what the book was, so I'll probably go and see that one. And Mortal Engines is the one that's a real pleasant surprise; I liked the book but didn't love it, but I'm really taken with the way the filmmakers have realised the concept of wheeled carnivorous cities. It's hard to tell from just a trailer but it looks like it might be a winner. Plus, who doesn't love a bit of steampunk? Well, OK, maybe lots of people, but I certainly do! (Incidentally, while we're on SF films, the recent Bladerunner sequel gets an honourable mention in the article, which frustrates me as I was NOT one of the ones who gave it two thumbs up. The original is up there in my top 3 favourite films of all time, but the sequel was a failure, I think. It was ambitious, respectful (insofar as it regarded the source material) and not without effective moments, but still a failure. As a female SF fan, my main beef with the film is the really unequal power relationship the main character has with his virtual girlfriend, and that really troubling scene when they "have sex" via the co-opting of a prostitute's body. In a male gaze-y way I felt I was being invited to be titillated by this, but it just killed all my potential love for the film stone dead. I mean, do film producers in the 2010's still think women don't watch SF or something? Just weird.)
(Oh, and no one who reviews the film ever mentions it, which really gets my goat. Ok, rant over.)
Right, that was the film news. Normal, entirely book-related service will be resumed shortly.
Glad to get the real-life update, Hannah! Sounds like you have plenty to keep you busy at the moment.
You asked Heather why P. C. Hodgell is all of a sudden popping up in so many threads and the answer is that I am hosting a group read to introduce people to one of my favorite but relatively unknown classic fantasies (published in 1982) here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/279620
You are quite welcome to join us--we are just getting started!
>16 ronincats:. I have just checked it out and purchased the book! See you for the group read Roni!
Thanks for that link to the 2018 movies. I keep track of Peter Jackson, sort of, and I knew (but had forgotten) that he was working on this. I LOVED Mortal Engines - what a great story! And I am really looking forward to that one. Hate horror, so not too excited. Maybe Ready Player One the movie will be better than the book which I found merely pseudo-exciting (code for one-thing-after-another ='s boring) as in very little proper story-telling (subtleties, character development etc.).
I am thrilled to see you here! And you are right to treasure this time as maddening as it can sometimes be. It all does go by in a flash.
Your own home studio! Wow! That sounds brilliant. Hope the house painting and the abstract kind goes well.
>15 HanGerg: Found you! And now I've remembered why Mortal Engines sounded familiar when I saw the trailer. Think I'll be putting that one on my list, plus Ready Player One and A Wrinkle in Time. I haven't read either Mortal Engines or Ready Player One (although the latter is on my bookshelf waiting...) so I'll need to do some reading before the arrive in the theatres.
Ooh, visitors! Lovely!
>18 sibyx:. I totally see what you mean about Ready Player One, it wasn't very subtle or developing, but I very much enjoyed it as a thrill ride!
>19 charl08:. The studio will be brilliant! I just have to finish painting it, which seems to be taking forever as I can only snatch the odd hour here and there to do it, or do it with my son's "help", which requires very careful supervision to stop paint flying everywhere! I'll post some pictures when it's finally done.
>20 archerygirl:. Yes, get reading Kathy! They are both great fun!
>21 souloftherose:. It's lovely to be back Heather! I realised I had to go one of two ways, either take a bit of a break or step up, as last year I was barely present here, and I came to the conclusion that I DO want to be here and participate, so I just need to up my game! That's the plan anyway.
I see Mortal Engines is getting a lot of love here, and I do remember enjoying it, but I read the next in the series and then stopped, for some reason. Perhaps I'll try and hunt them all down and try and tick off the whole series. And I'll certainly keep an eye out for the film. I like the casting of Hester. I can see they've made her look beautiful when she's actually meant to be anything but, but that's Hollywood I guess. She seems to have the right amount of fierceness and intensity about her though, which is good.
Ok, I'm three reads into the new year and have yet to do any reviews, which spells trouble for my aim of keeping up to date, so let's get cracking.
1.Thunderbird - Jack McDevitt 2/5
if anyone knows any good books about humanity discovering an ancient teleportation gate that takes you instantly to a variety of other worlds, that was left on Earth by an unknown alien race, I would love to read that book. That was the premise of this one, but it was done terribly. I was on the verge of giving up several times, but kept going because I thought the premise was really strong. The author really squandered it though, and I would have lost nothing by chucking this in once it became clear that he had no interest in giving us any plausible characters, or anything meaningful for them to do. I was surprised as this writer seems to have a fairly good rep, but this was an almost amateurish attempt at a novel; there was no plot to speak of, just a series of episodes that loosely hang together. There were main characters, but they were so poorly fleshed out that we don't care a jot what happens to them, and the dialogue and actions of said characters are wooden, inconsistent and unbelievable. Most disappointing. One to miss. Two stars is actually very generous. I can't remember the last time I read such a bad book.
2.Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie 4.5/5
This, on the other hand, is the reason why I love Sci Fi. An incredible book, with a great premise, fantastic characters, an amazing story arc and character development, suspense, drama, tragedy....all that lovely stuff. And that totally unexpected and new thing that only SF can bring, in this case, the character of a AI once huge enough to control multiple human bodies and roam around their ship and on a planet simultaneously, having an almost omnipotent and omnipresent power, but then reduced down to just one frail, fallible human body. What a stunning idea, and so brilliantly delivered. And how, although ultimately a brilliantly sustained piece of high concept SF trickery, it also says something fresh and interesting about the human condition and our sense of identity as well. Awesome. I have the next one all ready to read, but I shan't rush to it, as this is obviously a series to be savoured. It's possibly a 5 star book, not a 4.5, but I think it hasn't entirely sunk in yet. And my friend told me the second one is even better, so I await excitedly to see what dizzy height can be reached in the next chapter. Marvellous stuff.
3.Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor 4/5
The aforementioned friend pressed this one into my hands and said it was a good read, so I gave it a go, and liked it. It wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it was highly readable and had some intriguing ideas and characters. I didn't realise it was a YA novel (The cover of this edition doesn't really convey that impression), so all the teenage snark at the beginning was a bit annoying, but it got less so as the book went on, maybe because I warmed to the characters and enjoyed their relationships more. I also didn't really care for the romance angle of the plot, although it's obviously integral to the ongoing storyline, but the other elements of the book have hooked me in and I'll be on the lookout for the rest of the series soon.
Hi Hannah, it seems we are of the same mind, in aiming to be more active and present on LT than in the past year (in my case, the past several years). Long may we manage to keep to our resolve, as it's so much fun reading about each other's reading and life activities.
I love the picture of you and your little boy at the top - just think, when we met up a few years back, he did not yet exist, and now he is such a central part of your life! I think you are right to enjoy this time with him while you may, as it won't be long before he'll be at school and you'll have time to develop your professional life more. But meanwhile, your own studio at home - fantastic! Good luck with painting it so you can get on with your painting!
I'm sorry your first read of the year was such a stinker, but it sounds as if the second more than made up for it. I must remember to look out for that - I need to broaden my sci-fi reading, having just a few isolated authors that I know and look out for (currently slowly reading my way through Iain M Banks' Culture books).
Glad you loved the Leckie! I have learned not to bother with McDevitt. He has great concepts and then utterly fails to deliver. He's fooled me a couple of times. I don't know how he gets away with it!
>22 HanGerg: Well it is lovely to have you back!
>23 HanGerg: I really, really love the AJ series - I think I read books 1 and 2 before #3 was released and then reread them both later that year before reading the third book, they were that good. You have a treat in store! I think the story in the next book continues directly on from the end of the first so I wouldn't leave too long between reading them.
I also read Daughter of Smoke and Bone a few years ago and somehow never got round to reading the final book in that trilogy - I think it was also a bit too romancey for me but much better than the average YA paranormal romance trilogy.
I also wanted to let you know that I've setup a general thread for the Robin Hobb read of Realm of the Elderlings series if you're interested in joining us:
>22 HanGerg: 'can see they've made her look beautiful when she's actually meant to be anything but' - Oh, I'm sad about that. It was such an opportunity for anything other than a beautiful heroine. I actually wanted to call our dog Daisy 'Hester' when we first got her, as Mr SandDune was of the opinion that people wouldn't think a staffie puppy was as pretty as other more fluffy breeds, so I thought we'd call her after Hester in Mortal Engines. People did think she was pretty though, and nobody else liked the name, so Daisy she became.
Argh! Away for too long again! My main excuse this time is that I have this terrible cold that lots of my friend group seem to have at the moment. It consists of a really heavy chest, hard to breathe, lots of coughing etc, plus sinus pain, general bleariness and fatigue etc etc, but the kicker is, I've had it for WEEKS! And just when you think it's over, it seems to come back! My poor husband has had it even longer - over a month now, and he's had antibiotics for it and everything. Luckily Leo seems to have escaped with just a mild version of it that mainly consists of a runny nose, but the rest of the household have been in a sorry state! Anyway, let's see who's been a-visiting in my absence.
>24 gennyt: GENNY!! Oh my friend! So lovely to see you back! Yes, I often reflect on how life has changed so fundamentally in such a short space of time, in the most wonderful way of course! I often think of our meet-up in Birmingham too - it was a lovely day and we should do it again sometime!
>25 sibyx: Lucy! Yes, no more McDevitt for me, but lots more Leckie, I hope!
>26 ronincats: Roni! I've since read the rest of that Laini Taylor trilogy (review coming soon) and I thought it really grew and developed enormously from that first book. I was really in love with it by the end, so if mount TBR isn't too enormous....
>27 souloftherose: Heather! See thoughts above on the Taylor trilogy, and I have the Hobb and have started reading it, but haven't made myself known over on the thread, so I'll try and get over there in a mo'.
>28 SandDune: Rhian! Daisy is a beaut, there's no denying it, but yes, Mortal Engines' Hester shouldn't be. I guess we'll have to watch the film to see how they deal with it. It certainly looks worth a watch.
>29 HanGerg: Sorry to hear about the colds - it seems to have been a really bad season for them thus year. Glad you enjoyed the rest of the Taylor trilogy - perhaps I should reread with a view to actually finishing it!
>30 souloftherose: Yes Heather! I do recommend them, I was really engrossed by the third book!
Ok, so I'll be away for about 10 days now, first off to Bristol to see my brother and family, and then, for various complicated reasons, I'm going to Tenerife with the little guy and my mother! It should be fun, but perhaps not that restful with a small toddler. So yes, more radio silence around here, but for pleasant reasons.
Hello, I'm back, and indeed a lovely time was had by all. The weather wasn't as great as it can be in Tenerife at this time of year, but then we came back to snowmageddon, by British standards (my mum has been living with us for nearly a week, rather than the day that was planned after our holiday, as she didn't fancy the 6 hour drive home, understandably), and that put the weather into perspective. We swam in the sea! We sunbathed! And ate ice cream! And now we are wading through snow! Weird, but kind of fun.
So, whisper it, but I might be on course for 75 books this year, for the first time ever! Eek! How exciting. 15 books read by the end of February - pretty good going by my standards. I just have to keep this pace up for the rest of the year. Ok, I must come back soon and write some reviews as they are beginning to pile up, but right now I'm off to bed. There have been some great reads in all those unreviewed books - the Laini Taylor trilogy that just got better and better, the Robin Hobb fantasy series that Heather has us all reading, and the other fantasy series that Roni is guiding us through, plus other random stuff I picked up here and there. Right, I'm falling off my chair here, more tomorrow hopefully!
Congrats on all the reading. I am impatiently waiting for the sequel to Strange the Dreamer.
Tenerife sounds lovely - snow seems a long way off now, but rather glad for that.
Hi Charl! Thanks for dropping by! I haven't read any other Laini Taylor but she is now definitely an author I would pick up any old random book by, so I may be seeking that one out at some point. And yay! for impatient me if she gets round to that sequel before I get round to the first one!
Tenerife is rather lovely, and not least because I went there a lot as a child as we've had a family flat out there since I was a small kid. So it was lovely to take my little guy around those same holiday spots that I enjoyed when I was just a few years older. Also, lots of lovely fish to eat, which is always a big selling point of any holiday for me!
Of course, since I remarked on the good reading stats they've gone into a massive slump. But this does give me chance to hopefully catch up on myself review wise. I'm so behind, as always.
4.Days of Blood and Starlight - Laini Taylor 4.5/5
This was a massive step up in quality from the first book I think; the story became deeper and more compelling, the characters really came into pinpoint sharp focus, and the themes and motifs really unfurled into something breathtaking. And for a YA book, it really doesn't pull its punches when it comes to looking at the horrors of armed conflict, and has a nuanced look at how there can be well or ill-intentioned folk on both sides of such things. Or even people that start out as well intentioned but get warped by the terrible things that happen around them. I loved it, and HAD to get to the third and find out what happened very quickly. Actually, I might have to bump up my rating to a 5 because I can't actually remember now at a few weeks remove what about the book caused me to withhold that final half star. Excellent, very compelling, hard hitting and moving stuff.
5.Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 2.5/5
Well known as a lot of this material is, I'd never actually read the book before, so I did now for my 150 reads from 150 years challenge. And it was a weird old one. It was hard from me to appreciate what was good about it, because that was mainly the stuff that I was familiar with from other versions, and all I mainly saw was just how deeply odd lots of it was. And just...not really a narrative in the way it kind of freewheels about from one situation to another for no discernible reason. If anything, the main thing this book did was make me intrigued about the history of books written for children. Was this an early attempt at something like that, or had the genre been going for a while and this was just a really left field entry? Because I can only imagine how it was received at the time; with complete bemusement would be my guess. How it somehow morphed into a children's classic I don't quite know. Which would also be interesting to know more about. So I guess what I need is a dig about on Wikipedia more than more time spent with this book. But, having said that, there are some wonderfully wacky and surreal concepts here that are enjoyable. I guess that is why it's so popular, its vision is quite unique and still fresh in many ways. Maybe I'm a bit prejudiced against it, because as a pretty severe claustrophobe I found those scenes where Alice was rapidly growing inside a tiny house, just...shudder.....eugh. I can't even go there. No! Not one for me this one.
Ok, on with the reviews!
6.Fortune's Pawn - Rachel Bach 3.5/5
Perfectly serviceable space opera about a kick-ass female mercenary hired onto a supposed merchant ship that is actually much more, and in much more trouble, than it first appears. Not much to say about this one other than it was pretty good, and compelling enough that I will seek out the rest of the trilogy, not least because my friend lent it to me and I know she has the others.
7.God Stalk - P. C. Hodgell 3.5/5
I downloaded this Omnibus of the first two books in this lengthy series onto my kindle, as Roni had suggested a group read of these overlooked examples of 70's era fantasy. There was a lot to like about this book, but there was equally a lot that was puzzling or just downright off-putting. The world feels quite fully realised, but a lot of the time you feel like you haven't been given enough information to figure out just what's going on. There's a sort of afterword that explains a lot about who the character is and where she sits in the wider scheme of things, but why the author leaves us to struggle until then trying to work it out, I couldn't say. It's quite an interesting world she's built for us to explore though, so I will continue on with Jame on her quest a bit further at least...
>36 HanGerg: I was equivocal about continuing when I read this in 2014, but I see the library now has the next two books. I liked the first half quite well but had concerns about the romance taking over later on.
I'm glad you are going to continue with Jame's story. I love that being thrown into the middle feeling, but you'll find things are much more linear from here on out.
Hi, I'm Susan, the other Susan that is, and I followed >37 ronincats: to your thread. I read a lot of F&SF as well. I did read Mortal Engines years ago, before I noted down even whether or not I liked books, so I guess I'll just have to go back and re-read it! I just love the way Ann Leckie re-wires my brain while I'm reading her Imperial Radch series.
I am a great fan of the Mortal Engines saga and so excited that Peter Jackson and co. are making movies of them!!!
Congrats on being on target for making 75. It's an achievement with a toddler.
>37 ronincats: Hi Roni! Yes, read the Taylor series, it gets better and better. And I'll stick along with Jame for a while longer. Read number two, now it's on the "To Do" list to track down the next instalment.
>38 quondame: Welcome Susan! Any friend of Roni's is a friend of mine, especially one that reads plenty of the good stuff! Mortal Engines is good, the second instalment was also good, and after that I can't comment as I stalled in that series, but hope to get back to it soon.
>39 sibyx:. Hi Lucy! Lovely to see you around these parts! I'm not exactly sure when the film is coming out, or whether they are committed to filming all of them (I guess they have pedigree there so...) but I shall certainly try and catch that one when it makes it to the cinema.
>40 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul. Always lovely to see you! I must come over to your thread and catch up with how RL is treating you, but I have enough mighty tomes on my plate as it is...
Right, well I'm getting all lax again about visiting round these parts! I'm very behind on others' threads as well as my own reviews, so I will try and go for some quick visits soon. Before that just a quick RL update of my own: I'm busy in the art studio, preparing for an exhibition in June and some upcoming toddler art workshops that I'm going to be running. These are the first workshops I'm doing in a local community setting, all under my own steam, so I've had to up my paperwork game in terms of safeguarding policy documents, risk assessments etc. At times I've been wondering why I've put myself under such pressure to do something like this before my little guy is in any kind of regular childcare, and I'm still not sure if I know the answer to that question, but I'm going to go for it and see what happens. I've also been asked to run an art activity at a local community event at the beginning of June, which will be just after I come back from 8 days in Grenada with my art group. So, the next few months are busy, busy, busy! Which is great, but with all the attendant work stresses that I've largely been spared for the last few years whilst I've been raising Leó.
Also, I know I promised new art studio pictures, but they will have to wait a while as half the floor is currently dug up! A leak was sprung in the pipe that connects the little toilet and sink I have out there to the mains, and we were only alerted when it started leaking out through small gaps in the mortar near the building's foundations! The guy who did the work came to have a look and could show us it was the old plumbing system, not the work he did, but he kindly found us a plumber and offered to put the floor back free of charge when the plumber's finished, which is very nice of him. But it's the usual story with the plumber, he came out long enough to stop the leak (thank goodness) but has now cancelled three times coming to do the rest of the work, so I'm left in studio limbo! I would ditch him and get a new plumber, but from my experience we'd just have to repeat the same routine with another one, so I'm sticking with this one for now. This Saturday is the next re-arranged time, and if he doesn't come this time it might be time to put our faith in someone else - fingers crossed!
>41 HanGerg: What a bummer you are thwarted by plumbing issues and plumbers. Once I found a reliable, (more) affordable one I live in dread that he will retire as did the air-conditioning guy who recommended him. Good luck getting your studio put back together.
>41 HanGerg: Sounds like very exciting times in terms of art and work Hannah (although that can also be stressful) and really sorry to hear about the plumbing woes. I hope your guy comes to sort it out properly soon.
>42 quondame: Air conditioning is the usual bug bear here too. Of course when you have a pretty constant 33 degrees and 95% humidity, a non-functioning air con is pretty galling.
Have a splendid Sunday, Hannah.
Hope your work is going well Hannah - look forward to hearing about it when things calm down a little. Sounds very exciting (especially Grenada!).
Oh gosh! I'm so behind on updates! And reviews! And everything! My thread title this year looks like terrible hubris. I've been awful! But very busy, as my previous post explained. And away on holiday in Europe, for the past 5 weeks! I'm aware that I'm very lucky to get away for that long, but in all honesty, it was too long. We've been back a day and it feels so good to be home! I did do quite a lot of reading whilst I was away. I'll update my stats up top and then get back here later to try and fill in some of the many gaps.
I have loads of RL updates and pictures to share, but let's actually do some of the proper business of LT and review a few books, as that's what we're all here for, and I'm terribly behind, as per. Ok, without further ado:
8.Dreams of Gods and Monsters - Laini Taylor 4.5/5
The third and final instalment of this trilogy that just got better and better. Wonderful relationships between characters, and some brutal plot arcs that really hit you in your emotional nerve centre. I loved it. This seems to be all in this universe for now, but I, like many others I'm sure, am hoping she returns to it someday, as the resolution here, although very satisfying and definitely and ending worthy of the name, also hints at much more to come.
9.Enchanted Glass - Dianne Wynne Jones 3/5
I was in the mood for something gentle but fantastical, and this fit the bill nicely. It would maybe be a perfect introduction to fantasy for a young reader. However, if anything it was TOO gentle, and hard to hold onto for long. A shame, as the author has such a great rep, but I could see that her ideas have loads of places to go, so I would certainly read other things by her.
10.The Flower Show/ The Toth Family - Örkény István 3/5
Two very blackly comedic novellas by the king of Hungarian absurdist noir, a title that has more than a few contenders I think. The Toth family is the story of a family that allow an incredibly demanding and annoying army sergeant to come and stay with them and totally disrupt their peaceful existence because he is the commanding officer of their son on the frontline. The Flower Show is an even darker tale of a TV producer determined to make a show about death by filming the final moments of four volunteers, one of whom is a perfectly healthy colleague, whom he suspects may be on the road to heart problems... Interesting fiction if this kind of black comedy is to your taste; it isn't to mine particularly, but it does characterise a style of writing from Soviet era that points to some of the terrible ironies of life in that time and place.
Hannah, I think Enchanted Glass was Jones' next to last book, written while she was already ill with the cancer that killed her (the final book was finished by her sister) and I agree that it doesn't have the edge of her earlier work. But I definitely urge you to to read more of her work.
>48 ronincats: Hi Roni! Thanks for popping by this very quiet neck of the woods. Yes! I shall certainly read more of her work. Any recommendations of where to start?
Ok, a few more reviews before RL catchups, as I am still very far behind....
11.Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb 5/5
I read it as part of Heather's group read and absolutely LOVED it! So much court intriguing, great characters, a plot that pulls you along with a genuine sense of peril for the characters you like as she is a brutal enough author to do away with them, you quickly feel. Maybe too brutal at times, if brutality's not your thing. It's not really mine but the rest is so good I overlooked it. One of the things I particularly like about it was that although it was fantasy the characters felt real in the sense that they behaved in very human ways that were flawed and not always in their own best interest, never mind anyone else's. I was well and truly hooked on the series after this book and felt like I had discovered an exciting author that I would want to read lots of other things by.
12.Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb 4/5
And so, I moved swiftly onto the second instalment of the series. (Yes, this cover is from a different edition, but that was how my local library had them for some weird reason). I gobbled this one up too, but was not quite as satisfied as with the first instalment. The various things that happened in the different books have slightly blurred now, but I think my dissatisfaction was to do with the main bad character (no name for fear of spoilers, although I think it's very apparent fairly early on in the series who it is), who I felt was given far too much opportunity to wreak havoc by those that would have the means to thwart him, or was trusted too much by those that should have known how evil he truly was. However, still a thrilling page turner and a cracking read. I won't say great fun, as there are lots of very difficult to read passages, but that gave the book an emotional depth and a real sense of high stakes for the characters that I enjoyed, even when it made it tough going.
13.The Blinds - Adam Sternbergh 2.5/5
I acquired this novel in a weird way, which was that my mum brought it along when she and I and my son had a lovely holiday in Tenerife back in February. She reads a lot but has totally different taste to me; the one caveat about what she reads is "I like to read things that could really happen". Pish, posh! This in a nutshell explains how she and I are very different people. Anyway, she bought this book based on the blurb on the back, which was vague enough to make her feel like it was her kind of book, but she didn't get very far at all before concluding that it wasn't for her. Enter me. I initially liked it quite a lot as it has an interesting premise, which is this: all the characters in the novel live in a secluded town that they cannot leave. They are there either because a) they've committed a horrible crime out in the "real" world, but have been granted a second chance or b) they are the victims or witnesses to such a crime and are here for their own protection. The kicker is, they've all had the memory of their previous life erased, so no-one knows who is who. I thought this set up offered some interesting material for an examination of whether people who have done bad things, or had them intrude onto their lives, could be redeemed. Would what made things go wrong re-surface or could they actually live productive lives if granted a second chance? In another writer's hands it could have been that novel, and I probably would have loved it. But this writer choose to use this set-up to lurch into much more melodramatic and less satisfying territory, and I cared for it less and less as it went along. I expect the movie rights to it will be bought up fairly soon, if they haven't already, and I mean that in a bad way. I can just see one of Hollywood's dumber directors making this into a very violent and very dumb film. What a waste.
I feel like I'm acquiring a weird taste for doing reviews. Normally they feel like a bit of a chore, but it feels good for the soul to get them out there and off my conscience, so let's continue!
14.Case Histories - Kate Atkinson 3.5/5
Atkinson is one of those names I've seen around, not necessarily on LT, rather, in bookshops, on friends shelves, the person at the coffeeshop etc, and I'd made a mental note to try one sometime. This one was in the cupboard full of books my mum keeps in the holiday flat we own in Tenerife. It's a kind of book crossing place I guess as whenever she's not there it's let out most of the time, so it might have been one of hers or it might have been a total stranger's copy. Anyway, I plucked it from the shelf and wolfed it down, and enjoyed it more or less. She writes well, with an involving plot and characters you could believe in, as well as some fairly on-the-money observations of the human condition, which is something I always like from authors who are good at it, and she is. But for me, it was missing that something that would put it in the very top drawer of contemporary fiction. Plausibility is an issue I think. It's a unconventional, multiple narrative detective story sort of deal, with several timelines, a cast of main characters that we jump between; pretty complicated stuff. But they intersect in ways that justly slightly strain the boundaries of believability for me. Unless your point is "we're all connected, all our actions have consequences that we don't always know and perhaps never will". I'll buy that, but you might have to work just slightly harder than Atkinson does to pull it off.
15.All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries - Martha Wells 4/5
Loved this! In fact, I might bump this up to a 5/5 as I can't remember now what made me deduct a star, but I can remember all the things I liked about it, which were many. At heart, the oft told story of a robot that discovers his humanity, and the people that discover it with him, but it's also much, much more than that. It's maybe a shame that it was so short, but then again the pacing felt just right - frenetic, but in a fun way. Some of the plot points could have stood a little more developing, but actually the universe is full of overblown 700 page SF novels that could have been 350, so this is pretty refreshing. I'd love to read the rest of the series, but this one was a good deal on the kindle and the rest are extortionate. (That's how they GET you! Darn it! Tricked again!) So, I'm holding out for the omnibus, but not without a certain impatience.
16.Dark of the Moon - P.C. Hodgell 4/5
The second in the overlooked Fantasy series that Roni was urging everyone to read. I enjoyed it perhaps more than the first, because I felt like we were beginning to get some answers to some of the questions the first book posed but never answered. Plus we got a first glimpse of of Torisen, the brother of our main character Jame, much eluded to but never seen in the first book. His part of the story ends up having almost equal weight with Jame, and I found his storyline at least as compelling, if not a little more so than hers. By the lively end of this book I was swearing I'd track down the rest...actually, I've just downloaded the next two for my kindle so I guess I will get back to this at some point soon when the current TBRs have subsided slightly.
17.Honour's Knight - Rachel Bach 4/5
The second in this fairly lightweight space opera trilogy see things all get a bit more complex and murky, which is how I like 'em! Turns out, things onboard the spaceship that our plucky heroine signed onto as kick-ass security have got WAAAAY more serious and complicated; we're talking fate-of-the-universe-resting-in-our-hands, but at the same time super-top-secret-and-morally-compromised complicated! Which are all complications I like in a rollicking space opera. Throw in a handful of weird and wonderful alien species with their own mysterious motives, a forbidden love angle and some good action sequences, and you have a trilogy that's really starting to grow on me!
18.Railsea - China Mieville 2.5/5
Yeah...no. This one just really didn't do it for me. It's full of the usual Mieville weirdness and slight whiff of steampunkiness, memorable characters, an epic quest, fascinating world building. Yadda yada. It had nothing propelling the narrative somehow, and so it fell flat. The story meandered and I didn't especially care if it ever got anywhere. Especially puzzling in a book that was in the YA section; I would of thought you ramp up the action and excitement in those, but ever contrary Mielville, he does the opposite. Still a fascinating author though. Just read this one last of the bunch, based on my current rankings.
Re: Diana Wynne Jones recommendations. I love her Chrestomanci stories--the first one is Charmed Life. Many people really love her Fire and Hemlock, a modern Tam Lin retelling. Her Spellcoats quartet is excellent epic fantasy, often used in middle schools over here. Howl's Moving Castle is a great send-up of fantasy tropes (and there are three sort-of sequels), and her later Dark Lord of Derkholm is an even more pointed antithesis of fantasy tropes and one of my very favorite of her books.
>50 HanGerg:. Isn't Murderbot great? I just finished the second and the third is waiting for me at the library. I love our library system--which also had all three books of the Rachel Bach trilogy so I read them a while ago. Agree they are fairly lightweight but still entertaining. And so happy you enjoyed Dark of the Moon.
Yeah, I'm sort of over Mieville. Railsea didn't work for me either.
>51 quondame: and >53 drneutron:. Ooh, differing opinions on Railsea! He's that kind of author I guess. In the UK we say he's Marmite, after the weird vegetable spread that (or so the marketing material claims) you either love or hate. I generally like Mieville (and Marmite, if you're wondering), but not this one. But then...I could imagine reading it in another mood and buying into it. So I can see both sides. Anyway, thanks for stopping by Susan and Jim.
>52 ronincats: Thanks for the DWJ recommendations Roni! I will certainly try and check some of them out! And I will catch up with Murderbot at some point, everyone seems to be reading them here on LT (well, all the SF folk anyhoo) and giving them love so I'm feeling that good peer pressure...
Ok, so, some RL updates, as we haven't had any for a while, and there's been loads going on. So, I promised ages ago to post some pictures of my studio. It's looking pretty lived in now (read: messy) and I couldn't find many pictures on my phone, though I'm sure I've taken loads, but here are the ones I could find:
Here is the studio from one angle, with my shelves full of materials against the far wall. This is the wall that faces the house. The set-up was for the small scale classes I did for 6 Spanish teenagers that were in England for a month this summer (one of whom was staying with us). The classes went really well, but 6 was a squeeze in this space, especially as it was really hot!
Here is the reverse angle, with the window that faces into the garden, and you can see one of the two new Velux windows in the roof which were my must haves for the studio - they do bring in so much light! What you can't see in either picture is the wall to the right of shot here which is actually my main painting area; just imagine a bare wall covered in paint splatters and you've got it! The black papered area was a little mock-up of a map of our local community that I did for a community arts day at the local primary school...
...and here's the finished thing, after local kids had come and put their houses on it. The school kept the map on display and are hopefully getting the rest of the school community to add their houses to it until it fills up, which I'm really thrilled about!
Right, I have lots more photos and news, but I will leave it there for now! Happy reading everybody!
Love the photos, Hannah! Always so nice to be able to see where you are and what you are doing.
Love the school map Hannah - what a great idea.
My library doesn't have the murderbot books, think I'm going to get them on ebook instead, given all the enthusiasm on LT. Having just read Atkinson's latest, and despite the excellent work of Jason Isaacs as Jackson Brodie, my favourite of hers is still her first book Behind the Scenes at the Museum.
>56 charl08: Hi Charl! Thanks for popping by! Yes, Behind the Scenes at the Museum does get lots of love, but I've picked it up a few times and put it back as the blurb on the back doesn't make me want to read it. But now I have a feel for what kind of writer she is (although I appreciate that don't all have that detective angle that Jackson Brodie brings), I think I will give it a go sometime soon.
>55 ronincats:, Well Roni, prepare for lots more updates!
So, one more thing to say about the studio, which is to say that Leó loves it out there, of course! I let him flick paint all over and don't care a fig if it goes on the walls (kind of like it in fact). I have hopefully impressed upon him the fact that the same rules most definitely DON'T apply in the house... Anyway, making crazy abstract paintings together has become one of our favourite pastimes. One of them made it into my exhibition; the first I'd had for a couple of years, and this was all painting whereas in the past I had mainly shown my photography, so it felt like a big deal. It went reasonably well. Abstract is not everybody's cup of tea, but those that like that kind of thing seemed to like it a lot. And I sold a few; all to people I know but the more I learn about selling art the less I worry about that. The personal connection really helps people see themselves owning a piece of art rather than just admiring it.
Leó hard at work in the studio
An unconventional art lover who wondered into my exhibition from off of the street. He came and had a look at all the paintings before settling down on my lap. The picture in the background is the one in my exhibition that I painted with Leó.
Other news that I mentioned a while back, was the fabulous art trip I went on with members of the painting group I attend. We went to Granada in Spain, my first ever visit to mainland Spain, and I loved it! I really felt like this was a country that lived and breathed the visual arts - it seemed woven into the fabric of daily life in a way I've never seen anywhere else. The fact that you get delicious free food if you order even a small beer made quite a lasting impression on me too. Here's a selfie and a non-selfie of me - one from the walls of the stunning Alhambra palace, looking down into the old town. And the not-selfie is taken on the terrace bar of the very fancy Alhambra palace hotel - we were staying in a much less fancy place down the road, but two of our party had decided to really push the boat out and were staying here.
I have been very lucky on the holiday front this year; going to Tenerife with Leó and my mum, then Grenada with the art group, and finally, an epic five week trip around Europe with husband and son. We screwed up our courage and actually camped for the first bit, in France, Switzerland and then Italy, before moving on to Budapest for the bulk of our holiday. We did something similar last year but without the camping. I am really growing to love the freedom of having a car and a tent on holiday; just go wherever the mood takes you, stay as long as you want and then move on, always with an array of marvellous places to see and things to do, seemingly at your fingertips. The weeks in Budapest were a bit of a letdown after that. Family relations there can be a little strained for various reasons, but of course my husband wants to spend time with his family, and increasingly, we want Leó to practise his second mother tongue a bit more. So for all these reasons, I think next year they might make the trip to Budapest just the two of them, and then we will do a family camping holiday separately. This also partly solves the problem that summer is prime art workshop with kids time for me, but is also the only time of year my husband can get off work. Anyway, this year was wonderful, but it will be the camping bits I will remember most fondly, especially in Switzerland, which is not a country I've been to before, and was just stunningly beautiful.
Our tent set-up. Not nearly as elaborate as some - we picked up lots of tips! But realistically, there's only so much you can fit in a Mini, even with a roof box!
Lake Poschiavo in Switzerland. One of my very favourite stops on the whole holiday. We were camping just a few hundred metres away and came here a few times for some swimming, sketching and collecting these amazing pebbles that seemed to have seams of silver and gold coloured stuff in them!
Watching the sunset over Lake Balaton in Hungary. A very important place for my husband to bring our son as it was somewhere he spent many of his childhood summers.
And the final piece of RL news - we have a new front door! Not that exciting on the surface, until I tell you it was handmade by a woodworker over several months (us using the side door all the while as this was precipitated by the old door's lock mechanism breaking) , and the glass was custom made to my own design (which I pretty much lifted wholesale from Frank Lloyd Wright but never mind!) Also, we had a few agonies over the colour choice, but in the end decided that anything but the very brightest option would be a cowardly act of surrender, hence...
Fear not,those gaps got filled up the next day.
Those neighbours who are still talking to us said they liked it!
So, I have some final RL news but it is still in the planning stage. Let's just say....pets. Might become part of the domestic scene sometime some. But I will say no more for now!
OK, that's pretty much all my news for the last several months. Back to the book reviews when I can next get here!
Well I had to Wishlist several books, darn you. Agree about the up and down ness of Mieville. I've come up against a similar wall with couple of other spec/sf type writers. Ian McDonald? I think that's the right name. Trains on Mars? It's inventive, interesting, but somehow, I kind of lose steam, ha ha. Alastair Reynolds is another one, I loved his earlier work. Actually, has he even published anything recently?
Love your studio, photos of your summer trip and painting with Léo and your unusual gallery visitor. As you know, I am all for pets.
Hi Lucy! Lovely to see you round these parts! Did Ian McDonald write a book about trains on Mars? Maybe. (KSR worse one about a train on ...Mercury maybe? Always in motion to stay on the dark side of the planet? I intend to read that one someday but haven't got there yet.) I did kind of stall with McDonald too, after starting out a crazy fangirl for River of Gods. Sometimes you like an author less the more you read, I find. Certain devices or themes that are OK used once, can grate if they start to become standard. Alastair Reynolds I've not read much of, although there's some in the TBR pile somewhere...
Ok, it feels good to get some of these reviews under my belt, so let's continue...
19.Assassin's Quest - Robin Hobb 3.5/5
This trilogy went steadily downhill for me, after an amazing start. Bits of this just annoyed me by being overly complicated plot-wise, and dragging when you just want some answers. This rather-like-how-things-are-in-the-real-world sense of things not always fitting together neatly can be a strength, but it does not always make for satisfying reading. But overall, a very impressive series. If I got annoyed it was only because I was desperate to know what happens to my favourite characters. I will definitely be continuing onwards into the huge array of novels set in this universe, as I feel like this is a rich and complex world I've stumbled across, and I'm eager for more. I'm slightly afraid for any characters I take a liking to, as this world is incredibly brutal at times, but maybe that sense of peril is one of the things that has got me so invested.
20.The Undoing Project - Michael Lewis 3/5
I picked this book up somewhat at random at the library and took it home because I rather like that "all your lazy assumptions about why people do the things they do are WRONG!" sub-genre of non-fiction book. This was one of those, but it told the story of our wrong assumptions through a potted biography of the two Israeli psychologists who basically invented the field of behavioural economics. They proved time and time again how humans don't really make decisions based on logical thought, because we are human and that is not our strong suit, and loads of emotional bias and so on come into play. I'm struggling to explain it well because it hasn't really stayed with me in the way that, say, some of the arguments advanced in Freakanomics have. That book could have just been one long provocation though (many people seem to think so), whereas these guys' theories have been around for a while now and seem to have been borne out by lots of subsequent research. The problem for me was, I just wasn't that interested in the biographical stuff about the two academics, as brilliant as they undoubtedly were. Lewis seems fascinated by their dynamic - one was mercurial, passionate and flashily brilliant; one was shy, plodding and meticulous. Two very different personalities, but put them together and something extraordinary happened! Peh! I don't care! Is it really that surprising that two very different people could work well together? Don't they say opposites attract? Anyway, the actual stuff they uncovered about the way our minds work is pretty interesting, although the author lost me sometimes when he tried to talk us through the thought chains that led the academic dudes to feel like they had proved their theory. Some of it felt like pretty flimsy stuff to me, but I think that was a fault of how it was explained rather than the original research.
21.Luna:New Moon - Ian McDonald 3.5/5
Ooh, you know what?! I bet this is the one Lucy means! There is a crazy scene on a train in this one! Not Mars though, the Moon! When discussing McDonald, I kind of forgot that I had read this one. It's one of his more recent efforts I believe, and it's actually pretty good. It takes quite a long time to really shift into top gear, as the first third of the novel just seems to be a huge cast of characters pin balling around the place, interacting with each other in ways that make no sense until the story opens out a little and lets us see how they all fit into this rather close knit society that McDonald has created. I've heard it described as Game of Thrones in space, which is a crude but apt description. This is really a story of powerful feuding families vying of control of the moon and all the wealth it creates from mining some element that provides energy to Earth. (I forget which. Helium? Hydrogen? Oxygen? I love sci fi but I'm not so hot on the science-y bits). The fact that it's set on the moon is kind of secondary for a lot of the book, but of course it's woven all the way through it in subtle ways that actually accumulate into some pretty nifty world building. It also shifts into all out action and thrills towards the end. Annoyingly, it ends on a cliff hanger, there's a second part already published and a third in the offing. I haven't rushed out to get hold of part two, but it was good enough that I would like to know what happens at some point. I might have to re-read this one before moving onwards as I've lost loads of detail by now, so we'll see if I ever get around to it.
I think the collaborative academic story goes against lots of ideas 'we' have about independent genius (despite that being largely a myth).
I love your stained glass window - so striking.
>60 charl08: Hi Charl! Yes, I think you're right. We like to imagine academics being these sort of hermitic geniuses, frowning over a book in their ivory tower or whatnot. Auteur theory, as they call it in the film world; the director as lone voiced genius, showing you his (and it nearly always is "his" when we're talking auteurs) singular vision. Quite how anyone ever thought that could happen in a medium that requires literally hundreds of people to make it, and is usually financed by people that expect a return on their investment, I really don't know!
>50 HanGerg: Really glad you enjoyed Murderbot and the Rachel Bach series has gone on my list.
>57 HanGerg: Sounds like you have had some good travelling experiences this year and I love the front door! Also pleased to hear you and Leo get the chance to do some artwork together.
>59 HanGerg: 'I'm slightly afraid for any characters I take a liking to, as this world is incredibly brutal at times' - Yeah, I think for me these books work best with gaps in between otherwise they just get too brutal at times! Ship of Magic had less horrible stuff happening to the characters but I don't know if that continues for the rest of the trilogy.
I really enjoyed that McDonald book but have been waiting to read the others until the series is complete. I particularly like the way his futures are not Anglo/American-centric.
The book I'm thinking of is set on Mars -- Desolation Road this is the cover:
I've wishlisted the Luna books!
>62 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita!
>63 souloftherose:. Hi Heather! Good point about the McDonald. Talking about the things that start to grate about an author after a while though, he does have a preoccupation with lots of weird sex stuff that really doesn't serve the plot and so can just be a little...weird. That's one of my "don't likes" about his writing. But there's an awful lot to like about him, and so I do consider myself a fan.
Do read the Bach series - it's nothing mind blowing but it's good fun.
>64 sibyx:. Well I'll be darned Lucy! Trains on Mars indeed! I hadn't heard of that one. Seems it was his very first, and a bit of an opinion divider, if the reviews on its page are anything to go by.
Ok, talking of reviews, time to roll up the metaphorical sleeves again...
22.Death Comes to the Archbishop - Willa Cather 4/5
I picked this up in a VMC edition as I know she has her LT devotees, and one of her other books is in my 150 books challenge list. (Actually I just checked and it's two; One of Ours and
A Lost Lady.) I enjoyed my first introduction to her writing. This book is set in 1851 and about two priests who are childhood friends from France. But they make it their life's work to spread their religion to the vast frontier of New Mexico, at a time when infrastructure and communication were only of the very basic kind. There is lots of trekking to places on donkeys involved. It was very evocative of its time and especially place, and the friendship between the two men was nicely drawn. Their faith was also very present in the story, and although I don't have a faith myself, I found the passages that dealt with that aspect of the narrative very moving, and enlightening for me. Not in a personal way, but rather giving me an insight into what levels of passionate belief could sustain a person to do this dangerous and difficult work for decades at a time. It was quite a low key, unshowy novel, but it left quite a big impression on me, as a portrayal of a land and a way of life very foreign to me, that nonetheless felt very rich and satisfying to learn about. I look forward to reading more of her work.
23.Full Moon - P.G.Wodehouse 4/5
The usual delightful, light as air concoction of stuff and nonsense from the master of sublime piffle. I mean really, was there ever a writer who put together a more finely crafted sentence? All in the name of entertaining us with ridiculous goings on of very inconsequential people, but somehow that makes it all the more wonderful an endeavour. I'm not sure if I've read this one before - frankly it doesn't matter - but I always turn to Wodehouse when the nights start drawing in and my mood takes its customary nosedive at the end of summer, and he never fails to buck me up like one of Jeeve's special drinks. (Just checked and I read this in May. So it wasn't that. But I was feeling blue and this perked me up like the dickins.)
24.Tracker - C.J.Cherryh 4/5
I have almost entirely forgotten the plot of this one. I think it's because nothing much happens. There is some grumbling of that nature on the reviews page, but at this point, I just like spending time with these characters. I actually get frustrated when Bren and Jase can't just hang out on his boat for days on end. "Gah! Another diplomatic muddle for Bren to sort out! Poor guy must be one of the busiest men on the continent! Why can't you just let him have some down time!" Is what I often think. So this hanging around not doing much, just waiting for the ship that's slowly approaching the planet to signal its intent whilst Bren goes to endless committee meetings and Caijeri gets better at bonding with his new baby sister are all fine by me.
Hmm, bit quiet round here, for which I only have myself to blame. It's been a funny old time lately. I always get the blues a bit this time of year - this year seems particularly bad, and made much worse by the fact that I have been reading up a lot about climate change, after this latest, very grim report. I'm so scared about the world my son is inheriting. But, I have dived head first into learning all I can, and there are some little green shoots of hope too. I'm clinging to them like mad, and continuing to read all I can, so expect that to be an ongoing theme.
In other news, I also just turned 40. We had a house party for local friends to mark the occasion, which was fun, and I'm hoping to use it as an excuse to track down some good friends that I don't see that often over the next few months. What with being terrified about the imminent collapse of our world, I don't really have many thoughts on being 40. It does kind of put things in perspective a bit I guess.
First, Happy Birthday. Then, I think this time of year is hard for all but the most even-keeled.
You are ahead of me in the Cherryhs, she seems to write them in sets of three, with the first book being the set-up and slow, the second slightly more exciting and the third book being the one that takes off. Don't know where Tracker fits into that scenario.
>68 quondame: Ah, you mean the cup of tea in the first novel? Yes, that one is rather more exciting than most things that happen in this book...
>67 sibyx:. Hi Lucy. Yes, glad I'm not alone with the Autumnal blues. I do love many things about Autumn too, but it's just the short days and lack of sunlight that really get me. I've really noticed it the last few years, it seems to be something that gets worse as I get older. I feel this year that I'm really craving the winter solstice as a psychological turning point. Also, it was the birthday of my late, very beloved grandmother, so it is always a noteworthy day in my calendar.
In answer to your Tracker question, I believe this is the first in the current trilogy. Some reviewers suggest that she will return to writing other series after this set. I don't know if that means that these will be the final novels or if she is just taking a break. For me personally, she could go on indefinitely, but I guess at some point an author might weary of their own creation and want to wrote about something else. I just find these books so comforting for some reason. Perhaps because everyone is so decent, and trying to work together despite their differences, and striving for understanding of one another. There seems to be so little of it about in these times, this is a nice escapism. Ah well, if it is truly to be the end, I will simply return to the beginning and read through the series again slowly. They have come to mean so much to me, I can imagine doing that several times over!
So, in other news... this hardly counts as a new development at this point, but as I haven't been around much, I haven't shared it with LT folk yet; we got rabbits!! Yes, I hinted at it before, and now it has come to pass. Actually the story is more complex than that, because we first got a rabbit back in the summer, but very sadly he passed away whilst rabbit sitters were looking after him during our summer holiday. It's impossible to say what caused it, and it was desperately sad, but somehow that didn't put me off and I felt like we had to get back on the horse so to speak, so after finding a local breeder that had rabbits of the same breed I'd fallen in love with in the summer, we got a brother and sister Rex rabbit! Two instead of one as that is apparently the way to have them - they are much happier with another bunny for company, and so far it seems to be the case. Zac and Zoey seem like two pretty contented young rabbits. We have a few trips away coming up, but after what happened in the summer we are taking no risks, and I've found a lady nearby who does bunny boarding and knows exactly what they need. So, all is well and we are delighted with our fluffy new family members!
And here they are. First up is Zac, our boy bunny. I choose him partly because he seemed to get a bit pushed around by all his brothers and sisters, and I wanted to rescue him! He is quite timid and shy, but that also means he will snuggle up for ages for a nice stroke and not try and escape!
Next up is our girl, Zoey. She is much more feisty and adventurous, and you cannot take you eye off her for a second or else she will be trying to escape or doing dangerous dramatic leaps out of your arms from far too high up! She will sit still and be made a fuss of occasionally, but only if she doesn't think it's more interesting to be off exploring instead. Leó said "Zoey bunny is the bravest bunny in the world!" and he might not be wrong!
Very cute rabbits. We had one years back and all I remember is that he chewed on the cable for our computer mouse. We got three kittens earlier this year, a real handful but we love them to pieces.
Have you read Neal Stephenson? I'm about halfway through Reamde and it's lots of fun.
>70 avatiakh: Hi Kerry! Yes, rabbits are terrible cable chewers. That's why ours are largely outdoor rabbits, although as you can see from the picture, they do get brought in from time to time when I'm feeling soft hearted; usually the other half shoots me a stern look and they get taken out again pretty quickly, but I will be fretting over them on the cold nights, I must say!
I am aware of Stephenson but haven't read any. They all look like pretty huge tomes and I have no idea where to start. Is that one a standalone? I might give it a go if you think it's a good one.
>71 quondame: Ha! Poor Bren. He does take tea with Illisidi quite a lot. I'm sure he has lots of uncomfortable flashbacks! And he knows she is a totally unrepentant poisoner, because she does it again, I forget which book, but to the female ship captain. So there must always be that slight worry at the back of his mind...
Ok, reviews still way in arrears, and we are rounding the final bend before the end of the year. I'm determined to get up to date before then, so here goes.
25.Stargazer - Colby Hodge 2/5
I picked this up cheap and secondhand for a bit of a giggle, and because I hadn't before come across a Sci Fi/Romance hybrid before (I take it others also exist. Sexy spacemen and women! That's surely a thing!). Really though, this was a stinker. The romance angel was very boring and not in the least racy and the space opera style adventure was barely competent too. It's the start of a series, but I most certainly won't be travelling any further with these drips.
26.Angelfall - Susan Ee 3/5
My SF and Fantasy lovin' RL friend pushed this series onto me with a halfhearted recommendation that I might like it because I liked Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I did, up to a point, although it can't hold a candle to that trilogy. This one also features a love story between an angelic man and a human teenaged girl, but there the similarity ends. This one is set in a weird post-apocalyptic world where the angels are the baddies that invaded the earth for reasons unknown. In this world gone mad, our heroine is just trying to find her sweet little sister, who has been kidnapped by the nasty angels. She gets lumbered with an injured angel who was fighting the baddy angels, and she also has a weird, schizophrenic mother who keeps popping up then disappearing again (she's the best character from a fairly boring bunch). Ok, but the writing isn't great and the story is barely coherent at times.
27.Your Art Will Save Your Life - Beth Pickens 3/5
Sent to me by a sweet friend who read a review and thought it would be right up my alley. It was to an extent, as it was a useful self-help book for artists giving good and practical advice about how to get by in the real world, to be able to make art and pay the bills too, and still have time to develop your practise and experiment etc. That bit was all good and actually quite practical and useful advice. That was about half of the book. The other half was a kind of extended wail of anguish about what a Trump governed America will be like for artists, LGBTQ people, people of colour and anyone else that somehow deviates from the norm. I get the pain, and I feel it too to some extent, but it dates the book to one very specific time and place and makes it a less useful document overall, I think. Still, it needed saying and I appreciate why this lady felt she had to say it.
28.The Vanishing Witch - Karen Maitland 3/5
I picked this up at a library sale because I enjoy the occasional historical mystery, and this one has a little side order of the occult, which can be fun. Another thing that drew me to it is its setting, which is my current place of residence, Lincoln, but at the time of the peasant's revolt in 1381. The writing was good but not great, the plot was a little plodding at times, and the twists fairly easy to see coming. However, the historical detail felt well researched, and she did capture a good sense of place I think. It also made me want to find out more about the peasants' revolt, which is not an event I've ever heard much about before, so not a complete waste of a read by any means.
29.A Closed and Common Orbit - Becky Chambers 5/5
Oooh, I just loved, loved, loved this! SF with a core of pure emotion. And maybe more of a plot rather than a series of episodes, which I know was some people's beef with the first in the series, although not mine. I just like spending time with her characters, because they feel so alive and she has the gift of making me empathise with them down to the very last drop of feeling. I can't really say any more, because I just flat out loved it and that is that!
Glad to read another fan of Becky Chambers: I gobbled down two at once (well, one almost straight after the other) and am now impatiently hoping she writes another one soon!
Love the brave rabbit. Guinea pigs similarly like the cables. I wonder if it's just because they're there...
>72 HanGerg: Yes, Stephenson's books are pretty big tomes, but full of action and adventure in a cyberpunk sort of way. I've usually done them as audiobooks while exercising or gardening. Reamde is a mix of virtual and real world and is a huge entertaining story. I'd suggest starting with Snowcrash which is an earlier work.
Trying to catch up across the threads, Hannah, so I just dropped by to wish you well. xx
Belated happy birthday wishes Hannah! Sorry to hear about the autumnal blues - I don't think winter affects my mood but climate change and other political news certainly does so I can empathise with that. And rabbits!
>72 HanGerg: I think A Closed and Common Orbit was my favourite of her novels so far but the latest, Record of a Spaceborn Few, is also very good - a bit of a return to the episodic format of the first perhaps.
Just dropping by to catch up, Hannah. A belated Happy Birthday, and some cute bunnies there!
ETA Oh, and I think I need an update Leó photo!
Those bunnies are adorable. One of my favourite areas to visit at the Champlain Valley Fair (once almost entirely an agricultural affair) are the exotic rabbits.
I've got the Chambers hidden in the Christmas stash.
Sounds as though things are bubbling along, that's good.
>73 charl08: Hi Charl. Yes, I am a big Chambers fan. I haven't read the third in that series yet, but will probably try and get around to it soon. I don't know much about her. Are there other books, or more in the pipeline? She's doing some really interesting things with the SF genre I think - interesting to see where she takes it next.
>74 avatiakh:. Onto the wishlist Snowcrash goes Kerry. I have been meaning to read some Stephenson, so this is a helpful recommendation, thank you!
>75 PaulCranswick:. Hi Paul. Always lovely to get a visit from you sir! One of these days I'll take a deep breath and dive into the whirlwind that is your thread!
>76 souloftherose:. Hi Heather! Birthday wishes of any kind very appreciated! I forgot to mention that I actually got quite a lot of books for my birthday, mainly from friends which was really touching. I have a few interesting things to dive into in the new year.
>77 ronincats:. Hi Roni! Ok, photo coming up, just for you!
>78 sibyx:. Hi Lucy! Oooh, exotic rabbits. I'm intrigued.
Ok, a Leó picture for Roni, then back to reviews as I WILL finish this year not owing any, darn it!!
Oof, so many technical difficulties with the photo! First my computer is running really slow, second I've never really resolved the problem that LT always seems to flip my photos, especially portraits, and all my efforts to correct it have failed, so I had to search for a nice landscape picture. This one's a few months old now - taken on a wet and windy ferry trip back to the UK after our lovely European adventure this summer.
As you can see, Leó is leaving toddlerhood behind and moving swiftly into "little boy" territory. Or, as he tells me, "I'm not little anymore mummy, I'm a BIG boy!"
Right, let's get some more reviews done!!
30.Heaven's Queen - Rachel Bach 3.5/5
The concluding part of this fun but undemanding trilogy that had a good line in moral conundrums and acting with integrity, but a rather annoying line in star-crossed lover type romance that got in the way of full enjoyment sometimes. Worth a perusal if action-packed space opera is your thing, not so much if not.
31.Leviathan Wakes - James S. Corey 4.5/5
I came by this via the excellent Netflix series (Why had I never heard of it before??? A gross oversight!) which I thought was pretty excellent, and the book even more so. Not sure why I haven't ploughed on with the rest of the series, but will hopefully do so with all speed in 2019. Oh dear, mount TBR is growing alarmingly...
32.Treasure Island - Robery Louis Stevenson 3.5/5
I read this as part of my 150 books from 150 years reading challenge, and enjoyed it more than I was anticipating. It wasn't quite the book I expected it to be, being rather more dark and nuanced. I can see why generations of children have fallen in love with it. Indeed I might read it with L when he's a bit older. The character of Long John Silver was fascinating, much more three dimensional than I was expecting. The relatively low rating is in large part due to the end, which is so sudden and anti-climatic as to feel incomplete. Why did he do that I wonder? Great apart from that.
Aw! Lovely picture. (The only way I've found to get pictures to load the correct way up, is to crop them a bit and then upload them. For some reason it works, I don't know why though).
I might be remembering this wrongly, but isn't there a sequel to Treasure Island? Might that explain the ending?
Thank you for pursuing through difficulties to get that photo of your BIG boy up, Hannah!!
>80 HanGerg: So cute! Sending Christmas wishes to you, Leo and family!
>81 HanGerg: I am really enjoying The Expanse books (read up to Babylon's Ashes and TV series - slightly frustrated that there seems to be such a long delay between the TV show airing in the US and it coming across to the UK but at least there are the books to read!
Hello, lovely Christmas-time visitors!!! Wonderful to see you around here, and apologies for not returning the visits. I was in Budapest over Christmas and I can never remember my password to log in from a different computer. Plus, family time, visiting friends, eating, drinking, etc. It was a good Christmas, but I'm glad to be home. Alas, I am home alone, as my lovely little guy developed the dreaded chicken pox a few days before we were due to fly home. Now, I didn't know this until a couple of years ago (another chicken pox scare. That one turned out to be a false alarm) but you absolutely cannot fly with chicken pox. So, in Hungary he and his dad remain, until the 6th of January, when they have booked tickets to fly home. A bit of a gamble, but everyone assures me it should be over by then. And then, on the 8th of Jan we are off again, to Tenerife with my mum. My poor boy won't know which way is up! A bit of a chaotic start to the New Year, but there it is.
So, reviews. I blimmin' well will get them all done this year, you just watch me!!
33.When Will There Be Good News? - Kate Atkinson 3.5/5
My second Atkinson of the year. I DO like her, but something stops me giving her books higher scores. The great amount of coincidences needed to make the plot all hang together, is probably my main quibble. But I really enjoyed the characters in this one, and the little glimpses of feminist rage at the violence some men inflict on women. That feels like quite a rare thing in a crime novel (albeit an unconventional one), although perhaps it shouldn't be. Good overall, and I shall probably seek out more.
34.The Descent of Man - Grayson Perry 3/5
I have said on these pages before, that I have a lot of time for Perry, and am interested to hear what he has to say on a fairly wide range of topics. Here he tackles gender politics, and has a lot to say worth listening to on the topic. However, as with his book on contemporary art that I read last year, there's a lack of a focal point, or overarching idea that really drives the book, it's all a bit episodic and just a series of observations of things that don't ultimately lead anywhere. However, as a man talking about feminism in a positive way, and trying to tackle cultural norms of what constitutes "the masculine" in a way that lots of other men will listen to, he is doing something that not that many others seem to be that interested in engaging with, and doing it with characteristic thoughtfulness.
35.Capital - John Lancaster 3/5
Life on the average London street just before the banking collapse. All human life is here! Except...My husband and I were having a very lefty liberal conversation about who claims the right to speak for who in societal discourse (yeah, we're fun like that). And the conclusion we came to is, for too long, white middle class straight people have claimed the right to speak for a whole host of "others", rather than just let those "others" have a platform to speak for themselves. And that maybe, slowly, that is changing. This book, and another I'll review a bit later, are relevant to that debate because, good as they are, they are essentially a white, middle class bloke claiming to know what it's like being a several different black African characters, one of whom is a refugee, various members of a British muslim family suspected of terrorism offences, a Polish builder and a Hungarian nanny, as well as an assortment of others British characters. Yes! That's an author's job I know, but something about this supposedly virtuoso display of walking in other's shoes just didn't sit comfortably with me. Does he really know how it feels to be a muslim woman, happily playing with your child, when riot police burst into your house? Did he speak to anyone who had experienced that themselves, or did he just think that as an author, he would be able to imagine it? It's not a bad book, and I really don't have any answers to the questions of who should be allowed to write about what (surely everyone and everything, but the reality is, only certain people's version gets listened to), but that thought did keep occurring to me as I read this.
36.The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - Robert Tressell 2.5/5
Read for my 150 books 150 years challenge. Basically a very long pamphlet espousing the cause of Socialism. It looks at the awful plight of hired labourers one hundred years ago, and yep, you can bet we can learn things from it today. But it does so in such a laboured, hectoring fashion! And it could all have been so different - in the scenes where the working men are talking and debating with each other, Tressell occasionally shows that he has a real ear for dialogue and can really write. But then it all just gets submerged under a pile of dogma and anything that could have amounted to a story is lost. Still worth a read - I actually learnt a lot about Socialism and how a Socialist society is meant to function, and it is very relevant and is trying to say something important. I just feel like he would have had more converts if he could have wrapped his message in a more convincing story.
Why thank you Lori! A very happy new year to all my LT friends.
So, another year over. 51 books read. Not bad by my standards. I will get to that 75 mark one year. Maybe this one, who knows? I haven't been the best at staying in touch here (once again I've failed with the reviews! It will be different in 2019, honestly it will!), but I have enjoyed being here, as always. I value the insights, the recommendations, and the warmth and companionship I find on LT. It really is a wonderful community. And with that in mind... on we go into the new year! I'll go set up my thread now....
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