Progress

Sep. 26th, 2010 08:34 pm
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
I would comment about the aftershocks settling down, but every time I do so to anyone outside the area we have another bad patch. Last night there were three in quick succession - the strongest was only 4.1, but they were all shallow and close, with one of them about 8km below my house. Anyway. I've reshelved half my books (avoiding the upper shelves), filed my claim with the EQC (minor - hopefully - cracks in the house, and the pavement/tiles around it sinking by 5cm) and am reluctantly getting used to the loss of various local shops and buildings.

And finishing the occasional book. All animals, this batch.

Beswitched, Kate Saunders. )

The vet’s family, Martha Robinson (re-read). )

Nobody’s horse, Jane Smiley. )

To Ride Pegasus, Anne McCaffrey (re-read). )

The other thing I keep forgetting to mention is that I'm now posting on dreamwidth as [personal profile] cyphomandra, and cross-posting to livejournal. I will eventually get round to providing a footer on entries saying this and making it a bit more formal - I've been cross-posting for a while, but recent events on lj have made me less keen on supporting it. If anyone wants a dreamwidth code, let me know; I also have an AO3 code for any interested parties.
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I now have broadband and a car and, apparently, the vital piece of paper I need for such trivial matters as a salary is not more than 700 kilometres away from me, thus (almost) solving all my previously mentioned problems apart from my outstanding booklog. This post finishes off 2007 in books, and then I have a half-written best of post before launching myself into 2008, and also sorting out all my half-written manga posts. Oh man. This is not made any less challenging by the fact that, according to my records, somehow I have already read over 60 volumes of manga this year.

Cynthia Voigt's Tillerman series - Homecoming, Dicey's Song, A Solitary Blue, The Runner, Come a Stranger, Sons From Afar, Seventeen Against the Dealer. )
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I am now much less stressed. Sure, I have no internet (currently compromising my principles in Starbucks) and no car, and there's a hold-up with one piece of paper that means I may not be able to start work next Tuesday as planned, but these are minor inconveniences compared with all the active disasters of December. Anyway. This gets me almost up to the end of 2007 in books - I still have one more post on Cynthia Voigt's Tillerman series - and then I can start on this year's lot, as part of my whole posting more regularly and writing stuff organisational thing.

I have a mental short list of authors whose next book I will buy automatically, without even bothering to check the blurb. It’s a dynamic list – Michael Chabon, for example, got onto it with The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and then fell right back off again with Summerland (and his Sherlock Holmes book I just borrowed from the library and felt bitter enough about that, so The Yiddish Policeman’s Union and Gentlemen of the Road are just going to have to wait until time subdues my irritation); Connie Willis is on there for all full length novels that are not co-written romances; Glen David Gold is on there with, as far as I know, only one book (Carter Beats the Devil); Diana Wynne Jones, despite some recent hiccups…

Anne Fadiman, At Large and at small. )

A.S. Byatt, Unruly Lives. )

Kate Mosse, Labyrinth. )

Emma Bull, Territory. )

Charlie Higson, Hurricane Gold. )

Elizabeth George, What came before he shot her. )

Deb Caletti, Wild Roses. )

Veronica Bennett, Fish Feet. )

Jason Thompson, The complete guide to manga. )

Jo Walton, Farthing. )

Robin McKinley, The Blue Sword (re-read, about three times in all) and The Hero and the Crown (re-read). )

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home. )

Marcus Zusak, The messenger. )

Antonia Forest, Cricket term (re-read). )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (grass by durer)
I've seen a couple of memes recently about unread books. While I don't do so badly on the Library Thing one (I think I've read about 40) I have an entire box of unread books lurking by the door at the moment, in the hope that I'll actually pick one up on my way out the door. Given that Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo is currently on top and I walk to work this is unlikely without more upper body strength, but I'll try and make a more conscious effort. I think part of it is the existential dread of Running Out of Books...

Dodie Smith, The Town in Bloom. )

Michelle Tea, Rose of No Man's Land. )

Green Rider, Kristen Britain. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (hare by durer)
Sometimes the order I read books in throws up some useful comparisons and this is, in fact currently the case, but I'm in the middle of too many things to be posting the right combinations. For example, if I were organised enough to finish David Mitchell's number 9 dream before posting this I could post about how it has a similar flaw to Bad Monkeys, and if I'd finished re-reading E Nesbit's The Story of the Amulet I could put it next to the Nancy Farmer book. Oh well. As always, these things make more sense in my head.

Nhamo, a Shona girl growing up in a Mozambique village, is promised to a stranger as his junior wife, to lift the curse of cholera from her village and atone for the sins of her vanished father. Instead, encouraged by her grandmother, she runs away to look for her father’s family in Zimbabwe, a journey which becomes a lot more difficult than anticipated. Nancy Farmer, A Girl Named Disaster. )

Matt Ruff, Bad Monkeys. No spoilers, but a regretfully unfavourable impression. )

The Silver Wolf, Alice Borchardt. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (grass by durer)
After these two posts I am only one book behind on my booklog. The number of half-finished manga posts I have, however, is appalling, and I really should create the same sort of pending file I have for books so I can start at it glumly. Anyway.

Lois McMaster Bujold, The Sharing Knife 1: Beguilement. )

Joan Druett, A Watery Grave. )

Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
Blaze of Glory, Michael Pryor. Aubrey Fitzwilliam is the son of an ex-prime minister, brilliant at magic, an excellent actor, attractive, intelligent, good at sports (in the first XI with a distinctive late cut) and a practised code-breaker. In his spare time, he disguises himself as Tommy Sparks, a petty thief with an irritating mockney accent, and wanders the city’s less attractive areas, picking up gossip and funding medical clinics on the side while winning the undying loyalty of the poor. In the first chapter of this book Aubrey tries a dangerous new spell in an attempt to harness the power of death magic, and kills himself.

Sadly, it doesn’t stick. )

Margaret Edson, W;t. )

WebMage, Kelly McCullough. Ravirn, computer hacker and child of the Fates, is framed for an attempt to mess with the nature of destiny itself, and must try and stay alive, avoid pursuit and work out a way to defeat the real power behind this attack. He’s assisted by Melchior, his familiar and laptop, who is actually pretty nifty, and Cerice, his forty-seventh cousin, who is stunningly beautiful and madly convenient in terms of forwarding the plot, saving Ravirn, patching him up and providing an excuse for rather purple sex scenes (bursts of lilac, summer lightning and white waterfalls, which made me feel rather like I was looking at a budget fireworks assortment).

I do like the set-up for this. )

The Diamond Girls, Jacqueline Wilson. Four girls (all with different fathers) and their imminently about-to-deliver mother move from their fairly shoddy estate to what turns out to be an equally appalling council house in the middle of nowhere. I always enjoy the construction of Wilson’s books, and I think it takes an amazing amount of panache to write something involving characters at whom the Daily Telegraph would point fingers and put them through things like teenage pregnancy, gang encounters and domestic violence, and yet have the overall mood be positive. This one didn’t really grab me, tho’, and it’s more a case of admiring from a distance.

Unpublished novel for critique – not an indepth one, but an “advise re marketing pre-rewrite” one, difficult in that it can go at least two ways and one of them is a genre (erotica) I don’t really have much idea about at all as a commercial market. Have also notified author that one of the two main characters is missing an arc.

Two more

Sep. 8th, 2007 11:35 pm
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
Susan Palwick, Shelter.

Oh hell, it’s been too long since I read this. I really enjoyed it, although I'm still a bit unsure about the ending. An intelligent house offers refuge to a homeless man in the middle of a storm (a storm in which the house’s owner dies, having gone out to rescue his ex-wife), and the connections between these people and a few others spin out into the story. Shelter )

Robin Hobb, Renegade’s Magic. Third, and final book in the Soldier Son trilogy – a trilogy which does some interesting things but is also difficult, in many senses, and I do wonder what this has done to Hobb’s sales figures. I think she has enough goodwill from the Fitz books to survive one failure, but I’m not sure where she’ll go next.

And “failure” is probably too strong a term. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (hare by durer)
Back to some semblance of a normal life (or, at least, no deadlines before Thursday). These are all old books, and there are two more that I wanted to spend a bit more time on, and then two more that I've read over the last week. And then there's the manga post...

Gordon Korman, Everest 3: The Summit. The trouble with this sort of series is that there’s a predictability to book 3 that’s very hard to rise above. Someone has to die (to justify the nameless funeral scene at the beginning) and at least one someone has to get to the summit (hence the title), and both these identities are pretty clear at the start of the book. )

The only previous Vivian Van Velde book I’ve read (or started) was one I found in a home furniture store some years ago, on a display bookcase with a bunch of other blue hardbacked books, all with dustjackets removed. Most of the rest were stats texts. I read the first fifty pages or so and liked it but had to go, so I took it up to the counter and asked the staff if I could buy it. I probably would have got a better reception if I’d held up my pyjamas and said I was going to nap in one of the display beds. They sounded absolutely horrified at the thought of considering a book as a reading object rather than a form of décor, and took the book away from me to stash it behind the desk rather than risk my sullying its pages further. I’d be less irked by this if I could remember the title.

I don’t think it was this one, although I liked this and if you find it in a home furniture store it probably also deserves to be liberated. Vivian Van Velde, Heir Apparent. )

Zilpha Keatley Snyder, The Unseen. )

Atul Gawande, Better: a surgeon’s notes on performance. Not as good as Complications (his previous book), but that’s largely because a) I loved Complications and b) I’ve read half a dozen of these essays before on the New Yorker website or in the New England Medical Journal. )

Mary Stewart, My brother Michael. Spoilers for ending. )

CP Snow, The Affair. The title refers to the Dreyfus affair, which prompted one of those conversations between myself and my boss where both of us were aware of the existence of this notorious scandal, but completely vague as to details.Anyway, this scandal involves a Cambridge college where one of the Fellows is accused of scientific fraud and forced out; and then evidence appears suggesting that he may not be guilty. )

And two re-reads: Eva Ibbotson and Mary Cadogan & Patricia Craig. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (grass by durer)
I've had too little time to look at the many fascinating entries and links IBARW has generated (maybe in another fortnight), but this has been sitting on my computer for over a month, and it seemed like an appropriate time to post it.

The second book in what is, for me, an intensely problematic duology. When I read the first book I wondered if I’d missed something, especially when I went hunting for reviews and none of them mentioned what I’d found – a massive, unbelievable hole at the heart of the book. Baffled, I put it aside, and hoped that the sequel – when it came out – would explain everything.

It doesn’t.

So. Both Dreamhunter books are set in an alternate version of New Zealand/Aotearoa, in the early 1900s; a version that is missing its North Island, but keeps all the rest of its geography, with a map on the frontispiece that is quite clearly the top of the South Island, where Nelson (the original capital) becomes Founderston, where the settlers arrived a few generations back, and Farewell Spit is So Long Spit, and Westport hasn’t even been renamed. Each corner of the map has a cameo inset with a different native creature: a tuatara, a kaka, a kiwi, and a fish (my species identification skills are not that good). But only the fish could be named in this book – because the other names are all Maori, the language (and the name) of the first settlers of Aotearoa – later called New Zealand. And, in Knox’s series, there are no Maori.

Cut for problematic colonial mythology. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
The obligatory pre-release re-reads. I particularly wanted to re-read Half-Blood Prince, as I read it in the early hours of the release morning in a hotel bathroom in Manchester, which were probably not ideal circumstances, and this time I hope to be somewhere with more comfortable chairs and better lighting.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. )

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. )

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. )

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. )

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. )

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
I have all these half-finished manga and anime posts that require inspiration, fact-checking and finishing off all the reading/watching in various combinations. I'm also behind on books - I read the first one of these about a month ago - but these are easier to catch up on.

I took an irrational dislike to this book when I heard the author read an extract from it, less because of the extract (from the first chapter, with Ista being contemplative) than because of the hordes of Bujold groupies (it was at Worldcon) who listened in an overly intense fashion with fixed beatific smiles on their faces. I thought Curse of Chalion was interesting but not outstanding, and Hallowed Hunt was neither. However, a lot of people seem to like this one best, so I – finally – gave it a chance. Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold. )

Everest: Book 1; The Contest and Book 2: The Climb, both by Gordon Korman. )

Precious Dragon, Liz Williams. )

And I'm also part of the Harry Potter re-reading horde - currently half-way through Order of the Phoenix, which should put me on track to finish Half-Blood Prince before next Saturday. Obviously, some sort of sheep icon would be appropriate at this point, but I'll have to settle for a hare...
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Really, I should just give up on entry titles. Two books with remarkably little to do with each other, both good. I have a few more books after this that I'm still thinking about, but I'm also working on my pre-July 21st Harry Potter series re-read.

I re-read this because of Julian Barnes’ Arthur and George, and Dennis Burges’ Graves Gate, both of which feature Arthur Conan Doyles whom I like much less than this one. Dark, good and intriguing.The Night Calls, David Pirie. )

A Fistful of Sky, Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Gypsum is the middle child in a family of five growing up in California, a family where all the children, around puberty, go through transition and develop magical powers – except her. In addition, she’s overweight, plain, and uninterested in changing either of these states, something which her mother – beautiful and a little too fond of doing things for her children that are “for their own good” finds very difficult. But Gyp does transition, eventually, after her family have given up on her ever being other than ordinary – only to find that, like other people in the family who have transitioned later, she has one of the unkind powers, the power of curses. And if she doesn’t use it, the power will kill her.

A Fistful of Sky, Nina Kiriki Hoffman. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (grass by durer)
I liked this book and it also annoyed me, although if I’m prepared to write this much about it it must have done so in a useful fashion. Blindsight, Peter Watts )
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(as might be apparent, I'm catching up on a backlog. I also have scattered notes on various anime and manga that are currently awaiting some general organising principle that does not solely involve me going on about Full Metal Alchemist)

Graves Gate, Dennis Burges. )

The Necessary Beggar, Susan Palwick. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
The first one of those should probably be singular, but I struggle with entry titles enough as it is. This was a lot of fun.

Walter Moers, The City of Dreaming Books. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (hare by durer)
I spent three hours at the airport waiting for a delayed flight, and having brought only one book with me I spent most of it in the airport bookshop. Selecting books under these conditions is difficult as, after all, if I really want to read the book I might as well buy it, so I often end up reading nonfiction that I can put down and walk away from without too much concern. Those worried about my reading morals should consider how many other books I buy on a monthly basis (or, given my recent two trips to the local sf/f bookstore's annual stocktake sale, weekly).

Only in New York, Caroline Overington. )

Walking Ollie, Stephen Foster. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
I have finished my assignment, which is good, and watched a total of 25 episodes of Full Metal Alchemist, which is even better (sleep, on the other hand, has been very low on the priority scale). I was slightly disturbed when I rang the bookshop today to see if they had the next DVDs in, and they said, "Is that [my name]?" before I'd even specified the DVD. The assistant assures me that this is because "ladies don't order DVDs, just the blokes", which possibly disturbs me even further, but I will at least wait until I've managed to get all the DVDs before grappling with the vexed issue of gender and assumptions about appropriate viewing material.

I thrust this book on someone else as soon as I'd finished it, so this is from memory, but the important thing is that it's very, very good. Books like this restore my faith in reading, which can get a little shaken when I stand in a mainstream bookstore and stare at the thousands of bad books there are out there. If something as good as this can just exist for over seventy years before I find it, then what else is out there?

Goodbye to all that. Robert Graves. )

Catching up

Jun. 9th, 2007 11:05 pm
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
I lost internet access for a week, which was good in overall terms of getting work done, but less good in the specific work I needed internet access for, which is now somewhat imminent. To deal with this stress I read more books. This post gets me down to a backlog of three, although an anime/manga post is definitely lurking in my future.

The best we can do, Sybille Bedford. )

Holocaust tours, Julian Novitz. )

The Demon and the City, Liz Williams. )

Death of a Murderer, Rupert Thomson. )

On, Off. Colleen McCullough. )

Phoenix and Ashes, Mercedes Lackey. )

How Ethel Hollister became a Campfire Girl, Irene Elliot Benson. )

Moroccan Traffic, Dorothy Dunnett. )

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