rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I've just been ill, and busy, and ill some more.  Did you know that it's entirely typical for coughs to last up to three weeks? Well now I do.

Studying is mostly progressing in bitesize chunks; I've missed a few days while ill, but also picked up once my brain came back, so that's passed the first test of "is this really sustainable?".

My colleague's funeral had a very gratifying turnout; the funeral service itself focused heavily on the afterlife I don't believe in, but I drew a lot of comfort from fellow attendees, and exchanging stories at the wake.   Her family very kindly let me pick out some of her things from the flat they were clearing out.  I focused on books on topics we had in common and came away with more than I would have expected: I was amused when one of the business texts I'd picked out was referenced in my studying a few days later.  Now I just have to find time to read it before finishing the course.

Running is on hold until I stop coughing, which cannot happen soon enough.  Also I missed the 20th anniversary alt.fan.pratchett meet / Pratchett wake, but at least Tony and Charles got to go.

Eastercon is imminent; my mother-in-law arrived tonight and Tony and I will leave the children from Friday morning to Monday evening.  I've not even been away from Nico overnight yet; I have been away from Charles a few times for the length of a conference, but Tony was with him for all of them.  I am nervous and excited and hoping it all works out well.  Mobile phones make the prospect a lot more bearable.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
My new course doesn't start until next month, but I've had the textbooks for a bit over a fortnight and have been studying since they arrived.

I don't have much time to study.  (This article, Why time is a feminist issue, is so true to my life it's painful: flow? what is flow? sorry I have to break up an argument over crisps, what were you saying?).  Over the 15 month break I took from studying, I very slowly and painstaking carved time out of my week to run regularly, to talk to my parents regularly, to do a minimal bit of political activism, to read more.

What was killing my study before was trying to do it in big chunks at the weekend: interruptions and immediate needs ate up the big chunks, and then I would have an essay crisis.  My revelation was from software development: studying is hard, so do it more often.

My goal is to do an hour a day, every day.  In one go if possible, or 2x 30 min or even 3x 20 min.  Do it in nibbles, but keep doing it, day in and day out, until it's done.  There are ebooks of the textbooks and most of the time I can cuddle a toddler to sleep for 20 minutes reading about accounting just as easily as reading about werewolf marines.  (Less entertaining though.)

I'm supposed to do 10-12 hours a week, but 7 hours a week is better than nothing, and I read fast.  The other important part is letting myself stop when I've done an hour, and do something else, because there'll be more study time tomorrow.

That's the theory anyway.  It's been going well for the fortnight I've had the textbooks, but I won't be counting it a success until I've turned in the first couple of assignments on time without crisis (good marks would be good too!).

rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
After some time, Hazel woke Buckthorn.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]
rmc28: (bat-funny)
+ the Light is doing a sensible-length Marvel marathon leading up to release day for Age of Ultron (unlike this very silly one)
+ and it's my two favourite films (Avengers Assemble, CA:TWS) before the midnight showing
+ and it's in 2D
- I cannot do a full day's work after a midnight showing
- I still can't believe that Tony Stark is so genre-unsavvy that he builds Skynet Ultron

On balance I think I'm going, so long as I can get the morning-after off work.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Since the summer of 2003, I've been getting milk delivered in glass bottles - more expensive that the supermarket for sure, but not actually very expensive in real terms.   Keith was keen to reduce plastic usage and I was fed up of running out of milk at breakfast time, and it's been convenient enough I've not been motivated to stop, even after Keith moved out.

However, our milk consumption is rising as both children grow up, and there are fewer deliveries a week, and fitting all the bottles in the fridge is at times challenging.  This week Charles dropped and smashed a nearly-full bottle and I decided that while glass may indeed be more reusable and greener than plastic, its failure mode is not really acceptable with small children, especially when they are frequently barefoot indoors.

Luckily the milkman also delivers plastic bottles, so I am replacing our daily 3 pint bottles with one 4-litre bottle (and an extra one for the weekend because we've consistently run out on Sundays for the last month).   Easier to pack in the fridge, less likely to run out, no smashing, and best of all it will actually cost us about the same because the per-unit cost is smaller with the bigger bottles.
rmc28: (finches3)
"I'm married to [livejournal.com profile] fanf , one of many friends I met via the wide network of Discworld fandom. We have two children, Charles & Nicholas."

I started reading Pratchett's books when my dad lent me Equal Rites on a train journey because I wanted to see what was making him laugh so much. I think I was still at primary school. I don't think I could overstate the effect the books, and the fandom, have had on my life.

The publisher who announced Terry Pratchett's death has also set up a fundraiser for the Research Institute for the Care of Older People in his memory.

(and tomorrow I go to the funeral of my colleague, who was slightly older)

rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
The sun rose while they were still lying in the thorn.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]

(This is the post that should have been made 28 Feb. I will endeavour to make another midweek post to catch us up.)

rmc28: (bat-funny)
I took part in the MCU Ladies fic exchange for which gifts were revealed yesterday.   I got a wonderful story which is spookily well-suited to me :-)

I Came to Win (13719 words)

Nearly 14,000 words of sports AU (ice hockey, about which I know very little but it doesn't matter) with a huge ensemble cast including pretty much everyone I know from the Marvel universe and a few from the DC universe too, with my favourite women of Marvel front and centre, and a plotline of women breaking glass ice ceilings.

I kept stopping every so often just to savour it and feel happy that it was mine.

Author reveals are on the 10th. Let's just say I have Strong Suspicions of the author's identity, but will wait to see if I'm right.

(I have found several other stories in the collection to love too; and at least some people have liked mine, which is always a relief!)
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I have made my Hugo nominations. The deadline is 9th March and I could go back and update, but in practice I think I won't read much more eligible before then anyway.

I submitted the following (there are many categories in which I did not nominate at all, and some in which I could only manage one or two nominations):

Read more... )
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
The top of the sandy bank was a good six feet above the water.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]

(Also, I missed two weekends in a row.  This is the post that should have been made 21/22 Feb;  I'll make another on Thursday to get us back on track.)

Gulp

2015-03-01 15:25
rmc28: (glowy)
I have registered for OU study again after stopping for a year.  I'm going to be doing B292: Management Accounting from next month until September.  If it goes well, in October I will retake the business studies module I deferred last year.

It is going to be hard to fit the study time in around work and children and running, but I think I'm convinced it will be possible.  The children are that bit more self-sufficient, and I am that bit less tired, and I really want to do it.

In the meantime, it's about 18 months since I finished studying Financial Accounting and I'm going to spend a bit of time in the next couple of weeks reviewing that course and reminding myself of the basic concepts.
rmc28: (nursing)
I haven't breastfed for nearly four weeks.   The first couple of weeks were uncomfortable and messy in the way it was when N was very new (for the first time in ages I had to worry about whether the clothes I wore would show milk stains) but that too passed.

I moved all my nursing bras into a box for storage and I'll ebay them at some point.  I got a lot of nursing bras from ebay in the first place - it's kind of heartbreaking how many descriptions go along the lines of "tried to breastfeed but it didn't work out" - because even with a 50% failure rate for good fit, it was a lot cheaper than buying them new.

I think I'm less easily tired than I was, but it's hard to tell - too many other things that also make me tired.  I'm definitely less hungry though, and for that alone I'm grateful.
rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read
I've not finished anything in the last two weeks - after my colleague's death a fortnight ago I found it hard to settle to anything for a while, even short stories.   I did decide not to continue with my trial Scribd subscription.  I enjoyed reading on its app and it has lots of books I want to read.  The trouble is that I already have a vast quantity of books paid for and not read, so adding a monthly fee and hundreds more unread books did not feel helpful.

What I'm reading now
Still working through Kaleidoscope and Women Destroy Science Fiction! one story at a time (slowly).  I've put down the the Angela Slatter short stories until after the Hugo nomination deadline. (9th March, self, remember to submit them)

I'm reading Spin by Nina Allen for bookclub on Friday and finding it fairly engrossing.

What's next
No idea at all; ideally something Hugo-eligible.
Partner by Lia Silver as it just got released :-)  I expect werewolf marines are just the thing to solidify the reading-properly again.
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
As Dandelion ended, Acorn, who was on the windward side of the little group, suddenly started and sat back, with ears up and nostrils twitching.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]

rmc28: Charles holding his baby cousin (charles and cousin)
It's half-term next week, most places around the country I gather, and Legoland are running a "Junior Builder Week" - also known as "a use for our lego-themed hotel while it's out of season for the theme park".  We stayed a night in one of the themed family rooms, and the following day there were various lego-building activities around the hotel.

The children, and Charles in particular, loved it from the moment we walked into the hotel reception and there was a giant pool of lego pieces to play with, and a vast wall of minifigs behind reception.  We were the only people checking in at that late hour (it was about 10pm) and the receptionists invited Charles to come behind the counter and look at the Wall of Lego People up close.

The room itself was pretty good, with the children's bunk beds in their own area the other side of the bathroom from the adults' bed.  The bathroom was very smartly fitted out with lots of nice details (integrated small-child seat on toilet! overhead shower and second mobile shower head! Lego-branded shower gel and brick-shaped soap!)  I was in two minds over the "Adventure" theming what with this meaning a carpet lovingly decorated with spiders, lizards, scorpions, etc, and Nico (who is a bit scared of spiders) wasn't very happy about the lego spider in the bathroom.

We did manage to get the children to sleep and they did get something approaching enough sleep overnight (I didn't, but never mind) before we went down to breakfast. Then there was lots of assorted playing with lego (and in Nico's case, with automatic doors to the outdoor play area) until people were hungry enough for lunch.  We opted for the buffet-lunch in the same restaurant as breakfast, and Tony took both boys to the outdoor play area while I enjoyed 15 glorious minutes eating dessert slowly by myself.

Finally we went in the hotel pool and "pirate themed water play area" for a good 90 minutes and after that we decided to head home.  (Nico was asleep within 15 minutes of leaving the pool; Charles nodded off on the bus back to Windsor).  Once again we passed through Windsor and I thought "I should really plan a visit here where we have time to visit the town and not just Legoland."

The one thing I really disliked, that I'd managed to forget when we went to the theme park last year, was the constant piped music, always slightly too loud for comfort, in all the public areas.   The pool area is also very noisy, more a constant roar of white noise than the muzak.  I thought Charles dealt with it very well, but it definitely added to frayed nerves when we were getting hungry or tired.

Charles is already asking when can we go again :-)
rmc28: (glowy)
I got into work today to find that a recently-retired colleague died last night.

She was here for over 9 years and I worked closely with her for much of that time. She was excessively kind, a software developer with decades of experience, and I liked her very much and quite often found her infuriating.  She didn't really want to retire, and had just started a temporary contract elsewhere in the university.  Her flat is a short walk from my home and we used to see each other every so often in passing.  The last time I spoke to her was a few weeks ago, cycling home on a Saturday morning with library books, and seeing her with shopping bags, and pulling over to have a quick chat.

I kept thinking I would arrange to meet up with her for coffee; that it would be good to pursue the friendship that we'd always had without the tensions of our different approaches to work.  I kept not getting around to it and now I never will.  She had a lovely house at the seaside she was renting out and going to move to when she "really retired", and now she never will.

People here have been pretty thoughtful, making sure those who worked with her were told in person before the big all-dept email went round. The bosses have explicitly said we should take time and give "mutual support" if we need to.  I've already had one cry in the loos and quite a few little huddles of isnt-it-sad are-you-ok do-you-remember, and I'm sure they won't be the last.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] ceb pointed me at a kickstarter for Queers Destroy Science Fiction, by Lightspeed Magazine who did the Women Destroy Science Fiction! collection that I'm currently reading and Women Destroy Fantasy! that I read recently.  I've been pretty impressed with both of those.

With 5 days to go, it's already well past funded and most of the way through the stretch goals.  Additional collections about Horror and Filk have already been unlocked, and Queers Destroy Fantasy! is about $1.5k away.  Also they are offering extra flexibility about exact combinations of rewards with "addons" that will be manually processed (this was a good move on their part, I more than doubled my pledge as a result).

I am selfishly hoping for the Fantasy stretch goal to get unlocked, thus the signal-boost :-)

rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
Recommended to me by [livejournal.com profile] nwhyte as a possible Hugo nominee.  I got a sample of it, was completely sucked in by the end of the sample and read it eagerly until the end.  The book is narrated by someone who keeps living their life over and over, from the 1920s until they die and then go back to the 1920s again - and how he finds others in the same situation, and how he tackles a threat to them all and apparently the entire human race.  I quite often didn't much like the narrator, or his friends, but the story and the gradually expanding discovery of What Is Going On really drew me in.  I definitely recommend it.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (dnf)
This was also recommended by [livejournal.com profile] nwhyte but I didn't get beyond the end of the sample.  At the point it ended, I hadn't liked any of the characters and nothing had happened that made me think it would be exciting or interesting or anyone would get more likeable.   (In contrast to the previous where I didn't much like the characters but the events had sucked me in.)  Would someone who has read it like to encourage me to continue?

Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell (dnf)
Mind Sweeper by AE Jones (dnf)
These two were ebooks I've had for a while, and decided to tackle as part of my "clear the TBR pile" project.   Nothing about either of them put me off, but also nothing about either of them drew me in.  The first is a self-published Hannukah romance novella by one of the SBTB contributors, and the second is an paranormal/urban fantasy which won a Golden Heart.  

The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker
I read this because [personal profile] rachelmanija mentioned the author as an example of someone successfully self-publishing and employing "the first one's free" tactic.  This was the first one free; it's an epic fantasy adventure (someone is trying to assassinate the emperor) but in a steampunk setting with printing presses and steam vehicles.   Amaranthe is an "Enforcer" (a police officer) who ends up disgraced and uncovering the plot against the emperor, and recruiting a bunch of misfits (including an incredibly competent assassin) to save the day.  I found it  fun, and I did really like the way Amaranthe repeatedly got out of sticky situations with persuasion rather than violence. 

I had a couple of niggles with it: while the overt social sexism (women belong in business, not the police!) is criticised, there's a fair bit of casual sexual stereotyping of the "women want comfort not solutions" kind, and some unnecessary angsting over pastries and exercise in the first chapter.  Also, while I like Amaranthe a lot, there weren't any other women characters of any depth.

Even so, I liked the book as a whole enough to not mind the niggles, and the author has a lot more books avaialble, and seems to be producing them at an impressive rate, so that's a fun discovery.


A Wild Pursuit by Eloisa James
Another of the rather farcical (in a good way) regency romances I'm working through via the library.


What I'm reading now
I'm working through several short story collections at once.  I find I need to read one story at a time and then do something else, and I've got one each going in 3 different places (paperback, Kindle app, Scribd app) ... all I need is to get a fourth going in my main ebook reader and that's a full house:
Kaleidoscope - paperback
Women Destroy Science Fiction! Kickstarter-funded special edition of Lightspeed (the Women Destroy Fantasy issue I read last week was produced as a stretch goal for this one) - Kindle
The Girl With No Hands and other stories by Angela Slatter -  Scribd


What's next
Probably Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, as it's eligible for Hugo nomination, and I've had it since release day.  The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (also known as Sarah Monette) if I can swallow the huge ebook price.  Or something off the library pile before I run out of renewals.
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
Long ago, Frith made the world.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]


rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Because Tony introduced him to it at a tender age, Charles is a keen player of Angry Birds.

Because Angry Birds: Transformers exists, Charles has got into Transformers.  We have worked through series 1 of the 1980s cartoon and are now working through Transformers: Prime, which seems to be considerably better than both the series of my childhood and the Michael Bay films. 

Because YouTube exists, Charles has discovered Transformers Prime fanvids.

Because of two particular fanvids, I went shopping for music today at Charles's request.  Yes, I could have been boring and just got the two specific tracks, but I thought it would be more fun for both of us to get compilation albums with "more like this", as I like both the tracks concerned.

While I was shopping, I discovered the musical subgenre that is club workout mix albums, and could not resist adding Ministry of Sound Running Trax 2014 to my purchases. Partly out of sheer delight that such a thing exists.
rmc28: Rachel, in running tshirt and leggings, holding phone and smiling into mirror (runner5)
Last weekend Sport England launched This Girl Can, an advertising/social media campaign to encourage more women to exercise regularly, featuring "real women" doing real exercise.  I've ended up on their email list somehow (buying Olympic tickets?) and got sent the breathless press release which seemed to feature entirely young slim (white) women with shaved armpits, to which I had a rather eyeroll response. 

However, the full video is rather more diverse, and there's a woman on a bike "I'm slow but I'm lapping everyone on the couch" and a woman running "I jiggle therefore I am" who both look rather more like me.  The slogans aren't quite right though; mine would be something like  "I'm slow but I feel so much better".

A few days ago, there was the Time to Talk day, "spend 5 minutes talking about mental illness on the 5th".  I was too busy on the 5th (and ironically, too low in mood even to go out and run), but it ties in nicely. 

I use exercise to manage my mental health.  I'm not quite well.  I'm not quite ill.  A bit lot like my RSI and my pelvic girdle pain: so long as I keep up the right habits to manage my condition I can go days, weeks even, and almost forget I have it.   I can do my job, help raise my children, contribute to civil society, and you can't see from the outside when I'm working really hard not to break down crying over trivial things (or my wrists and hands are hurting, or my pelvis is hurting).

I could probably do with making more effort to track my mood, gather more evidence of what seems to help and what doesn't, but when it's good it's easy not to see the need, and when it's bad it's easier not to bother.   What I do know seems to help me stay on an even keel: running regularly, eating regularly and in variety, getting enough sleep, maintaining connection with family and friends, actively pursuing my interests, not trying to do too much, not thinking too hard about food, not getting too stressed.  (yes some of these things contradict each other)

The most recent drop in mood followed a fortnight where: I was ill, my child was ill, I couldn't run, we had a break in routine, we had a large family gathering (and family gatherings are both wonderful and tiring).   I can't point at any one of them and say that's the culprit but I wasn't exactly surprised to note the falling of my mood.  Or to feel it improving again as my routine returned to normal, my child got better, and I could exercise again.

My health is not binary: well or ill. It's not a constant burden - sometimes there's a black dog on my shoulder and sometimes there's a puppy gambolling in the park.  It's a matter of balance and paying attention and being kind to myself when I need it.  Sometimes kindness is chocolate and a good book, and sometimes kindness is making myself get out in the cold and run.
rmc28: (books2010)
First, let me commend this essay by [personal profile] thingswithwings on saying "I don't usually like X but" about works, especially when X is a socially-marginalised genre.  (and compare to e.g. "but you're not like those other women / politicians / sf fans", all of which I have been on the receiving end of, and all of which gets old really fast)

Last week, when I said The Siren by Tiffany Reisz was "Surprisingly good S&M romance", I was totally doing this.  To a lesser extent I was also doing it when I said "But this is a Courtney Milan billionaire novel so I couldn't wait to see what she did with it." 

Let me rephrase.  Both The Siren and its direct sequel The Angel are both engaging, page-turning, hot, romantic novels that happen to feature BDSM and polyamory.  The Siren has a protagonist who is learning about BDSM, which is a good device for explaining things to the reader who doesn't know much.  The Angel develops several of the characters from The Siren further and has a sweet m/m first-love romance too.  I suspect I could happily marathon the rest of the series and maybe I will after I've done more Hugo reading.

What I've read:
The Seventh Bride by T Kingfisher.  This has a retold-fairytale feel, but I wasn't quite sure which fairy tale: it's a bit reminiscent of Bluebeard but not in the details.  Rhea the miller's daughter gets engaged to the local mysterious lord, who turns out to be a nasty piece of work with magical powers, and a bunch more wives no-one seems to know about.  I loved the storytelling and the women-working-together plot and the hedgehog.

Women Destroy Fantasy! which is really a collection of short stories and non-fiction essays and I should probably talk about that in more detail separately.  One of the (Hugo-eligible) shorts, and one of my favourites, was also by T Kingfisher: The Dryad's Shoe.  It's a really nice Cinderella retelling, and reminds me that I never got around to writing about Ash by Malinda Lo which is a much creepier Cinderella story.

There are a great many "further reading" recommendations in Women Destroy Fantasy! many of which I have taken note of.

Toad Words and Other Stories by T Kingfisher.  This is a collection of stories, pretty much all retold fairy tales, and this time I actually recognised all of them (except the poems; I'm not good at poems).  My standout favourite was Boar & Apples, which you could also call "Snow White and the Seven Wild Boars".

I've been playing with a free trial of Scribd, which mostly meant I indulged in rereading a bunch of Jennie Crusie's funny romance books: Strange Bedpersons, Anyone But You, Getting Rid of Bradley, Charlie All Night, Manhunting.  I note that I am now squarely in the age-demographic of most of Crusie's heroines, which I wasn't when I first discovered her ten or so years ago.  Also that dogs can be strangely vital to romance.

I read another Tessa Dare, a novella called How to Catch a Wild Viscount which was apparently her first published piece.  I didn't like it nearly as much as One Dance with a Duke so I'm still a bit undecided about this author.

I had preordered Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor after enjoying her first book, Worth the Fall very much.  I didn't like this one nearly as much.  I finished it, so it's better than a lot of stuff, but I was disappointed.  It had a lot of the tropes I really dislike: a controlling dominant very rich hero who can't communicate, plot being driven by 2D Nasty Characters Being Nasty, a great deal of Manly Macho Men being Macho, while Good Family Women herd children around and gossip and obsess over babies. 

I really didn't like the way women in this book were either Good Family Women or Nasty Shallow Women.  There was a bit of that in the beginning of Worth the Fall but I had managed to forget it.   The things that I particularly liked in Worth the Fall were: slow romance developing out of connection and communication, the conflict of "you cannot carry on with the career you have and be the kind of partner you want to be in this relationship" feeling like a real no-one's-fault dilemma, no enormous financial disparity between the two characters.  In Worth the Risk, none of these apply and in most cases the opposite is true. 


What 's next
I still have samples of two sf novels to try, and [personal profile] ceb has kindly lent me Kaleidoscope for more short story goodness.  There's also another T Kingfisher novella I haven't bought yet ...
rmc28: (nursing)
I haven't breastfed Nico in over 24 hours (over 48 hours on one side, which is distinctly less comfortable right now).  For whatever reason, the redirections I've intermittently tried (to a drink from a cup or bottle, to just cuddles, to a dummy) have all been accepted recently.

I'm really hoping this continues to be the case.  Another few days should finish it.

I am so, so, so ready to stop breastfeeding.

(Just over 9 years since I got pregnant with Charles.  More than 8 years either pregnant or breastfeeding, and most of the "year off" trying to conceive.  I have had enough of sharing my body.  I have had enough of faffing about with bras rather than just wearing ones that let me run, and of choosing my clothing by whether I can feed in it.  I have definitely had enough of post-nursing hunger pangs.  My feelings about stopping are no longer mixed!)

rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
It was getting on towards moonset when they left the fields and entered the wood.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]


rmc28: (wedding)
... and supervising nap time.

It's the first wedding I've been to with the new wording, about how in this country, marriage is "a union between two people". I was already feeling emotional but teared up at that. (And then they did the reading from Captain Corelli's Mandolin about roots growing together and I just gave in and cried.) 

I forgot to pack my smart shoes so given a choice between my (bright yellow) trainers or bare feet I'm going barefoot indoors and soaked a pair of socks for the mandatory family photos outdoors. (I remembered spare socks, of course).

Nico decided to read "Room on the Broom" aloud during the ceremony and Charles couldn't sit still and had a small meltdown about taking photos (lesson identified: more effort by us required in walking through formal events in advance). So I'm a bit embarrassed all round, oh well.

Bride and groom are beautiful and look very happy, and it's lovely to see the family and especially my niblings.


rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
The upcoming Cambridge History Festival has clashing events:

Impact of the Railways in Cambridge: Friday 27th Feb from 19:00 to 20:00
Tony Kirby looks at the role of the railway in shaping Cambridge and explores the past and present railway landscape, from the days of steam through dieselization to electrification, and from the Hills Road Bridge to Chesterton Junction, Cherry Hinton and Histon.

CAMRA at the White Horse Inn: Friday 27th Feb from 19:30-21:30
Find out more about the history of brewing in Cambridge while sampling delicious beer from the Moonshine and Black Bar breweries, and enjoy a short tour of current and former Inns in the Castle Hill area.

Surely I'm not the only person who is torn between TRAINS and BEER?


Poll #16417 beer or trains
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 20


Daddy or chips?

View Answers

Beer
11 (55.0%)

Trains
17 (85.0%)

Beards
1 (5.0%)

Sandals
3 (15.0%)

Other
4 (20.0%)

Tickybox
10 (50.0%)

rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read
What's Yours Is Mine by Talia Surova
Draw Me In by Talia Surova
Call Me Saffron by Talia Surova (dnf)
I want to like these books but found them infuriating in different ways, but I think that rant is lengthy enough to deserve its own blog post.

Snowball in Hell by Josh Lanyon
This was good! It's a detective novella set in WW2 Los Angeles, which starts with a body found on top of the La Brea Tar Pits. And it is also a gay romance where neither of the protagonists dies or has a miserable ending. There is apparently a sequel planned, and Lanyon has an enormous backlist (as it were) which also seems to be m/m romance in various subgenres. I've put in a library request for the one book in the Cambridgeshire libraries system, and put myself on the author mailing list so I can find out when the sequel to this one is out.

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
I was on a roll with reading and remembered this was out, so bought it on impulse. This one is over in the Welsh borders rather than London, and the big spoiler from the end of Broken Homes is mostly in the background of a gripping missing-persons case. I was particularly struck by the vivid sense of location - just as much in this countryside as in London. I think this is one that someone could read without much familiarity with the previous books, because it doesn't really depend on them for context beyond "policeman who can do magic".

One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare
One of my freebie romances from earlier in the month, and better than I had expected. I think I'd read one previous novella by this author and not been overly impressed, but I may look out more now.

Trade Me by Courtney Milan
I've already blogged about how much I liked this one.

All I Have by Nicole Helm
This was a nice little romance about a pair of farmers and their competition for custom at the local farmer's market, complete with believably annoying small-town reputations and family preconceptions. I now find it's going to be reissued later this year with extra scenes due to one romance line shutting down and books being bought up by another one. So I'm subbed to another author mailing list to find out when that's available.

Maid to Crave by Rebecca Avery
The Last First Date by Maggie Wells
Light My Fire by Kristina Knight
These three were in the same ebook box set as All I Have but all of them annoyed me / failed to grab me so I didn't finish any of them.

The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
Surprisingly good S&M romance, which was more engaging and more complicated than I expected, and turns out to have half a dozen sequels.

What I'm reading now
The Angel by Tiffany Reisz - sequel to The Siren and equally engaging.

What's next
I just bought The Seventh Bride by T Kingfisher and have samples of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel & The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, all thanks to people reccing things to me for Hugo consideration. Plus I got the special issue Women Destroy Fantasy! of Fantasy Magazine, and am hoping to borrow a copy of the Kaleidoscope anthology.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Novel

Novella

Novellette

Short Story
http://www.tor.com/stories/2015/01/damage-david-levine

Related Work

Graphic Story

Dramatic presentation, long form

Dramatic presentation, short form

Editor, short form

Editor, long form

Professional artist

Semiprozine

Fanzine

Fancast

Fan writer

Fan artist

John W Campbell
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
Fu Inlé means 'After moonrise'.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]

rmc28: Face of toddler smiling (Nico2014-11)
Nico is on fine form today.  Singing the "alphabet song" he concluded

"now I know my A B C, next time sing ... Let It Go"

complete with appropriate change of tune, and then enormous giggles.  Apparently Let It Go is his favourite.


(He has been ill for over a week, in a "not very serious, just keep treating the symptoms" kind of way that just keeps dragging on, and he woke up in a foul temper this morning, but he is pretty cheerful right now.)
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I stayed up way too late last night reading the latest book by Courtney Milan: Trade Me which got released yesterday.

I started reading Courtney Milan for her historical romances, and I was particularly smitten with the Brothers Sinister series, set in Oxford and Cambridge during the late 1800s, with women mathematicians, scientists, newspaper editors (and the aristocratic men who fall for them). She does all the emotional connection and struggle and happy endings that I love reading romance for, while quietly including a whole range of characters who aren't just aristocratic white straight neurotypical people with perfect mental health.

Trade Me is a billionaire novel.  There are lots of billionaire novels, especially since Fifty Shades of Grey and mostly I ignore them because I find conspicuous consumption and rescue narratives a turn-off.  But this is a Courtney Milan billionaire novel so I couldn't wait to see what she did with it.

And I loved it. 

The trouble is, the things I especially loved are basically spoilers.  So let me see.  It's a trading-places novel, where Blake, the heir to a huge tech company swaps his life with that of Tina, a poor immigrant fellow student, only he isn't doing it for laughs and she insists they make a proper agreement, and they become friends and eventually a romance happens.  The novel isn't very fond of the "rich man rescues poor woman from poverty" narrative, and Tina isn't passive or a victim or stupid, and Blake is a rich boy with a problem, but not in a woobie manpain way. 

So you have Blake washing dishes to pay rent on Tina's horrible bedsit and trying to figure out his problem, and Tina planning the new top-secret product launch and worrying about her family.  (And the actual tech product launch scene, very near the end of the book, is brilliant and funny and spot on and I kind of want to get [livejournal.com profile] fanf to read the book even though he doesn't really like romances, just so I can laugh about it with him.)  There are lovely minor characters, and people feel believable, and there isn't any minor character being one-dimensionally horrible to provide artificial conflict, and the ending is great and doesn't tie everything up happily ever after.

I am so glad that there are two more books in this series, and I am particularly excited for book 2 and the characters it's apparently going to focus on.  I also want to see more about how Tina and Blake and their families go on from where they've got to at the end of this book.

Two other things of note:
  1. There is a trans character who just happens to be trans, and it only gets mentioned as a background thing to explain a particular response to a conversation.  That character has way more lines/scenes that aren't about their being trans.
  2. There is extensive portrayal of an eating disorder.  I think it's a portrayal done well, but it's unavoidably there in the story.
Trade Me is available from all the usual ebook stores, including DRM-free and in multiple formats at Smashwords, and also in paperback rather more expensively.
rmc28: (bat-funny)
Take this list, remove a thing, sort it by how much you like the things, add a thing at the top, a thing in the middle, and a thing at the bottom (preserving the sortedness, pedants):

(most liked)
Reading the latest book by a favourite author
Running away from zombies
Steam locomotives
Getting up early
Nessie Ladle
Cooking
Maths
Twitter
Eating paper
Oilseed rape in hayfever season
Dentistry
(most disliked)

(from http://damerell.dreamwidth.org/87540.html)

This is assuming:
a) running away from zombies as in Zombies, Run! not an actual zombie apocalypse.  It edges ahead of steam trains because all I need to indulge is a smartphone and suitable clothing, rather than an entire railway.
b) the children stay asleep when I get up, so I can have some peace and quiet

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I have a supporting membership to this year's Worldcon, and this gives me the ability to submit nominations. My placeholder post from last year is a bit thin on things to nominate, mostly because I just haven't seen or read that much.

Strange Horizons and Tor.com have a helpful archive of fiction sortable by date.
[community profile] ladybusiness have a Hugo-eligible spreadsheet sourced from recommendations to them, which I may use for preference as someone obviously already liked the things on it enough to recommend them.

But here is your chance to push something at me to read / watch / otherwise consume between now and 9th March :-) Ideally not something I already have on my placeholder post.

Poll #16386 Hugos!
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 3


Recommend me an sf novel (or two!) published in 2014

Recommend me some shorter-length sf (do not worry about the exact categories) published in 2014

Recommend me an sf film (or two!) released in 2014

Recommend me some short-form sf drama released in 2014

Recommend me one (or more!) sf graphic novel published in 2014

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I've been nursing a sick toddler since Saturday, and also sick myself for much of the last few days. On the good side I got more reading done!

Books read:

Prisoner by Lia Silver
Laura's Wolf by Lia Silver
These are turning into comfort rereads for me. Also I haven't got over getting a Yuletide gift from the author :-)

Night School: Legacy by CJ Daugherty
This is book 2 in a series about a boarding school for the teenage children of the rich and powerful. It was due back at the library and I started it in a bit of an impatient mood with it and its tropes (undecided between two boys! beautiful mean girls! secret society secretly runs the world!), but eventually the storytelling drew me in and I finished it in a rush before it was library-run time. I don't think I will bother with the rest of the series though.

Fool for Love by Eloisa James
A fairly fun regency romance; second in a series. I find the style a little stilted and the plots completely silly, but there's a lot of charm and I'm a sucker for farce, which I think James does very well. Also though each one has its own "complete" romance story, there's at least three or four more going on in a more long-winded way among the wider cast, and I do want to see those resolved too. (I am not sure why I'm tolerating the romance tropes here better than the young adult ones in "Night School", but I am.)


Seven Kinds of Hell by Dana Cameron
Pack of Strays by Dana Cameron
Books 1 & 2 in an urban fantasy series (the third is due out at the end of March) about a trainee archaologist who discovers she's part of a Family, of werewolves and vampires and oracles. They're both fast moving with fairly complicated plots and the archaology is intermittently vital to the plot. The viewpoint protagonist is believably confused and flailing and trying to do the right thing even as it gets harder to figure out what that is.

I enjoyed them very much and I've preordered the next one. I have to thank [personal profile] davidgillon for bringing them to my attention (and writing a better review than I've managed here).

Hostage by Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith
This is the sequel to Stranger, which came out only a short while ago, and which I liked very much. I probably liked this one even more: it raises the stakes, develops the characters and the world a bit further, and has some lovely culture-shock exploration, between the small-town democratic society of Las Anclas, vs the power, wealth and control of the nearby Empire that threatens it. We lost the Mean Girl viewpoint from the first book (though we see her from other points of view) in favour of a new character from the Empire.

The authors have self-published this sequel, after getting the first published through a traditional route, and Sherwood Smith has published a thoughtful piece about that decision, which I think is worth reading if you are generally interested in what's happening with publishing, even if not in post-apocalyptic young-adult novels, or these ones in particular.

Selfishly, I'm glad that this sequel came out so quickly, and I do rather hope both books sell enough that the remaining two books planned can get written too.


Worth the Fall by Claudia Connor
I bought this on the basis of its mention in a podcast transcript by Smart Bitches Trashy Books (the main podcast discussion is on trigger warnings for rape, but this was in the "what have you read recently" bit), and enjoyed it very much. The romance is between a pregnant widow, with four children already, and a Navy SEAL, and it could have been awful, but the way the children in particular were written felt realistic and not-annoying to me, and the romance worked well and showed the two of them having to work their way through conflicts and life-changing decisions if they're going to make things work. It was the SEAL end of things I found less believable, in particular the Last Minute Dramatic Tension about 9/10 of the way through. But overall it worked for me really well, and there's a sequel out in about two weeks which I've preordered.


Next book
No idea, something else easy, ideally off my to-read pile, as I'm still ill.
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
'But Hazel, you didn't really think the Chief Rabbit would act on your advice, did you?'


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I've had two of my ten evening classes on this course at Cambridge Regional College, and so far I'm enjoying it.  I'm very grateful to the friend who pointed me at it and is also on the course.

Week 1: lots of talking, mostly about How To Avoid Injuring Yourself Doing DIY - ladders and electrical safety and so on.  Then we finally got to hands on stuff, and did some simple wood sawing and began preparing baby's first wood joint.

Week 2: continuing baby's first wood joint, and adding chiselling to sawing in our range of skills.

The class is quite small, about 10-12 students.  About half of them are women, and I'd guess the age range at about 20-60.  The setting is a workshop with all the tools, equipment etc that we need, so it's a good place to practice with tools I don't have at home.  I did have some difficulty with the chiselling which I was relieved to find were likely down to the chisel not being sharp enough, and physically shown the indications to look for.

Week 3 is apparently going to be hanging doors and I have got ridiculously excited because I basically hate all the internal doors in my house.  They are that nasty hollow fake-panelling which seems to have been designed to create the maximum number of surfaces and grooves to catch dust.  So I find myself browsing DIY store websites for doors and door handles, and may have to drag Tony around the local ones to choose a couple of doors for me to start with (probably to replace doors we mostly keep open anyway, in case I cock it up - I'll save the bedrooms and bathrooms until I'm a bit more confident).

In later weeks we do some glazing, some tiling, some very  basic plumbing, some making holes in things (and patching holes we didn't mean to make), and some bricklaying.  Right now I'm full of New Enthusiasm Energy and thinking of practical applications around the house once I've had a chance to try stuff out in class.   I suspect the projects I'll feel able to tackle after it's over will keep me busy for rather more than ten weeks.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
This evening, for the first time this year, it was not completely dark when I left work.  About 45 minutes after sunset, and the sky still had some shades of blue in it, and I could see where sunset had been by how the sky there was lighter.  



rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Hello kind author! I am really looking forward to your story celebrating the amazing women of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I ticked all fandoms and all characters.  There is no-one in the tag set I would not enjoy reading about.   My general likes and dislikes I wrote out very recently for Yuletide so I'm going to be very lazy and link you to that dear author post.

If you have a story idea that you've been meaning to get around to, that is about one or more of the MCU ladies, that doesn't include things in my dislikes, then please make this your excuse to write it. I would be completely delighted to read it.   

If however that's not very helpful and you would like a prompt or two to kick something off, here are some.

Maya Hansen was one of the most interesting characters in Iron Man 3 and I was gutted when they killed her off.  I wrote a Maya Lives story (Finding True North Again) but I would happily read a dozen more, so free to write your own or remix that one or show me what happened next or cover some of her time before IM3. 

Betty Ross was unaccountably missing from Avengers Assemble.  I mean, seriously, if you know that there's one person who consistently can get the Hulk to calm down, why aren't you getting her on board the helicarrier rather than faffing about with cages?  (yes, I know the real-world answer is because Liv Tyler was pregnant, but it's annoying.  More of Betty please.  I very much like the version of her who appears in [archiveofourown.org profile] lalaietha 's series your blue eyed boys and related stories if you want more headcanon, or just go with what we on screen)

Christine Everhart is an interesting minor character - I mean yes, she's there at the beginning of Iron Man as part of establishing Tony's careless playboy side, and there's the unnecessarily bitchy exchange between her and Pepper the morning after.  But then she's the one who brings Tony the key evidence about Gulmira, and the one who provokes Tony into declaring himself Iron Man (and watch that press conference scene, the other reporters go nuts and she sits back, like she's all done here). 

She makes another brief appearance in Iron Man 2 and mostly I think (like pretty much anyone else who has to deal with weapons during that film) she's thinking "WHY, Tony? WHY did you have to grow a conscience and leave the rest of us to deal with Hammer and his massive insecurity complex about you".  So basically  I'm intrigued enough to want to know more.

Maria Hill gets the sceptical sidekick role in Avengers Assemble: cool, expressive of her disagreement but ultimately following Fury's orders, incredibly competently.  She continues quietly competent throughout Captain America:Winter Soldier, for which the key moment for me is when she's running the operation to take down Project Insight, sees people approaching her position, and just rolls her chair back, shoots them, and gets back to it.  She protests Steve's apparent suicide on the Insight carrier but follows his orders anyway, because he isn't more important than the millions being targeted by Insight.

Any combination of the agents being badass together: Maria, Natasha, Sharon Caron, Melinda May, Victoria Hand, Bobbi Morse.

Natasha and Skye talking hacking together (or just hacking together).

Any combination of the scientists being sciency together:  Jane, Betty, Maya, Jemma.

I hope that's helpful and look forward to reading your story :-)
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
In the darkness and warmth of the burrow Hazel suddenly woke, struggling and kicking with his back legs. 


Moderator note: in this chapter, Fiver describes a dream.  The time to discuss what it refers to is when we reach those events, not now.

[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]


rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I got this for Christmas from my inlaws.  It is a very funny buddy cop movie starring Sandra Bullock (the straightlaced overachieving FBI agent) and Melissa McCarthy (the foulmouthed maverick neighbourhood cop).  Together they fight crime track down a nasty killer and the drug lord he works for.

It's quite obviously a film that knows its genre stereotypes and is having enormous fun with them.  The dialogue is brilliant, and the two lead actors are just fantastically good at delivering it, and with the body language.  I particularly personally appreciate having a fat woman lead character who is also clearly clever and sharp and good at her job, rather than just being the comic relief or the emotional support. 

There's a refreshing absence of the usual action-movie stuff that grates on me (women aren't background characters and rewards! there are important non-white characters! who aren't villains!) so I had time to notice the terrifying approach to fiirearms (it's funny! but then you stop laughing and have time to think that was incredibly unsafe wtf) and the fact that the main plot is almost entirely driven by the futile War On Drugs[1].  And the remainder by the criminalisation of sex work. 

This film has reminded me that I basically adore Sandra Bullock, so I have gone on a bit of a shopping spree for more of her films.  I'm having less luck finding films with Melissa McCarthy that look like I actually want to watch them but I'll accept recommendations :-)


[1] Just like Die Hard 2, 25 years ago.
rmc28: (books2010)
Today is not that day.

8 M&B 3-in-1 "By Request"
6 M&B Regency
5 M&B Historical
1 M&B 2-in-1 "Date with a Regency Rake"
1 Tessa Dare
1 Elizabeth Hoyt (author of the awesome Batman Regency Romance novel)

and as a palate cleanser to all that romance, Fifty Sheds of Grey


Oh hey, it's Wednesday. Let's call this a Reading Wednesday post.
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
The primroses were over.


[This is a post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
One of the books I read last year (Prisoner by Lia Silver) referenced Watership Down as a book about soldiers and specifically the Second World War. Now, I read Watership Down repeatedly as a child and can remember most of the plot and quite a lot of passages almost verbatim, but I missed that aspect completely. I probably last read the book twenty years ago, so I thought it would be interesting to read it again now. And invite people to join me if they wish!

There are 50 chapters and an epilogue, brought together in four parts. Here's how this is going to work:
  1. I'm going to make one post per chapter, roughly once a week, most likely at weekends as that's when I have more time.
  2. The post will consist of the chapter number and title, a 1-2 sentence summary of the chapter the first sentence of the chapter, and a link back to this post.
  3. I'll make a comment to the post, in which I say whatever I find I have to say about the chapter and the book so far.
  4. (Hopefully) some of you join in the discussion.
  5. At the end of 2015 we'll have finished the book!
  6. People are welcome to join in at any time (but you will need a Dreamwidth account or an Open ID to comment)
  7. My comments policy applies: Please remember there are real people on the other side of the screen, and communicate in a way you'd be happy to stand by if you were interacting in person. Your comment should be at least two out of kind, interesting, useful & correct. If you can't manage that, don't post it.
  8. Spoiler policy: There are people who have not read the book and some of them will be participating in this read through. Please keep discussion to the current and previous chapters. At most you can mention that something will be significant later, but the time to discuss that is when we have reached later, with references back if needed.
First post will be this weekend (3-4 Jan). The chapters are about 3-5 pages long in my Penguin edition, which means even in very busy weeks I should be able to read a chapter and think about it.


List of posts so far:
Chapter 1: The Notice Board
Chapter 2: The Chief Rabbit
Chapter 3: Hazel's Decision
Chapter 4: The Departure
Chapter 5: In The Woods
Chapter 6: The Story of the Blessing of El-ahrairah
Chapter 7: The Lendri and the River
Chapter 8: The Crossing
Chapter 9: The Crow and the Beanfield
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Since my reset on 4th May:
Physical books: added 44, read 15 - current total 330
Ebooks: added 44, read 34 - current total 134
Library: requested 35 books, of which 6 remain unread.

Goals same as last year (keep on swimming):
1 on, 3 off for physical books
1 on, 2 off for ebooks
Up to 6 requests at a time from library (finishing one requested book allows me to request another)


Tracking:

Physical books on:
  1. Fifty Sheds of Grey
  2. One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare
  3. Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt
  4. The Wicked Lord Rasenby by Marguerite Kaye
  5. The Rake's Rebellious Lady by Anne Herries
  6. Virgin: Wedded at the Italian's Convenience by Diana Hamilton
  7. Count Giovanni's Virgin by Christina Hollis
  8. The Italian's Unwilling Wife by Kathryn Ross
  9. Make-Believe Mistress by Katherine Garbera
  10. Six-Month Mistress by Katherine Garbera
  11. High-Society Mistress by Katherine Garbera
  12. Once Upon a Pregnancy by Judy Duarte
  13. Her Mr Right? by Karen Rose Smith
  14. A Merger ... or Marriage? by RaeAnne Thayne
  15. Shaken and Stirred by Kathleen O'Reilly
  16. Intoxicating! by Kathleen O'Reilly
  17. Nightcap by Kathleen O'Reilly
  18. The Millionaire's Rebellious Mistress by Catherine George
  19. The Venetian's Midnight Mistress by Carole Mortimer
  20. The Billionaire's Virgin Mistress by Sandra Field
  21. The Count's Blackmail Bargain by Sara Craven
  22. The French Count's Pregnant Bride by Catherine Spencer
  23. The Italian Count's Baby by Amy Andrews
  24. The Children's Heart Surgeon by Meredith Webber
  25. The Heart Surgeon's Proposal by Meredith Webber
  26. The Italian Surgeon by Meredith Webber
  27. Blackmailed into a Fake Engagement by Leanne Banks
  28. Tempted into the Tycoon's Trap by Emily McKay
  29. Transformed into the Frenchman's Mistress by Barbara Dunlop
  30. The Beauty Within by Marguerite Kaye
  31. The Scarred Earl by Elizabeth Beacon
  32. Reforming the Viscount by Annie Burrows
  33. Never Trust a Rake by Annie Burrows
  34. The Greatest of Sins by Christine Merrill
  35. The Rake to Ruin Her by Julia Justiss
  36. The Highlander's Stolen Touch by Terri Brisbin
  37. A Stranger's Touch by Anne Herries
  38. The Accidental Prince by Michelle Willingham
  39. Man Behind the Facade by June Francis
  40. Return of the Border Warrior by Blythe Gifford

Physical books off:
  1.  Fifty Sheds of Grey
  2.  One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare
  3.  

Ebooks on:
  1. Hostage by Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith
  2. Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor
  3. Call Me Saffron by Talia Surova
  4. Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
  5. Trade Me by Courtney Milan
  6. The Angel by Tiffany Reisz
  7. Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell
  8. The Seventh Bride by T Kingfisher
  9. Women Destroy Fantasy!
  10. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
  11. The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker
  12. Women Destroy Science Fiction!
  13. SPIN by Nina Allan
  14. Partner by Lia Silver
  15. Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho
  16. The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho
  17. Hild by Nicola Griffith

Ebooks off:
  1. Seven Kinds of Hell by Dana Cameron
  2. Pack of Strays by Dana Cameron
  3. Hostage by Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith
  4. Worth the Fall by Claudia Connor
  5. What's Yours Is Mine by Talia Surova
  6. Draw Me In by Talia Surova
  7. Call Me Saffron by Talia Surova (dnf)
  8. Snowball in Hell by Josh Lanyon
  9. Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
  10. Trade Me by Courtney Milan
  11. Maid to Crave by Rebecca Avery (dnf)
  12. All I Have by Nicole Helm
  13. The Last First Date by Maggie Wells (dnf)
  14. Light My Fire by Kristina Knight (dnf)
  15. The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
  16. The Angel by Tiffany Reisz
  17. The Seventh Bride by T Kingfisher
  18. Women Destroy Fantasy!
  19. Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor
  20. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
  21. Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell (dnf)
  22. Mind Sweeper by AE Jones (dnf)
  23. The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker
  24. SPIN by Nina Allan
  25. Partner by Lia Silver
  26. Hild by Nicola Griffith
  27.  


Requested books: (strikethrough means read or bounced off)
  1. Mental Health Aspects of Autism and Asperger's by Mohammad Ghaziuddin (returned unread, come back later)
  2. The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson (returned unread, come back to)
  3. Pegasus by Robin McKinley (returned unread, come back to)
  4. Legacy by CJ Daugherty
  5. Fool for Love by Eloisa James
  6. A Wild Pursuit by Eloisa James
  7. Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon
  8. Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James
  9. Much Ado About You by Eloisa James (queue 2 of 3)
  10.  

rmc28: (wedding)
By agreement, Tony went out to a party tonight and I stayed home with the children.  Nico was asleep soon after 9pm but Charles was determined to stay up to midnight if possible.  We had a mellow multi-screen evening (Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes on the tv, Charles playing Angry Birds on my phone, me noodling on my laptop) but despite strenuous efforts, Charles fell asleep shortly after 11pm.

I settled in to watch the London fireworks at midnight and put on Captain America:Winter Soldier to watch afterward.

At 1am, Nico fell out of bed with a dramatic thud.  I think he woke up more from my picking him back up than from the actual fall, and settled back to sleep fairly quickly.

At 2am, he woke up and made his way downstairs where he expressed a great deal of concern for the car that was being thoroughly smashed up:  "Car broken! Car broken, mummy!  Poor car.  Car is sad."   We are now watching Teletubbies instead, and eating cold fishfingers because they were there.  Also I am reading through 50+ story notifications from AO3 now that Yuletide authors have been revealed. 

At some point I will try to put both Nico and myself to bed, as I need to get back to something like my usual sleeping pattern tomorrow night.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (half-marathon)
But now is when I have time to write, so: happy new year!

I looked at my new year's post for 2014, and am glad that the children have grown easier with another year in them.   We took it even easier than last year, with just the one trip away on the 27th, and some super-easy visitors on the 20th and 14th.  Nico has been only moderately clingy, and I have managed to run a couple of times, and generally feel fairly rested and recharged.


I have some things to look forward to:
- my Change It Yourself course at the local college, where I hope to acquire some basic DIY skills, starting next week
- my sister-in-law's wedding at the end of January
- Eastercon (without the children!)
- two babies due in my extended family in the summer


I have to make a decision by early March whether to continue with my OU study (suspended for most of the last year) or to let it go.  The Change It Yourself course and how it goes is definitely going to inform that decision.


I think, like 2014, my approach to 2015 is going to be Just Keep Swimming.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
In a stroke of genius, my inlaws Lucy & Simon bought matching jumpers for the four children. It took quite some effort to pose a baby, two toddlers and an 8-year-old together, and parents had to be in there too to settle them down, but here, see the cuteness that is my children and their cousins:

Four cousins and their mothers


We kept the jumpers on our two for the journey home. It's my experience that dressing them alike gets an "aww cute" reaction which gives us rather more slack for them being children in public. Anyway, the two of them in matching jumpers holding hands through the non-accessible bits of the underground was a sight to behold. If I hadn't been carrying a buggy up and down flights of stairs, I would have photographed it for you.

(In fact any way of playing up the "aww cute" is helpful, which I first realised during Eastercon when C was a toddler. We got a lot more approval and a lot less annoyed huffing when he was running around dressed up as dragon or spider than we did when he was "just" a toddler running around.)
rmc28: Face of toddler smiling (Nico2014-11)
On Saturday we went over to Beaconsfield and back to meet up with two of Tony's sisters plus spouses and offspring.  The travel was tiring and crowded (we managed to avoid the horrors of Finsbury Park, and were just stuck on a standing-room only train to Liverpool St, and just-about-enough-seats for all the other legs).  We were all rather zogged yesterday as a result, and I was very deliberately letting Tony sleep in as long as possible, and trying to keep the children occupied elsewhere.

Nico and Tony have developed a bit of a tradition on weekend mornings for Nico to "help" Tony with his morning cafetiere.  By about lunchtime, Nico had clearly decided Tony was slacking, barged into the bedroom and marched up to the bed saying "Come on Daddy, do coffee!"    I am afraid I was laughing too much to intervene as Nico ruthlessly pulled the covers off his father and repeated "Coffee, Daddy" until Tony emerged and got the kettle on.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Lots of these are short, and there's a lot less of them than the main Yuletide collection, so I rocketed through the collection last night while being kept awake by small children. These are my favourites.

Drabbles:
I'm not going to say much about these because they're only 100 words each and you might as well read that rather than my blather - just that I thought each one worked really well for the fandom it was in:


Justice and Mercy (100 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Imperial Radch Series - Ann Leckie
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Mercy of Kalr, Justice of Toren One Esk Nineteen | Breq

Memorial for a Tea Set (100 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Imperial Radch Series - Ann Leckie
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Kalr Five, Justice of Toren One Esk Nineteen | Breq

On Saturday We Went For A Picnic (100 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Original Characters

Transfer of Title (100 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Tom's Midnight Garden - Philippa Pearce
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Tom Long, The Clock

Comfortable (100 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: A Civil Contract - Georgette Heyer
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Jenny Chawleigh, Lydia Deveril

Agent of F.I.E.R.C.E. (105 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Black Widow (Comics)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Liho (Marvel) & Natasha Romanova



Non-drabbles, in increasing order of wordcount:
Black Beauty - Anna Sewell, Imperial Radch Series - Ann Leckie, Dragonriders of Pern - Anne McCaffrey, Persuasion - Jane Austen, Watership Down - Richard Adams )
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
The rest of yesterday went pleasantly: the children seemed to mostly like their presents, with a few real successes and nothing really disliked.  I had failed to track just how many clothes I'd bought for each child though, and there are drifts of new clothes in the living room which need sorting out.

The adults had a few gifts each which meant we didn't feel left out, food was tasty and plentiful and everybody ate to repletion.  We had lots of fun opening crackers together, and then started an impromptu Wallace & Gromit marathon, and I had a burst of getting-things-tidied doing-laundry changing-sheets while that was happening.

[it's not that housework is especially fun, but it always needs to be done, and doing it essentially on my own schedule rather than under external time pressure can be its own kind of relaxing]

Unfortunately, from about midnight until 4am either one child or the other kept me awake, which means I am less than cheery this morning.  Better now I have breakfasted.  The most annoying point was a fat-finger moment while reading while cuddling Nico.  Instead of deleting an individual ebook I'd finished, I managed to delete all the ebooks on my phone.  Most of them are backed up to Calibre on the family computer, but not the 200+ yuletide fics I downloaded to the phone yesterday.

So tasks for today (in no particular order):
- redownload yuletide fics, this time to Calibre, and then reload phone with 1400+ ebooks
- go for a run and have a nap afterward to catch up on sleep
- get the children to help me put their new clothes away, and almost certainly cull some of the existing ones

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rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Rachel Coleman

April 2015

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