rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
My ticket to Acoustic Roots arrived this week.

Way back when, I had a few years in a row of attending music festivals with assorted lovely people (including but not limited to: my Dad, MBM, [livejournal.com profile] atreic , [livejournal.com profile] emperor , [livejournal.com profile] antinomy , [livejournal.com profile] arnhem ) but fell out of the habit when running around after a small mobile Charles got less fun. (For me.  I think he liked it.)

But Show of Hands are playing at Acoustic Roots, and I have a chance to meet up with [personal profile] jae (who I first DW-followed because of our mutual liking for the band), and I found a cheap Travelodge room for the night not far away, and so I am GOING to live music for the first time in ages.  (I am also spending a whole night by myself in said room, also for the first time in ages, and nearly as happy about that.)

These days Charles is a lot easier to look after, so I am also eying up Ely Folk Festival as something we can day-commute to by public transport and see if it's his sort of thing.   Cambridge Folk Festival is obviously closer but a lot more expensive and almost certainly a lot more crowded.
rmc28: (books2010)
Second round, library books and recently acquired ebooks:

Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh
An urban fantasy about a young woman hunting vampires, so far so cliched: but the vampires are captured, subdued by a technological fix, and returned to angels to whom they owe a contract.  The first chapter does a good job of setting the scene and convincingly making the angels seem scary.  Will continue.

Queen of Nowhere by Jaine Fenn
A protagonist gets asked to come in for questioning by local police on a space station.  The first chapter establishes that she's going by an assumed identity, that she's working against an enemy, that she's suffered tragedy, and that too much attention from the police could get her in real trouble.  Will continue.

Justice Calling by Annie Bellet
A game/comic shop in a town full of students and shapeshifters and other magical creatures, run by a woman who is hiding her real powers.  In walks a shapeshifter "Justice" accusing her of murder.  Will continue.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
First of the very famous Swedish crime novels that I never got round to reading yet, but picked up the first one free on a special offer. The prologue, introducing an old man receiving rare flowers and an old detective who's still baffled by this unsolved case, drew me in and I'm looking forward to reading more.  Will continue.

Draykon by Charlotte E. English
This starts with a young girl going into a fairy ring and being trapped ... and then rescued by her mother almost immediately, and taken home with the baby animal she also found trapped in the ring, which in turn triggers a family argument.  Will continue.

This round did not reduce my to-read pile at all!  But it has enthused me to crack on and read some of my lurking library books and recent acquisitions.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
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rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I had three piles of paper on my desk, things accumulating mostly for me to Do Something with or file.   These piles were approximately 30cm, 20cm and 10cm deep.  Somewhere in these piles I knew there was a piece of paper I needed to find in order to complete my tax return.  I'd already cost myself £100 by not finding the piece of paper before 31st January, and I was rapidly approaching the point where it was going to cost me £10 a day not to find it.

A while ago I read [livejournal.com profile] siderea 's post about filing, and realised her system was not far from what I was trying to do, and that getting things filed was the most useful thing I could do, and so I starting doing short bursts of filing the stacks, nibbles at the elephant, and managed to get rid of the smallest pile, quite a lot of which was no longer relevant and could be filed in the recycling bin.  But then I kept finding more interesting things to do than nibbling the paperwork elephant, and so progress stalled.

On Saturday afternoon I made myself start tidying up the filing again.  And for whatever reason, I found myself getting into the flow of it, and going back to it after interruptions for food and child-bedtimes, and just Not Stopping.   At about 2am, most of the way down the last and biggest stack of paper, I found the vital piece of paper.  And because it was already very late for me, and my sleep was already messed up, I decided to put it on one side and finish the filing job.  And then I was still awake when that was done so I finished and submitted the tax return.  Then I went to bed, leaving one full filing cabinet, one much-emptier desk, and one giant drift of paper on the floor destined for the recycling.

The oldest bits of paper in the piles were from August 2012, i.e. one month after Nico was born.  So that's how long I've not been keeping up with the paperwork (there were odd runs where I had clearly kept-current for a few months but not caught up the backlog.)  It is such a weight off my mind to not have the teetering piles of doom looking at me any more.   The desk is by no means empty or even tidy, but what's left is things like photo albums and bundles of letters from my grandmothers and Charles's schoolwork from two years ago and so on, not financial paperwork.

It worked, but I can't say I recommend the binge-eating approach.  I was exhausted all of Sunday, got very little done and only got dressed because [livejournal.com profile] nassus was arriving.   Today when another Thing arrived in the post, I made a point of reading it and then filing it straight into the relevant folder in the filing cabinet, not onto the newly-clear space on the desk.  Long may this last.
rmc28: (books2010)
This is my attempt to clear my to-read piles a bit faster, by reading just the first chapter and seeing if I want to continue. For now, just ebooks and library books: the physical to-read pile has already been through multiple rounds of culling and I've generally been much pickier about new aquisitions in paper since I started reading ebooks.  I'm not nearly so picky about either ebooks or library books.

First round, focusing on books acquired recently:

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho
I had forgotten this was only a novella; also it doesn't have chapters. But I read the first few pages and found it hilarious and decided it was a definite keeper. (I went straight back and finished it after I'd read the remaining four first chapters.)

Younger by Suzanne Munshower
This was a Kindle First offering last month. The prologue totally has me sucked in: a woman going on the run, her boss suddenly dies, there are secrets afoot to do with an experimental treatment that makes people look younger? Keeping this one.

The Book of Deacon by Joseph Lallo
The God Decrees
by Mark E. Cooper
Defender by Robert J. Crane

I got all three of these in: Quest: Eight Novels of Fantasy, Myth, and Magic, which I was alerted to by Lindsay Buroker, whose first novel (which I've read and enjoyed) is in it. Sadly all three of these were boring me before the end of the first chapter.

I was a bit worried I was getting "bitch eating crackers" about epic fantasy, so I went back to Buroker's The Emperor's Edge and confirmed I still like that first chapter. These three just aren't my thing.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I liked it, and I really enjoyed the experience of seeing it in the context of a marathon with two earlier films, and in the company of a lot of other people who are fannish enough about these films to also spend nearly 8 hours in a cinema on opening night and go home at 2:30am

I think it's a good fun addition to the series but not my new favourite.   It's very crowd-pleasing: there's a steady stream of funny bits and one-liners, and a running joke about swearing, and some nice little cameos and references, as well as some very effective dramatic big action sequences. 

I was pleased that they had a lot of the wider team either making appearances or referenced in conversation, and also that big themes of the film are MCU-typical Yay Teamwork but also very explicitly Protecting people is more important than beating up bad guys

Everything from now on will be spoilery.

spoilertastic babble )
rmc28: (bat-funny)
 It's full of Marvel fans and we've already watched Avengers Assemble & Winter Soldier and now we're on the trailers before Age of Ultron and it's VERY EXCITING.

(yay Star Wars trailer)

I have a huge promotional tin of popcorn bigger than my head and I doubt I'm going to finish it. But it is a pretty tin.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
It has taken me nearly a year, but I have finally got enough grip together to send off my application for a passport in the correct name.  The final thing was to print and sign a statement that I am reverting to my maiden name (bleh) for all purposes.  I did that tonight, sealed the envelope, checked the postage and thanked past-Rachel for having 1st class Large stamps in stock.

Normally I am not that bothered about paperwork and get it done without much bother.  I have been getting very stressed and procrastinatory about this set though.  [livejournal.com profile] fanf made the mistake of asking me a couple of months ago why I "didn't just get a deed poll" and got a minor rant in return.  The problem was not that the passport process was hard - it never was.  It was that I was not doing the thing I knew I needed to do and descending into a stress spiral whenever I thought about doing it.   I did eventually manage to split the job down into the smallest possible steps and slowly tick each of them off, and tonight was the glorious final bite of that elephant.

Anyway, passport is the last step.  Pretty much everything I can change without it is changed.  In general: organisations selling me things are happy for me to use whatever name I like; organisations running financial services have to meet anti-money-laundering regulations which result in very similar requirements which the passport will meet; everyone has their own process and many of them seem a bit thrown by the idea of reverting to birth name without getting divorced. 

It would definitely have been easier to get the passport first (or a deed poll) and then the bank accounts, and then just trump every process by waving the passport and or bank accounts at them.  I did want to see how far I could get without it, but I'm tired of that game now.
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
To come to the end of a time of anxiety and fear!

[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: (books2010)
Reading Wednesday! It's been ages.

What I've read
SPIN by Nina Allen
This was for bookclub, and I liked it very much but found the (apparently intentional) ambiguity mildly irritating, and would have happily read a more straightforward book for at least as long again. I conclude that Nina Allen is very talented but possibly not to my taste.

by Lia Silver
Third in the Werewolf Marines series I adore, I've read it twice and like it very much and am so glad these books exist and I can read them, and there's at least one more to look forward to :-) Partner continues from Prisoner (free at Amazon and Smashwords) with rather more sex and romance as well as lots of evil spy agency action, and resolving in a happy ending while leaving at least one thread open for further stories.

Hild by Nicola Griffith
Another one for book club, though I didn't actually manage to finish it before our discussion, I did enjoy it enough to finish it shortly afterward. It's very immersive and beautifully written and I'm not quite sure why it's marketed as fantasy when it's very clearly novelised history, like Rosemary Sutcliff (only less aimed at children).

Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon
The only book in the local library system by Josh Lanyon, this is a modern (1990s?) murder mystery set in LA. The police think the murdery mystery author friend of the victim did it; he knows he didn't, and it's possible he might be next. I enjoyed it and am resisting buying the entire series in ebook until I've caught up my backlog a bit. [ahahaha]

Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James
Continuing my progress through farcical Regency romance; this book wraps up a quartet of related novels and allocates happy ever afters all around.

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho
A funny novella in the form of a diary by Jade Yeo, book reviewer in 1920s London, who gives a scathing review to the darling of the literati and then gets into even more trouble. I loved Jade's voice, I loved her cleverness and pointed commentary, and I was completely caught up in the story until the end. I've got a short story collection by Zen Cho waiting to be read, and am looking forward to it on the strength of this.

Notorious Pleasures
by Elizabeth Hoyt (dnf)
Meh. I wanted to like this; its by the same author and earlier in the series as the Regency Batman romance and there is nothing obviously wrong with it, but it wasn't really working for me; when I did get interrupted and put it down for a few days, I found it very hard to pick back up. (also the whole "gin is terrible and should be banned" running plot keeps annoying me because of my support for drug law reform - speaking of political message fiction).

I keep thinking I'm just being moody and finding things to dislike, but then I go back and remember how much I liked Hild and Partner and The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo and Your Wicked Ways. So I think I'm actually just being very picky at the moment which, given my books:time ratio, may not be a bad thing.

What I'm reading now
Hellbender by Dana Cameron, third in the urban fantasy series with an archaologist protagonist, following Seven Kinds of Hell & Pack of Strays.

What I'm reading next
Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh before it really has to go back to the library
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie - rereading so I can write it up/discuss it in [community profile] bookatorium
Justice Calling by Annie Bellet which I just bought because it was already on my wishlist thanks to [personal profile] davidgillon and she's just withdrawn from the Hugo ballot, and it's 99p on Kindle.
rmc28: (books2010)
A few weeks ago I got new bookshelves up in the children's room.   Before today I had achieved moving about 2/3 of the books across from Charles's old room (now the spare room).

Today, helped (or hindered) by Nico I have:
  • moved the remaining children's books over
  • added more shelves to the spare room, making 16m of shelving space
  • filled those 16m with books-read from the shelves in my room that have been double-stacked for years
  • vacuumed up a disturbing amount of dust from books and shelves
Still to do (not today!):
  • clear assorted clutter off that bookcase in my room
  • move and add shelves, creating another 12-16m of shelving space in my room
  • move my to-read pile and Tony's to this space (and stop my to-read pile in particular encroaching all over the house)
  • move my library books and OU textbooks there too
  • move books-in-living-room to space freed up in study by previous steps
  • move children's books in living room to their bedroom
  • move remaining books-read to living room
The end goal is to have books-read in shared space, and books-to-read in private space, and children's books in children's space.  And as much as possible single-stacked for ease of viewing and access.

Also each move of books and things is an opportunity to declutter.  So far in this project I've taken 3 bags to the charity shop and I've another one ready to go.  Plus an awful lot of general rubbish uncovered and (mostly) recycled.

(Worst thing about getting back to single-spaced books: I uncovered my MZB books and had to make a decision about what to do with them; for now I've stacked them in a Really Useful Box and stuck that in a corner behind other things.  I'm not quite ready to throw them away but for sure I don't want to see them now.)
rmc28: (OMG)
I write the kind of exciting stories I want to read.
You keep bringing politics into your stories.
They churn out tedious message fiction.

(inspired by reading the comments on George RR Martin's thoughtful set of posts about The Hugo Mess)

There also seems to be some confusion between noting a political thing a book does (that pleases me) and only liking that book for the political thing that pleases me.   Not realising it is additive: here is a good book and it does this cool thing.  

And often that "cool thing" is merely refraining from treating non-straight-ablebodied-white-men horribly: the Bechdel test is a really low bar and yet so few things pass it, let alone if you also look at ethnicity or disability or sexuality etc.  It's not "come and read this politically correct yet tedious book" it's "come and read this cool book that won't kick you in the teeth, at least on this axis".

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
One of the things I really enjoyed about a lot of my friends going to Worldcon last year was a lot of people reading the same shortlisted books (and shorter fiction) and posting about them and having discussions.  I really enjoyed that sense of a project held loosely-in-common.  It's one of the things that tipped me towards getting a supporting membership for this year's Worldcon.

Among the things that have upset me about this year's mess of Hugo nominations is that this is much less likely to happen. 

And then I happened to sit in on the BSFA award ceremony at Eastercon and thought that many of the shortlisted things looked much more interesting than the Hugo shortlists (even if the BSFA shortlists have now been voted on, and the Hugo is yet to be).

I mentioned this to [personal profile] ceb and she has set up [community profile] bookatorium : "a free-form book club for SF and fantasy and related stuff. Anyone who's interested in reading the books and prepared to discuss them in good faith is welcome. Currently we are reading a selection of Hugo, Clarke Award, and BSFA Award nominees."

The selection includes 13 novels and 4 graphic novels.  I really liked the 2 novels I've read in full; I like what I've read of the Ms Marvel graphic novel; several more of the books are on my to-buy list; so I'm looking forward to this as a project.  Do join in if you wish :-)
rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
When Hazel and Fiver reached the floor of the hollow they found Blackberry waiting for them, crouching on the peat and nibbling at a few brown stalks of sedge-grass.

[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)
 Specifically the train from Cambridge to London. We might even arrive at Eastercon in time for the Pratchett panel (but probably not).

It is really weird travelling with Tony and 0 children; I keep accidentally checking for them, but hopefully that will wear off soon. In the real world outside my habit-trained brain they were supremely unbothered by our departure, and have more relatives arriving today to keep them busy.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
I found Bob Olsen's obituary again. (Bob was partner to my great uncle Theo for decades.)  So now I know which cemetery to go to if/when I visit Toronto again.

(dept of ridiculous advance planning: maybe for the solar eclipse in 2024)

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.)


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

11 (55.0%)

17 (85.0%)

1 (5.0%)

3 (15.0%)

4 (20.0%)

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)



Short Story

Related Work

Graphic Story

Dramatic presentation, long form

Dramatic presentation, short form

Editor, short form

Editor, long form

Professional artist




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
Eating paper
Oilseed rape in hayfever season
(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 me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
Rachel Coleman

May 2015



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