graculus: (Default)
I'm pretty much still exclusively reading SF and Fantasy, with the occasional non-fiction book thrown in (but very occasional) and these are the best of what I read in 2016:

  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, a first contact novel set in Nigeria
  • Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
  • The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemisin (though you need to read The Fifth Season first)
  • A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab
  • Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace
  • Conspiracy of Ravens by Lila Bowen
  • Updraft by Fran Wilde, which finally came out in paperback in the UK
  • City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which subsequently went on to win the Nebula and World Fantasy Award
  • The Silver Tide and The Iron Ghost, both by Jen Williams

    There is also ongoing love in my heart for Saga, Ms Marvel and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

    More detailed commentary is available at my Booklikes blog if you're interested in any of the above.

    Meanwhile, on the idiot box, this is how it falls out at the moment...

    Still watching (though in some cases massively behind): Brooklyn Nine Nine, Elementary, iZombie, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow, Vikings, Lucifer

    Got bored and/or annoyed and wandered off from: Sleepy Hollow, Blindspot, How to Get Away With Murder, Empire, The Blacklist, Jane the Virgin

    Unexpectedly enjoying: The Good Place (and I usually loathe US 'comedy', so that's saying something) and Pitch (even though I know less than nothing about baseball!)

    Happy to discuss any of the above in the spoiler-laden world of comments!
  • graculus: (Default)
    Since I've been mostly blathering about what I've been up to in my personal life, I thought I'd also do a post about what I've been consuming in terms of media, since it's been quite a lot.

    So, first off let's talk about books - I'm pretty much exclusively reading SF and Fantasy now, with the occasional non-fiction book thrown in (but very occasional) and these are the best of what I've read this year so far, mostly newly published but a few older books too:

    A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab (loved the first book, loved the sequel)
    The Iron Ghost and The Silver Tide by Jen Williams
    City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett (boy, this series is so good!)
    Uprooted by Naomi Novik (which won the Nebula Award for Best Novel yesterday)
    The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
    Down Station by Simon Morden
    The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
    The Grass King's Concubine by Kari Sperring
    Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
    Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson
    City of Bones by Martha Wells
    Ombria in Shadow by Patricia McKillip

    More detailed commentary is available at my Booklikes blog if you're interested in any of the above. The only books I've given 5 stars to this year so far have been Uprooted and City of Blades.

    Meanwhile, on the idiot box, this is how it falls out at the moment...

    Still watching (though in some cases massively behind what's currently airing): Brooklyn Nine Nine, Elementary, Orphan Black, iZombie, Person of Interest, Vikings, Turn, The Americans (season 4 starts on UK television this week!)

    Got bored and/or annoyed and wandered off from: Sleepy Hollow, Blindspot, How to Get Away With Murder, Empire

    Unexpectedly enjoying: DC's Legends of Tomorrow (considering I ditched The Flash fairly early on, this one has stuck mostly because of the combo of Sarah Lance and Leonard Snart) and Limitless

    Feeling ambivalent about: Arrow, The Blacklist (which I mostly watch for Spader but...) and Jane the Virgin

    Happy to discuss any of the above in the spoiler-laden world of comments!
    graculus: (Default)
    Apologies to the folks who find my recent foray into the world of fitness etc. of zero interest - in recognition of that, I've put the next part of my post behind a cut so you can skip onto me whittering about other things instead!

    blah, blah, rowing machines and fencing... )

    In other news, well there's not a whole bunch to say. I'm still teaching two classes, though I've now been given a student teacher for a few weeks so she can see what life is like in adult education - she came today and I asked my learners to talk about their course and they immediately told her what a good teacher I was, which made me laugh a lot. I've been given an idea of what I'll be teaching from September and it's pretty much the same, unexpected funding cuts permitting!

    I'm also reading a lot (no surprises there) and went to see Captain America: Civil War on Friday when it opened in the UK. It will probably come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I loved it, though I still prefer the Russos' previous movie. Without spoiling anyone, since I know it's only opening elsewhere this week, I'd say that it probably tries to do too much but still manages most of it. Also Chris Evans' eyelash game is very strong. ;)
    graculus: (Default)
    It's funny how you run across snobbishness in the oddest of places... I recently had a passing conversation with a couple of folks at the place where I teach, which went a little like this:

    Teacher A: I bet you read a lot of books, don't you?
    Me: Well, I read about 120 last year, so yes.
    Teacher B: Oh, what kind of books do you like?
    Me: Most of what I read was science fiction and fantasy. I used to read a lot of crime books, but I got a bit bored with them.
    Teacher B: Oh. I only read non-fiction.

    Yes, because that's clearly much more worthy than me spending my time with (enjoyable but obviously) shameful genre books. Poor me, thinking that actually reading is a good thing when I could be aspiring to the lofty heights of non-fiction!

    Actually, I do occasionally read non-fiction, but not across the board. Mostly history and cultural stuff, with the (very) occasional biography thrown in.


    E.T.A. Fortunately, I stopped myself from saying 'oh, and I also read a lot of gay porn based on TV shows and movies, what do you think about that?' ;)
    graculus: (Default)
    This was tough, especially where books were concerned, so I've bent the rules a little (hey, this is my journal, so no griping about that!) - all of the following are in no particular order...

    Top 5 books:

    1. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison - wonderful, beautifully-written with top notch world-building and characters who grow and learn as the book progresses.

    2. Binary and Regeneration by Stephanie Saulter - I came across the first book in this trilogy at WorldCon, now it's complete and I recommend it highly to everyone. It's set in a recognisable future-London where the people living there are dealing with the aftermath of genetic engineering and dealing with how we decide just who is human.

    3. The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard - you know a book is good when you're left going 'what?' at various points while reading it. A fantasy book set in a Paris shattered by a magical war, this book is populated by fallen angels and dragons, among others.

    4. The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin - what a fantastic book, again wonderful world-building as I've come to expect from this author, and absolutely gutting emotionally at points. First book of a new trilogy, that's the only complaint I would have about this...

    5. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie - I'd all but prepared myself for this, the final book of the Imperial Radch trilogy, being a bit of an anti-climax but needn't have worried. I have a feeling I'll be re-reading these books at some point in the future.

    E.T.A: Honourable mentions to Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen, A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab, City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett, The Copper Promise by Jen Williams, Hunter's Moon by Rebecca Levene and The Traitor by Seth Dickinson, among (many) others...

    Top 5 graphic novels:

    1. Saga volumes 3 & 4 - I can just repeat what I said last year about the first two volumes: 'I'd heard a lot of good things about this series, all of which were true. Clever and funny, with some great characters, it's also stunningly drawn.'

    2. Bitch Planet volume 1 - there's going to be a lot of folks getting 'non-compliant' tattoos after reading these books, which are dystopia set in a world where pretty much any behaviour (by a woman, at least) can get that label slapped on.

    3. Ms Marvel volumes 1-4 - wow. If the idea of a Pakistani-American teenage girl as a superhero isn't enough on its own to get you interested, then there's probably not much hope for you. Great writing, encounters with various classic Marvel characters and also some new faces in the mix as well.

    4. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl volume 1 - I loved this book. It ought to be dumb, rebooting a character like this, but it's been done with so much humour and humanity that I couldn't help falling for Doreen and her squirrel sidekick, Tippytoe.

    5. Hawkeye volumes 3 and 4 - to be perfectly honest, I liked volume 3 (which was mostly about Kate) much more than volume 4 (about the return of Clint's brother, Barney) but it's still all good.

    Honourable mentions to Princeless volume 1 and Sex Criminals volume 2.
    graculus: (Default)
    I posted here about the best books I'd read till then back in June, so I thought I'd do a follow-up post about what I've read since then which has also been good. In late December, I'll probably do a best books of the year post but expect a number of these to make a good showing then as well:

  • California Bones - Greg Van Eekhout
  • The Broken Kingdoms and The Kingdom of Gods - NK Jemisin
  • Smiler's Fair - Rebecca Levene
  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August - Claire North
  • Midnight Robber - Nalo Hopkinson
  • Regeneration - Stephanie Saulter
  • Sorcerer to the Crown - Zen Cho
  • The House of Shattered Wings - Aliette de Bodard
  • Penric's Demon - Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Point of Honour - Madeleine E. Robins
  • Ancillary Mercy - Ann Leckie
  • The Copper Promise - Jen Williams
  • The Traitor - Seth Dickinson
  • Wheel of the Infinite - Martha Wells
  • The Fifth Season - NK Jemisin

    If you're interested in finding out what I thought of particular books above, you can find my reviews over at Booklikes.

    I'm also still finishing up the current books in the Vorkosigan series (as I write, I am midway through Diplomatic Immunity with just two more books to go before the new one comes out in February) and subscribing to Tremontaine, which is a serialised prequel to Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner.
  • graculus: (porn)
    I'm reading a lot of books this year. This should come as no surprise to anyone at all.

    I've signed up for the book challenge over on Booklikes and Goodreads, though I'm actually posting reviews of some of what I'm reading on Booklikes if anyone is interested... Anyway, 100 books and I've read 62 so far. This does not include books I started but didn't finish, but does include some graphic novels (which you may feel is cheating?)

    Best books this year (so far) have been:

  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin
  • All of the Vorkosigan books (I'm up to A Civil Campaign) by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Redemption in Indigo and The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  • The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
  • The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter by Rod Duncan
  • Fever Season and A Free Man of Colour by Barbara Hambly
  • City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • Range of Ghosts and Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear
  • The Humans by Matt Haig
  • Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach
  • Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
  • Feast of Souls by CS Friedman

    The more perceptive among you may realise that many of these books are the first in a series or trilogy, which means I have lots more (hopefully equally good) reading ahead of me! :)
  • graculus: (Default)
    Okay, it was going to be five (as per previous posts) but then I realised that wasn't going to work. So it's 10 this time, 10 places you can find interesting short SFF to read if you're so inclined - other websites are also available, and lots of them. I have also been reccing profic from these on Recs by Grac, in case anyone is interested in seeing what I like/what I fruitlessly nominated for the Hugo this time around.

    1. Lightspeed - what I like about Lightspeed is that you can get both text and audio version of anything they publish, if you so desire. They also do reviews and non-fiction columns, as well as excerpts of books (which I stay away from, because the TBR pile is already too large, thanks very much).

    2. Beneath Ceaseless Skies - BCS is more interested in fantasy than SF, so if that's your thing you may find something you like here. What I like about BCS is that I can download the entire issue as one PRC file, rather than futzing about with the individual stories.

    3. Giganotosaurus - they only publish one story a month but it's usually novelette or novella length.

    4. Shimmer - publishes what it calls 'speculative fiction' with an emphasis on 'odd, unclassifiable stories'.

    5. Strange Horizons - fiction, poetry, editorials and reviews for SF and fantasy. Again, does audio versions of stories, if that's your thing.

    6. Tor - all sorts of opinions and posts about all sorts of things (including a load of re-reads and re-watches that I pretty much delete from my RSS reader on sight - I don't care what professional tie-in writer Keith deCandido thinks about Stargate SG-1, thanks so much!) and also some fiction.

    7. Uncanny Magazine - another one that does both text and audio versions of SFF stories, as well as non-fiction and interviews with the writers whose work appears there.

    8. Kaleidotrope - a new one to me, SFF and horror (which really isn't my thing, to be honest).

    9. Clarkesworld - monthly science fiction and fantasy magazine first published in October 2006. Each issue contains interviews, articles and at least three pieces of original fiction. Again, does audio versions of stories.

    10. Crossed Genres - thematic issues published monthly, including new authors never before published; if you're looking for stories about minority groups and individuals, this is probably a good place to start.
    graculus: (Default)
    I don't know how many people reading this (if anyone is, given the lack of comments on a regular basis, but that's by the by...) remember but last year I bought a supporting membership for this year's WorldCon. This was mostly to support the Helsinki bid for the WorldCon in 2017, as each location is decided by the members of the convention held 2 years earlier. Go Helsinki! \o/

    Another reason people might get a supporting membership for a WorldCon is to do with the Hugo Awards, the nominations of which were announced yesterday to much kerfuffle. In short, there's a bunch of folks who think that the awards have long been taken over by groupthink (because how else would all these lefty non-male and/or non-straight and/or non-white people win things?) and the best way to counter that was with more groupthink. Namely, pushing a slate of nominations and squeezing out the people who are Not Like Us.

    Which they managed to do quite successfully last night in those categories where there are lots of nominations and it's always a close-run thing to see who gets in the 5 places on the final ballot. For example, last year saw over 500 different short stories nominated for Best Short Story and iirc only 3 got the required 5% of the nominations to get onto the ballot. This year our groupthink folks have managed to get all 5 places filled and with their choices alone.

    Things got a little trickier in categories like Best Graphic Story, where 4 of the 5 slots got taken up by Saga, Ms Marvel, Rat Queens and Sex Criminals. Decidedly not suitable reading material for righteous straight white menfolks. So sad. It's going to be interesting to see the full details of all the nominations when they release the figures in August.

    Clearly those of us who are supposedly mind-controlled by the lefty Illuminati didn't get our thought control properly in time to get our shit together. My messages must have been mixed last year too, because I didn't agree with some of the 2014 winners - what, is that allowed? - for example, thinking Max Gladstone should have won the Campbell Award. Gosh, yes, I voted for a straight white guy to win. But probably not the right kind of straight white guy, eh?

    I know, it can't be that people who don't agree with you and like what you like all of the time, actually aren't members of a grand conspiracy? Does not compute, I know, but there it is. Sadly, time travel does not exist and you can't put the genie back in the bottle or make us folks who don't like what you like suddenly change their minds. And the rules say if I don't think the nominations are good enough to merit a Hugo, I can vote 'no award'; got to stick to the rules, right? ;)
    graculus: (edna)
    Yep, I know it's April but still, here's my top 5 books that I desperately want to read (with the assistance of either my local library system, or what little spare cash I can rustle out of the back of the sofa):

    1. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie - no surprises there, as Ann finishes off the Imperial Radch trilogy, even if I have to wait till October 8th.

    2. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison - I have heard such good things about this book, so I think it will hit all my buttons. It's now out in paperback and my library hasn't bought it, alas...

    3. Sorceror to the Crown by Zen Cho - this isn't out till October, so there's still time for the library to pick this up. I was hooked the moment I read this: In Regency London, Zacharias Wythe is England's first African Sorcerer Royal. *falls over*

    4. The Just City by Jo Walton - out in paperback in July, but my local library has bought it! \o/

    5.The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu - this was on my wishlist pretty much the moment I heard about it. First of a trilogy, described by some as a 'wu xia take on Game of Thrones', it's out in hardback in the UK next week but again will have to wait for a bit...

    Honourable mentions go to City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (waiting for the call from the library!) and The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard (alternate history, Paris and magic), which isn't out till August.

    So, dear flist, anything in terms of SFF you think I ought to add?
    graculus: (oh please)
    Well, that's probably a slightly over-dramatic title but it's the one I have, so let's stick with that!

    Still really enjoying my job, even when my lessons don't turn out quite as good as I hope they will - usually because I didn't figure out what I wanted to achieve, so I'm still very much learning on the hoof. My poor students are my guinea pigs, getting the first run of everything and seeing what works and what doesn't. It's very inconsiderate of folks out there that there isn't a resource I can just pick up and use for everything I want to teach. The internet is great for a lot of things, there are loads of resources, but sometimes I've still ended up writing my own because what's out there doesn't do quite what I want it to do. Or it's very centred on a particular culture and that just won't work for the bigger mix of nationalities and ages that make up my students.

    I've had a really aggravating conversation with the college that offers the teaching qualification I want to do. I'm currently teaching 3 evenings a week and that course is one evening a week, so I need to confirm which evening so I can adjust the course I'm teaching to fit around it. Except that the other college haven't decided which night it's going to be and won't decide until some time in May. And it could be one of my currently committed evenings or it could be another one. Grrrr.

    Anyway, let's change the subject and I'll tell you about the last 5 books I've read:

    Read more... )

    I'm currently reading Blood and Mistletoe by Ronald Hutton - which is a history of the Druids in the UK, though he starts with a whole chapter about how we don't really know anything that we can prove. So it's more about what people think about the Druids and how that changes over time to the present day. I'm also reading The Machine God by MeiLin Miranda, which is one of a bunch of steampunk novels set in a shared universe, this one with a black protagonist in a very white University town.
    graculus: (Default)
    Thanks, Calvin and Muad'Dib for getting that particular earworm stuck in my brain, helped by a vid for Almost Human I was watching the other day...

    And so, we are heading inexorably toward the end of February and all sorts of stuff is going on. Well, maybe. Probably not as much stuff as all that, to be perfectly honest, but some.

    First off, so far this year I've been trying to widen my repertoire in terms of what I cook. I remember reading something somewhere that said most people basically cook a handful of different things over and over, but I decided I wanted to add to my list of possible recipes. This has been assisted by an Android app called ChefTap which lets me take recipes from blogs etc. and strips them of the extraneous texty-bits then sends them to my tablet. I've not had any absolute disasters so far, but there have been a few things I won't be trying again and a few I will, though probably with more garlic and spices in some cases.

    I also just, courtesy of Pic for 1000 posted the first fic I've written in a year, in fact since the last challenge they did. So, I can still write, I just haven't. No particular reason, except that the WiPs I left behind are looming over me, I guess and I suck. No news to anyone.

    In work news, it's all looking pretty positive - my boss keeps saying nice things about and to me, which is all very lovely. I've got a month left till the end of term, as none of my students are doing exams till later in the year, and I'd like to say I'm ahead of the game in terms of planning but that would be A Big Lie. In real terms, I'm roughly a week ahead in lesson plans at any one time, which is a bit crap but can't be helped as it takes me much longer to do anything since it's all new. Because I inherited this class from someone else, partway through the year, I'm also playing Make Sure You've Covered Everything so that we'll have a whole term left to go over things again as needed before the actual exams happen.

    In the longer term, the local college does a full teaching qualification over 2 years of evening classes, which is also cheaper than doing the thing full-time, and I may well be doing that from September one night a week. Which means shifting my current class (apparently now All Mine for the foreseeable future as I haven't crashed and burned) but April is the time for talking about next academic year's plans. I will also be asking about getting more hours because I really (financially) need to be doing at least 5-6 more hours teaching per week than I am currently signed up for.

    Full teaching qualification also = more money per hour than I'm getting now, so it'll pay for itself in a relatively short space of time once I've got it. More options in the longer term too, a real case of delayed gratification though... *sigh*

    I'm still trying to read as much potential Hugo stuff as possible and was pleased to see at least one thing I've nominated there pop up on the Nebula list. I'm not sure if that just means I like the things a lot of other people like or that it's objectively good or whatever. Anyway, if you're interested in what kind of thing I'm reading, check out here where things keep cropping up. Likewise, if anyone wants to follow me on Goodreads, drop me a line in the comments with your user name and I will add you.
    graculus: (Default)
    ... watching university students write essays and so on. Yep, it's exam time at the local university, which means working every day last week and this except Sunday. Couldn't do it all the time, and really wouldn't want to, but the crazy fortnights roll round in January and again in May, with a reasonable chunk of cash at the end of each of them.

    I even get to use my 'teacher voice' at times, when people won't do what they're told. Yes, 'stop writing now' means you. Stop. Writing.

    Knowing how busy this fortnight would be, I did a whole load of prep for the course I'm teaching, which ought to hold me till half term, so I can just veg out when I get home from my proper job.

    I'm also trying to get some stuff read to nominate for the Hugos this year, relying heavily on a variety of rec lists to cherry-pick stuff to read and seeing where we go from there. I've got a supporting membership for Sasquan, so I'll get the Hugo pack when it rolls around, but like the idea of actually nominating stuff as well. And roll on nominations for WorldCon 2017 - seriously, if Helsinki don't get the nomination, it won't have been for lack of effort! Those guys are everywhere and are hopefully carrying a chunk of support with them.
    graculus: (Default)
    Since we're almost at the end of the year, I thought I'd post a number of my top 5 lists of things for 2014:

    Top 5 books:

    1. Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie - I can have these two as one, can't I? Cracking space opera, first book very rightly won All The Awards, can't wait for book 3.

    2. Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter - a great WorldCon find, again the first of a trilogy, this one about genetic manipulation. Highly recommended.

    3. Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone. IMHO, Max should have won the John W Campbell award this year, as I loved both these books, which are set in a universe where accountancy and magic are very closely related. Again, highly recommended, need to get my hands on book 3 (Full Fathom Five), with book 4 (Last First Snow) also due out soon.

    4. Holy Bones, Holy Dust by Charles Freeman - after all that science fiction and fantasy, how about a little non-fiction for the last 2? First off there's this, an absolutely fascinating look at the business of relics.

    5. To the Edge of the World by Christian Wolmar - this was my other non-fiction highlight of 2014, a history of the building of the Trans-Siberian railway. As with any endeavour of this sort, it's a wonder it ever got built at all, but I hadn't realised that its very building had played such a pivotal part in Russian history.

    E.T.A: Honourable mentions to Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron, among others...

    Top 5 graphic novels:

    1. Saga volumes 1 & 2 - I'd heard a lot of good things about this series, all of which were true. Clever and funny, with some great characters, it's also stunningly drawn.

    2. Hawkeye volumes 1 & 2 - how can anyone not love a series where a storyline is written from the perspective of the hero's dog? Rightly or wrongly, I don't think I can ever divorce this version of Hawkeye from my head-canon regarding that character.

    3. The Wicked and the Divine volume 1 - again with the stunning artwork, can't wait to see where this goes next.

    4. Rat Queens volume 1 - after all those superhero storylines, here's something a little different, described by the publishers as 'sass-and-sorcery'.

    5. Sex Criminals volume 1 - again, something different, this time someone who discovers that when she has sex, time stops. When she meets someone else with the same ability, they decide to use it to rob a bank; naturally, hijinks ensue!

    Honourable mentions to The Fuse volume 1, Captain Marvel volume 1 and Pretty Deadly volume 1, as well as a bunch of stuff I haven't got around to yet (Ms Marvel and Black Widow being primary among them).
    graculus: (oh please)
    First off, thanks to everyone for the kind words about Monty, it was/is much appreciated.

    In other news, I'm sure folks remember that I have now parted ways with Dysfunction Central Ltd, have successfully received my final pay and P45 from them (with no hassle at all, which is better than I was expecting would be the case) and am now gainfully employed by the local council. I've gambled on taking two different sessional contracts with them on the basis that it should all work out absolutely fine (funding permitting). I wanted to work for them, after they were all so great when I was volunteering with them, and they only offer folks permanent contracts if you've gone this route.

    So far, I have no guaranteed hours so won't get paid anything except for when I attended various mandatory meetings. I just put myself forward for 4 mornings teaching as sick cover next week, though my stomach is currently doing backflips over the concept of actually doing something. Other than that, it looks like nothing concrete is likely to come up till after half term, which is the week after next anyway.

    It's been good (apart from the not getting paid part of things!) to have a bit of a breather from my former sociopathic employer and try to literally get my house in order for winter. I can't honestly say I have done as much cleaning and sorting out as I could, but I've definitely made some progress, as well as getting quite a bit of stuff watched or read.

    I'm currently reading a really interesting book on the history of relics in Western Europe ('Holy Bones,Holy Dust' by Charles Freeman), so if I ever get around to writing anything original I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of the stuff I've read turns up in there somewhere. I don't read anything like as much non-fiction as fiction but every so often I like to pick something up - usually historical, occasionally biography ('The Black Count' by Tom Reiss, which is a biography of Alexandre Dumas is on my list, for example).

    Oh and finally, for this post at least, I am using Twitter more. Mostly for the purpose of following stalking a variety of writers, as long as they don't tweet too often. Why do some people tweet so much???!!??
    graculus: (hero)
    Here's what I've read since last time (mid-September):

    1. Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter - the one bad thing about WorldCon is that I came home with not only a pile of books to read, but a recs list at least twice as long, mostly of folks I'd not heard of, Stephanie Saulter being one of them. Read more... )In short, it's really great, highly recommended!

    2. Summer of the Big Bachi by Naomi Hirahara - I'd had this sitting on my bookshelf for a while, as it's the first of a series that sounded interesting. Our protagonist is a survivor of the Hiroshima bomb, now living in the US and working as a landscape gardener, whose past comes back to haunt him. I wanted to enjoy it more than I did, but it's first person (which I am so done with, after many many urban fantasies) and I struggled to empathise with the main character. So, another promising series I don't need to buy! ;)

    3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - another one where I'm working through my TBR bookcase (yes, it's not a pile, it's an entire bookcase). Enjoyed this very much, didn't see the twist coming until it hit, though the requisite romantic sub-plot made me toy with the idea of skipping some pages but the author managed to pull it back into manageable levels.

    4. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie - I have been waiting for this book since I read Ancillary Justice over the summer and it did not disappoint me. Not quite as good as the first one, but there was definitely plenty going on there that I didn't see coming in advance. My only minor qualm was that spoilers ) Really looking forward to seeing where the third book goes, but I have no idea when that might be... :(

    5. And I'm currently reading Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor, which is excellent so far but definitely comes into the category of 'books I am glad I've read but will never want to re-read'.
    graculus: (edna)
    It will probably come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I read a lot of books. I'm sure I used to read more books once than I do now, because in the late 1990's I discovered fanfic and wouldn't even like to think about how many millions of words of that I've devoured since then. But what I don't tend to do is re-read a lot.

    I've been thinking about this, about my relationship with books as things, and how it is that I don't have shelves and shelves of books in my house despite my ongoing habit. And I realised it's probably because I have quite an ambivalent attitude towards most books, the books that I'm glad I have read (and quite possibly enjoyed, though 'enjoyed' isn't always the right word for some of them) but knew without a shadow of a doubt I would never want to read again. I have the same feeling with my DVD collection, which again is probably quite a bit smaller than many people I know in fandom, for exactly the same reason - once I have consumed the product, I have a good idea of the likelihood of ever wanting to do so again in the foreseeable future and the likelihood is usually much closer to zero than not.

    Not that this hasn't changed over time. At one point, I had a whole set of the Narnia books and had re-read them on multiple occasions; now just the thought of the time and mental space I spent on them makes me break out in metaphorical hives for so many reasons. So they went, while other stuff remains, though there is always the possibility that other things too may follow Aslan and co. into the charity shop donation bag.

    It probably doesn't help that I'm a completist, in that I need to read a series from book 1 and have been stung too many times by gaps between books or trilogies that were never completed. Still, there are folks whose new stuff (James Lee Burke comes first to mind) I will seek out avidly from the library because I want to read them but know I will never go back to previous books in those series, regardless of their quality. Ebooks are difficult for me too, because of the impermanence of them - if they turn out to be something I think I'm going to want to keep, I'd much rather have the dead tree version to hand, if not both...

    And I've started buying books more, again, regardless of all of the above. Because right now it feels like there's more out there I'm going to want to read and re-read, though I guess only time will tell whether that's true or not.
    graculus: (Default)
    The last five books I've read:

    1. Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire - first in a new urban fantasy series, this time one where our hero is a cryptozoologist who studies/protects the 'monsters' of New York. I could have done without the heavy romantic subplot, to be perfectly honest, but that's my usual reaction to urban fantasy summed up in 9 words. ;)

    2. The King's Bastard and The Uncrowned King by Rowena Corey Daniels - first two books of a fantasy trilogy, which I'd had hanging around for ages and never really got around to. Not bad, except for the author having a real thing about the hero's 'powerful thighs' (I swear, if you had a drinking game based on that, it'd be dangerous) and his ambivalent attitude towards the revelation that his BFF is gay and fancies him (it's fine, I'm freaked out by it, it's fine, what will the others think? Rinse and repeat...)

    3. Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler. Another unfinished book, since I couldn't really see where this was going or why I ought to care. Also not really sure why this was considered a 'science fiction masterwork' by the publishers, given that it's set in the late 19th century US and is more about social mores of the time than anything else. Maybe that also gets explained in the last third that I didn't read?

    4. Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal, which is the first book in a series set in the 18th century with magic ('glamour') being added to the list of acceptable things for young ladies to study. This was a bit of a disappointment, to be honest, after having it on my to-be-read list for so long. Don't know if I'll bother to pick up the rest of the series, given how underwhelmed I was by this one.

    5. Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter - currently reading this. It was recced at WorldCon and based on what I've read so far it is definitely worth checking out if you like stories about genetic modification and what it means to be truly human.
    graculus: (oh please)
    Yep, I am determined to post more, even if it feels a little like shouting into the void at times. So here's another list following the previous post...

    The five authors whose books I have the most of:

    1. Rex Stout (44)
    2. Diana Wynne Jones (23)
    =3. Patrick O'Brian (16)
    =3. Thomas Hardy (16)
    4. Dorothy L Sayers (14)
    5. Lois McMaster Bujold (9 if I only count paper copies, 12 if additional ebooks are included)

    The more perceptive among you may have noticed I have actually squeezed in 6 authors there. If not for the late showing by Lois McMaster Bujold in terms of ebooks, 5th place would have to be equally shared between Ursula K LeGuin, Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell.

    I'm sure if I did this again in a few years time, it's likely the list would have more science fiction and fantasy writers on it. I came late to Diana Wynne Jones but have made up for it in a short space of time - I've actually had others of her books which I didn't like as much and gave away (A Tale of Time City being the first one that comes to mind).

    I also don't currently have the whole run of Aubrey-Maturin books, though I've read them all courtesy of my local library system. And if the list was top five authors I've read rather than whose books I own, James Lee Burke would be up there in major contention as I've read (I think) 29 or so of his.

    So, dear flist, who would be on your list either way? Most owned or most read? Inquiring minds need to know...
    graculus: (Default)
    Since I'm off to WorldCon in August (can't wait!), I just downloaded a significant amount of profic from the various Hugo and Campbell award packets and am looking forward to getting into (most of) it immensely.

    Orbit Books' decision to only offer lengthy snippets of their 3 nominations in the Novel category means I probably won't be voting in that category though I already have a copy of Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie in paperback so may have to break that one out instead. Kudos to the folks who publish Wheel of Time for including it in its entirety but I'm afraid I prefer variety over quantity so I can make a more informed decision elsewhere...

    So, my reading list for the next two months looks like this:

    Campbell Award nominees:

  • Wesley Chu - The Lives of Tao
  • Max Gladstone - Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise
  • Ramez Naam - Nexus

  • Sofia Samatar - A Stranger in Olondria
  • Benjanun Sriduangkaew - various short stories, of which I'd already read The Bees Her Heart, the Hive Her Belly, which is both creepy and awesome.


  • Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages - Wakulla Springs
  • Catheryn Valente - Six-Gun Snow White
  • Brad Torgersen - The Chaplain's Legacy


  • Brad Torgersen - The Exchange Officers
  • Aliette de Bodard - The Waiting Stars
  • Ted Chiang - The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling
  • Mary Robinette Kowal - The Lady Astronaut of Mars

    That's it, just about (once I'd also removed stuff which was part of a series/universe I'd previously tried but not enjoyed) - anyone else on my flist reading (or have read any of) the Hugo nominations or is it just me? ;)
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