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2015sfexp275Ooh, I thought I was being SO clever, posting my reading plans for the month earlier today and totally forgetting that Carl’s Sci-fi Experience now starts in December and runs until my birthday (31st January in case you’re interested and that has got to be the earliest hint I’ve ever given!)

So hasty thinking has taken place and I’m going to (try to) read the following as a minimum for the experience that isn’t a challenge (and they also comply with the TBR DDD as they are already all on the stacks chez Bride):

  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K le Guin – because she was interviewed in the first episode of the excellent BBC series Tomorrow’s Worlds and I am ashamed, ashamed I say, to admit that if I have ever read any of her work I have long, long forgotten it…..
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes – because it is a classic and my great friend Silvery Dude was reduced to a blubbering wreck reading it (I may possibly be using poetic licence there)….
  • The Starry Rift edited by Jonathan Strahan – because I love short stories and I sought this out after the amazing experience of hearing Neil Gaiman read his entry in the collection Orange at an event earlier in the year which I seem not to have written about at all….
  • A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge – because it’s one of the Book God’s favourites and he has been trying to get me to read it since we started living together 20 years ago and I think it’s about time…

Exciting! I also have the urge to watch 2010 again (I love that movie and will punch anyone who disagrees, OK?)

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out-sickSo this has been a very strange reading week. I had an overnight business trip at the beginning of the week which is often good for reading and I was well prepared, dragging my copy of the Book That Shall Not Be Named (which I’m still struggling to engage with fully) figuring that an evening on my own in the hotel and a 2 hours plus train journey back to London would make me read it. Of course, I also had the Kindle app on my phone and was distracted by zombies so how wrong was I?

Then I got hit with the dreaded lurgy and was basically off work for the rest of the week (and only really starting to feel well today if I’m honest). Day One I had a headache of such enormous proportions (amongst other symptoms I’m too delicate to elaborate on here) that I couldn’t read.

DISASTER.

However the remaining days of illness and convalescence were easier and being housebound and sofa-ridden I managed to read three whole novels and finish a book of short stores.

Clouds. Silver linings. It’s a cliche for a reason.

And now we’re nearly in December and despite the failure that was my WWI reading plan for this month I’m going to tempt fate and pull together a book list for the run up to Christmas. I’m sure I’ll add to this as I remember other titles but my starters are:

I’ve already had my most successful reading year for ages so I’m fairly relaxed about all of this. Do you have any special reading plans for December?

Jtbr-dare-2014ames at James Reads Books is once again hosting the TBR Double Dog Dare and I’m signing up for it, which means that between 1 January and 1 April 2015 I can only read books that I already own and want to read. As he says:

Forget about keeping up with ARC’s, reading the latest nominees for whatever award they’re giving away this month. Never mind the best seller lists or the tiresome memoir your book club has forced on you.

So in practical terms that means Christmas presents are in, but birthday presents are out. Until April anyway. May still take part in some challenges but only if I want to and only using books I already have.

And if I do nothing else I will finally read Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates. I’ve only had it since the last century after all….

www_wednesdays4W… W… W… Wednesdays poses the following questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What am I currently reading?

Still really enjoying Trevor Royle’s book on Scotland in WWI, savouring it one chapter at a time. I am also close to the end of  Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear.

The Jonathan Strange Update

Stalled; still on page 122 but not even an overnight stay in Manchester with nothing to do and a long train journey home last night didn’t encourage me to pick it up and read 😦

What did I recently finish reading?

I finished Station Eleven (a cracker) and Zone One (zombies, Manhattan, horror) (both on Kindle) and zipped through.

What do I think I’ll read next?

Probably going to abandon any thoughts of continuing with my not terribly successful WWI reading list plan and will pick up either Lock In by John Scalzi or James Smythe’s The Testimony.

www_wednesdays4W… W… W… Wednesdays poses the following questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What am I currently reading?

Still really enjoying Trevor Royle’s book on Scotland in WWI, savouring it one chapter at a time. I am also reading Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear and on Kindle The Martian by Andy Weir.

The Jonathan Strange Update

Still persevering; I am on page 122 but *whispers* haven’t picked it up in a couple of days. And it’s over 1000 pages long 😦

What did I recently finish reading?

I finished Foxglove Summer and Lovecraft Unbound and The Laws of Murder so feeling a little bit pleased with myself 🙂

What do I think I’ll read next?

No change from last week – will try to resist the temptation of the new Stephen King novel (but it’s looking mighty attractive) and pick up my WWI reading list, and I think there might be more short stories of a Cthulhu nature on the horizon.

19561902What year are we in? The Laws of Murder is set in 1876.

What is Lenox’s case?

One of Lenox’s friends has been shot in Regent’s Park and the murder may be tied to an aristocratic ne’er-do-well that Lenox has been after for many years. In helping Scotland Yard work the case (after a short period of some estrangement) it becomes clear that matters are not what they seem. At all.

What did I learn about that I didn’t know before?

Quite a bit about mourning dress and Victorian funerals and the business of booking fixed berths on ships to allow cargo to be transported abroad (regardless of what that cargo might be). No questions asked. ‘Nuff said.

What’s happening in Lenox’s personal life?

Lenox has given up his seat in Parliament and has set up a professional detective agency with Dallington and two other colleagues (identified at the end of the last book but not mentioned here by name because *spoilers*) and it’s all taking a while to settle down. Dallington may be in love but is it reciprocated? All the McConnell and Lenox domestic arrangements are happy and harmonious. We see a bit of the background to the lives of Scotland Yard policemen and not all of it is edifying.

Did I enjoy it?

I did enjoy it very much. Like the previous books in the series it is an easy and likeable read, comfortable in a good way as you revisit characters you’ve watched develop over time. Seeing rich people behave badly is always a pleasure (and why I have always preferred Dallas to Eastenders) and the crime(s) and the purpose behind them were ingenious and well thought through. And nice to see that the new detective agency has its premises in Chancery Lane where my old employer used to be based.

However, I shall never look at convents again in quite the same way.

t8714Lovecraft Unbound is one of the books I flagged up in my series of Spring Cleaning posts earlier in the year (back in April I think) where I tackled the huge started but not finished pile; and was one of the titles I thought I would definitely go back to; I finally got round to picking it up again this weekend.

What’s it all about and why did I want to read it?

[…] twenty-two of today’s most respected writers of the fantastic present their visions of HP Lovecraft’s world and creations.

What did I think of it?

Like all anthologies it was patchy but the good ones were very good indeed. Some of the Lovecraftian-ness was tenuous but there were enough set in Antarctic wastes and Tibetan planes as well as ancient horrors in modern life to make it worthwhile.

Highlights for me:

  • Cold Water Survival by Holly Phillips (one of the icy ones)
  • In the Black Mill by Michael Chabon (though I spotted early on what the “secret” was but I’m not sure he was trying to hide it that hard)
  • Commencement by Joyce Carol Oates (because, well, it’s JCO, one of my heroes)
  • Mongoose by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear – probably my favourite

There is a companion volume called Lovecraft’s Monsters which has mysteriously found its way onto my Kindle app and I’m sure I’ll dip into that shortly because *whispers* Neil Gaiman’s in it, if for no other reason 🙂

Update: and in tagging this post for publication I realise that I had already written about the first five stories as part of RIP VI back in 2011, which you can read here if you so desire!

FoxgloveSummerCoverI think I’ve said all I have to say about how much I enjoy the Peter Grant novels by Ben Aaronovitch, reinforced last week by the talk and book signing which I attended a week ago and have been banging on about ever since. But does Foxglove Summer live up to the other books in the series?

Well, of course it does.

But it is a little bit different, in that Peter is outside his comfort zone, having been despatched by Nightingale to rural Herefordshire to look into the apparent abduction of two little girls. The Folly’s intervention hasn’t been requested, but they always look into cases where children disappear because, you know, there’s a history of that sort of thing. Although at first it looks to be a sad but ordinary case it becomes clear that there may very well be a supernatural element and Peter stays on to assist with the investigation, which takes a distinctly unexpected turn.

I don’t want to say too much more because as always the fun is in seeing the plot develop. There’s a particular phrase stuck in my head which I so much want to type out here but I won’t. Though I really want to. But I won’t.

I loved it. I read it in two sittings and thoroughly enjoyed it. The new characters were just as well-rounded and interesting as the main cast (particular shout out to Dominic). It gains rather than loses from being set outside the normal London stamping ground (some people worry about that sort of thing but I like long-running series to be shaken up every once in a while). Beverley is there. The whole Lesley situation set off at the end of Broken Homes is still bubbling away. We learn something about Molly. And we meet another, if somewhat elderly, practitioner.

As always my only quibble is insufficient presence of Nightingale, but that’s a small thing really given the other pleasures on the novel.

If you have been reading along then this is a fine addition to the series. And if you haven’t then what are you waiting for?

www_wednesdays4W… W… W… Wednesdays poses the following questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What am I currently reading?

Not much reading done recently due to an excess of film watching and too much stuff going on at work. But still plugging away at Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Well into (and thoroughly fascinated by) Trevor Royle’s book on Scotland in WWI, and have recently started the new Ben Aaronovitch novel Foxglove Summer (I may have gone on about that a bit across a variety of social media!)

What did I recently finish reading?

I haven’t finished anything since my last WWW post *hangs head in shame*

What do I think I’ll read next?

Will try to resist the temptation of the new Stephen King novel and pick up my WWI reading list, and of course Jonathan Strange or bust.

IMG_0219I was very lucky to get tickets for the Ben Aaronovitch event at the Waterstones on Trafalgar Square yesterday evening to celebrate the publication of his new Peter Grant novel Foxglove Summer. Ben was accompanied by the actor who narrates the audiobook versions, Kobna Holbrook Smith, who read a short passage before we went into a lively and informative Q&A session.

Main things I learned from a hugely entertaining event were:

  • potentially a film or TV adaptation (in very early pre-development)
  • (cover your eyes if you haven’t read Broken Homes) he knew the Lesley thing had to happen from the very first book
  • he will keep writing them until he runs out of ideas, people stop buying them or he can afford a yacht (some thoughts n the fact that it’s running costs not purchase price that’s expensive about a yacht, and also he means a proper Russian oligarch type yacht)
  • as well as “what if there was a bit of the Met police that handled magic”, one of his other formative ideas was “what if Hogwarts had been a comprehensive”
  • he would see doing Dr Who again as a backward step
  • he recommends the work of Jasper Fforde and Phil Rickman (pleased about both of them)

A little bit of excitement for me (apart from simply getting the book signed of course) was that while waiting (patiently like a proper brought up British person) I was asked by his publicist if I would be filmed saying a few words about how I’d found out about his books (shout out to Silvery Dude) and had I recommended them to anyone (shout out to MargaRita Queen of Speed who was there with me). Great fun, lovely to be able to share my enthusiasm.

And there was wine!

And of course I started reading the thing as soon as I got home so watch this space for a review (so far so excellent)

Bride of the Book God

Follow brideofthebook on Twitter

Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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