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I got your cards, [livejournal.com profile] athena8 and [livejournal.com profile] toscas_kiss. Thank you both, they're lovely. In a fit of organisation, I posted nearly all of mine last week and some today, so they are making their way to various parts of the globe.

Other news, new socks. £5 from M&S, with angora. Or is it mohair? One of the fluffy rabbits, anyway. I think.

socks )

I'm on holiday from this Friday until January 5. It can't come soon enough as far as I'm concerned. My boss cancelled our team Christmas meal this year. It was going to be on Thursday, but now it's just... not. I'm not even entirely sure why it's cancelled. Not that I really mind because it's always fairly expensive. But it's odd. Something to ask about when I go back into the office tomorrow.

The book I found on the train turns out to be pretty good. It's like a prequel to Renault's Fire From Heaven, from a Roman and Greek point of view. Win!
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I've posted half my cards and the others should go out today, when I find my stamps. Yo, [livejournal.com profile] kanzenhanzai! I got my card with the naked Roger and Rafa inside! It was awesome, thank you. [livejournal.com profile] puddingcat, [livejournal.com profile] kispexi2 and [livejournal.com profile] moshesque, I got yours too, thank you! There were no hot naked men inside, but I can forgive you for that. This time.

Other news: short review of Bentley Little's 'The Walking': IT'S SHOW NOT TELL, BENTLEY. Why is the horror genre so disappointing? It makes me sad. Also, he is called Bentley and that really set up my expectations. This book had some intriguing blurb on it, and then I read it, and... not so great. There was a good central idea, spooky, but everything else was flat.

I peevishly abandoned it on the train, swapping it for a book that was lying on an empty seat. Perhaps left by some other similarly cheesed-off reader? The book was called 'Of Merchants and Heroes' by Paul Walters, a historical novel set in the third century BC and it's about a rather unhappy fellow called Marcus. The style reminds me a lot of Renault, but that's no bad thing for me.

There's a new challenge up on [livejournal.com profile] saiyuki_time. I really want to try and write something for it this week.

I miss tennis. A lot. Just fyi.

Health news: cut for boring )
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1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.

Apparently I hear that The Big Read reckons that on average most adults have only read six book on this list. Huh, I say.

wot i have and haven't read )
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We went to Oxford yesterday, partly to mooch about the bookshops, partly to go to the botanical gardens. It's 20 minutes on the train from Reading, which seemed the perfect travelling distance.

So we mooched a lot and found a new second hand bookshop, where I scored heavily in quality if not in quantity: one copy of Dracula, Prince of Many Faces by my old friends Radu Florescu and Raymond T McNally. It's their follow up, many years later, to In Search of Dracula

cut for shocking images of books, cakes and art )
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I finished Gaywyck. It is utterly preposterous and I entreat you all to read it! The deepest, darkest most broodingest secrets of the Gaylord Family are revealed and there is much leaping into the cold salty waters of the sea, for reasons I couldn't fathom. There were floods of tears by the end (the characters, not mine) and a happy ever after.

Well!

I have now moved on to The Mirador by Sarah Monette, which is far more gently cracktastic. I'm really enjoying this one, apart from the times when characters expound at length about complicated plot points. I can never follow machinations or remember complex histories in novels, and it worries me that I won't understand some vital plot twist later on. Woe. But Mildmay is incredibly endearing and makes up for all the machinations that I struggle to keep up with. Sadly there is no sign of any gay incest yet.
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Bye bye [livejournal.com profile] daegaer, who is leaving our fair British shores today, and by shores I mean Stanstead airport. It was truly a joy having you to stay and thank you for the giant pile of socks you left me in a rainbow of colours! A sockbow, as you called it. I am wearing some yellow ones today in honour of, well, having a lot of new socks.

In other news, Gaywyck continues to be fabulous. Robert, our troubled hero, is deeply in love with Donough Gaylord. He has found secret diaries in the writing desk in the art room, has investigated a secret dark passageway (!), has been stalked in the abandoned cottage in the grounds, had his letters stolen and has fallen into a miserable slump over the cruelty of winter and is tormented by nightmares. But! Just as he is about to expire of despair into Brian's beautiful spice cakes, Donough has arrived, bringing with him Timothy Goodbody and Eugene Mortimer who wear Persian lamb and sing Mahler. (for my selected excerpts, see this post)
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I think I need some Always Calm spray. In a big bottle. I can spray it all over myself before I go to work thus enabling myself to cope with my team leadering angst, which I feel very keenly at the moment.

In other news, I have done two [livejournal.com profile] springkink stories, and have come up with an idea for a third. The fourth languishes. The highwayman Saiuki AU has turned into a 38 page epic, featuring wilfull misuse of cravats, etc.

Also, [livejournal.com profile] jamjar pointed me at goodreads, so I got an account, here.



It's different to librarything, with the emphasis on having a friendslist and sharing reviews, where librarything seems more about cataloguing and listing.
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Weirdly, there were a number of punctuation typos in this book, particularly towards the end. Full stops instead of commas, odd things like that. Various people have recommended Tanya Huff to me before, but I kept picking up her novels in bookshops, thinking 'am I really going to enjoy this?' then putting them back down. But this one sold me on having Tony the gay production assistant working on a show about a vampire detective. Coincidentally, Tony's ex is an actual vampire detective, called Henry. Who is the bastard son of Henry VIII.

So, plot ensues, with an evil wizard from another world who sends his evil shadow minions to attack the special effects person on the show, who also happens to be a wizard and his enemy. Tony and Henry get sucked into it.

The plot is very frothy and camp and I enjoyed it. It clunked in some places, mostly where exposition was necessary to explain character backgrounds (this book is linked to a whole series of other books featuring some of the same characters). There are also a couple of charming fandom jokes: the second lead on the vampire detective show is called Lee Nicholas, and has green eyes an dark hair, and when Tony and Arra are in the car driving somewhere, the only tape in the car is The Best of Queen, Vol 1.

Tanya Huff does a nice line in cracktastic scenarios. This isn't a book to blow you away, but it's amusing and intriguing, and has some nice observations that bring her characters to life.
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I have still not heard back from the people who interviewed me for a job and it's been 3 weeks. I can conclude from this I have not got the job, but at least I thought they might send me a letter! Unless they are just incredibly slow. Sigh.

I've not been cycling to Rivendell recently, because my knees started to hurt. They calmed down now so I think I might start again, but this time maybe not quite so violently.

Also, I had a tendonitis flare-up in my arm, which has largely gone down. My method of self-treatment, for those interested: I switch my mouse to the other hand; stop using my laptop in silly positions like balanced on my leg while I'm slumped on my side on the sofa; slather on liberal quantities of ibuprofen gel; and use an ice pack as much as possible over the afflicted area... 10 minutes on, ten minutes off, then another ten minutes. It's tedious but it works. I tie my cool pack on with a tea towel. Doing this last thing at night seems to be benefical.

In other news, I finished Beyond Black. I loved the main character, Alison. I think it's partly because she has to live such an odd life, half in and half out of reality. Also that Colette her hatched brained assistant doesn't let her choose the garden shed she wants. I'd like to read some more Hilary Mantel.

Also on books, Matt gave me a copy 1000 - which describes month by month what life was like during the year 1000. It's not bad, and goes into some detail about technology and religion. Apparently, July was the hungry month, and people would make bread with all sort of things, including ergot-infested rye, hemp, ancient dried peas, poppies or basically anything they wouldn't eat at any other time of year. Then it was all ground together to make flour for bread. The resulting bread was called 'crazy bread'. "It was as if a spell had been cast on the whole village," one monk wrote.

Umm, to sum up. I know where my towel is. And my tea towel!

ETA: more cravat tying instructions!
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LJ, I does not understand you. Why are you showing me posts from 16 May on my friends list?

Anyway. I finally saw Brokeback Mountain. I'd avoided it up until now because the story is such a slice of unremitting grimness that I was scared of what the film might be. And in fact I'm sorry I didn't watch it sooner because it was quite beautiful, drawing out the yearning and romance between them more than the book ever did. I liked the sense all the way through that the lives they were leading with their wives were essentially a replacement for the kind of domestic life they could never lead together, and that they might be imagining each other in those roles - it made everything all that much sadder.

I have had a spurt of reading...
Victorian Sensation by Michael Diamond. Laid to rest any further notions I had that people in the Victorian era were any more stuffy and repressed than we are. He looks at the notion of 'sensation' and how scandals and gossip would absolutely grip the nation, and for weeks on end. It's also interesting to learn how outspoken the music halls were about everyone and anything, particularly their 'betters'. He does a sort of review, going through: royalty, murder, sex, politics and the 'sensation' novel.

Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel, about a psychic medium and her traumatic life. 'Beyond black' is how she refers to the afterlife, the details of which she keeps secret from her public because it would upset them too much. Her banal life of being overweight, eating leaky sandwiches at motorway service stations and moving into in a 'new build' is undercut by the presence of her appalling spirit guide Morris. He lives in curtains and draining boards and likes playing with himself. Colette, her assitant, is aggressive and stony faced. I'm hugely enjoying it so far.

Vikings: Wolves of War by Martin Arnold. He writes in a very engaging and non judgemental way about the Vikings, who were basically a race of entrepreneurs, as far as I can tell. Rather violent ones, when they weren't farming. It's fairly short, so obviously there's detail lacking, but for an overview of who they were, their expansion, culture and the (sometimes scarily violent) change from paganism to Christianity, it's very good.
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I finished Black Powder War by Naomi Novik yesterday. Now I really really want my own clever talking dragon. So bad.

Also, Tharkay is such good slash fodder.

Windy

Jan. 18th, 2007 01:23 pm
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Holy crap it's so windy - 90 mph winds in some parts of the country today, although they're about 30-40 here. The wind is roaring about the house. I'm concerned about our garden wall, which leans at about an 80 degree angle because of the yew tree growing next to it. Cycling across town the dentist was not fun and I was bright pink and mithered when I arrived. My nice new shoes got splattered with mud too. Humph. Cycling back down the Oxford Road, I was almost at a standstill against the wind. But Joel said my teeth were healthy and I don't need anymore work. A milestone for me - a ten minute, problem free check up.

For those of you that need to waste some quality time, spotted via [livejournal.com profile] grendelity: Nun Lander- land the nun safely or she goes to hell. I failed dismally every time and all my nuns crashed and burned. Sorry, nuns.

I've been reading Lucifugous by Elizabeth Bear - a very slashy zeppelin-and-detective-based novella (is that a genre? It should be), downloadable for free here. Lucifugous means... actually it's more fun if you look it up yourself.
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From [livejournal.com profile] toscas_kiss:

This is a list of the 50 most significant science fiction/fantasy novels, 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club. Bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished, and put an asterisk* beside the ones you loved.

boooks )
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I'm going to see the film on Thursday, which from what I can tell seems to have made quite a few changes to the novel. Anyway, various people have been telling me for years that I would like the The Prestige if I read it, so I finally took it down off the shelf. Here's some notes, before it all drains from my memory in time honoured fashion: Read more... )

Temeraire

Sep. 12th, 2006 12:25 pm
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Peter Jackson wants to make Temeraire into a film... which is kind of amazingly exciting and gave me a squeak of pure glowy joy, for both the idea and also for [livejournal.com profile] naominovik. As he says: "I can't wait to see Napoleonic battles fought with a squadron of dragons. That's what I go to the movies for."

It really is. Along with seeing people being chased by dinosaurs.
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Okay, so it looks like I will defintely be going to [livejournal.com profile] squee_fest_uk, and in the company of the illustrious [livejournal.com profile] daegaer, yay! So, perhaps now might be a good time to find accomodation, yes? I must remember to sort out my [livejournal.com profile] connotations booking too. And decide about Yaoicon this year while I am at it. And find a nice cheap holiday on a beach somewhere.

In other news I am working my way slowly through Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, and enjoying it. I like the style and the tone - it reminds me a lot of Neverwhere, but seems far more solid somehow.

I have been writing screeds of fiction, but none of it is in a postable state, or often even properly finished. But about a 1000 words a day on various things, which I am pleased with. This morning on the train I began an original short story that I hope to send off for a deadline at the end of this month. I don't know if I can meet the deadline, or if 23 days is long enough to write and edit it, but seeing as it's going to be about 6000 words long, it seems enough time if I don't let myself get too distracted by other things, by which I mean manporn. Shut up. Speaking of which, I need to start editing my chapters of the epic porn novel. There are just so many things I want to write, aargh. Frustration. I wish I had more time for them all. But at least I have a plan, even a vague plan.

So, June looks like it's going to be fairly busy, and here I was thinking it seemed quiet. My parents are insisting on taking me to a boat show on Sunday, and the weekend after that is a family party in Kent. The week after that I hope to have off and was planning on doing the face-down onna beach thing. Thankfully work is not too demanding at the moment, or I feel like I might pop a gasket.

Finally, have a photo of my garden:

big giant poppy )
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Two Cromwellian soldiers in love-- As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann. I would say, read this book. Some thoughts that will spoil you for the end )
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The fake tan on my legs is streaky! Gahhh.

In other news, I've just finished Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross in my bid to read the Hugo nominees before Worldcon. It was okay, indeed a 'carnival of ideas' as someone said on the back cover and I very much liked the character of Rachel Mansour. What a great name. It's not often, ever? that you see an old woman as protagonist. She might not look it, but there's a nice contrast in life experience between her and another far younger female character. Wednesday Shadowmist, with the joke Mary Sue name, felt oddly like a Mary Sue herself sometimes though.

I suppose one of the things science fiction, or any fiction, needs to do is introduce the reader to a new world and to make the reader believe in it. It's certainly vibrant, but sometimes there was a touch of what I think of the Jake Arnotts. If you've ever read a book of his, you'll know that he won't leave period detail alone, to the point where you just want him to shut up about the clothes and the cars and the music and all the other little things he puts in so you know, yes very well thank you, these people are 1960's mods. There was a bit of that going on in Iron Sunrise, too much being shoehorned in, but then, if you're creating a world, how can there not be huge amounts of detail? I suppose it rests on how you get those details across, how much and when and how good they are.

I was disappointed by the end. I had a real sense that the plot, which raced along for about two thirds of the book, just overreached itself and fell flat, fizzled out, whatever. By the end I was glad to put it down and wasn't sure that I liked the blatant setting up for a sequel. But there were lots of nice ideas. Lots and lots of them.

Life

Apr. 20th, 2005 09:32 pm
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I didn't enjoy Robert Harris's Pompeii. The premise is good: a volcano-based thriller! Sounds bloody brilliant. But the protagonist was hopelessly Mary Sue-ish and an enormous, smug prig.

But it was saved by the revelation that Romans dressed their favourite eels in jewellery. And the rain pf pumice at the end. Read it just for those things.

I can't think of anything else sensible to write about life. The world has gone mad. Nothing but Popes for bloody weeks on end and now look what they've gone and done; the Daily Mail telling us we're going to die one of three ways: beaten by thugs, eaten by MRSA or poisoned by terrorists;  Howard - shut the fuck up, I can't bear another word of your miserable stinking scaremongering;  Kennedy - well, convince me; Blair - he's going to win because the Sun came out on his side today and also, if the US election showed us anything it's that floating voters will go for the person who can most sound like they believe what they saying.

Fannish things

In other news, I wrote some drabbles where Hakkai, Gojyo, Sanzo and Goku are British teenagers,  here and here.  I make my own fun.
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Mary Renault's The Charioteer is one book that depresses the hell out of me. I read it last year and it made me feel very low, partly because, I think, I engaged so much with the characters. Ralph is an intensely tragic figure, which makes it even worse. I still have notes for the fic I planned to write to cheer myself up about it - set after the war when they all meet again.

But moving on, right now I'm off to see the joyful staff at the Reading postal sorting office, to collect a parcel, then Sainsbury's for breakfast and supplies, then holing up to finish the remix. *collects bits of story*

Tony Blair has got to go. As someone said yesterday, things have come to a sorry pass when you have to rely on Michael Howard to defend civil liberties in this country.

Masterful!

Nov. 30th, 2003 12:05 am
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*groan* I ate too much cheese. I know better than to stuff it down my face in those quantities but I still do.

In other news, my GO NaNoWriMo novel has passed 50,000 words. The past 4 weeks have been really hard, very exhausting, and at some points even quite upsetting. But at the end of it all I'm dead chuffed. I did it! Even though I've been posting it in [livejournal.com profile] space_angels it's not strictly fit for human consumption, or even finished, but I'm quite hopeful now that I'll write quite a bit more and then settle down to edit it into something cool and froody.

Along with my new copy of Good Omens (the old one fell apart, literally), I bought 'Master and Commander' by Patrick O'Brian. It's fabulous. I loved it right from the start, with that hugely entertaining description of what's going on in Aubrey's head at the concert and the way he's responding to the music. Reading with furrowed brow the insanely complicated nautical descriptions- I have no idea what's happening most of the time but it's worth it for terms like foretopgallantsail and cunt-splice! Now there's a term you don't see everyday.
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My website provider seems to have fallen over; my site's gone, replaced by a cheery notice saying 'this is your web space, ain't you a lucky girl!' Arse. But, I can rebuild it-- I have the technology.

[livejournal.com profile] iibnf has made me intermittantly queasy throughout the day, thinking about her Corpse Water Croissants. It's my fault, I didn't have to read that entry, she did warn me. Actually, I think it'd make a good title for a film. 'Corpse Water Croissants at the Whistle Stop Cafe'. It could work. Just needs the right target audience, that's all.

Slashy books I have read
Since I sent [livejournal.com profile] daegaer her copy of 'Killing Time', I've had to go back and reread it. I'd forgotten how entertaining it was spotting the bits where the slashy bits had been pruned out by the editor, to make it fit for publication for the masses. So, even though Kirk muses on such things as the 'blue and gold of command entertwined', and turns up at Spock's door at 2 in the morning all sweaty and desperate and hurting, and has a mind bond that lets him feel Spock's Pon Farr, well, they're just very good friends, y'know? Brothers in the stars. It's very enjoyable.
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Arrgh. lj broken again tonight, and it's annoying, for lo, I come bearing comments.

Just finished 'Personal Demons' by Christopher Fowler. There were some very good ideas there, and the writing was generally good, but I couldn't help feeling like he needed a better editor. There were a few oddities in his writing - some strange or awkward similies, for example. Some of his stories were genuinely chilling, but some were amusing and thoughtful - an odd but very readable mixture, especially as I was expecting a book of horror short stories. It stopped me thinking about sex for five minutes anyway. Guh. Sex.

And icons! I got some nice new icons for Milady's Boudoir over at the journal fen icon community. You can have 10 icons over there, which is so exciting to me with my measley 3, and yesterday I even made some new ones myself.

(Bunnies aren't just cute like everybody supposes,
They got them hoppy legs and twitchy little noses,
And what's with all the carrots?
What do they need such good eyesite for anyway?
Bunnies! Bunnies! It must be bunnies!)
(a la [livejournal.com profile] katmaxwell
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Apparently there is a handsome man who works in Waterstone's bookshop. On Friday Kiar cajoled me into helping him write a (sort of) love note to him. Then we set off in our lunch hour to embarrass the poor sap. Kiar is convinced that they could be friends or more. I haven't felt like a teenager for a long time, but I did then. I was very disappointed when we couldn't find him.

To get over our sorrow we spent some time in the sci-fi and fantasy department. Kiar pressed an entire set of Mercedes Lackey books on me and said that they were amazing and I should read them. Well, I bought one and tried to read it. If it had been a piece of fanfiction I would congratulate the author on her lack of typo's, but damn her for her desperately clunking plot devices and uninteresting, two-dimensional characters. I suppose I expect more from authors who have actually managed to get themselves published. Anyway, I can't finish it, it's just too annoying.

Saw Les yesterday, and she told me all about her poor foot. She was in good spirits though, and was charging about on her crutches gamely. It was horrific hearing about what happened, but fascinating too, in a morbid way, and we talked for about 2 hours. It was good for her to talk about it, and it felt cathartic for me too. She should talk about it as much as possible, that's the only way she'll ever come to terms with only having half a foot left.

She missed out on Ali's party because she was worried about getting trodden on. It was fun, but mostly seemed to be a DJ training session. They all sat on stools in the back room, three shaved heads in a row waiting their turn to keep the neighbours awake, and everyone else crammed into the kitchen. Mike was on good form: I like the way he is always willing to mock the afflicted. Must be his way of coping with his job.

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