Sep. 20th, 2017 04:16 pm
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
I read a book today which I really liked, but I can't find online. It's called The Princess And The Broken Heart revised by Smaul the Troll. It's almost a Sleeping Beauty retelling and almost a Snow White retelling. I love that genre and this one has another trait that I love - it doesn't assume anyone is irredeemable. Consider this statement about the evil stepmother queen 'Now, Leonora was not born cruel, and she had never been mean, but she had taken up a terrible way of thinking that consumed her like a fire'. The copy I picked up feels like it has a bit missing, because it talks about puzzles that the reader solved, and there weren't any that I noticed, but apart from that, it's a lovely story about love and change.

But autumn is upon us and I am feeling better enough that I've caught up to my Goodreads challenge of the year (which is just the same as last year rounded up, and I was a couple of books behind, having got loads ahead in the spring).

I also noticed that two years ago, I read a lot of dross that I picked up in the library, and last year I read mostly recommendations and it went a lot better, and this year I've read almost entirely recommendations and presents, and have enjoyed a lot more. I think I've been too busy reading random stuff that wasn't very enjoyable to listen to you lot.

So, here's my question - what's a book that 'everyone's read' that you would recommend? Imagine I've been living under a rock for the last ten years.

My contribution is 'The Bray House' by Eilís Ní Dhuibhne . It's Irish post apocalyptic fiction, and it's super popular in Ireland, the sort of book you find in guesthouses &c throughout the land. It's also brilliant.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
Today we went shopping, ostensibly for clothes for me but we spent most of our energy in the book department of Smiths. I wanted two or three not-black dresses with high necklines, defined waists, circle skirt and at least 3/4 length sleeves, something like this would be ideal except I'm not sure about red, a cardigan and a pair of shoes. What I got was a sleeveless navy shift dress, a cardigan, four books (for the children) and two pairs of shoes. And some fruit, but we ate that already.
ETA: It occurs to me that [personal profile] rmc28 already told me where to get the ideal dress as described above, and it's eShakhti, but if any of y'all know where to get them in the UK, I'm interested to hear where.

I've not been in the White Stuff shop before, it was as pleasant as a shop can be. They have a waiting room with a TV showing children's stuff and colouring and things, and I think I spotted a coffee pot. And helpful staff, an clothes that don't make me look like a sack of potatoes, for similar price to M&S, whose design principles seem to be 'everyone loves chips, right? So that's what we want people to think of when they see someone wearing our clothes'.

Judith recently agreed that, rather than pack a ton of books, I could load some onto an ebook reader on her tablet. When we went to Hungary, she packed 47 books. While we were out she remembered that the McDonalds free ebooks are Kobo brand, so she'd like Kobo, and I have installed that and am filling it with books. She's got a bunch of Ever After High short stories, a couple of Tinkerbell books, some free things I figured might be worthwhile but haven't read, Pollyanna, Black Beauty, Heidi, the first Harry Potter, the first two Narnia and Minnow on the Say by Philippa Pearce. Because I can never resist a book recommendation, and because it's fun to think about, what would you give to an 8 year old who is just becoming enthusiastic about books, and who likes the sort of thing I mentioned (plus Worst Witch, American Girl books, Lord of the Rings). Also, do any of y'all have experience of using the Kobo app for Project Gutenburg books? Is it easy, or should we find a different app for that?

This weekend marked two years since the flapjack muse and I started dating. It feels quicker than that, largely because I'd had a crush on him for years, but also because neither of us quite felt confident so it felt like a very casual series of one off dates for months before we realised it was probably a relationship. But also, because of said feelings, and because he has long been a good friend it feels like longer too. We celebrated by a day in London; a visit to the House of Illustration, which had a Jo Brocklehurst exhibition. Brocklehurst did a lot of drawing in clubs, lots of gay bars and punks and generally an artist of the alternative scene. She also spent a lot of time doing Alice in Wonderland themed drawings, which were simply delightful. Because of working in such dark spaces, she used a lot of neon and UV reactive colours, which make her work really distinctive. Or maybe she used those materials already and that's why the darkness of the clubs didn't bother her.

Then we walked to the Thames, because both of us love walking through London, and we ate ice cream on the beach until it was time for dinner. Dinner we ate at Ethiopian restaurantLalibela, lots of lamb and pumpkins and aubergine and plenty of injera, and delightful coffee ceremony coffee afterwards.

Reading: Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone, as I enjoyed Three Parts Dead which I just finished
Watching: finishing up Orange is the New Black, and there's more coming
Eating: I will definitely cook something any minute now
Playing: Jack and I played Small World which is a fun rise/decline of civilisation game, and he beat me 94 - 91. Andreas and I played mancala. The rest of us have been playing Lego Harry Potter, which has lots of sliding staircases.
Making: I bought a new bobbin plate for my sewing machine, so I totally intend to start sewing again soon.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
When the Kindles first came out and Colin was an enthusiastic subscriber, I had a go and didn't really get on with it. But recently, [personal profile] juliet mentioned that Kindle screens are different now, and I had another go and discovered that I quite like the kind he has. So he offered to buy me my own (because I could borrow his but what I mostly use the app for is situations that I don't know in advance that I'll definitely need a book or a magazine, and I'm guessing that's what I'll use the device for as well). It'll make packing for holiday significantly easier, too, as a large part of what goes in my bag is Enough Books.

Annoyingly, I seem to have lost my ability to read Lightspeed in organising this but that should be easy to fix.

Anyway, I kind of feel like I win at shopping. I needed to buy something from Argos, next door. So I ordered that on the way, then I went into Curry's to check which Kindle I wanted (because I wasn't sure) and ordered that from my phone, went next door to Argos and picked up my stuff, returned to Curry's and picked up that. There was a bit of a wait in Curry's, but only because there was no queue in Argos. Total waiting time less than five minutes. Curry's didn't have the case I wanted, so I ordered that from Amazon in the waiting time.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)
Monday morning means Emerald City, which is Oz for grownups. It's based on not just the first book, but subsequent books, and I'm less familiar with those. I think there's some new stuff thrown in, and certainly I can think of at least one character where they've amalgamated two and I'm pretty certain they were separate in the book. But it's gripping, I'm loving it.
Content note: there's a trans* kid who gets forced off his meds. It's so emotionally hard, and that's the point, to show how he really needs that help.

I'm reading Magic for Nothing by Seanan McGuire, which is the latest InCryptid and told from Antimony's perspective. Lots of roller derby and lots of fun. Also Taking the Village Online which if you like academic parenting books, you might be interested in, but otherwise, maybe not? IDK.

Playing: Colin just got the Ghostbusters boardgame so we haven't played that yet but it's our next plan. I haven't been playing so many games recently though.

Also, yesterday I made blackbean enchiladas which made Colin happy, and Jack cooked for me so that made me happy. A nice salsa though, finely chopped onion, tomatoes, mixed salad leaves, lime juice and a lot of pepper. And lime and black pepper soured cream, I normally just offer plain soured cream or yoghurt, but that was a good plan. Also in recent menu, mixed nuts fried with rice wine and rice vinegar, they were really good.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)
I've mostly been forgetting to read a lot lately. Colin an I watched Interstellar, which I found emotionally difficult but, apart from an unfortunate resemblance of one of the minor characters, not for any good reason. We all went to see Sing for Andreas' birthday, which was rather lovely. But books not so much. I put my short story collection down somewhere and don't remember where, which is a sign I should move on and come back to it later, but I keep forgetting to do that step.

Anyway, in February I read 5 books.

4 written by women
1 written by a man

Not sure on ethnicity of all the authors (whch is a thing we discussed last month as being not always obvious)

2 fantasy
1 poetry
1 slice of life
1 biography

which is also 3 aimed at adults and 2 aimed at children.

Apart from the biography - the story of Togo, the dog who was lead dog for most of the Nome serum run - which I read to Judith because we both wanted to read it - all of those were read before the 16th.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)
Not so much exactly what I've been reading as what kind of thing I've been reading.

13 in total.

6 written by women
7 written by men

(I think)
3 written by authors of colour,
10 written by white authors

4 fantasy
4 non fiction
3 slice of life
1 poetry

Actually, right now I'm reading Oz Reimagined which Colin gave me, a set of short stories inspired by The Wizard of Oz.
Knitting my Alice gloves still, photo when I'm done
Watching The Secret World of Alex Mack with Judith (90s Nickelodeon show about a girl who gets caught in a chemical accident and has to hide that she has resulting superpowers - I loved it then, and I'm enjoying introducing the rest of the family to it)
Playing, well, I got dragged into a Skylanders game yesterday but mostly
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Charlie and Lola)
Today I am mostly excited about Dark Minds which is a horror/noir short story collection including a story by a girl I know - she was in Benedict's primary school class, and she's the daughter of Andreas' godmother. Today was a day I had planned for finishing my Christmas shopping and sitting in a cafe with a book, so if all goes to plan, I'm going to get my copy in Waterstones later.

This is also a reminder that I'm running a bookswap in January, sign up here, if you fancy some new reading material and are happy to enthuse about your favourite books, it's as simple as 'send a book you like to someone else' and it should be low-pressure and mean we get to read something a bit new.

Also, yesterday I was;

reading: The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
watching: just finishing up a Gilmore Girls watch through, and then I'll watch the new ones agan
playing: Andreas nad I had a round of Princess Cupcakes, and Colin, Judith and I played Tsuro of the Seas
eating: dal with roast butternut squash, fried onions and flatbreads
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Father Christmas Ghoti)
Over on Facebook there's a meme going around. This is the original:

"WANTED: Participants for a book-loving social experiment. Comment if you want to participate and I’ll send you details. What do you have to do? Buy your favourite book and send it to a stranger (I’ll send you a name and address.) You will only be sending one book to one person. The number of books you will receive depends on how many participants there are. The books that will show up at your door are the other people’s much loved stories #SaveTheCulture #BookExchange #LongLiveBooks"

In all the posts I've seen of it, there have been people expressing reservations about the pyramid nature of the scheme, and I share those. So I fixed it.

If you want to play, I made a swap over on Elfster. This means that I don't know who each person gets, it's entirely mystery. Buy a book, one you love, as a present, and send it. Someone else will do the same for you, and hopefully it'll be a way of trying something new. is the signup link, I put in a sign up deadline of 2nd January and an exchange date of 18th January, so shopping can wait until after the busy period and there is hopefully a nice thing at a time when lots of people are feeling a bit glum. Hopefully, because the idea is that it's something you love, it'll be a bit easier than trying to work out what other people like!

ps this might get international, so let me know if you don't want to send outside your country.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)

I've been asked a few times for a review of this so i thought I'd better read it :)

On the whole I like it. It's a family of choice space fiction with a cast of believable characters. It did seem a bit tick boxy at the start, there's a manic pixie dream girl mechanic (I wonder why fivemack was reminded of Firefly), a nurturer, a wild eyed newbie, an obsessive savant. Everyone seemed placed in their roles. But happily, everyone grew from their start positions as they get more exposure.
I love when there are agender, differently gendered people in a book, but adding in a gender neutral pronoun without a person to match felt forced. It didn't need to be. I love when there are poly people, but the poly aliens were all a bit 'look at the freaks who are so promiscuous and only think about sex' which was redeemed a bit but only once that idea was firmly established.

So, what I think? It's a nice story and I like the people but with really jarring parts too, read it when you're in a good mood and likely to be able to cope.

ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)
There's a competition being run by a book shop in London, Win a book a month for the rest of your life. It's a book of their choice, based on what you tell them about your preferences - and presumably they hone their recommendations over time, although it doesn't say that. A nice prize.

The competition is a prize draw, picked from a hat, but the question is quite interesting. Which book, published since 1936, has been most influential on your life?

Well, for me it's always going to be childhood books. Books like In A Blue Velvet Dress (the first time I met a protagonist like me) or My Sister Sif had a deep influence in a way that books I read as an adult. "Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" lead me to Japanese literature and an interest in Japan - but it hasn't been as deep a fascination as that with Iceland, which came about after reading "Iceland Saga" by Magnus Magnusson. For grown up books those are definitely two of my choices, although something like Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto echoes in my mind more than the Murakami.

For modern 'people like me' books I'd say 'A Trifle Dead' by Livia Day. Set in a cafe in Hobart, and peopled with a cast of characters reminiscent of my friends, I love that about it. I don't so much feel that I need that now - I don't need a community of people identical to me. But I do need to know that they're out there in fiction so that other people can see them, feel like they're not alone?

Or maybe it's something like deadkidsongs by Toby Litt. A book that feels like the Mahler of the title, horrific and gorgeous. That feels like an answer that would be approved rather than the right answer, though.

What do you think?


Sep. 7th, 2016 12:41 pm
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Meerkat)
You've probably seen the boxes of things that have been going around for a while - there's a theme, and you don't really know what you're getting until it turns up. Judith and I had Quarterly ones for a while before deciding that actually, we weren't sufficiently enamoured of all the things, and I switched to just choosing something for the children myself. (My box turned into more money for travel.)

Anyway, there's a YA fiction box called OwlCrate and after their FB post today, I'm mildly inclined towards starting a box:

"There has been a lot of conversation over the past couple of days about the need for more diversity in literature (as well as all other media). Here at OwlCrate we fully support the need for more diverse books. We also realize that we need to do better. While we have included books in our boxes that featured LGBTQA+ characters and people of color, we absolutely recognize that we need to do more.
💜 As we begin to review books and select titles for our 2017 boxes, we promise to make a much stronger effort to include more diverse reads. This includes diversity of all kinds! We will also be on the look out for books written by people of color, sharing their own stories. 💜 If you're excited about a diverse YA book that is being published in 2017 - PLEASE let us know about it so we can research it! Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
💜 It's not enough to simply say we need more diverse books. We all need to demand it and begin to use our buying power to support the diverse titles that do make it to the shelves. 💜 We're making this post to open up dialogue about this issue, to recognize what we as a company need to work on, and to celebrate diversity in all areas of life. Any hateful comments will be removed immediately."

But I give myself £5 a week pocket money (because more money to travel if I don't spend all of it on books and games) so I can't really justify it to myself. But I thought some of you might be interested. and you can peruse past boxes here.


Aug. 30th, 2016 11:35 am
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Emily Procter)
Yesterday I made a dinner so nice Jack wrote it down. So I figured that I'd give you a 'here was my day' post even though I haven't written up Spain.

I almost finished Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole and had to leave Sailing to Serantium by Guy Gavriel Kay at a particularly exciting point, so quite a frustrating book day. Both excellent in very different ways - and there was a point where about 6 or 7 train journeys in a row featured a pretty woman reading Kay as one of my fellow passengers (not the same woman) so I assume that reading Kay makes me more attractive?

Tom and the littles and I played Splendor, which is a resource management game - Andreas is an interesting person to play with, because he wants to stockpile rather than manage his resources. At the end of the game, Tom won but Judith and I were both within a turn of winning so pretty well balanced I think.

Dinner was pasta with broccoli (because our cauliflower had gone off) and cheese sauce; pasta and broccoli cooked separately because the children don't eat sauce (they had cheese with it, and we also had baby sweetcorn with it). This particular cheese sauce, I melted some butter and fried some mushrooms (I meant to add onions and garlic here but forgot), then added a spoon of mustard, stirred well, and added a splash of milk several times stirring well, then a generous dash so the mushrooms were all covered, maybe a pint and a half in total? At this point I added fresh sweetcorn kernels (just sliced off the cob) and a lot of grated chededar and grana padana, and kept stirring until it thickened. Mixed it into the pasta and broccoli, then grated more cheddar on the plates when iut was finished.

After dinner we played Princess cupcakes game, which is a child-aimed game where you have to build your princess' cake before the time runs out. Andreas is very enthusiastic about this game :) And then Transformers Shuffle, which is a nice battle card game, a good family game and you can play it on the tray tables on aeroplanes, which is what I was hoping when I bought it at the airport :) It also isn't all about turn taking ,everyone plays on every turn, so might be good for more impatient players?
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Charlie and Lola)
It's very rare that I do that, but this was a nonfiction whose tone was annoying *and* when I fact checked the bits I could was obviously wrong, or at least, right in such a narrow set of circumstances as to be useless to me. (Yiddish Civilisation by Paul Kriwaczek.)

I've moved onto The Shadow Cage by Philippa Pearce, which I somehow missed earlier in my life, and is a book of short stories with a supernatural twist. Much more satisfying.


Jun. 9th, 2016 11:39 am
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Meerkat)
Today I had 9 reservations to pick up from the library, due to the library being about to start charging £1 per reservation. I've started on A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan and, if you like, will let you know how I like it.

That also means I returned Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, onto the Arbury Court library shelves, so if you're interested, now's a good time to grab it. It's set in a magical Georgian England, and follows the adventurer of said sorcerer, who is a freed slave struggling for acceptance in a conservative gentleman's club of magicians, and a young lady of unknown ancestry but great magical talent. Plus there are dragons. The tone is modern rather than period, but it doesn't seek to overlay modern morality, rather catches the spirit of the time.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Meerkat)
Wednesday is our busy day. Drama for Judith at 10, preschool group (crafts, singing and a story) for Andreas at 11.30, recorders for Judith at 12.45 and football for Judith at 2.30, with copious playing and eating and such in between. Andreas said that his favourite part of the day is lunchtime - I pack a lunch and the last few weeks I've done individual lunch in lunchboxes, otherwise I pack a picnic in a big coolbox, either way they just dip in when they're hungry and play the rest of the time. Judith spent 5 minutes at lunchtime explaining why the carrot sticks I put in were disappointing. You can't win them all, but I had coffee so I was OK.

Anyway, normally I spend the time Judith is busy playing with Andreas, and if they're both busy together, talking. But today I grabbed some time to start a new book, which is nice. Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers, which was her first published book and I hadn't read yet. She's one of the four queens of crime (Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham and Sayers) and I think this is a straight murder mystery, I think she grew into her more nuanced style later - The Documents in the Case, for example, is not who dunnit so much as how, and how can you prove it. Before I went out I finished The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, a recommendation from [ profile] ceb. I like it, the change of viewpoints and the timelines all weave together towards a satisfying conclusion.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Charlie and Lola)
I'm not sure who recommended this book, because I never write that down when I put books into my to read list, but whoever it was, thank you!

For everyone else, I really loved this book. It's about water and tea and life and death, and the interaction of these things. It's post-apocalyptic dystopia, but focussing on one woman and her struggle, rather than the big picture. The apocalypse was vclimate change and a plausible future if we don't do something - the world was plausible and consistent, but a nice background to the main character, Noria, and her life, loves, hopes and fears.

It's beautifully written, the metaphors aren't laboured but rather free flowing. I think this is now my favourite fantasy book about tea - feel free to recommend more!

Also, that is now four books in a row which I have had enough thoughts about, so either I've been reading thinky books or I've been just generally in an introspective mood, which is possible.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)
I did a book challenge over the last year, which was satisfying, but left me with the nagging feeling that it was invented by someone who feels that reading books is more worthy than watching [TV/films] so I also adapted it for films.

I just finished the film version. Books, I think next I'll move on to reading the stuff off the kindle, which is an expanding list but hopefully will make me feel less like I'm reading stuff noone else I know has read, and more like I'm reading stuff that Colin has read, and maybe more people, and I can talk about it.


Jan. 15th, 2016 11:25 am
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Charlie and Lola)
I felt that my Goodreads 'what I read this year' page was a little thin, but I thought maybe I just hadn't read as much as I'd thought. Then I realised that I'd not added date finished to a lot of books, and suddenly it looks a lot better.

So, if you fancy taking a gander at what I read, go ahead, and I might even be able to talk about them if prompted.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Charlie and Lola)
Thanks for asking! Yes, Friday is library day, we try to go every week. Often one of us has a reserved book to pick up, and we've often finished our books anyway and want new ones.

This week I had one book to pick up, Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs. I love the Mercy Thompson books, and this is a spin off series, the opening novella of which I read recently. Same universe, different main characters and I'm loving learning more about Charles, who looms menacingly in the back ground of Mercy's life.

Because I knew I was going to be writing this, I went on a wonder through the shelves as well, which I sometimes do and sometimes don't. The second of the Alpha & OMega series was not there, only the third, but I picked up a couple of Kelley Armstrongs, as I rememered reading another of hers and enjoying it as brilliant fluff. So I have Omens (woman discovers she's secretly the daughter of serial killers with hilarious consequences) and Otherworld Nights, a collection of shorts.
Then I noticed a Cecelia Ahern I hadn't read, The Year I Met You, as I passed the 'quick picks' shelf (basically, popular books that are put in a separate display so you can grab one quickly while dashing through or supervising your children in the children's section) so I grabbed that. I've enjoyed Ahern in the past - both her fantastical books like If You Could See Me Now and her more prosaic books like PS I Love You so I guess I'll see.

As for the children, I routinely keep a list of the books they borrow, and then I buy their own copy when between them they've borrowed a book 5 times. That's how we got our Winnie the Witchcollection, a perenniel favourite; How Many Sleeps?, popular at birthday time, several Peppa Pig and That's Not My... books I'd never have chosen, and various other acquisitions. this time, I notice that Tip Tap went the crab now fits this category.

Today, Judith was busy at home, so we left her and Andreas & I chose her books.

A was in a touchy-feely mood, and chose lots of toddler books with textures:

My first gruffalo
Toddler Touch Out and About
Betsy Goes to School
My first playtime

For J, he chose:
The Elves and the Shoemaker
The Green queen by Nick Sharatt
Mr Monkey and the Birthday Party by Linda Chapman
all from the early readers section,

and I picked up The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey because I thought she might like it.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Gilmore Girls)
I was thinking of attempting to read all the books and watch all the films mentioned in the Gilmore Girls. >It's a bit of a challenge and some of them I'm not keen to revisit or might be difficult to get hold of, so I wondered a wondering.

[Poll #2027729]


ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)

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