Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Don't Try this at Home by Angela Readman

Much has happened since I last posted! I have created and forgotten two placeholder drafts, been on holiday three times in one month and moved country! I say this, to excuse me from ever writing and posting the two placeholder drafts which I created some months back. Sorry, you are to be sorely deprived of my experiences of the Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava and the mid-year bumper edition Lit Corner I had lined up.*

This is also the reason I haven't written up my review of Angela Readman's Don't Try this at Home here - I simply forgot completely that it was something I ought to do! I bought this book in March last year, and had wanted it a while before that. I read it in a bit of a hurry in the days leading up to my move as I knew I wouldn't be able to bring that many books with me, and also because I had promised to lend it to someone.** As it has been a while, I will be cheap and copy-paste the Goodreads review I wrote at the time here.

"I liked this book more than I thought I would after reading the first couple of stories, but less than I wanted to. Overall, I only really enjoyed two stories: 'Surviving Sainthood' and 'There's a Woman Works Down the Chip Shop'. There were a few others which I liked, but not enough, unfortunately."

So, for a book I had been looking forward to for so long, really not great. Maybe part of the problem was the anticipation, but a huge part of it was simply due to a disconnect between myself and the stories. I can no longer put my finger on the why of it, can only say that the whole experience left me feeling kinda cold.

This book counts toward the Mount TBR Reading Challenge.

*I may well get to the latter at some point, if only because I have in there a couple of books that have been mentioned before. As for the former... well they're hosting the event in Bratislava again next year and hopefully this time I won't be moving countries just a short month later! 
**Okay, to two someones. Maybe even three. Sorry for the confusion, all!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Steven Baxter

I accidentally started this book last year, while I was supposed to be reading something else, but only got a hundred or so pages in. I finally got back to it late last month, so that I could make a real decision on whether or not to buy the second book.

And my decision is... I won't. That's not to say that I didn't like The Long Earth. I actually did, although there were definitely more than a few things that annoyed me. I ranted about Joshua's lack of common sense in my GoodReads review (seriously, who doesn't comprehend that unexplored oceans aren't great places to take a dip in?!), and there were a few more minor things that bothered me, but on the whole I thought it was a compelling and interesting read. I liked all the world-building, although I didn't really appreciate the novel's focus on what the long earth could be for - that felt too much like the novelists imposing their own thoughts and need to inject a moral onto the world they created, and not at all like the kind of question I would be having if I found out there were multiple other worlds to skip off into. And I mostly enjoyed the different characters. I've realised that I like a good slow-burner, although the action in the end could have perhaps done with a more subtle build up. All in all, I really enjoyed reading The Long Earth - but it has nothing that could tempt me into continuing the series.

This book counts towards the Mount TBR reading challenge.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Lit Corner - Ex-Challenge edition

This post is for the books that don't fit the criteria for either of my challenges, but which I want to talk about anyway.

A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis.

So, I read A Grief Observed mostly last year, and only finished it at the start of this year. Hey - if it's good enough for Goodreads, it's good enough for me. I really enjoyed this book. Or rather - because enjoyment really isn't the right word - I really appreciated this book. It's very short, and very honest. C. S. Lewis doesn't try to pull any punches with himself. He doesn't try to make grief seem easy, he doesn't try to outline some kind of 'one-size-fits-all' grieving program or sell some magic trick that will make the grief lighter to bear. He simply records his feelings, his doubts and his struggles.

This is a book that concerns itself a lot with God and human spirituality and so has the power to turn off both Christians and atheists at certain points (sometimes both at once, which is probably a skill). But once again, this discussion is appreciable for all in his honesty. I've not really got much more to say about this book. It's a short book, and it does its best speaking for itself.

milk and honey by Rupi Kaur

I was more taken by the title of Kaur's collection than anything else. Which, put that way, seems kind of harsh.

I don't always 'get' poetry. I can study it, and write critical essays about it, but it doesn't quite reach me much of the time, and I always feel a bit like I'm missing out. That being said, there were some poems in milk and honey which hit me directly, no deeper thought required. It's a brave collection, although I sometimes felt like Kaur was aiming for something with a poem but not quite nailing it. I felt uncomfortable sometimes while reading it - mostly while reading the thoughts and feelings that Kaur attributes to others. This is no doubt an honest representation of Kaur's feelings, but somehow those poems felt a disingenuous, or rather, too flat a representation of the situation as a whole. However, I believe milk and honey is very important, and I would heartily recommend it.

The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

I'd been wanting to read this for a while. I had read a couple of the stories previously in Granta #15 and had wanted more. I've always had a quiet, layman's interest in neurology, and this spoke to me. I was happy when I finally got my hands on the book and could get stuck in. It was a longish read - quite dense in subject as well as actual text - but for the most part I really enjoyed it. It's a fascinating insight into how our brains work, and how they compensate when things don't work as expected. I particularly enjoyed the section on 'losses', as it showcases some of my 'pet' intrests - when the brain ceases to function in someway, and how it tries to recover.

What I did not enjoy, however, was the final section of the book. I knew it would be quite uncomfortable reading from the title: The World of the Simple. But I didn't reckon for just how bad it would be. I have never been a neurologist, let alone a neurologist in the 80s, so I really can't say how much of (what is certainly now considered offensive) terminology was still in official use, and what was just a hangover from times not quite so long bygone. Sacks makes reference to the 'Institute of Defectology' so I can sadly believe quite easily that every offensive term used was official and would be found in the patients' records proper. I can stand that. I try not to be offended when no offense is intended. And yet some of these terms are used with an aggressive frequency that made me recoil. Just as I try not to be offended when no offense is meant, I try not to thoughtlessly offend. I have deliberately avoided casual usage of certain words, but it wasn't until reading Sacks describing one of his patients as an 'idiot' and a 'simpleton' over and over again that I really understood just why this word could in any way be helpful. At one point, Sacks even notes that one of his patients reacted negatively to being called an idiot (although he surmises that it was probably the tone, and not the words that caused this reaction. And yet that's telling enough, no? Clearly this is no positive, affirming word, and it was said by someone who didn't view the patient as human, although he was an attendant in the ward where there patient had been admitted). I found it difficult to finish the book, and even debated giving it away, although there were cases in the earlier sections I would dearly like to read again.

It struck me as thoughtless, more than anything else. How can Sacks, at the same time as he is trying to make people understand the consequences of the physical damage  present in the brains of his patients, simply write them off as 'simpletons', 'idiots' or 'idiot savants'? It is the kind of nonchalance that lead to general misunderstanding and misconception of neurological issues, it is the same kind of view of these patients that lead (and still, sadly, leads) to so many more not getting the treatment they truly require. I gave the book a four star review on Goodreads, but just bumped it down to three because even remembering the final quarter of the book makes me want to get on my high horse all over again.

And so, on a rather negative note, concludes this lit corner. Between finishing The Man Who... on Saturday, and beginning to write this review (on Monday) I finished yet another book - Murder Most Unladylike. But as we all know, three is the perfect number for a Lit Corner, so we'll just have to wait until next time...

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Book haul and reading update!

And now, to write this blog in reverse!

I have up to this point finished five books this year. Two I have reviewed here (Stand Still Stay Silent and The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales), the other three will be coming up sooner or later, so sit tight!

My pace has been slowed down considerably by my current commute book, The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks. I'm really enjoying it, but it's a slow, sloow read. I have also (entirely accidentally) started reading the first book in Cornelia Funke's 'Reckless' series, Steinernes Fleisch/The Petrified Flesh and Robin Stevens' Murder Most Unladylike.

This allows me to segway quite neatly into the second part of this post and first part of this post title...

Book haul!

So I've bought eleven books this year (already!) and have also received a book from a friend in France.

The first book I bought was the aforementioned Murder Most Unladylike. I think I first came across it when a friend read and reviewed it. It seemed charming - I like early 20th century boarding school stories - and I thought I would enjoy the mystery, too. Well, I started reading (and skipped ahead to the end, because I'm a fool and a sucker for spoilers) and I feel like this book will prove me right. I look forward to taking it up in earnest!

This actually quite inconveniently brings me to my second book. Inconvenient, because I forgot about it. Oops! So, this makes book number twelve, which is actually the first book I bought this year. But maybe I get a reprise because this makes me fit in perfectly with the theme of the book. Tid: Livet är inte kronologiskt (Time: Life isn't chronological) does pretty much what it says on the tin. It collects the musings and thoughts of Alex Schulman and Sigge Eklund on time, and our place in it. This is the first Swedish book of the year - a title I thought would go to the third and final book of the Engelfors series, Nyckeln. Writing this now makes it hard for me to believe that around this time last year I was completing my first full book in Swedish - Mio, min Mio by Astrid Lindgren. Of course, I'd probably read the equivalent of that book several times over before then, what with my (as yet, unwon) battle against one of my favourite books of all time, John Ajvide Lindqvists Let the Right One In but that aside, I have since read seven books and started a further five. It's not the hugest achievement, but I'm proud.

Back to the (false) sense of a chronology with the book I bought at the same time as Murder..., Matter by Ian M. Banks. I have been interested in Banks' culture series since reading the first two Imperial Radch books and hearing that readers equally enamoured with them had also enjoyed these. I wanted to start at the start - that is, with Consider Phlebus, but this came onto the shelves at the bookshop where I work and I accidentally started reading it to see if I liked it and anyway, see above: chronology is an ideal imposed upon us, and isn't it really time we broke free? I'm not good at chronology anyway. And this series understands that. As said, I read the first few lines and the book had me, hook, line and sinker.

This next is one of a whole gamut of books, bought on a buying spree at work. At the close of last year and the start of this I read C. S. Lewis' A Grief Observed. The review is forthcoming here, but a quick spoiler: I loved it. I had noticed Grief is the thing with Feathers naturally, because it was plastered all over the London Underground for such a long time at the time of it's publication. Then my boss bought it, which made me want to buy it. I know, I have a problem. Then I found it in the shop, one of the volunteers mentioned that he loved it, I have no regard for my TBR and now it is mine. I'm looking forward to it. I am trying - fairly successfully - not to align it too closely with A Grief Observed. They are not at all the same kind of thing. But I do think I'll enjoy it and I am (ambitiously?) hoping to have read it by this time next week.

From here to Ice by Finnish Swede (Swedish Finn?) Ulla-Lena Lundberg. I noticed this book when it came out in English translation last year and found myself drawn to it. On to my 'to remember' it went, and I told my boyfriend about it. We happened to find it in Swedish in Malmö city library, and even managed to read a bit of it together, but I sadly didn't get very far. My boyfriend was impressed with her writing style, and I'm always for a non-Noir Nordic hit. I'm hoping this book will have a slow pace - I'm expecting something fairly gentle and very honest in itself. It's lower on my reading priorities than all of the above, but it's so gorgeous.

Goodreads reliably informs me that The Gone-Away World made it onto my radar and my reading list until 2015, where it sat, forgotten, for about a year. I came across it again on one of my regular, but mostly unsuccessful, TBR streamlining attempts. I thought it would be an easy one to cross off: I couldn't remember quite why I had popped it onto my list and the blurb didn't really capture me. But I'm mostly fair, and so I downloaded a sample from Amazon, started reading and wait, no, why is it finishing, I'm not ready I want more and I want it now!
So yeah. That's the story of Lily and The Gone-Away World. I was massively happy when it came up at the bookshop, and added it to my pile immediately.
(The downside is now I'm terrified of reading it, in case I don't love it as much as I think I will.)

Wool by Hugh Howey. I don't know why I added Wool. I don't know when I added Wool. I don't remember anything at all about Wool. My mum joked about me falling for it because of the title - I'm a knitter, in case anyone forgot - and we giggled but actually that's as good a suggestion as any other. I have absolutely no clue what to expect, and it's low on my priorities list. So probably I'll have read it this time next week.

We got a donation from a review which included this gem. This book has been on my list more or less since it came out. It's a gem of a book, physically, and I also am excited to get something a little less than standard in my reading diet. REPRESENT.

Do I even need to talk about this book? Probably not. It's been on my TBR for a gentle age or two. Everyone ever seems to love it, and I want to love it, too. I think I would have preferred A Monster Calls to be my first book from Patrick Ness, but I'm certainly not complaining. This is another book that I'm almost scared to read, just because I want so desperately for it to live up to my expectations.

I'm a sucker for all things Scott Westerfeld. Fun fact: I spent (and still spend) a good portion of time thinking his surname is Westerfield. Thankfully I caught that one from the off this time round. I had been holding off on buying this book because I still hadn't finished reading Afterworlds, which I bought last year. (For the interested, I'd been holding off on finishing that because I still hadn't finished reading whichever inordinate number of books that I hadn't finished reading from the year before, which I was holding off on reading because... you get the picture). But then I remembered that life is far too short not to buy all of the books you've ever wanted. Also, I read the first chapter and I am way more excited for this than I was for Afterworlds. Problem: solved.

And so we are bought to the large book of this spree - although not the large book of this post. Please do bear with me just a little longer...
I have wanted this book since it came out. Unfortunately, at that time I was a poor student and couldn't buy it. I did what any poor student would do, and got a friend to buy it so that I could borrow it. Except then it got leant to another friend instead, who took it to Germany for a year and then I don't even know where it went. This was coming up to three years ago, now, for a little context. Probably everyone who ever lived or breathed has read and loved this book now - save me. Don't worry, I'll join you all soon. (Just - after I read all the other books, first!)

The above haul happened yesterday. The next two books happened today. The first is Joanne M. Harris' Gospel of Loki. Norse mythology has had a hold on me since American Gods and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I've never actually read any Harris before, although of course I'd seen the film of Chocolat and I also enjoyed following her on Twitter. This is the book that made me really want to give her a chance. Norse gods, yes please! Plus, I heard that she learnt Icelandic for this book. Once again: Hook, line and sinker.

Finally, this beauty. Hands up who thought my Ann Leckie obsession was a thing of last year? You were so, so wrong. I've read the first two books a few times each now, and will read the third when I come to terms with it a bit more. I will probably also read the short stories again a few times. I want so badly to go back into her worlds.
I went back to Tours late last year and, predictably, we went to a bookshop. I looked around for a couple of books which I wanted, but couldn't find. Then, as if in dream, I thought to look for this...
It was love at first sight. I think this cover design is gorgeous, I couldn't bear the thought of going through life without it. Sadly, my pocket couldn't bear the thought of going through the doors with it. Enter stage left: my angel of an ex-roommate. She bought it for me in December but couldn't send it to me until this month - which is more than I had been expecting. It is now sitting proudly on my bed, waiting for the moment I can come back to its loving embrace...

So, this post took a long time but I'm finally through to the other side. I have one more book on my 'currently reading' that I want to get through before I start any of these in earnest - The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. But you can expect a lit corner and general reading update before then, methinks.

Here's hoping for February! All the best for you all, and your challenges!

Little Newman.

(PS. This month I've started going at Finnish in earnest. I have a dream that, by the close of this year, I'll be able to read stumble through a Finnish book in Finnish!)

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales by Kirsty Logan

I've wanted to read this book for ages - maybe since it first came out? Then, when I got the chance to buy it first time round, I was a bit put off by how like the title story was to a very short story that I once wrote. I hate it when I've written something that I think is really neat, only to find that someone else got there first.* And then I started reading The Gracekeepers, which was too close to The Night Circus for me to enjoy.**

But I came across the book in the charity bookshop where I work sometime last year and thought that for £2.99 I could take the chance. And I'm really glad I did. I enjoyed Logan's stories, and the way they wind themselves to their conclusions. The are all delightfully queer and often unexpected. Logan never uses her words or metaphors in the way we've come to expect a writer would. 

The stories were all, with one exception, spot on. I won't say which story that exception was, as I don't want to ruin the experience for another reader by pointing out the things that I didn't enjoy, but the voice itself wasn't to my liking. The title story I obviously liked. I also enjoyed the story which closed the collection. 'Una and Coll are not friends' and 'Witch' were two more favourites. The biggest surprise was 'The Gracekeeper' which I actually really enjoyed. Enough to make a second attempt at the novel? Only time (and my ridiculously long 'to read' list) will tell.

*Doesn't stop me from shamelessly promoting myself though. Go read my story, it's really short!

**Not that I enjoyed The Night Circus that much, either, which was probably the main problem. Maybe I would have liked it more if I had read it first, or if every single review of it ever didn't draw that same comparison. Maybe.

This counts the UK for the European reading challenge. It also counts for the Mount TBR challenge.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Stand Still Stay Silent vol. I by Minna Sundberg

I received Stand Still Stay Silent vol. I as a present from my boyfriend last month, and started reading it on New Years Day exactly. I had never heard of the comic before, although as a language enthusiast with language-enthusiast friends I had naturally seen this page before.

I loved the comic. It strikes a perfect balance between cute and scary - not something I ever thought I would say before! The story in the first volume shows the first outbreaks of the mysterious 'rash illness' and it's spread across the world. The particulars are kept quiet, and we are thrown 90 years into  future where much of the world is either uninhabited/uninhabitable or purposely forgotten (often both). The first volume charts the set up and a few of the adventures of a group of explorers on a mission to learn more about the 'silent world'.

So, a good story line and absolutely gorgeous art. Each page is truly breathtaking, with a lovely attention to detail and fabulous colour work. Each chapter contains information pages, such as the one linked above, which give the world more colour and more depth. They're all really thoughtfully done and make lovely additions to the story. The characters are all rather over the top. My favourite is the extremely withdrawn Finn, Lalli. His backstory and arc looks very promising, too. Although the characters often seem like caricatures of themselves, I felt it really fit in with the story and the artwork, if that's even possible.

The print copy is a Lovely Thing in and of itself. It's a solid hardback in a large format, although smaller than A4. The paper is high quality as is the print itself - bright, crisp and clear. It also comes with an extra short story and insight into Sundberg's page creation process. I could continue reading online, but a good part of me wants to hold off and treat myself to the second book instead.

Minna Sundberg is Finno-svensk (and there was more Finnish in this book than any of the other Nordic languages) so I will be counting this as Finland for the European reading challenge. This book also counts for the Mount TBR challenge.

Friday, 6 January 2017

New year, same old reading goals!

 It's been a while, again. I don't even know where t begin. I have a new job (in a bookshop, yay!) and am finding that whole 'work life' balance thing reeeally difficult. This is not the entire reason for me dropping off the face of this blog, but I'll do my best to pretend that it is! Yeah!

I read something like twenty books last year, and failed all my challenges. But, as they say, if at first you don't succeed...

This year I will certainly be attempting the Rose City Reader European Reading Challenge once again. I'll aim for five books and in my heart will hope for more. My countries will be:

I've already read the book for Finland, so four to go. I can't say for definite which book I'll read for the UK and the others are, naturally, subject to change and my fickle, fickle whims. I'll link to the reviews here :)

Otherwise, I will also try once again for the Mount TBR challenge hosted at My Reader's Block. I've got a new rule this year: two out, one in. As I have more than thirty books to buy before March... I foresee myself breaking and/or bending this rule pretty quickly! I will stay humble and aim for 'Pike's Peak', listing books and linking reviews here as I post them.

Other than that, I would like to read fifty books this year (two down, forty-eight to go!). This will be a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, a mixture of English, Swedish, German, French and (dare I even hope?) Finnish. They can be teeny tiny or massive tomes - although my money is on the former. What counts is that I actually read them. Whew! Wish me luck!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

WHERE and WHAT (a general update)

This title, of course, means WHERE have I been and WHAT have I been doing? Two questions I shall answer in short order.

I have been in London. Simply in London. No travels - more's the pity - trying (and failing) to conserve all of my hard won pennies. And I have been knitting and reading and (wait for it...) writing! These are three things that, for the most part, I cannot do at the same time. Once again, more's the pity.

Since the last knitting update, I finished a cute pair of socks for my sister and an even cuter pair of socks for myself. Sorry, sister, this is what results of my art maturing. I'm proud of both of them and I figured out the lace patterns for them on the fly.* Now I'm in a bit of a knittery rut. The next person on my list is my sister's old housemate - close enough that she is pretty much like another sister to us all. And what she has asked for is either a onesie or a dress. New knitting policy** dictates that she can have neither of these things at the current moment and so what she is getting is... a pair of socks! Sadly, I don't think she'll particularly want cute socks, so I'm trying to figure out trainer socks instead. Of course, the sensible thing to do would be to scour the internet for helpful patterns, but I want to give it a good shot on my own, first. Yes, I've put myself in for more frogging, more finger ache. But I still love every second of it.

Next up, reading. I have read three books and three books only since the last update. A children's book (You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum) which I have never mentioned before and may never mention again; the collection of Tove Jansson short stories that my boyfriend gave to me and Odinsbarn. Reser med lätt bagage (Travelling Light)was gorgeous, as is to be expected. But I definitely preferred Sommarboken. Reser med lätt bagage was a bit more melancholy and a bit less hopeful, and it weighed me down somewhat. That being said, I particularly loved 'Främmande stad' ('Strange town'), 'Skogen' ('The forest') and 'Växthuset' ('The greenhouse'). The book became top priority so that I could lend it on to a friend. And then, Odinsbarn. Odinsbarn, Odinsbarn, Odinsbarn. I won't go into to details here, because this book will be getting it's own post. But I absolutely loved and adored it, and I am gutted that I will likely be unable to get my hands on the second book in the series before the end of next month. Please excuse me while I sob.

Finally, the writing. July was camp NaNo, and during that month I did the writing. I didn't reach the target of 10,000 words, but I never expected to. That was simply the lowest target available. However I did write a good 5900-something words. In Swedish. That is the longest single thing I have written in Swedish to date, and I am quite proud of myself. It's a story about goddesses who don't know that they're goddesses and it also contains deserts and rain-forests. Excerpts may be posted on Kaffee und Kuchen, but that depends on me getting them corrected and then on my translating them. There will be a lot of planning to be done for this story, although I advise you not to hold your breath for that here or on K&K - the story refuses to be planned at current, because it is insisting that I write it first.

My Currently Reading List of Doom is down to only 18 books! This feels fantastic! I'm not quite sure what to do next. Do I give in to the temptations of one of the many as-yet-unstarted books, or do I continue cutting down? Choices, choices...

Happy reading, happy knitting!
Little Newman

*Something I think I will NEVER do again. A nightmare of frogging and sore fingers at ridiculous times, such as two am or three minutes before a hospital appointment.
**Every second make will be for myself. Next up is a hat, or maybe some mittens...

Monday, 9 May 2016

March and April wrap-ups are missing and, because I am that kind of person, they will stay that way. They already feel too far behind. I read seven books during those two months. I also started and decided to give up on an eighth, Cosmo Cosmolino by Helen Garner. The writing was gorgeous, peppered with gems, but the characters didn't sit well with me at all, and so I've retired it for now. I may pick it up again, but I may just leave it by the wayside, for some other casual peruser of my bookshelves to fall into, and let it never again be seen by me.

I am currently reading a lot of books, none of which are in English. I'm finally making good progress with Cornelia Funke's Tintenherz, which is great. I'm not quite sure when it happened, but it felt like whatever was blocking my comprehension finally gave way and so now I don't dread having to pick it up again. I am also reading Eld. I'd been putting it off, because I didn't have the third book and I didn't want to have to wait too long before being able to finish the series. But I started anyway, a couple of weeks ago, and this weekend I found the third book, Nyckeln, just sitting on the shelf in Foyles. Yay! So now there is nothing stopping me from plowing my way through to the end of the book... except that I accidentally read it already and spoilered myself. Oh, dear.

On that same trip to Foyles, I also picked up Odinsbarn by Siri Pettersen in Swedish translation. I had seen it everywhere during my last visit but decided not to buy it because... well, I don't really know why. At any rate, my decision cost me dearly. I had to special order it, and only the hardback was available. It is gorgeous though, and really interesting, two things which go a long, long way to making me feel better about the price.

Of these three, two are group reads (Tintenherz and Odinsbarn). Eld is the only one I've been reading alone, and so it's the first I'll finish. I anticipate finishing it next week or the week after, although I may go the way of Cirkeln with it and end up reading three parts in something like two days. Who knows, who knows?

All of this foreign language reading is making me really anxious to read something in English. I'm not really feeling much like picking up one of my 'currently reading' books, although I really want to. I'm tempted to make a choice of one of the many new books I've gotten this year, instead. Don't try this at home is asserting itself as a sensible choice, above the others, but I'm still hesitant. I started Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons last night, and wasn't completely convinced. I could see how it might start to wear a little thin on me after a while.

In non-reading-but-certainly-bookish news, I have started volunteering with an Oxfam bookshop. I've only done three shifts, but I'm loving it already. It's a good thing I have no money left, or I would have spent it all in there. As it stands, I've already bought three or four books from there. I also found a gorgeous edition of Alice in Wonderland as illustrated by Mervyn Peake. It would look great on my shelves, next to all the others*

At the end of this week, I'll be going to France where I hope to spend what little money I have remaining on a copy of Terrienne by Jean-Claude Mourlevat. In an ideal world, I'd also get my hands on Martin Page's Je suis un dragon which we all know I've been wanting since the start of time**, but so it goes, sometimes. I feel like I'd enjoy Terrienne more. Let's hope it lives up to expectations (if I manage to buy it at all).

Finally, the last great love of my life... knitting! I've been knitting my aunt a pair of socks since I finished my own at the start of March. Or rather, I've been knitting my aunt a sock since I finished my own at the start of March. First it was too small in diameter. So, I ripped it all out, and started again. Still too small. Ripped out, started again. Then way too big. Ripped, restarted. Then I realised that I would run out of yarn before I got to the toe. And again... but I finally managed it this weekend, and managed to knit the sock from start to finish in three days. I started yesterday on sock number two, and hoped to have it finished before seeing my aunt tomorrow but that is not looking so likely. Apparently, five days of near-solid knitting causes finger pain like no other. Who knew? I've had to rest my fingers for tonight, but they should be up and rearing to go by tomorrow.

And so I conclude this post. No real wrap up, but I think I got pretty much everything in at any rate.

Happy reading and swift knitting!
Little Newman

P.S.! I also bought and finished reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone last month, after a fashion. I wasn't a huge fan of the Madrigal memories, and it was pretty clear what happened so I skipped that chunk and went back to the present day instead. I don't think I missed anything, but felt I should at least read that bit before reviewing it here.

*That is, if I could get it to fit. My three small shelves are already looking snugly packed, and that doesn't include the seven or so books that make up my bedside 'currently reading' pile...
**Lit. January last year

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Review: Ancillary Justice

I've been putting this one off.

How do I get across just how much I loved this book? I've said it so many times recently, the words seem kind of wan. And yet - and yet -

And yet I find myself, four days later, just reliving one moment or another from this book. One sensation or another. A sudden desire to be in the presence of one of the characters. This doesn't happen to me often.

I'll keep it short. Once again, I'm late to the party. This book already won all of the awards, we can all sit down and bask in the glow.

What did I like about this book, you ask? I'll tell you! I liked the voice. It was a voice clearly not human, without being so other that it felt forced. Yes, this was an AI talking, one mind spread across multiple bodies (a ship, it was an entire ship) and yet I didn't feel Leckie trying to force it's inherent AI-ness down my throat. It was just there.

And I liked that this was okay. By which I mean, I liked that this was just okay with One Esk/Breq. Breq didn't have moral dilemma's about her identity, although other characters had plenty enough on her behalf. Breq had her intelligence, and her goal. One step and then the next. This book is so much more than the question of what constitutes a human, although that is a question that is present throughout. The other question, that comes up again and again is: What do you do when you have two options, and neither of them are right?

Again, I don't see Leckie tripping over Breq's tongue to preach to us what we should do. Breq makes choices, and some are more damaging, others are less damaging. An excellent thing about One Esk as a focaliser is that we can see, through One Esk and the Justice of Toren the small and large scale impact.

Just- wow. I could wax on about this all day long, but I wouldn't be waxing lyrical or sense because I genuinely don't quite know how to do this book justice. I can't wait until I get my hands on the next.

This counts for the Mount TBR Challenge.