HanGerg will do better in 2020!

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2020

Entre no LibraryThing para poder publicar.

HanGerg will do better in 2020!

1HanGerg
Editado: Jan 5, 2020, 5:50pm



Our little guy last summer just above Woolacombe beach - site of many happy childhood memories of my own. Yes, those are shorts on his head.

Hi everyone. A happy, healthy and reading packed 2020 to us all! For those that don't know, I'm Hannah. This is my ninth year of LT. I'm not the most prolific in terms of books or posts, but I love LT and I really value my small circle of regular posters who I do try and stay in touch with. I will always try and visit your thread if you stop by mine to say Hi, too. I read a lot of Science Fiction of various sorts, and a fairly mixed bag of other stuff as well. I'm trying to do a reading challenge of 150 books from 150 years to widen my reading of classic literature. I've been doing it for a few years at a very slow pace so I feel like 2020 is the year where I should up the tempo otherwise I'll never get it done. I'm also going to make the usual promises about visiting threads more often, and staying on top of reviews and posting updates as well, but I do have a very busy RL of trying to be a self-employed artist and art facilitator which is shaping up to be a busy job for the next few months, plus of course there is the ever adorable "sausage", aka Leó - he with the shorts on the head, who needs a craft project mentor and reading partner, so I'll not make any rash promises, just say "Welcome!" if you are visiting, and here's to a good year for us all!

2HanGerg
Editado: Dez 30, 2020, 3:13pm




January

1.The Aeronaut's Windlass - Jim Butcher 4.5/5
2.Strangeland - Tracey Emin 2.5/5
3.White Teeth - Zadie Smith 3.5/5
4.The Bees - Laline Paull 5/5
5.How to be Right - James O'Brien 3/5

February
6.Dragon Keeper - Robin Hobb 4.5/5
7.Dragon Haven - Robin Hobb 4.5/5
8.City of Dragons - Robin Hobb 4.5/5

March
9.Dragonsbane - Babara Hambly 4.5/5
10.Bouvard and Pécuchet - Gustave Flaubert 1.5/5
11.The Legacy of Mark Rothko - Lee Seldes 5/5
12.Komarr - Lois McMaster Bujold 4.5/5
13.The Warrior's Apprentice - Lois McMaster Bujold 4/5 (Re-read)
14.A Civil Campaign - Lois McMaster Bujold 5/5

April
15. A Moment of Silence - Anna Dean 3.5/5
16. City of Brass - S. A. Chakraborty 3.5/5
17. A Memory Called Empire - Arkady Martine 4.5/5
18. Ring for Jeeves - P. G. Wodehouse 3.5/5
19. The Magpie Lord - KJ Charles 3.5/5
20. Borders of Infinity - Lois McMaster Bujold 5/5
21.The Vor Game - Lois McMaster Bujold 4/5
22.Emergence - C.J. Cherryh 4/5

May
23.All Systems Red - Martha Wells 4.5/5 (Re-read)
24.Artificial Condition - Martha Wells 4/5
25.Rogue Protocol - Martha Wells 5/5
26.Exit Strategy - Martha Wells 5/5
27.Larklight - Philip Reeve 3.5/5
28. Daniel Deronda - George Eliot 3/5
29.If I Never Met You - Mhairi McFarlane 3/5
30.Clockwork Boys - T. Kingfisher 3.5/5
31.The Wonder Engine - T. Kingfisher 3.5/5
32.Sorry I Missed You - Suzy Krause 2.5/5

June
33.Med Ship - Murray Leinster 3/5
34.Four Minutes To Save a Life - Anna Stuart 3/5
35.Rosewater - Tade Thompson 3/5
36.To Be Taught, If Fortunate - Becky Chambers 3/5
37.Hospital Station - James White 4/5
38.Blood of Dragons - Robin Hobb 4.5/5
39.The Break - Marian Keyes 3.5/5
40.Go With Me - Castle Freeman 3.5/5
41.Star Surgeon - James White 3.5/5

July
42.Slippery Creatures - KJ Charles 3/5
43.Spectred Isle - KJ Charles 3.5/5
44.Major Operation - James White 4/5
45.Ethan of Athos - Lois McMaster Bujold 4.5/5
46.It Takes Two to Tumble - Cat Sebastian 3.5/5
47.A Gentleman's Wager - Madelynne Ellis 1/5
48.Gaining Ground - Joan Barfoot 5/5
49.The Perfect Wife - JP Delaney 3.5/5
50.Happenstance - Carol Shields 3.5/5

August
51.Network Effect - Martha Wells 4.5/5
52.Ambulance Ship - James White 4/5
53.Cetaganda - Lois McMaster Bujold 4/5
54.Sector General - James White 3.5/5
55.The Empress of Salt and Fortune - Nghi Vo 4/5

September
56.A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking - T.Kingfisher 4/5
57.Star Healer - James White 4/5
58.Binti - Nnedi Okorafor 3.5/5
59.Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race - Reni Eddo-Lodge 4.5/5
60.Queen Lucia - E.F.Benson 4.5/5 (Re-read)

October
61.Binti:Home - Nnedi Okorafor 3/5
62.Resurgence - C.J. Cherryh 4.5/5
63.Men Without Women - Haruki Murakami 2.5/5
64.A Dead Djinn in Cairo - P.Djèlí Clarke 3.5/5
65.Spellbreaker - Charlie N. Holmberg 3.5/5
66.Spencer's List - Lissa Evans 4/5
67.Brothers in Arms - Louis McMaster Bujold 4/5

November
68.The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter - Theodora Goss 3/5
69.The King's Justice - E.M.Powell 3.5/5
70.The Silence of the Girls - Pat Barker 4.5/5

December
71.Death Comes to the Village - Catherine Lloyd (Audiobook) 3.5/5
72.Children of Ruin - Adrian Tchaikovsky 3.5/5
73.Soulless - Gail Carriger (Audiobook)4/5
74.Death Comes to London - Catherine Lloyd (Audiobook) 3.5/5
75.Death Comes to Kurland Hall - Catherine Lloyd 3.5/5
76.The Ladies Guide to Celestial Mechanics - Olivia Waite3/5
77.David Hockney:A Rake's Progress - 4/5
78.Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng 4.5/5

3HanGerg
Editado: Jan 10, 4:14pm

150 books from 150 years. Hopefully I'll get lots of these ticked off this year!




1865 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll READ 2.5/5
1866 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky READ 4/5
1867 The Last Chronicle of Barset - Anthony Trollope READ 3.5/5
1868 Little Women - Louisa May Alcott READ 3.5/5
1869 Lorna Doone - RD Blackmore READ 3/5
1870 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne READ 2.5/5
1871 The Coming Race - Edward Bulwer-Lytton READ 2.5/5
1872 Erewhon - Samuel Butler READ 3/5
1873 Around the World in 80 Days - Jules Verne READ 2.5/5
1874 Middlemarch - George Elliot READ 4/5
1875: The Crime of Father Amaro - José Maria de Eça de Queiroz
1876 Daniel Deronda - George Eliot READ 3/5
1877 L'Assommoir - Emile Zola READ 1/5
1878 The Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy
1879 The Red Room - August Stringberg
1880 The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoevsky
1881 Bouvard and Pécuchet - Gustave Flaubert READ 1.5/5
1882 The Prince and the Pauper - Mark Twain
1883 Treasure Island - R. L. Stevenson READ 3.5/5
1884 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
1885 After London; or, Wild England - Richard Jefferies / King Solomon's Mines - H Rider Haggard
1886 Kidnapped - Robert Louis Stevenson
1887 She: A History of Adventure - H Rider Haggard
1888 Pierre and Jean - Guy de Maupassant
1889 Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog - Jerome K. Jerome
1890 News from Nowhere - William Morris
1891 The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
1892 The Diary of a Nobody - George Grossmith READ 2.5/5
1893 The Odd Women - George Gissing
1894 The Prisoner of Zenda - Anthony Hope
1895The Time Machine - HG Wells
1896 Effi Briest - Theodore Fontane
1897 The Invisible Man - H.G.Wells
1898 The Turn of the Screw - Henry James / The War of the Worlds- HG Wells
1899 The Awakening - Kate Chopin READ 4.5/5
1900 Sister Carrie - Theodor Dreiser
1901 Buddenbrooks - Thomas Mann
1902 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
1903 The Way of All Flesh - Samuel Butler
1904 Nostromo - Joseph Conrad
1905 The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Emmuska Orczy /> READ 4/5
1906 The Man of Property - John Galsworthy
1907 The Secret Agent - Joseph Conrad
1908 The Man who was Thursday - GK Chesterton READ 3/5
1909 Institute Benjamenta - Robert Walser
1910 The Vagabond - Colette
1911 Zuleika Dobson - Max Beerbohm
1912 A Princess of Mars - Edgar Rice BurroughsREAD 2/5
1913 Sons and Lovers - DH Lawrence READ 3.5/5 / Remembrance of Things Past - Marcel Proust *
1914 The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - Robert Tressell READ 2.5/5
1915 Pointed Roofs - Dorothy Richardson /Herland - Charlotte Perkins Gilman READ 3.5/5 / The Rainbow - D H Lawrence
1916 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce
1917 Christine - Elizabeth von Arnim
1918 The Magnificent Ambersons - Booth Tarkington READ 4/5
1919 Night and Day - Virginia Woolf READ 4/5
1920 Queen Lucia - EF Benson READ 4.5/5 A Voyage to Arcturus - David Lindsay /
1921 Rosa Sacaramouche - Rafael Sabatini
1922 One of Ours - Willa Cather
1923 A Lost Lady - Willa Cather
1924 The Rector's Daughter - FM Mayor / We - Yevgeny Zamyatin READ 4/5
1925 The Polyglots - William Gerhardie
1926 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
1927 Steppenwolf - Hermann Hesse
1928 Ali and Nino - Kurban Said
1929 The Last September - Elizabeth Bowen / Berlin Alexanderplatz - Alfred Döblin / All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
1930 Narziss and Goldmund - Hermann Hesse
1931 Afternoon Men - Anthony Powell / Sanctuary - William Faulkner
1932 Invitation to the Waltz - Rosamond Lehmann* READ 4.5/5
1933 Frost in May - Antonia White / They Were Counted - Miklos Banffy / Love on the Dole - Walter Greenwood
1934 Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller
1935 Untouchable - Mulk Raj Anand
1936 South Riding - Winifred Holtby READ 5/5
1937 Star Maker - Olaf Stapledon
1938 Count Belisarius - Robert Graves / The Beast Must Die - Nicholas Blake
1939 Goodbye to Berlin - Christopher Isherwood / Rogue Male - Geoffrey Household
1940 The Man Who Loved Children - Christina Stead / Darkness at Noon - Arthur Koestler
1941 No Bed for Bacon - Caryl Brahms and SJ Simon
1942 Darkness Falls from the Air - Nigel Balchin
1943 Two Serious Ladies - Jane Bowles
1944 The Shrimp and the Anemone - LP Hartley
1945 The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford
1946 Zorba the Greek - Nikos Kazantzakis READ 0.5/5
1947 Manservant and Maidservant - Ivy Compton-Burnett/ The Plague - Albert Camus
1948 I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
1949 The Parasites - Daphne du Maurier / The Sheltering Sky - Paul Bowles
1950 The Case of Comrade Tulayev - Victor Serge / A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
1951 Foundation - Isaac Asimov / My Cousin Rachel - Daphne du Maurier
1952 The Family Moskat or The Manor or The Estate - Isaac Bashevis Singer / Excellent Women - Barbara Pym
1953 The Go-Between - LP Hartley /The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow / The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler
1954 I Am Legend - Richard Matheson / Lucky Jim - Kingsley Amis
1955 Memed, my Hawk - Yasar Kemal / Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
1956 A Legacy - Sybille Bedford / Palace Walk - Naguib Mahfouz / The Lonely Londoners - Samuel Selvon
1957 The Fountain Overflows - Rebecca West / The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham *
1958 Non-Stop - Brian W Aldiss READ 4.5/5 / Our Man in Havana - Graham Greene: *
1959 Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut / Zazie in the Metro - Raymond Queneau /Absolute Beginners - Colin MacInnes
1960 The L Shaped Room - Lynne Reid Banks / Rogue Moon - Algis Budrys / God's Bit of Wood - Ousmane Sembène
1961 Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A Heinlein (*)/ Solaris - Stanislaw Lem / The Moviegoer - Walker Percy
1962 The Garden of the Finzi-Cortinis - Giorgio Bassani / One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
1963 The Group - Mary McCarthy
1964 Last Exit to Brooklyn - Hubert Selby Jr READ 3/5
1965 Dune - Frank L Herbert
1966 The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov
1967 The Third Policeman - Flann O'Brien / A Season in Sinji - JL Carr
1968 A Kestrel for a Knave - Barry Hines
1969 The French Lieutenant's Woman - John Fowles / Travels With My Aunt - Graham Greene
1970 Ringworld - Larry Niven
1971 Chronicle in Stone - Ismael Kadare
1972 My Name Is Asher Lev - Chaim Potok / The Harpole Report - JL Carr
1973 Carrie's War - Nina Bawden
1974 The Forever War - Joe Haldeman * READ 4/5 / Invisible Cities - Italo Calvino / Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - John Le Carre
1975 Hello Summer, Goodbye - Michael G Coney
1976 The Painter of Signs - RK Narayan / The Hearing Trumpet - Leonora Carrington
1977 Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison
1978 Who Do You Think You Are? - Alice Munro
1979 Kindred - Octavia Butler / Sophie's Choice - William Styron
1980 Riddley Walker - Russell Hoban *
1981 Good Behaviour - Molly Keane / Sharpe's Eagle - Bernard Cornwell / Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie (*)
1982 Sour Sweet - Timothy Mo / The Color Purple - Alice Walker / An Ice-Cream War - William Boyd

1983 Look At Me - Anita Brookner
1984 Money - Martin Amis
1985 Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy /Illywhacker - Peter Carey / White Noise - Don DeLillo
1986 The Sportswriter - Richard Ford
1987 In the Country of Last Things - Paul Auster:
1988 The Swimming-Pool Library - Alan Hollinghurst / Nice Work - David Lodge
1989 Hyperion - Dan Simmons * READ4/5 /A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters - Julian Barnes
1990 Vineland - Thomas Pynchon
1991 A Thousand Acres - Jane Smiley
1992 The Children of Men - PD James / Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson / Hideous Kinky - Esther Freud/ Fatherland - Robert Harris
1993 Vurt - Jeff Noon READ 4.5/5
1994 Only Forward - Michael Marshall Smith / The Sorrow of War - Bao Ninh
1995 The Unconsoled - Kazuo Ishiguro /Blindness - José Saramago / Behind the Scenes at the Museum - Kate Atkinson READ 3.5/5 / Microserfs - Douglas Coupland
1996 Death and the Penguin - Andrey Kurkov READ 4.5/5 / The Insult - Rupert Thomson / The Debt to Pleasure - John Lanchester
1997 Great Apes - Will Self
1998 Death in Summer - William Trevor / The Restraint of Beasts - Magnus Mills
1999 Darwin's Radio - Greg Bear / Cryptonomicon - Neil Stephenson / The Mighty Walzer - Howard Jacobson
2000 Revelation Space - Alastair Reynolds * / The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon* / White Teeth - Zadie Smith READ 3.5/5
2001 American Gods - Neil Gaiman READ 3.5/5 / The Lecturer's Tale — A Novel - James Hynes:
2002 Light - M John Harrison / The Years of Rice and Salt - Kim Stanley Robinson
2003 Personality - Andrew O'Hagan
2004 Suite Francaise - Irene Nemirovsky
2005 On Beauty - Zadie Smith / Beyond Black - Hilary Mantel
2006 Genesis - Bernard Beckett
2007 The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett / A Quiet Belief in Angels - RJ Ellory
2008 The Night Sessions - Ken Macleod / The Sacred Book of the Werewolf - Victor Pelevin
2009 The Earth Hums in B Flat - Mari Strachan
2010 Room - Emma Donoghue READ 4/5
2011 Embassytown - China Mieville
2012 2312 - Kim Stanley Robinson
2013 Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie READ 4.5/5
2014 The Goblin Emperor - Katherine Addison
2015 The Just City - Jo Walton

4HanGerg
Editado: Jan 9, 2020, 5:35am

Best reads of last year: Well, it wasn't really a vintage reading year I feel, but I did thoroughly enjoy Virginia Woolf in Manhattan - a high risk venture to bring a fully realised fictional Virginia Woolf into the contemporary world that succeeds against all expectations. I feel like this year I want to read more books with Woolf in, both fictional and factual, as a result of it. I guess The Hours will have to top the list, although I had Mrs Woolf and the Servants on my Wish List and treated myself to a secondhand copy just before Christmas. And does Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf actually have her in it? I never did get round to finding out. I read The Awakening as part of my 150 books from 150 years challenge and was really blown away by its searingly honest and nuanced look at a women's lot in 1899, if a little depressed by its conclusions. In Sci Fi land, I read no better than Ancillary Mercy all year, which I read last January. Fantasy wise, Fool's Fate was a masterful summation of an epic trilogy that could have ended Fitz and the Fool's tale quite satisfactorily I think, although of course, there will be more. I'm aiming to get to the next trilogy in that huge series this year sometime. I read hardly any non-fiction last year, but Sapiens is one of those books that can leave you with food for thought for a whole year at least!

So, that was last year. This year I'm hoping to really crack on with the big 150 books challenge, and just generally read slightly more challenging stuff in general. But at the same time I'd also like to up the numbers - I only managed a disappointing 49 books last year in the end, despite a promising start. Well, that's the plan, let's see what really happens...

5drneutron
Jan 5, 2020, 5:41pm

Welcome back!

6HanGerg
Jan 5, 2020, 5:50pm

First as always Jim, thanks!

7quondame
Jan 5, 2020, 7:01pm



Happy New Year, Hannah!

8HanGerg
Editado: Jan 5, 2020, 7:25pm

And to you Susan! I love the book star! That reminds me of this amazing book art I saw recently

So, in my neighbourhood of Lincoln, which is called the "West End", there's an event every year where people decorate their houses with all sorts of light themed things, and everyone takes to the streets and walks around and admires them and bumps into each other and has a very sociable time. It's lovely. There was even people handing out free mulled wine this year, and others had baked cookies. Our local community is the best. Anyway, I digress. This was outside one of the houses, and it was amazing. I had a good look to try and figure out how it was done - the pages were simply folded down to create this effect, which must have demanded huge accuracy and probably took hours.

9thornton37814
Jan 5, 2020, 8:40pm

Hope you have a great year of reading!

>3 HanGerg: Interesting!

10quondame
Jan 5, 2020, 8:47pm

>8 HanGerg: Wow! My neighborhood seems dedicated to avoiding interactions.

11PaulCranswick
Editado: Jan 9, 2020, 9:51pm



Another resolution is to keep up in 2020 with all my friends on LT. Happy New Year!

12ronincats
Jan 6, 2020, 11:12am



Happy New Year, Hannah!

13FAMeulstee
Jan 6, 2020, 12:39pm

Happy reading in 2020, Hannah!

>8 HanGerg: Nice event in your neighbourhood, book art is always good.

14brodiew2
Jan 6, 2020, 2:28pm

Hi HanGreg! Happy new year!

>1 HanGerg: such a cute topper!

I hope you have a great year reading.

15aktakukac
Jan 6, 2020, 4:18pm

Happy reading in 2020, Hannah!

16charl08
Jan 7, 2020, 1:09am

Happy new year Hannah- wishing you a good one.

And how else does the stylish young man about town wear a spare pair of shorts??!

17SandDune
Jan 7, 2020, 7:17am

Happy New Year Hannah - I remember taking J to Woolacombe Beach when he was a very similar age.

18sibylline
Jan 9, 2020, 9:22pm

Nice to see you here and also to read your "best of" list - I haven't managed to get that together yet. Always worth spending a moment looking back.

Love the shorts on yr. son's head!

19PaulCranswick
Jan 9, 2020, 9:52pm

>1 HanGerg: A classic and wholly necessary fashion accessory.

20souloftherose
Jan 10, 2020, 12:12pm

>1 HanGerg: Yes, those are shorts on his head.

Well, why not? :-)

Happy new year, Hannah (and Leo, of course)!

>2 HanGerg: I really enjoyed Mrs Woolf and the Servants so that gets my recommendation for VW reading. And you're further ahead of me with the Robin Hobb series now but I want to read The Tawny Man trilogy in the first half of this year.

21HanGerg
Editado: Jan 20, 2020, 5:59am

Yay! Lots of lovely visitors! Thanks for stopping by Lori, Susan, Paul, Roni, Anita, Brodie, Rachel, Rhian, Charl, Lucy and Heather! Thanks for all the new year's wishes - I hope 2020 has been off to a good start for all of you!

I must say, it's not been so great for me. I had two promising looking projects that I was waiting to hear back about, and I didn't get selected for either of them! One was to be part of an art trail around Lincoln next year, by being commissioned to paint a 5 foot high Lincoln Imp statue, one of about 35 that will be placed around the city. They did it with Knights a few years ago and Leó loved it. I desperately wanted to do it, partly so he'd be proud of me, but it wasn't to be. Of course, I can hardly wait to see which designs were chosen, and fume about how mine were better. I submitted three designs in all and one of them made it through to the second stage where the sponsors decided which ones they wanted. I guess I should be pleased I made it that far, but as usual I take rejection very hard. It's a failing of mine I know I need to work on. It was made worse by the second project rejection, which was to do a series of workshops with Primary school aged children building up confidence and self-esteem through process art. This is pretty much the PERFECT brief for me - this is all the things I love in one big project. But I didn't get it! They didn't give feedback, so I don't know why either, which is frustrating. Perhaps because they wanted a professional artist with a well developed practise - my meagre list of exhibitions might not measure up. Or maybe because what I proposed to do was fairly open-ended and about creating a project that grew organically as the children's interests emerged. I kind of thought that that was what the brief called for, but I can see how it could look high risk. Sigh. It's times like these when trying to make a living being a self-employed artist and art teacher just feels like monumental folly. But I shall pick myself up and dust myself off and just get back in the studio. I have no time to mope as I have a big exhibition coming up on November, which sounds a long way away but the gallery is HUGE and I don't have many finished paintings to fill it as of this moment, so I better get cracking!

In reading news: I've finished my first few books of the year. The Aeronaut's Windlass which was a LT bb from I can't remember who, which was good fun. A must for fans of talking cat characters in books- these were some of the haughtiest and most hilarious cats I've come across. I was just looking for the next in the series but it seems it hasn't been published yet. Gah! I also read Strangeland, a sort-of autobiography by the contemporary artist Tracey Emin who is rather controversial for being painfully autobiographical in her work. I'm not a huge fan, but nor am I opposed to her work. I saw her "unmade bed" that caused a fuss and won the Turner prize, and actually thought it a good work of art. She very perceptively anticipated our modern obsession with oversharing our lives or voyeuristically looking into other's or maybe she just got lucky.
The book is written in a sort of poetical style that makes the meaning of her words somewhat obscure at times, which is a shame as she does seem to have an interesting story to tell.

Right now I'm reading a fascinating book about Rothko The Legacy of Mark Rothko which reads like a bit of a crime thriller, as it looks at the way his paintings were questionably handled after his death. Books about art in general are emerging as a theme at the moment - I'm trying to read some of the ones I keep round the studio as visual reminders of people's work, seeking to understand what motivated them and trying to become more analytical about how I make art myself, which is usually just very instinctual and not all that intellectualised, which I think can be a failing of my work. Maybe if I can explain myself better, they might let me do lovely workshops! Fingers crossed!

22sibylline
Jan 16, 2020, 10:26am

Lovely to read about your doings. I sympathize wholeheartedly with your rejection woes having endured a lifetime of them. It's a shame that these organizations can't give some feedback, but they are swamped, many of them, and better the money is spent on other things (like paying whatever artist does get the job).

23HanGerg
Jan 20, 2020, 6:11am

>22 sibylline:. Thanks Lucy! Yes, rejection is just part and parcel of these kind if things, but it doesn't seem to get any easier. You make a good point about feedback too - they only have limited resources. I'll try and bear that in mind next time I am shaking my fist and shouting "why???".
In book news, I am racing through White Teeth, one of those books that pops up everywhere after it made such a big splash on first publication. I had somehow resisted it's allure until just the other day. I was enjoying it hugely and thought it was heading towards being my first 5 star read of the year, but it seems to be running out of momentum slightly as it nears the end. We shall see how it all finishes, and perhaps the 5 stars can be rescued!

24HanGerg
Jan 20, 2020, 5:38pm

Ok, so I finished White Teeth. I'm really going to try and keep on top of reviews this year, which means writing fast, which means no bells or whistles like pictures and stuff.
So, this book was a big deal when it came out, as it was an impressive debut novel from a writer still only in her twenties. And it touched a nerve, writing in 2000 about Islamic fundamentalism, the immigrant experience, racism and lack of representation, genetic engineering - as someone else pointed out, she was very prescient about many of the issues that dominated discourse long into the twenty-first century. In a way it's a more optimistic novel about these issues than someone would perhaps write today, but it is a very clearsighted and illuminating look at what life was like for people from many different backgrounds in London in the 80's, which is when most of the action in the novel takes place, although it does jump around in time quite a bit as well. It's also funny, has something important to say about what being a first or second generation immigrant is like, and was very readable on the whole. On the downside, I found the pace slowing towards the end. The end itself felt very rushed and something of a let down. The characters never really came vividly to life for me, and I felt like we focused on the wrong ones - I wanted to hear a lot more from the wives of the two main characters. Lots of things happen in the book that aren't really necessary for the plot, that it feels like a good editor may have pruned. Some things happen in the book that suggest to me that the writer has lost a sense of who her characters are - like the guy who becomes head waiter of a busy restaurant despite only having one working hand, but who never refers to having any difficulties because of it - like she forgot he only has one good hand for big chunks of it. Oh, and the Hindu character who joins a Muslim fundamentalist group! This could have been a really great novel, but it fell down in the details, and in the lacklustre ending. I will look out for other books by Zadie Smith though, as I think she is potentially a writer I would like if her other books don't re-produce some of the flaws this one has. 3.5/5

For anyone that has read this book, I have a spoilerific question about meaning: What are we to make of the Nazi doctor's involvement in Marcus' work? Does it suggest that there IS a malign intent behind Futuremouse that Marcus is just too self-satisfied to see, and that all the naysayers that see his work as dangerous saw it more clearly than he did? Is Smith saying all this genetic engineering stuff is facist at heart? Also, what happened at the end, when it said the old Dr is slumped over? Malit hit Archie didn't he? So what happened to the Nazi guy? Such a rushed and confusing ending!

25alcottacre
Jan 20, 2020, 5:53pm

>21 HanGerg: I read The Aeronaut's Windlass last year. I really need to check and see if my local library has the sequel yet.

Belated Happy New Year, Hannah!

26quondame
Jan 20, 2020, 6:19pm

>25 alcottacre: Nope. It hasn't been completed yet. Jim Butcher's life hit some snags and he's running a couple of years late on deliveries. At least partly to do with a house not being completed in time to give him a proper place to write. I guess men need a room of their own too.

27HanGerg
Editado: Fev 12, 2020, 3:09pm

>25 alcottacre: Hi Stasia, thanks for dropping by! Yes, I'll be looking out for the next book in the series too - the world building was pretty good and left lots more to be discovered, lots of plot arcs heading in interesting directions, and of course there's those brilliant cats!
>26 quondame: Hi Susan. So you seem to be well up on Jim Butcher's movements! Any idea when we can expect the next instalment?

So, I just finished my first five star read of the year:The Bees by Laline Paull. I was just blown away by this, I thought it was incredible. It's the story of a lowly sanitation worker in a beehive, told from the moment of her birth. At least, that's how she starts out, but she is an exceptional bee - perhaps a mutation, and she can move through the different, highly stratified ranks of bee society like no other. It completely immerses you in the life of a bee, in the way a good SF novel would introduce you to life on an alien world - you get thrown in at the deep end C.J.Cherryh style, but are given enough clues to gradually orientate yourself in this strange society.
Before posting a review I always like to have a look at what others on LT thought, as it often helps me get my thoughts on a book together, and I feel like this book is a bit under appreciated here. One of the criticisms of the book is that it's not very realistic a portrayal of bee society, so of course now I really want to hunt down some books about what the real story is, but for me that doesn't really matter, because if you look at the book from that SF perspective I mentioned earlier, this is just an alien world the author has created, albeit one that exists at the bottom of the garden. Also, some didn't like the luck that our main character seemed to have to survive the many cataclysms that befell the hive. There is an element of the "chosen one" narrative, or the outsider who steps beyond the boundaries of the society in order to effect great change, but again, these are established literary conventions used to tell a unique story, so I don't credit that criticism. I don't know why I feel the need to defend this novel except I have fallen deeply in love with it and wish everyone else would appreciate it like I do. For me it was perfect. Seek it out if it sounds appealing and hopefully you'll love it too.

28FAMeulstee
Jan 27, 2020, 7:12am

>27 HanGerg: I looked up the Dutch translation of The Bees at the website of my local library, and you are not alone. All ratings there are 5*, so I added it to my library wishlist :-)

29PaulCranswick
Jan 27, 2020, 7:16am

>27 HanGerg: I really must read that one soon, Hannah.

Sorry that you don't get to paint the Lincoln imps - I'm sure yours would have been great.

30souloftherose
Jan 28, 2020, 5:32am

>21 HanGerg: Sorry to hear about your disappointments with those two projects Hannah.

>24 HanGerg: Zadie Smith is an author who for some reason I've always admired more than I've enjoyed. I've read White Teeth and On Beauty and haven't picked up any of her others. I think I recall people in the group liking NW when it was published.

>27 HanGerg: You've reminded me that I've had The Bees on my lengthy to read list for ages - so glad you enjoyed it. Your comments about other reader's thoughts on this book reminded me of Jo Walton's comments on general fiction readers trying science fiction and fantasy and not knowing there are different ways to read sff books (particularly re worldbuilding, how you might not understand everything at once and have to trust the author will make enough clear).

31charl08
Jan 28, 2020, 3:34pm

I just read Zadie Smith's collection of short stories Grand Union and would recommend them.

And sorry about the commissions - that must be hard. How is the Etsy store doing, or are you not doing that anymore?

32PaulCranswick
Fev 23, 2020, 8:51pm

Looking forward to updates from the lovely city of Lincoln soon.

Interesting fact the city of Lincoln held the record for having the world's tallest building for a very long time.

Wishing you all the best Hannah.

33HanGerg
Editado: Mar 15, 2020, 7:47pm

Just popping up quickly to wish folks on here all the best during this worrying time. I'm currently on day three of a seven day isolation with the family, as my husband, who works at the uni where people are always travelling about, has come down with a fever and a cough. At first I was adamant that it was just a cold, but he persuaded me that we have to accept there's a chance it could be more. I also have a slightly tickly cough.The little guy seems unaffected, I'm happy to report - fingers crossed it remains so. I still think probably just a cold, but we are isolating ourselves just in case. It feels like the right thing to be doing at this time. Actually, I don't know how I'm going to feel about going back out when the seven days are up.
You'd think with this being in the house all day I'd get to LT more, but of course I have a lively four and a bit year old to entertain most of the time, and a husband that needs a bit of cheering up the rest. It has been kind of fun though, despite the strange feeling of dislocation and uncertainty that marks this time so far for me. We get out in the garden for at least an hour every day, and we've been keeping busy with some projects for Leó who'll miss five days of school, (he said with great glee "we're going to do homeschooling!" as one of his best friends is home schooled and I think he's a tiny bit jealous - dangerous territory for me I fear!), an art commission I've got to try and think about, and plenty of entertainment, both of the TV and book form. The husband has been really enjoying watching the Berlin Philharmonic who have made their subscription free for a month to entertain the isolated masses. I also did a free Live illustration class with a lovely professional illustrator I follow on Instagram today. But mainly I've been reading Komarr by Bujold and totally falling head over heals for it. I read The Warrior's Apprentice a while back and thought it was OK, but now I finally get all the love and esteem many on here hold for her and her characters. I really have to get to the next instalment to find out if Miles gets his girl, but for now I'm digging out all the Bujold I have in the house to binge on until this strange time is over. Stay healthy everyone!

34PaulCranswick
Mar 15, 2020, 7:42pm

>33 HanGerg: Wishing you all well, Hannah and hope you recover quickly. Are you getting any tests done?

I am thinking of going to earth for two weeks here and will discuss it with Samsung today.

35HanGerg
Editado: Mar 15, 2020, 8:08pm

Hi Paul, thanks for dropping by. You mentioned your asthma on another thread, so I definitely think it would be the right thing for you! My mother is a lifelong smoker and has for the past few years been on an inhaler for a persistent cough. I'm really trying to get her to self-isolate. At the moment she is still doing shopping at the supermarket and stuff like that. There haven't been any cases in her part of there world as yet, but I do think it's only a matter of time. Worrying stuff.
As for us, I do think it's odd, but apparently official advice is, if you don't need hospital treatment, you don't need to be tested. Just stay at home if you think you have symptoms. We've left Leó's school in a tricky position I guess, as we've explained why we're keeping him home. Now they know they have a student who potentially had the virus. What do they do? Just carry on as normal? That seems to be the advice at the moment. Again, it seems only a matter of time before that changes, but then the British government seem to be taking a different tack from many others. Unwisely, in my opinion...

36PaulCranswick
Mar 15, 2020, 8:02pm

>35 HanGerg: Yes, I am not really sure what is best with this thing, Hannah.

I am conflicted that it seems to be affecting daily lives so badly and will have an enormous impact on the world economy for sure. I went to the mall with Belle last evening and it was relatively deserted for a Sunday evening and we kept our distance from people somewhat.

Sporting events have been cancelled largely in the UK which on the balance of probability is probably correct but leaves my beloved Leeds on the cusp of promotion with an uncertain future. I do think it would be an injustice if they were denied the chance of promotion because of this and the financial implications to the club would be ruinous.

The British way of "stiff upper lip" won't see us through this necessarily but I do think that this virus can be defeated with sensible precautions.

37HanGerg
Editado: Mar 23, 2020, 6:02pm

Hi everyone! I'll try and drop by threads in a bit to see how everyone is doing, but just wanted to update and say - still here, on day 10 of what has now become 14 self-isolating, as government advice changed whilst we've been in! And as a family we are resigned to going to very few places for very short amounts of time once our strict isolation period is up. Me and the little guy did pop out to our neglected allotment once, which I think we will be doing a lot more of, as it seems to be a good way to get a change of scene, fresh air and good exercise without mingling with others. The way people are panic buying, it might also start being necessary to feed ourselves too!
The time in isolation has actually gone very well I think - we keep ourselves busy with all kinds of little projects and the time seems to fly by. We've been gardening, baking, junk modelling, painting, learning chess, playing video games, watching Masterchef (Leó's now a fan), making cards and letters, Skyping loved ones, doing some more formal lessons in little bursts, and our new thing - Yoga on You Tube! A fellow school parent recommended this great channel called "Cosmic Kids Yoga" and Leó loves it! We've decided we'll do it once a day, and L now says he wants to be a Yoga teacher when he grows up! So all is well on the home front, just uncertainty about the future and going's on in the wider world are making this a strange time. I'm glad to report though, that my mum is taking things seriously and is now totally self-isolating. Her friend owns some fields where she has been taking her dog for a walk every day rather than risk the beach which is where all the rest of her village are heading for their outdoor time, and she is now getting her newspaper and her shopping delivered. So that's a relief!
I hope everyone here is finding ways to cope with these strange and worrying times. Lots of time for reading at least!
Here's a pic of the little yoga master in action:

38HanGerg
Editado: Maio 26, 2020, 4:03pm

Well that's it. Lockdown in the UK. Not before time I guess, but it does feel increasingly surreal. Anyway, I'm just toddling onwards, so: Reviews!

5.How to be Right - James O'Brien 3/5
This was a Christmas gift of the stocking filler variety. I was aware of this guy in a minor way - he has a phone in show on a talk radio channel. It's not my kind of thing at all, but lots of videos of him talking to people about Brexit (remember that?!?) kept appearing in my Facebook feed having gone "viral". So, he's kind of a lefty, which is my thing, but increasingly I'm not that interested in reading books by people I agree with just telling me why we're right. This book is a bit like that, but it does have one good trick up its sleeve, which is to demonstrate, through conversations he has with callers on his show, how to argue with those who are "wrong". Don't bombard them with your opinions, instead just get them to explain their own. Because often, it turns out, beyond a circular argument like "it's true because it is", many of the people that hold these beliefs that run counter to what the facts or common decency suggest are true, really can't justify their opinions. And showing them that is more fun than arguing with them. He also makes a good point and call for tolerance at the same time, which is that many of these people are just parroting things that the mainstream media, and increasingly many politicians are telling them is true, so they are not really the ones we should direct our anger at. So, pretty interesting.

6.Dragon Keeper - Robin Hobb 4.5/5
7.Dragon Haven - Robin Hobb 4.5/5
8.City of Dragons - Robin Hobb 4.5/5
I'll just review these all together and say I love them! I'm working my way through the enormous "Realm of the Elderlings" series, of which this is the fourth set of books. The others have been 600-800 page per book trilogies. These books are somewhat slimmer, but there's four. They were very compelling, and I read all three very quickly, but for now I don't feel compelled to rush out and get hold of the final part, although I will very soon. This series was lighter on the horrific than some of Hobb's previous books have been, but the usual excellent characterisation and tight plotting are there. We are also finally learning a lot more about the mysterious Elderlings that have hovered in the background of many of the stories so far. This is Fantasy of the highest order and highly recommended if you are a fan of the genre. They work best as part of the larger series, but actually this set of four could be read as standalone's and would still be very enjoyable I think.

9.Dragonsbane - Babara Hambly 4.5/5
I was in the groove of Fantasy February, so read this, which I'd had knocking about on my shelves for a while. It was really excellent. The plot is nothing super original - a legendary dragon slayer and his witch lover are recruited to save a kingdom that is being terrorised by a dragon and as it turns out, much worse besides. However, if I tell you that our first glimpse of said legendary dragon slayer by the young knight that has come to recruit him and who idolises him from afar, is when he is up to his ankles in pig muck and philosophising about breeding pigs like Lord Emsworth... well, then you see we have something more than the run-of-the-mill. The witchy character is the true heroine of the story, and when we first meet her she is trying to use her magic to sneak past some bandits without being brutally raped. That somehow feels revelatory in Fantasy, and one that was written in the 80's to boot! Brilliant feminist fantasy with extraordinary characterisation. Hambly is definitely a name I'll watch out for, as this was my first by her. I think it was that lady Roni that tipped me off about her. Thanks Roni!

10.Bouvard and Pécuchet - Gustave Flaubert 1.5/5
I read this for my big reading challenge and didn't appreciate it at all. I mean, what was the point of it? It felt like a very scathing satire, but of who? The two stupid but harmless Parisian friends who come into some money and decide to retire to the country and then dabble in lots of different pursuits? Yes, they are quite annoying, but really not so much as to deserve a whole novel about how hopeless they are. And are they symptomatic of something wrong with society at large? I'm not that up on French history but it strikes me as unlikely. So then, what was it all about? It's very possible that it's all just lost on me because I don't understand the context, but I'm afraid nothing the writer did made me care an ounce, which is a crime in any era. A real dud.

11.The Legacy of Mark Rothko - Lee Seldes 5/5
Well, this was fascinating. It was an eye witness account of the trial of Frank Lloyd, the hotshot gallery owner who was tried for his sharp dealings involving artist Mark Rothko's estate. It also has a brief biography of Rothko himself which was necessary as much of what Rothko stood for and believed about his work was central to why what Lloyd did with it after his death was so abhorrent. I knew very little about all these goings on even though Rothko is one of my favourite artists, so I was glued to it. It is a cautionary tale for artists about how people with no regard for your work beyond what it will fetch at auction should not be trusted with the things you value most in life. It is also, in part, a pretty bleak tale of the worst excesses of the human capacity for greed. But it is also the story of how Rothko's daughter Kate took on the elite art world, who really had no interest in seeing one of their biggest players exposed, and ultimately wrestled back control of a large part of her father's estate so that the work could be kept together and put on display to the general public, which was her father's deepest wish. All told with the flair of a courtroom drama novelist. Not just for art nuts, but amazing if you are.

12.Komarr - Lois McMaster Bujold 4.5/5
13.The Warrior's Apprentice - Lois McMAster Bujold 4/5
Ok, the review zeal is flagging now so I'll come back to how I finally fell in love with Miles Vorkosigan another day!

Stay safe, stay well, and stay indoors!

39PaulCranswick
Mar 28, 2020, 3:44am

Great to see your update, Hannah.

The Rothko book looks killer!

40PaulCranswick
Abr 5, 2020, 8:46am

Have a lovely, peaceful, safe and healthy weekend, Hannah

41souloftherose
Abr 8, 2020, 2:24pm

>33 HanGerg: Hope you're all feeling better now Hannah? You've made me consider a Vorkosigan series reread.....

>37 HanGerg: My friend's little ones love Cosmic Kids Yoga and I've been considering trying it myself as (hopefully) a slightly easier way to try some yoga at home. My back is not loving home-working.

Glad to hear your Mum is taking all sensible precautions. My parents are being very sensible too, even if the concern for them seems to be how awful they'd feel if they infected someone else. I haven't told them I think the concern is more the other way - I'm just happy they're being sensible. So far they seem not to be going too stir crazy either.

>38 HanGerg: Well done on all the Robin Hobb books. I was planning to read the Golden Fool trilogy this year but I'm not sure I can read a book where the characters are put through so much at the moment.... (I've read the first two before and remember a particularly awful event happening in book 2).

I've read some Barbara Hambly's but not Dragonsbane so have added that to the list. I enjoyed her Darwath trilogy which starts with The Time of the Dark - good traditional portal fantasy which does some non-traditional things.

42ronincats
Abr 10, 2020, 8:44pm

>38 HanGerg: Yes, I love Dragonsbane with a passion, so much so that I refuse to read the sequel that Hambly eventually wrote because the book ended at a perfect place and anything more cannot help but spoil it.

YES!!! Vorkosigan love!

43quondame
Editado: Abr 10, 2020, 9:21pm

>38 HanGerg: How are you on Kate Elliott? Her Crown of Stars series is strange and wonderful and 7 large books long. It climbed up on my favorites shelf after the first read through.

>42 ronincats: I remember being very upset at one aspect of later books in the series. Barbara Hambly has Jenny tempted not by something I thought totally obvious but gender neutralher insecurity about her level of power and instead chose to have it be typically female. I'm not sure if I read all the books in the series, but I may well have as the summary of the last book seems familiar. When I first read Dragonsbane I thought it a spiritual precursor of Tea with the Black Dragon, though it was written a couple of years later.

44PaulCranswick
Abr 12, 2020, 1:02am



I wanted my message this year to be fairly universal in a time we all should be pulling together, whatever our beliefs. Happy Celebration, Happy Sunday, Hannah.

45quondame
Abr 12, 2020, 5:29pm

Happy Easter!

46HanGerg
Abr 15, 2020, 5:17pm

Hi friends and thanks for the visit Paul (multiples!), Heather, Roni and Susan! A Happy Easter to you all! I must admit, I don't really celebrate Easter much. Lots of friends were sharing pictures of elaborate Easter egg hunts they had set up for their kids, but we didn't do any of that this year, although that was largely because we were having a bit of a tricky time, of which, more below.

>43 quondame: I hadn't heard of Kate Elliot before Susan, but that series looks intriguing so I've put the first one on the Wishlist and will try to remember to track it down next time I'm in the mood for some Fantasy! Thanks!

So, another RL update: I've been a bit ill. Was it the dreaded virus? Well, I'm not sure. I'd been following all the protocols around social distancing so it would have been a freak if I had got it, and the symptoms weren't exactly a match - I had a bit of a cough for about a day and a half plus a very slightly elevated temperature, but those both left after a few days, but then I had about a week of sinus pain and headache, general aches and pains and a general feeling of lethargy and "illness", which finally lifted on Tuesday. This was all also accompanied by pretty huge levels of anxiety, especially at the beginning - I'm very much worse case scenario in all my thinking in bad times so I was imagining horrors. It was pretty awful - the mental stuff more than the physical. The husband was also feeling very anxious, so we were both freaking out at times, but trying to keep things as normal as possible for Leó at the same time. A tough several days. But hopefully we are coming out the end of it now. It did make me realise that if this wasn't the virus (and it probably wasn't - sudden onset hay fever is our current best guess), then I really, really don't want to put myself in a position where I might get it. So for that reason, plus following general isolation guidelines, I haven't left the house since last Monday! Thank goodness we have a garden! Not sure when I'll venture out again. We have been getting very creative about finding places to buy things online as no supermarkets seem to have delivery slots available - we have a veg box anyway, but have now added a meat box and a fruit box from local businesses. We were running low on household goods like detergent and toothpaste, but have managed to find online businesses that could deliver them. A local cheese shop is meant to be sending cheese, and I made the switch a while back to oat milk over dairy and we just had 12 cartons of that delivered. The only thing we haven't managed to source that we really need is butter! We're hoping that the local butcher that brings us meat and eggs might do that as well, in which case we will have the no shop shopping all tied up!
About the only positive from this strange time has been that I found sticking my nose in a book was the best thing for my anxiety, so I have managed to get loads of reading done (by my standards anyway- the stats would be fairly normal for some Lt-ers). I've been devouring lots of Vorkosigan books, with two 5 star books amongst them - A Civil Campaign and the compilation of three novellas Borders of Infinity - both perfect in their own ways. I now have several reviews owing but I'll get back to them once I've seen how everyone else has been faring - well I hope everybody!

47ronincats
Abr 18, 2020, 9:38pm

Sorry to hear about your misery but glad it doesn't appear to be Covid-19 and that you are feeling better now. Delighted that you are loving the Vorkosigans as much as I do. I've also been staying close to home, but the husband goes out occasionally to stock up for the household. Stay safe!

48PaulCranswick
Abr 18, 2020, 11:16pm

Wishing you and yours well, Hannah. I am relieved to see that you are feeling better and have faced down whatever virus it was that visited.

49fairywings
Abr 19, 2020, 7:14am

Sorry to hear that Hannah, but very glad your feeling better now. Great idea finding alternate places to shop online.

50sirfurboy
Abr 21, 2020, 8:45am

>46 HanGerg: Sorry to hear about your difficult week, Hannah, but glad it has not turned into anything more serious. Good news on the reading front.

51souloftherose
Abr 22, 2020, 2:38am

>46 HanGerg: Really sorry to hear you were ill Hannah but glad you're feeling better. I can imagine that must have been very scary to experience. It's really hard to process how much life has changed in some ways. My hayfever has been very bad this year (I think I read somewhere that pollen levels have been the highest for 70 years) so it may well have been that (and it gives me a lot of fatigue and very foggy brain in addition to the stuffy nose) but in some ways, now you're over it, it would be good if it had been covid if that would have made you immune.

52HanGerg
Editado: Abr 27, 2020, 4:38pm

Hi Roni, Paul, Adrienne, Stephen and Heather - thanks for dropping by! I hope you are all healthy and as happy as can be expected under the current circumstances!

We're doing OK. Anxiety is an issue, for both me and the husband - it can feel like we are doing OK and getting through it as well as can be expected most days, but then all of a sudden it can be easy to enter into a downward spiral of negative thoughts and suddenly feel overwhelmed. I went to a supermarket today for the first time in weeks, as there was just a few things it's really hard to source from anywhere else, plus I've been feeling very restless the past few days. So I went and did the shop and it was OK, despite the fact that some people seem to make it a point of principal to not keep the requisite two metres. Just now I am at home I feel little flickers of anxiety knowing that I have a long time to wait for any symptoms to show if I did catch anything "out there". I'm trying to balance that kind of thinking with more rational and calming thoughts, and I succeed most of the time. Hey ho! I hope everybody else out there is finding their own ways to cope and get through this whilst keeping on a reasonably even keel.

I've found it hard to find time for my art, what with a little fella to home school, so I've taken to doing some quick little collages on postcards sized pieces of card. I'm thinking of photographing them and turning them into a book "The Covid Collages". I'm planning to do a huge pile of them, as it's a nice quick and easy activity that has been really helping me keep calm. I've also discovered a really great Podcast drama "The Bright Sessions" - a SF tale of a psychologist with very unusual patients. A bit X-Files-y. I've been listening to that and doing collages and that's the closest I get to a happy place at the moment. Oh, and one other thing - I wanted to help out my son's school as they have been amazing through all this, plus this is something I've been thinking of doing for a while anyway but never had the time - I've started my own You Tube of kids craft instructional videos. They are very amateurish and basic but I'm hoping to get better as I go. Check them out and see what you think:
https://youtu.be/i3g5BG64sPQ

https://youtu.be/8jBVcVxxWHI

Gah! I really came here to do reviews and tell you about what that lovely lady Roni did for me the other day (clue - it involves FREE BOOKS!) but the husband is looking for a TV watching partner so I'll try and pop back tomorrow and fill in all the gaps. Stay safe everyone!

53HanGerg
Editado: Maio 26, 2020, 4:07pm

Ok, to the reviews!
12.Komarr - Lois McMaster Bujold 4.5/5
13.The Warrior's Apprentice - Lois McMaster Bujold 4/5
14.A Civil Campaign - Lois McMaster Bujold 5/5
20. Borders of Infinity - Lois McMaster Bujold 5/5
21.The Vor Game - Lois McMaster Bujold 4/5
So I've been having a big Vorkosigan saga crush. I read The Warrior's Apprentice a few years ago for the first time because it's so beloved round here by many, including Roni, who we all know is a bit of a guru, so I gave it a go but didn't love it. But I did like it enough to buy a load of other books in the series when I spotted them at a secondhand bookshop. They sat on my shelves for a few years but I finally decided to give the rest of the series a try. I started with Komarr and loved it - finally I see what all the fuss about Miles is about! How he takes all the things that make his life so much harder than others, and not only survives, or even thrives, but triumphs! Great stuff! The nicely bubbling sexual tension was fun too. So then I went back and re-read "Warrior's..." and it made much more sense now. Then I read the sequel to Komarr A Civil Campaign which is a complete gear change into sorta Regency Romance territory, which it succeeds brilliantly at. I ordered that one specially as I just had to find out if Miles got his lady, but Borders of Infinity was another I just had on the shelves. It's three short stories set at varying intervals between some of the other books and they flesh out Miles' character more. All three were brilliant in different ways, especially the first which is heartbreakingly moving. The Vor Game was probably the weakest of the bunch but still pretty excellent space opera by most people's standards. So I'm hooked, I'm smitten, I'm bowled over. Sign me up for the fan club and put me down for a T-shirt. I'm impatiently waiting for Cetaganda which should have arrived but hasn't yet, and after that I have no doubt I'll get to the rest of the series sooner rather than later - this is top notch SF goodness and make no mistake.

15. A Moment of Silence - Anna Dean 3.5/5
Light be fun Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen stuff. It's that Roni again - if she says it's good, read it I must. I enjoyed this and raced through it but it didn't leave that much of an impression. It's the first of a series though, and I can imagine coming back to it when I'm in the mood for this kind of light fare.
16. City of Brass - S. A. Chakraborty 3.5/5
Lots of people have loved this Fantasy series, of which this is the first chapter (I think it's due to be a trilogy with part three being published shortly) but I was only mildly impressed. It's based on a Middle Eastern tradition of genies and djinns, which makes a nice change from wizards and warlocks and whatnot. And it is quite morally ambiguous and subtle - who are the bad guys and who the good? That was one of the things I disliked as I was in the mood for something a little more clear cut I think, so it's possible I'd read it again and like it more. The story took a while to really gather momentum, but I'm sure the second part is worth a read. Not sure when I'll get to it though.
17. A Memory Called Empire - Arkady Martine 4.5/5
This is attracting Hugo buzz, and rightly so I think. It's a good bit of SF world building and also quite a breathless thriller at the same time. Plus it does a good line in Empire and identity, what being a stranger in a culture you admire feels like and how it influences you and you influence it. My husband digs all that kind of stuff and he gobbled this up. I perhaps admired it more than I loved it, but I think this is the author's first novel, and she's definitely one to watch.
18. Ring for Jeeves - P. G. Wodehouse 3.5/5
I read this when I was feeling very anxious. Wodehouse is usually a balm for such feelings, but either I was just too anxious for him to work his usual magic or this was just not one of the classics. I hadn't read this one before, unusually for Wodehouses in our collection - I thought I'd read them all at least once, but it's easy to get confused when all the titles (and, let's face it, plots) are so similar. Jeeves is not employed by the reliably hopeless Bertie, but has been loaned out to some new fella. The golden age of gentlemen's personal gentlemen seems to be drawing to a close, as the aristocracy are suddenly faced with new laws that have turned their huge houses into liabilities rather than assets, and Jeeve's new employer has had to involve him in some shady dealings as a racetrack bookie to balance the books. It's interesting that Wodehouse decided to tackle the end of the era that he so enjoyed showing us, but perhaps that what lead to me not like it so much - I don't come to Wodehouse for even light social realism, darn it!
19. The Magpie Lord - KJ Charles 3.5/5
Heather was recommended this author by Kathy, she liked her and reported accordingly, and so then I decided to give it a go too. It being free on the Kindle was also quite persuasive. M/m romance in historical settings is her thing, some of it fairly conventional, but this came with a side order of fantastical and spooky too. There's a sexy young Lord who someone it trying to kill by nasty magical methods, so he asks about and hires a young a mage who can counteract the spell and do some sleuthing to uncover who's behind it. He also young and handsome, but looks in need of a good meal and maybe more... Yeah, it's kind of silly, but also saucy and fun. Also quite spooky too. I'd read more of this - which there is, it's a series. One I'll get round to at some point, I'm sure. I haven't ever read any m/m romance before. Romance is a genre that I occasionally dip into for a bit of fun and I found that it doesn't really matter about the gender of the protagonists, it's the usual story of "they hate each other at first! but then, something happens to make x see y in a new light!" etc etc. The rules are the same.

22.Emergence - C.J. Cherryh 4/5
More excellence in the huge ongoing series. It's interesting to contrast this series with the Bujold. They both have very strong central male protagonists, both excellently portrayed. Miles is larger than life, brilliant and imminently adorable, if a bit of a rogue. Bren Cameron in this series is of a different order entirely. Quite cold and forbidding at first - a bit like the Atevi whom he lives among. He feels so real I can imagine being in a room with him sometimes. But I'm not sure I would like him. I love reading about his exploits, but he is not an entirely easy man to warm to. Cajeiri, the young ruler-in-waiting of the Atevi is much more charming, and it's his viewpoint in this book that feels the more important. I believe this brings me up to date with what Cherryh has written, but another is already slated for release soon. In the meantime, lockdown might be just the time to re-read the entire series to date in anticipation.

Ok, must dash. I'm going to go join a "Hangout" to listen to a live gig by my friend - her first gig for a while as she is quite an introverted, though very talented performer. I'll be back soon to talk about the really good turn Roni did for me (yes I know! This is being very heavily trailered. It's a good one though!) Also, my idea for an artistic project to mark this strange time spent in isolation. Ok, gotta run!

54quondame
Editado: Maio 1, 2020, 2:32am

>53 HanGerg: I'm a great fan of Lois McMaster Bujold. My favorite Vorkosigan book is Memory, which takes place just before Komarr and just after Mirror Dance, one of the less fun, but important books in the series especially in how it re-introduces Mark. Mirror Dance sets up Miles situation in Memory, but is not 100% necessary to appreciate it. Not like Komarr is to A Civil Campaign

(touchstones are down, bummer.)

55charl08
Maio 1, 2020, 1:26am

Hi Hannah,
So sorry to read you were unwell. Those pollen count figures are crazy. I usually get away quite lightly, hope that proves true this year too.

Your art projects sound like fun. I made a rainbow with pastels way back when this first started. I had forgotten the pleasure involved (even when the results are very basic, in my case!) I hope the youtube project goes well: lovely to share your skills like that.

I haven't read much sci fi lately, but did love the recent Becky Chambers book.

And what did Roni do?!!

56sibylline
Maio 2, 2020, 10:28am

Hmmm. I've not read Dragonsbane. Must. Find.

I loathe Flaubert. His writing, qua writing, is incredible -- especially in French, so beautiful. I've loathed his novels. Bovary tops the list by being the most readable but the most damning. Everyone says, oh he's showing how she got in trouble because of her repressed boring life, but I think Flaubert was presenting an "accurate" portrait of a type of pointless female as he imagined her to be. I suspect he disliked women.

All right, rant over. I thought you might enjoy it.

57sibylline
Maio 2, 2020, 10:44am

Back to say that your covid scare must have added so much to the free-floating anxiety we all share. I think I am more anxious about, uh, our leadership issues and have to work hard to dump scenarios from my head. There was a really good essay in the NYT about ways to do better with your kids. I'm thankful that I don't have a young child right now. I did during 9/11 and that was stressful enough.

Hooray for Bujold and Cherryh! I love your analysis of Bren and Miles. I've got my spousal unit making his way through the Foreigner series right now and I won't say he's oblivious to all else, but close! Good medicine!

58PaulCranswick
Maio 24, 2020, 7:59pm

I am celebrating the end of Ramadan, Hannah, a time of thanks and forgiveness and I want to say my thanks to all my LT friends for helping keep me somewhat sane these last few years.

59HanGerg
Editado: Maio 26, 2020, 4:56pm

Hi everyone! Thanks for dropping by! Between homeschooling and arty projects I'm not getting much LT time, but I am getting lots of reading done, so that's something! So, visitors, let's see...
>54 quondame:.Hi Susan! Thanks for the Vorkosigan thoughts. I will no doubt get around to them all at some point, but possibly not in the right order, although they seem to jump about the timeline so much it hardly matters, except in a few cases as you point out. I must say I've loved what little I've seen of Miles' parents so I must go back and read the first two books in the series sooner rather than later. For now, I've got Ethan of Athos on the way (Cetaganda got lost in the post! I got a refund, but I wanted the book, darnit!) and Brothers in Arms on the tbr pile if I really need another fix!
>55 charl08:. Hi Charl! Becky Chambers is one off my absolute faves too. I just got a new(wish) - I think - novella of hers delivered to my Kindle. I know nothing about it - just bought it when I saw it and liked the price. I think it's set in the same universe as all the other stuff though. I'm kind of saving it up as a treat.
Ok, so what Roni did was - she sent me the free murderbot books!!! Well, they were free to those in the US and Canada but when I investigated at her suggestion I was much chagrined to find that Tor weren't offering them free in the UK (different publisher maybe?), so she very kindly emailed them to me. I wasn't optimistic it would work but clever Roni, somehow it did! I just downloaded the files, put them up on my kindle and I was off! I re-read the first then breezed through the other three - they are so, so good! I will definitely buy Network Effect but might wait for the Paperback to come out.
>56 sibylline:. Yes, Dragonsbane is a must, Lucy! The more I think about it, the stronger the impression grows that it's a special book. Glad to hear I'm not the only one that dislikes Flaubert - I haven't read Madame Bovary but had this vague idea that I should at some point - your summation makes me happy to skip it. Lord save us from male novelists that have to "teach" us about how vapid women are. (shudders).
Regarding Leó in lockdown, it has been hard at times. When my anxiety is very bad, it can be made to feel worse by the fact that I am trying to act as if I've got it totally together for the sake of this little person that may not know too much about the world yet, but knows his mum pretty well and can tell when I'm being weird. But on the other hand, having him always here to entertain and share this all with has kept me very grounded I think. He seems fine himself - he misses his friends and can get emotional about that at times, but in general he's shown great emotional resilience - so proud of him! (and wish I could do the same!). It's also brought us closer together in many ways. Of course, you loose them a little bit when they go off to school, and in the normal run of things that's as it should be, but this has brought us back together - we have become quite the little homeschoolin' super team! (Although I have pretty much abandoned formal learning for the joys of more "holistic" learning opportunities such as making homemade animations with lego figures and building elaborate model houses for cuddly toys)
Here's a pic of us just absolutely winning at homeschooling. I forget exactly what the learning objective was here, but no doubt it was something very nuanced and sophisticated!



>58 PaulCranswick:. Thank you Paul, for always being a presence on my threads, and those of many others. You are surely one of the most generous members of our community, and I wish you all the best my friend.

60ronincats
Maio 30, 2020, 10:44pm

Link is up for the Sector General summer group read--check it out!

https://www.librarything.com/topic/320907

61HanGerg
Editado: Jun 7, 2020, 4:51pm

Reviews are owing so let's get to it!

23.All Systems Red - Martha Wells 4.5/5
24.Artificial Condition - Martha Wells 4/5
25.Rogue Protocol - Martha Wells 5/5
26.Exit Strategy - Martha Wells 5/5
Yes, thanks to Roni I had all four lovely Murderbot books to read! I had read All Systems Go a while back but re-read it to kick off the adventure again, and loved it just as much second time around. One thing that's great about all four of them is that although they are novellas that can easily be digested in one or two big gulps (and who could possibly string it out any longer?), there's enough plot and action in each to fill a whole novel. Wells has simply pared it back down to absolute essentials and let the reader fill in the rest, which feels like a breath of fresh air and makes the whole thing such a non-stop thrill ride. Also, the characters are just incredible. Of course I love the character of ART in Artificial Condition and gather he's back for Network Effect which is great news. He's too good a character not to use again. Rogue Protocol is one breathless, creepy action adventure - like Alien but with killer combat robots, but also with a heart as well, and Exit Strategy re-unites us with the great team of characters from the first book and the evil corp who started it all. I can't remember the last time I read any Sf that was so straightforwardly appealing and brilliant. A really good entry to the genre for non-Sf fans and just so, so much fun, but with feelings too. And you know, stuff to say about identity, free will and being a good human being - or murderbot. I heartily love them all and wonder if you haven't read them yet, when you're planning to get round to them?!

27.Larklight - Philip Reeve 3.5/5
Something I picked up in a library sale a while back. It's aimed at slightly younger kids than the Mortal Engines series that Reeve is probably best known for - I'd say the target audience is 10-13 years old or thereabouts. It was a rollicking space opera adventure with a steampunk feel, but the "For Britain, Her Majesty and the Empire" tone of lots of it left me cold. I used to think that kind of stuff was harmless, slightly tongue in cheek fun, but in a Britain heading for a hard Brexit I find it all a bit sinister and distasteful. That's become my problem with steam punk in general - I looked around at the last steampunk festival that happened in Lincoln (the UK's biggest- held here every August) and I realised that people who voted for Brexit and people that love dressing up in Pith helmets and old military regalia and imagine Britain ruling the skies from a fleet of Zepplins or whatever, might well be a fairly tight Venn diagram.

28. Daniel Deronda - George Eliot 3/5
I really enjoyed Middlemarch when I read it a couple years ago, but this Eliot just didn't have the same readability. It also doesn't quite know what it wants to say I think. I read a review where someone pointed out that that was a strength as it made it a very modern style of novel where there is no neat conclusion. The characters never feel like their actions have to follow a certain trajectory that is unswervable, instead they feel like real human beings making decisions as best they can with the information they have available to them. One of the themes of the novel is how we always see other's actions through the flawed lens of our own self-interest, so often massively underestimate the complexity of others' inner lives and motivations. This kind of subtle and insightful look at human nature is something I am beginning to recognise as a hallmark of Eliot's, and it's something I really admire about her writing, but as a plot device it makes it a frustrating read at times. I shall certainly read more by her, but perhaps I feel like a need a bit of a break after this mammoth and not entirely satisfying undertaking.

29.If I Never Met You - Mhairi McFarlane 3/5
A fun, light read that someone here on LT was reading and I liked the sound of, so I snapped it up for my Kindle. It was quite a satisfying romance with a good sideline in a feminist women-supporting-other-women subplot, but the final get together felt a bit flat because it was trying to be so modern and hip, in a "I don't need a romantic relationship to complete me" kind of way. It's a tricky problem for the modern romance novelist that wants to be empowering to women, and one that this book doesn't quite pull off. Not bad for a bit of lighthearted fun though. Oh, and no sauce at all, which I know some people like in their romance offerings, but not me. I want my fictional relationships consummated, thank you!

30.Clockwork Boys - T. Kingfisher 3.5/5
31.The Wonder Engine - T. Kingfisher 3.5/5
This was a ...duology(?), Fantasy quest story that I enjoyed very much, although it was really just one long book cut in half. Some engaging central characters are given the impossible task of stopping the deadly army of seemingly indestructible automata that are waging war against their city kingdom. As the mission is almost certain death, they are all criminals that have been spared the death penalty in return for undertaking the task, and are kept in line by some magical tattoos that will eat them if they betray the quest (yeah, me neither) . It has a slow burn romance angle that was pretty nicely done too. Maybe lacking in a bit of substance, but good fun Fantasy.

32.Sorry I Missed You - Suzy Krause 2.5/5
I seem to be craving easy reading human interest type fictional stories at the moment, and this was 99p or something on the Kindle, so I gave it a go. The cover art makes it look like a romance novel, but it's actually about three very different women whom fate has thrown together in the shape of making them co-inhabitants of the same building. Each has been "ghosted" and wonders if it was them that a mysterious letter is for, offering to meet and explain what happened. There's also a super silly sub-plot about real ghosts in the attic - ghosts and ghosting - geddit? The characters were hard to warm to and it just wasn't very convincingly written, but there was a kernel of something good about this - the way the characters become closer and more likeable as they knock the rough edges off each other a bit, but otherwise nothing special.

62PaulCranswick
Jun 20, 2020, 10:26am

>59 HanGerg: Thank you for those kind words, Hannah. xx

63sibylline
Jun 20, 2020, 1:34pm

Love these reviews! I tried another Reeve too and found it wanting. Adore the Murderbots, am giving Exit Strategy to the spousal unit for father's day tomorrow, along with The Lantern Men -- a british edition, I'm not sure it's out over here yet. And I had the same experience with Deronda plus a faint unease with the Jewish/gentile theme. She did ok in the end, for her era.

Interesting too, your insight into the steam-punkers being pro-brexit. Over here I don't know what they are, politically. The gamut, I expect.

64HanGerg
Editado: Jun 26, 2020, 6:08pm

>62 PaulCranswick:. They are richly deserved Paul!
>63 sibylline: Hi Lucy! I had to look up the page for The Lantern Men. Mystery is only occasionally my thing, but that series does sound terrific. I might have to start at the beginning and check it out. The husband is a much bigger fan of Mystery than me - it's his go to genre, but he has such a long list of criteria for series that I've all but given up trying to buy things he might like. I know that he has tried to branch out and try books which deviate from the usual formula of heavy drinking, misanthropic white male cop/ex-cop protagonists though, so maybe this series would fit the bill.
The Jewish/Gentile theme of Daniel Deronda was interesting. I too think she did OK, but not great. It's so hard to know how much attitudes of the time are to blame. It's hard for anyone to step entirely away from their frames of reference. She was clearly well intentioned. I was particularly struck by how the question of passing on a Jewish identity intersected with Daniel's mother's (very feminist seeming) desire to be free of the yoke placed on her by her father to continue the Jewish family line, to make a life for herself as an actress. I found myself sympathising with her plight a lot more than Daniel did - nice boy though he was, he had a failure of empathy there, it seemed to me. The husband's academic research is in part about representations of Jewishness and how it intersects with representations of national identities, so I thought he might finding it interesting. He would hate the book though. I tried to summarise that aspect of the story as best as I could!
My belief that steam punkers in the UK might be quite Brexity is just a hunch. I have no empirical data to back that up. I have flirted with becoming a steampunker myself on occasion so I don't want to make a hasty over generalisation. They are awfully fond of Pith helmets though...

Ok, so June has been another busy reading month and I'm getting behind on reviews again, so let's go!

33.Med Ship - Murray Leinster 3/5
Roni put me onto this, as we are doing all things medical SF at the mo, mainly the "Sector General" series about an enormous hospital in space that treats many different alien species. This had an equally interesting premise - our hero is a Med Ship man - a space doctor that visits the many colonised planets of the galaxy to keep them up to date on the latest medical advances and just check up on them and make sure there are no medical emergencies. His only companion is a Tormal - a cute alien that I imagined as something like a small monkey, that has the most amazing immune system and can create antibodies which can then be used to create a vaccine to any as yet encountered disease. This is a really cool idea, and oh how we could do with one of those little guys now! The book was a compilation of stories about the twosome's adventures on many different planets and through many medical emergencies. They were quite fun, although a pattern seemed to emerge where all of the medical emergencies were either caused by or exacerbated by human greed, prejudice or ignorance. It gave all the stories a bit of a cynical flavour. The attitude towards women was not long out of the stone age either - but kind of interesting for it. It always shocks me that writers that could imagine humans taking to the stars and colonising worlds thousands of light years away really couldn't imagine women playing any bigger role than minding the children and helping their husbands be great at their jobs. Leinster is by no means the only culprit, but it does somewhat ruin the fun for me every time I encounter this problem. He was a huge name in early SF though, and it's worth a read if you like seeing where certain concepts came from.

34.Four Minutes To Save a Life - Anna Stuart 3/5
More of the "human interest" stuff I seem to be craving in lockdown. I haven't been buying them very discerningly - just looking at what's cheap and I like the blurb for on the Kindle, and maybe that's the problem. I haven't really found any diamonds yet. This was OK though. About a delivery driver (very lockdown appropriate) who has suffered some unspecified hardships of his own, who tries to intervene in the lives of four of the people on his route who seem to be really struggling in life. It had some nice moments, and the characterisation felt quite well done, but it gets quite twisty and overly dramatic at the end which it had a strong enough story not to need to do. It also did that annoying thing of hiding key pieces of information from the reader until crucial moments just to make it more dramatic, which unless well done jerks you out of the story. Worth a look if you like this kind of small scale human drama type things.

35.Rosewater - Tade Thompson 3/5
The husband bought me this as some hot new SF that was attracting buzz and it sat on the shelf for a while as the premise didn't grab me. It's about a city in Nigeria that has sprung up around a mysterious dome that has been created by an alien entity that has arrived on Earth and occasionally interacts with humans in seemingly miraculous ways. The story was actually an interesting one, and very original, although it took a while to get going. I appreciated that the setting was an unusual one for SF and reading a novel where all the characters are black is something I've done too few times and was a refreshing change. On the downside, I didn't really like the central character - I'm not sure I was supposed to, he's a bit of an anti-hero type, so that's OK. But the thing I just couldn't gel with at all was the novel's structure. It runs on multiple timelines with lots of flashbacks, but they seem to happen so frequently as to completely scramble the narrative in a way that kept stopping me getting drawn into the story. There are two more of these books in the series, and it seems that the unlikable central character is dispensed with for the next ones. Hopefully the annoying structure is too and then I might just be tempted to continue.

36.To Be Taught, If Fortunate - Becky Chambers 3/5
A recent novella by the new SF darling, but it didn't work so well for me. I enjoyed the "discovering new worlds" bit but was less thrilled with the ending and the decisions they made, or rather didn't make. It all felt a bit rushed as well. I appreciated the sense of wonder in exploring a newly discovered world but other than that it didn't seem to have much to offer.

37.Hospital Station - James White 4/5
The first book in the big series read that Roni has inspired many of us to do, here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/320907. The first several books have a quite episodic structure as I think they were originally serialised. I didn't mind it though as each story is a different medical case which provides it own challenges so this structure seemed to work well. I really enjoy how White has clearly given a lot of thought to how the logistics of how such a complex organisation would work - all the different atmospheric conditions for different species, how the different medical doctors would work together, how they could retain the knowledge of so many different physiognomies - all of that has been thought through and solved in a convincing way. I also really like how varied the aliens are - no scaly skin or extra set of arms of these aliens - they really are very different, from beings that eat radiation and share a hive mind to things that look like prunes in syrup that could crush human like bugs if they weren't well disposed towards us! Really fun stuff.

38.Blood of Dragons - Robin Hobb 4.5/5
I took a quite long break between this final instalment in the series and the other three which I devoured back in February. That was partly because I knew nasty stuff was coming - that Duke of Chalced is a terrible guy, and partly because, I realise, I didn't want it to end. I grew to really, really like some of these characters, and now it's over I can't believe we won't get to spend more time with them and their dragons as they build their new lives . Apart from the fact that I just want more, it was all really well tied up. Apart from, well, if you've read it I'm sure you know what I'm going to say, and if you haven't, I don't want to provide spoilers. But how much the fate of certain bad characters was dealt with felt a little weird. Some were skipped over and some were lingered on rather unpleasantly I think. Some weird choices, but minor quibbles really - she is one of the true greats of Fantasy writing that I have read, and I'm sad that I'm nearing the end of the books written in this universe as they have all been amazing.

39.The Break - Marian Keyes 3.5/5
More in the "human interest" vein, but this time I did a little research and this is a writer that has lots of praise. I can see why. The characters felt a lot more real, with convincing backstories, traumas and disappointments that felt like things that actually happen to real people, and it had some genuinely funny moments. But, and I see from reading the book's page reviews, I am not alone in feeling like it was way too long. I think this is a pretty successful writer, and she dedicates her book to her editor who has also become a dear friend, and those two things have meant that a lot of editing that should have been done, hasn't been. Also, the beginning was much stronger than the end. It lost its way a bit. I didn't like several of the central characters that much. I had real issues with the central dilemma and how it was handled by the characters (the husband had a mid-life crisis following the death of his father and wants to step away from his marriage for six months and travel the world alone), but maybe that was part of it. I keep imagining things I would have said to the husband if I had been the wife - lots of important things remained unsaid and it was annoying. But that shows that it got under my skin I guess. I would read another by her, but my search for a go to author for this genre continues.

65quondame
Jun 26, 2020, 5:14pm

>64 HanGerg: Well, I can see that pith helmet pride can be problematical, but well, they are ever so cool!

66PaulCranswick
Jun 28, 2020, 1:52pm

Just stopping by to wish my friend a lovely Sunday. How is the weather in one of my favourite cities?

67charl08
Editado: Jun 28, 2020, 2:13pm

>64 HanGerg: I've not read this one, but have recommended some of her earlier books (especially if you can get them on a deal). Watermelon about addiction, for example, is surprisingly gritty given the bright cover colour. (Ed I'm wrong: I think from the reviews I'm mixing it up with Rachel's Holiday)

Trying to think of others that might suit - The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is one I've read more recently. Or historical stuff The Other Bennet sister a rather nice reimagining of Mary's life after Pride and Prejudice. I just reorganised my shelves and rediscovered Carol Shields and Elizabeth Taylor who I want to reread, who definitely fit in that category - kind of quieter books.

68ronincats
Jul 3, 2020, 8:36pm

Glad you are enjoying the medical SF, Hannah.

>67 charl08: I think I've seen you refer to The Other Bennet Sister before, but you hit me at a perfect time and I just downloaded it from the library.

69PaulCranswick
Jul 5, 2020, 9:08am

Wishing you a lovely Sunday, Hannah.

70SandDune
Jul 6, 2020, 3:30pm

>61 HanGerg: Interesting thoughts about Larklight Hannah. Philip Reeve was J's favourite author at one stage and I really enjoyed the Mortal Engines series. I don't remember too much about Larklight apart from the basic principle, as I think J read the series to himself, but I remember thinking it looked quite fun and picked up on early ideas of travel to the planets. I'm not sure that I would have ever have thought to associate steampunk with any real hankering for the joys of Victorian Britain, to be honest. And I know nothing about Philip Reeve so I don't know what his politics might be. I suppose I think of it in the same light that I might well enjoy a fantasy book which aims to put the rightful king back on the throne (there's always a lot of those) but in real life I'm very anti-monarchist, and would probably vote to abolish the monarchy if we had a vote. So my reading enjoyment doesn't reflect at all what I would like to see happen in practice. I don't know ...

71HanGerg
Jul 6, 2020, 6:28pm

Hi lovely visitors! So, in reply: >65 quondame: - Hi Susan! Yes, they do look cool, I agree. And maybe I'm just being a big ol' spoilsport. This Steampunk = Brexit thing I've mentioned has caused a bit of a stir, and I can imagine there are loads of steampunkers who would completely reject the idea, tell me I'm talking nonsense and pour scorn on the whole thing. Larklight just seemed to really show very clearly this theme of Britain and "the Colonies", except here the colonies are Mars and Venus, and it was all done in a very uncritical way. Like I said, a few years ago I would have probably just read it as harmless fun (and it was written long before Brexit was even on the table), but then before I was more well versed in feminism I read lots of awful misogonistic nonsense pretty uncritically too.
>66 PaulCranswick: and >69 PaulCranswick:. Hi Paul! My most frequent visitor by far. Well, Lincoln was pretty scorching and basking in the new-normal hot sun of English summertime, but just in the last week or so it's back to good old grey and gloomy. It makes homeschooling a bit more tricky, but does give me plenty of excuses to retreat into my art studio when I get the chance.
> 67. Thanks for the recommendations Charl. Yes! Carol Shields, great shout. I am a fan after the few of hers I've read, and I actually think I have one somewhere in the middle of the tbr pile - I shall go and search it out! Anita Brookner too is an author that does that quiet, inward-looking work. I have read a few and always mean to read more. I shall check out your other recommendations too - thank you!
>68 ronincats:, Yes my medical SF presciption is sliding down very nicely thank you Dr Roni!

>70 SandDune:.Thanks for your thoughts Rhian. It's made me examine my rather bold claims about Philip Reeve. I can imagine that his politics are not at all what I seem to be implying - that the Colonialist attitude of the book is simply a bit of fun, or even meant to be satirical. But it certainly doesn't seem to criticise it, which is where my problem starts with it. Also, I keep thinking about this Tom and Jerry cartoon I saw when I was a child. I think about cartoons and their messages a lot these days, as we try and navigate a healthy stream of cultural input for Leó. We've been showing him some Looney Tunes lately, and gosh! some of them are so unthinkingly violent! But I digress. In the Tom and Jerry I saw, Tom meets a sexy lady cat. His jaw hits the floor, his eyes pop out, he levitates in the air etc - you get the idea. And there it was. The normalisation of the objectification of women. Communicated thoroughly to an endless number of young kids. At least that's how I see it now - a kind of cultural conditioning that we all absorbed, and continue to absorb. It's like this idea of a rape culture, or what is coming through now in lots of conversations about race, and the de-humanising of POC. My husband also does research on a similar topic when he examines how American film uses the foreign actor to create a kind of "constitutive outside" - an otherness against which ideas of American identity can be created. These things are all very subtle, but they are there in our cultural texts - who we are, who is not us, how we should think, what is "normal". And this book, it seems to me, celebrates this problematic idea of a "glorious" British empire that hasn't stopped at subjugating half the planet, but has conquered also half the solar system. I think a lot about this kind of stuff. I see it everywhere these days. It's the kind of thing you can get called a "snowflake" for bringing to people's attention, because you are claiming that the mildest thing is somehow dangerous. But I remember that cartoon from my childhood, and so do millions of other people that watched it. I absorbed its lesson, and it was a lesson it took me a long time to "unlearn" I think.

Here's a pretty appalling example of the kind of thing I'm talking about re: Tom and Gerry. Not the actual one I remember, but another good example of terrible sexism in a kids cartoon. Talk about a lack of female agency!
https://youtu.be/ZkSjwGpWxtw

72quondame
Jul 6, 2020, 8:56pm

>71 HanGerg: After thinking of it a bit, I wouldn't be at all surprised if a large number of British steampunk fans were into glorifying the empire. Most often in the F/SF in my experience, empire is preceded by evil, or at least the empire is portrayed as seriously corrupt and degenerate. In the US, being overtly pro-empire is rarer, though we certainly seem to have a huge lot of fascist but anti-big government, us-before-themers. A number of SF fans I've only loosely associated with are gun nuts. Friends of friends mostly.

73charl08
Jul 8, 2020, 4:54am

>71 HanGerg: I'm not sure I'd read Brookner right now. Her characters may not do very much, but they always seem to have a pretty miserable time. Although I suppose sometimes that's a comfort of a kind too!

The T&J cartoon reminded me of a stat I read about picturebooks - apparently an overwhelming percentage of the characters (even though lots of them are animals) are male. I still don't really understand how this has happened. Talk about a lack of agency.

74SandDune
Jul 11, 2020, 5:18pm

>71 HanGerg: I’d never really associated Steam Punk with love of empire before - I probably need to think more before I decide whether or not I agree. What I have noticed (as someone who is older) is how the focus on the past, especially on the WWII past, has increased more and more in recent years. When I was at school and as a young adult, there was certainly no two minute silence on Remembrance Day, and I don’t remember this exultation of Churchill or of the echoes of Empire that we seem to have now. I suppose that a lot more people were alive who remembered the reality (my parents included) and who weren’t interested in this sugar coated fantasy that seems to be peddled at the moment. In that sort of climate a children’s book about a Victorian empire on Mars is an amusing fantasy, nothing more, and I would assume that that is the spirit in which it was written. But in the current climate where the idea of British exceptionalism seems to be being peddled for political ends, I can see how it could be viewed differently.

75sibylline
Editado: Jul 12, 2020, 12:31pm

Wow, Hannah, such thoughtful writing here. How I would love to sit with you and your mate and talk about some of the insidious ways we maintain the cultural status quo. You will struggle with this as your lad goes out in the world, believe me. (Have faith that your values will reinstate sometime in his mid-twenties). I was in a state of shock about some of the things my daughter revealed when she was in intensive therapy. She fell for just about everything -- and none of it was modeled or espoused at home --( she agrees with that now and admits to a kind of amnesia where we were concerned for several years, probably we weren't/aren't perfect since me and my mate were/are not immune to the influences of our parents) but there was a long period when she did not confide or listen to anything we were saying and then an anger period at how we had failed her. We seem to have moved beyond that. Thank goodness!

Immediately the "foreign guy" in Casablanca leaped to my mind - he does make Bogart's character all the more vivid and intense.

And yeah, there is so much I can barely read anymore -- often it is quite subtle. I had to put down a book that my book group chose set out West in the 1880's when I realized the author was going to cycle through every western cliché right to the end, the spunky girl sacrificing herself for her brother and his family. It's disguised as in: what an amazing girl! she can shoot a gun as good as any guy, or better, and she's tough etc. That's feminist ain't it? Well, no. Couldn't go there.

Oh dear, I'm rambling on, except I have a feeling you won't mind.

I have to rush over to Roni's sf group which in my broken ankle state I forgot all about. I read Hospital Ship yonks ago and am ready to plunge in again and at last I can go upstairs without difficulty where they are all gathering dust on a shelf!

Yes, I was in mourning when I finished all the Hobbs offerings.

76HanGerg
Jul 21, 2020, 4:31pm

Well hello lovely visitors, and thanks for all the kind, thought provoking and insightful comments! This ruminating on Steampunk and Empire has led down some very interesting roads, for which I thank you all!

>72 quondame:. Yes, that's an interesting thought Susan, that I hadn't really had before. Lots of SF tends towards the militaristic, conquering other planets or defeating the alien foe type stuff. I tend not to gravitate to that end of the SF universe so I don't think about it that often, but it definitely exists and I could see how that would appeal to people that approve of that kind of behaviour in a terrestrial setting too! The recent (to my mind, rather ridiculous) fuss about the Hugo's becoming more feminine and diverse shows there are quite a few unreformed types lurking in the SF fan sphere, for sure. It makes me realise that all of the SF fans I interact with here on LT are women who recommend lots of the kind of SF that the Hugo naysayers are complaining about! That wasn't by design but I'm happy to have found my SF niche.

>73 charl08:. Ok, good to know about Brookner, Charl - thanks! I have only read one I think. I was staying at someone's house and they had one on the bookshelves which I picked up and read. A very slim volume - a book about an adult daughter and her elderly mother living together in a small flat. I've just been through Brookner's books here and read the synopses but can't seem to locate it, so now I'm doubting myself. But I'm pretty sure it was by her. I don't remember the plot much, but I think that's because there wasn't really one - just a very close reading of what each woman was thinking and feeling and doing recorded with that absolute clarity of understanding of the human heart that I always admire as the mark of a great writer. It maybe was a little bleak though, now that I think about it. A sense of two people trapped together rather living harmoniously.
Yes, I've heard a similar stat about picture books. I follow a few social media accounts of people who are talking about these kinds of issues and championing books that go against the grain. There's a video somewhere online of someone dissecting the average children's library and making all the books where boys are the main protagonists disappear, and when they do it it's really sobering - there's just a tiny handful of books left. It was more complicated than that - they also look at books where there are both boys and girls but it's the boy that solves the central problem or something. I remember that the message was there were few books with girls as main characters in general, but even books with girls in them in a lead role often have boys doing the "heroic" stuff. Also, I seem to remember that there were a lack of books that had both boys and girls in them working together towards a common purpose. I must say, I have found loads of great books that fit all those criteria, but then I am looking quite specifically for these types of books when I go to the library or the bookshop. It has got better in recent years I think, as authors really engage with these issues. I also try not to make male the default gender, which I've noticed people do a lot - I certainly do it when I'm not watching myself. So if I talking with L about a hypothetical person - a doctor of a firefighter or a clever animal or whatever, I try to make those characters female as often as male. He also has some female cuddly toys - I made sure of that. It is hard though. My son loves role playing super heroes - we are allowed to choose our roles, but lately he's started correcting me - if I say I want to be Superman, he says "no mummy, you have to be super GIRL!". I always argue back of course.

>74 SandDune:. Really interesting thoughts about the way the war is viewed Rhian. I do remember learning a lot about WWII at school growing up, but I think you're right, this rose tinted view that seems to exist these days wasn't there in the past. And I agree that you view things through the lens of your time - so that's why I'm so touchy about these kind of things these days. Brexit has scarred me! Larklight was written many years before all of those things were on the table, so I shouldn't perhaps judge its author too harshly. But the more I read about race in a British context (I'm reading Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race at the moment) and follow some of the thoughts people are sharing on Twitter etc, the more I think we Brits have never really fully confronted the legacy of our Empire. We have never taught it in schools to the extent that we teach things exactly like WWII where it can be said fairly uncontroversially that we were the "goodies". What little discourse there is around Empire is normally of the "we taught the Indians how to play cricket and now they have the cheek to beat us at it, haw! haw!" variety. It's time for a complete overhaul of attitudes to be frank. But it will take a big shift to get this on the agenda I think, even with all the conversations about race that are happening at the moment.

And now my LT time is up alas! I really want to respond to Lucy's lovely post too, but I must dash now. I may not get back here before we are off down to Devon for a few weeks for a socially distanced summer holiday. This only came together in the last few days when we realised that we could safely visit my mother by going to stay in her currently unoccupied old house and invite her around for garden parties! I don't know why this solution to the problem of seeing her but also keeping her safe didn't occur to us before - I suppose because the house has been on the market for quite a while with no one living in it and I'd sort of stopped thinking about it as something of the family's in some strange way. As it's been unoccupied for a while it will probably be a little rough around the edges, and there's nothing but rain forecast for the first week but it will still be wonderful to have a change of scene after months of not going further than a few miles from the house. And I am so excited about being able to go to the seaside again! I was going to say this is the longest time I have been without seeing the sea but then I remembered when I lived right in the centre of Europe and didn't see the sea for months and months at a time. But that's somehow different - living in the UK and not seeing the sea somehow feels very wrong, so I look forward to putting that right. Everyone please stay safe and healthy while I'm away!

77PaulCranswick
Ago 8, 2020, 5:58pm

Devon and Cornwall appeal to me at the moment, Hannah and I am thinking that the value of UK holidays should be celebrated now that overseas travel is becoming more complicated. Better for the environment and much better for the British economy. Weather like Mallorca helps too!

78aktakukac
Ago 12, 2020, 2:24pm

Have a lovely trip! What a great solution. I'm not sure if we will take a vacation later this year or not, but if we do I'd want to stay in a cabin or house and just take short trips from there. It'd be too much of a hassle with the kids otherwise. I'm guessing you went to Lake Balaton, no? All of my students loved to call it the Hungarian Sea. Hope you and your family are all healthy and having a fun time!

79HanGerg
Editado: Ago 20, 2020, 6:58pm

Hi everyone! We've been back from our holiday for a while but life has has its usual (well, the new-usual I mean) round of things to do, plus a few more unusual ones, so I haven't really had chance to get here. Our holiday in Devon was so lovely - I'll try and post some pictures in a bit. It was just amazing to be beside the seaside (and even have a swim in the sea! That's something that I always enjoy doing, but it has never been more appreciated than this time), to go for walks in lovely countryside and to have some different vistas to stare at. The weather was a mix of lovely and very rainy, but we packed lots of board games (including two new ones I bought after spending a long time reading the reviews on a board game website for best family games. They were "Sushi Go Party!" and "Outfoxed" for the board gamers on here, which I know there are several of. Both very good, with the sushi game being the one that has now become a firm favourite and I can see us playing many times). We also took the sketching stuff and plenty of books for all the family so we were never without something to do. We saw quite a lot of my mum, but remained socially distanced. I think technically we could have "bubbled up" with her and not been distanced - I get so confused with all the rules, but as with most things lately, we choose to err on the side of upmost caution. It was lovely but also kind of heartbreaking to see her with Leó - they developed this system of standing 2 metres apart and giving themselves hugs to symbolise the hugs they wanted to give the other! It did us all good to see each other though. We also managed a couple of nice visits to my aunt and uncle, and my 99 years old grandfather, who despite having a regular stream of carers coming to his house, has remained in relatively good health throughout the epidemic. Long may it continue, but it felt good for the conscience to go and see him nonetheless.
Back in Lincoln, the slightly unusual task alluded to above was a trip to see two of my paintings in an exhibition! It was an Open, which means anyone can submit work and it is judged by the curators and then accepted (or not) for the show. I submitted two paintings, (the max allowed) and they were both accepted, which feels really good, especially after a string of recent rejections for things. The criteria of the show was artists living within 100 miles of the gallery, which doesn't sound like much, but it does take in some cities and towns with lively art scenes, like Nottingham, Sheffield and Leicester, so it's a pretty good achievement. The show was really good too, and it was a very proud moment to see my work included with it. I'll post some pictures of that happy occasion too. I must come back and respond to my lovely visitors, and also do some book reviews, as I am behind, as always! I'm on course, for the first time ever, for 75 books read this year, which is exciting, even if it took a global pandemic to get me there. My rate of reading seems to have slowed back to normal rates the last few weeks, but even so I'm pretty confident I'll make the magic number this year, so that I can feel my place in the 75ers is truly deserved! Take care everyone!



My husband enjoying the spectacular view from the patio on our Devon trip.



The artist with one of her paintings. This is a very abstracted second version of a much more figurative painting I did of Leó on a colourful towel on the beach.



Me, the little fella and painting number two from the exhibition. This is a painting inspired by an ornamental garden we were sketching in on our art group trip to Grenada a few years ago. The thing that stayed with me was the way the gardeners were watering the plants, which they were doing in this very hot climate by systematically flooding parts of the garden. For a Brit it was a very unusual sight, and one I realise now resonated with me as it fed into my ideas of how climate change will make us have to adapt to survive. I call this piece "Future Garden" or "Garden of the Future" I can't decide which is best. Despite being something of a writer as well as an artist I find coming up with titles for paintings a very taxing task.

80FAMeulstee
Ago 22, 2020, 3:50pm

>79 HanGerg: Congratulations on being accepted with two paintings, Hannah, they both look nice (and so do you). I like the first one, untitled?

81PaulCranswick
Ago 22, 2020, 9:35pm

>79 HanGerg: I cannot see your paintings on my safari server so I shall go to Chrome and see what I'm missing.

Have a lovely weekend.

82charl08
Ago 23, 2020, 7:58am

Congratulations on your exhibition success, Hannah.

The view from the holiday home looks wonderful. There is something so relaxing about the sea, isn't there.

83ronincats
Ago 23, 2020, 7:10pm

Congratulations, Hannah! I love the second one--so cool and refresshing

84HanGerg
Editado: Set 27, 2020, 4:04pm

Thank you lovely visitors for all the congratulations! I had another little boost a couple of weeks ago when I sold one of my fine art photos to a lady from America! What a lovely lady, to buy some art at this time of great uncertainty for many of us. Shipping things to America is really rather complicated, and the postage is pretty eye watering, but hopefully by now it has reached it's new home!
So, we've had an er... interesting last week or so. The little fella started back at school on the Thursday before last - giving him a nice two day easing back into school life. I was a bit nervous about him going back to school, but decided I just had to put my "big girl pants on" as they say and let him get on with it. But then at the weekend he started to get really sick. It started with a really runny nose on Saturday. By Sunday he had a bad cough, and by Monday his breathing was very elevated and wheezy. We ordered a home Covid test on Sunday and got it by Monday, did it immediately and sent it off. We kept telling ourselves it was just a bad cold - the runny nose is not a symptom of Covid and he has had something like this before. Nevertheless it was pretty scary and horrible. We ended up taking him to hospital on Monday afternoon where he was seen very quickly and put on a nebuliser and given steroids. The doctor said he "definitely" didn't have Covid, but nevertheless we waited for the official test result which didn't arrive until Friday, and self-isolated in the meantime. So after two days back at school he picked up a virus and then missed the next week! I was really wavering and thinking of just saying we'll homeschool him. I'm finding it very hard surrendering control of how exposed to risk we are. We have been very careful throughout, but now we are exposed through all the other children in his class. We have been in the very privileged position that we could choose to completely stay away from others, with my husband working from home and me being based in a home studio anyway, and as we self-isolated before lockdown, this is actually the first time L has been at school since the numbers started going up. But now the numbers are going up once more and he is in school. So, he's going back tomorrow but I really don't know for how long. It's extra big girl pants for now, but with plenty of misgivings.
Ok, I didn't really mean to get into all that but I haven't really vented to anyone about how horrible last week was, so out it tumbled. Thanks for reading if you made it this far!
I owe loads of reviews as per, so I'll try and make a bit of a dent in them now:

40.Go With Me - Castle Freeman 3.5/5
So I bought this on a whim because Lucy had posted a rave review of it. It's set in her home state of Vermont and she was full of praise for how Freeman had captured the sense of place. I wasn't quite so enamoured, although I enjoyed it. It was full of the kind of dialogue where about ninety percent of what's happening in the conversation is going unsaid, and I just fell into those gaps a bit too much where I felt like the action (i.e. violence) wasn't really justified by what appears to be happening. The characters were very well done though.

41.Star Surgeon - James White 3.5/5
This excellent series about an enormous hospital in space for hundreds of different alien species continues to delight. In the three books in the omnibus that this is the first part of, the main characters we know from previous stories, plus a few new ones, head out to make first contact with injured aliens in their hospital ship Rhabwar. This edition has a nice introduction where the writer points out the refreshing way White has of not making the human the stars of these missions - the hospital's chief doctor is a Tralthan - a being that look like a six legged elephant, which is the same species that built their hospital ship and named it after one of their famous historical figures. A very nice change from the very human centric approach that much space opera takes. It's wonderful vision of so many different species working together for a common goal is also really uplifting and morale boosting -recommended!

42.Slippery Creatures - KJ Charles 3/5
More m/m romance/mystery stuff. This one is set directly after WWII and features a returning war veteran who takes over the running of his uncle's bookshop after his sudden death. Turns out the bookshop contains a secret that several people would go to great lengths to find! Luckily there's a hot young aristocrat with unclear motivations who always seems to be around to help out! A sort of espionage-y historical romance. It was OK, but it's so important in these books to really root for the main protagonists and these two weren't my favourite.

43.Spectred Isle - KJ Charles 3.5/5
I dived straight into another m/m romance by the same author, but in a different series. The main characters and the more supernatural mystery style plot of this one were both more to my taste and it was a lot of fun.

44.Major Operation - James White 4/5
More hospital in space goodness.

45.Ethan of Athos - Lois McMaster Bujold 4.5/5
Ah, I'm so falling in love with the whole Vorkosigan universe! Not much Miles, which some reviewers didn't like, but Elli Quinn makes for a brilliant stand in protagonist - and for me the set-up of super tough female mercenary helping out a man from a planet that thinks women are...well, it's never totally explained, but sort of a poison that makes men go all dopey and loose control of their faculties? Something like that - is a total winner. Luckily Ethan is a fairly sensible chap, and begins to realise that when a capable woman is busy saving your life from intergalactic assassins, it's best not to put up too much of a fight! This could have been a stinging critique of misogyny, but it's done with a rather more light touch than that. It was the past generations that were really anti-women on Athos, and Ethan's people are now just considered something of a backwater and a joke in intergalactic terms - there's a nice little detail about how they are desperately trying to attract more immigrants to their women-free planet! Ethan himself is also on the receiving end of a lot of homophobia, which he finds rather baffling, given as it's as normal as the sky being blue for him. I did read a review where someone pointed out - and it did kind of occur to me too - that Bujold is saying that homosexuality is therefore nurture rather than nature - as everyone on Ethan's planet is gay as a default and there seems to be no variation. That's an interesting point and one that maybe needs addressing, but by and large the gender and sexual politics are done humorously but still manage to score a few points - there aren't many space opera novels where a female soldier repeatedly saves the skin of a gay male scientist and they both learn some purely platonic mutual respect along the way. Great fun!

85ronincats
Set 15, 2020, 10:49am

>84 HanGerg: Good grief, Hannah! Of course it is horrible and you have every right to be concerned and dismayed and terrified! ((((Hannah)))) I wish I could say it's going to get better soon. But I can say that I care, and I wish you the best.

Some good reading there! Especially the White and the Bujold! If you can, get the 2 omnibi by White after this one as well. They just keep getting better.

86HanGerg
Editado: Set 27, 2020, 5:13pm

>85 ronincats:. Thanks Roni! It was rather horrible! I appreciate your sympathy, I really do. I know a lot of us are struggling at the moment, it is so hard, and set to get a little harder over this winter too. We do need to look out for each other. We have had a few scares since, with further eruptions of coughing from the little guy, but of course there are cold bugs going around, and all three of us seem to have developed some weird amorphous allergy (over-active immune system-itis is one current working hypothesis) that keeps flaring up, so apart from the occasion huge spike of anxiety we are just toddling along. I'm basically preparing to just kind of go into hibernation mood for the next few months, and hoping that life will start to get a bit more hopeful on the other side. I'm sure I speak for many on LT when I say there is a certain event happening in November that will either lighten my mood considerably or plunge me into the depths of despair, but I won't say more about it here as I'm sure it's already more than fraught enough for many of us. Just to say US LTers - your European friends are with you and hoping for the best for you all. I think we all know what the best would be so... let's all just keep our fingers crossed for that.

OK, quite enough of RL. Let's plunge into some book reviews!

46.It Takes Two to Tumble - Cat Sebastian 3.5/5
More m/m romance. This one was a period piece about a romance between a ship captain home on leave to sort out his unruly children, who are not adjusting to life without their mother who died suddenly a few years earlier. The dishy local vicar has most recently been charged with their care, and looks like the first person who can actually deal with their crazy ways. Their father however, is another matter... This was OK, nothing special but not bad.

47.A Gentleman's Wager - Madelynne Ellis 1/5
This on the other hand, was awful. There's a word for what this is, and it isn't literature. I'm rather ashamed that I read it. It's a sort of m/m/f romance. (Yeah. That seems to be a thing. Well, it is with this author anyways.) There is not a single, tiny thing that is the least bit likeable about any of the main characters, who are really just cardboard cutouts of people that are motivated by nothing other than the urge to... well, you know. A lot. All over the place. In ways that are not the least bit historically accurate. I mean, two men, in the back room of a country pub, in the eighteenth century? Or whenever it was. I mean, I'm no student of history, but that seems very unlikely to me, to say the least. And yet the risk they are running isn't even remarked on. Like as if the whole thing is not that well thought out and has not even the slightest relation to reality. Terrible stuff. Avoid, avoid, avoid, even if you like super filthy romance fiction. I just feel a bit grubby for reading it.

48.Gaining Ground - Joan Barfoot 5/5
And then this on the other hand, was just sublime! I feel like I have to go into battle for this book and tell you all how brilliant it was, as it seems like very few people on LT own it or have read it, and it's an absolutely incredible piece of work. It is a feminist story from 1978 (the year of my birth as it happens) that still feels very fresh, revelatory and challenging. It's about a happily married woman with two children that just kind of reaches a breaking point in her life, and use the tiny bit of independent income she has to buy a cabin in the woods, to which she flees from her normal life. This is the first third of the book. Another third details her life in the cabin. She starts to grow her own vegetables and to learn how to live on the land, and also learns to live completely by herself, and more importantly, for herself. Not much happens in this bit, but at the same time, it is utterly riveting and powerful. The final part of the book is about what happens when her daughter tracks her down to the cabin and comes to challenge her over how she abandoned the family. This is also fascinating and full of deep and rich emotional landscapes. I really urge everyone reading this review to go and track down a copy of this book if any of this sounds in the least bit interesting as I think you will be very richly rewarded for you efforts.
A final interesting thing about this book - I believe I have a signed copy! I only realised this when I looked at it after I finished reading it, as the signature is not all that clear, and just looked like the usual dedication that one friend would write to another upon gifting them a beloved book. So, what do you think, Lters? DOES this say Joan Barfoot? I think it does. And I treasure it immensely for that, and for the story it contains, which has touched me deeply and I think I will remember it for many, many years, and will probably re-read many times as well. A gem.



Sorry everyone, it's done that thing where it's flipped the image and I've never worked out how to resolve it. Hope you can read sideways!

87SandDune
Set 30, 2020, 4:09pm

>84 HanGerg: What a horrible few days Hannah! It’s so difficult to decide what to do in the current circumstances isn’t it.

>84 HanGerg: The Vorkosigan books are so good aren’t they? It’s a bit of a mystery to me why they aren’t more popular in the U.K. They are definitely forming part of my comfort reading pile that I need at the moment.

88charl08
Out 2, 2020, 3:24am

Sold on Gaining Ground, Hannah. Definitely looking signed to me.

I wondered what you made of the latest Brexit news. I'm wondering how the court case will go..

Hope you are all ok, and sorry about all the health worries. Small people are so full of bugs as a general rule, it must be so hard to know what to do for the best.

I also have the allergy type response- I wake up most mornings with a sore throat.

89charl08
Out 2, 2020, 3:28am

ETA copies are currently going for nearly 30 quid online, Hannah. I wonder how much your signed copy is worth?

90HanGerg
Editado: Out 7, 2020, 4:58pm

Thanks for stopping by Rhian and Charl! >87 SandDune: Yes, I too don't know why the Vorkosigian books aren't more well known in the UK. Cherryh too come to that. I have seen copies of both in charity shops, but maybe not in Waterstones and places like that, so I'm wondering if they ever secured a UK publisher at all. Most of the copies I buy via Amazon seem to come from the US. Thanks to LT I've discovered loads of great SF that doesn't seem to have much of a following in the UK - one of the many things that's great about this place, and this group in particular.

>88 charl08: Huh, that's interesting about the allergy thing Charl. It's the weirdest thing - me, the husband and my son seem to have a variation of it - all with slightly different symptoms. Either we all just developed an allergy this year (although husband has had mild hay fever before) or it's just our immune systems on high alert. I got fed up enough to contemplate seeing the Dr about it, but I'm not sure they are much use at narrowing down the cause. And for now - touch wood - it seems to have abated.
I'm not sure I know what the latest Brexit news is, after the illegal reneging on a deal just a few months old. I'm slightly losing the will with Brexit, now we have this other big disaster on our hands. I keep imagining they'll all come to their senses and realise that the midst of a global pandemic is not the time to commit economic suicide, but in truth I'm not that hopeful.
What is an ETA copy may I ask? My edition is from "The Women's Press" if that helps clarify matters. I bought it in a charity shop in Bristol - a shame for them if it turns out to be worth some money! I'm not sure how much would be enough to tempt me to part with it - it is a real treasure. But it's a shame if it's hard to get hold of as it deserves a wide readership.

Ok, well my reading has rather fallen off a cliff of late. Life has got somewhat busy again since L has gone back to school, but I think it's also that none of the things I'm reading at the moment have really grabbed me. Hopefully I can clear the decks of my current reads fairly soon and try and get stuck into something juicy that will kick start things again.

On the busyness side - so I've been going on a bit of a health kick. I have put on a bit of weight in the past few months, for obvious reasons, and I was really missing my twice weekly netball matches for exercise too. So I've started a diet and started the couch to 5K running programme. I have never ever been one for dieting, mainly because it just doesn't work for me and as I look at food as one of life's great pleasures, just tends to make me grumpy. But I stumbled across an Instagram account by a Dr Claire Bailey that sounded fairly sensible, so I bought her book The Fast 800 recipe book. Basically, carbs are as bad as sugar. Have as much veg as you like, and have a surprising amount of fat with it, but very little carbs, and what little you do have has to be wholemeal. So I've done my two weeks of 800 calories a day with just a teeny bit of going over - but never more than 1000 a day. It did make me pretty grumpy in places, but some weight has gone. There were lots of tasty recipes in the book that proved that even on just 800 calories you can eat yummy food - albeit in tiny portions sometimes!
I'm just about back to pre-lockdown weight now, but I'd like to keep going if possible. So I'm easing up a little - going onto the 5:2 regimen that Dr Claire espouses, and just generally keeping an eye of calories. But it has re-set me food intake a bit - which is what you need long term I think, rather than a two week blitz. The thought of eating 1500 calories a day just seems like utter decadence to me at the moment!
On the running side, I'm getting on alright with that too. I ran for eight minutes without stopping today (it builds you up gradually from short runs with a walk in between to increasingly long bursts of running with just a quick recovery walk in between). I'm already half way to 5k according to the app. I am finding the burst of endorphins the run releases are doing me enormous good at the moment, even if my body is protesting slightly at the treatment! The real test will be when the weather turns I think - I've been lucky so far that all the runs have been in gorgeous sun - even if the day has later turned rainy. I go running on the local common land after dropping L at school. It's a former racetrack that has now become a free access place for people to keep their horses. It's lovely open land with little patches of woodland in it - great for Covid safe running as you can easily change path if someone is approaching from the other direction. The scenery is really beautiful too.
Apart from all that, I'm also very busy in my studio, preparing for my exhibition at the beginning of November, which it seems is almost definitely going ahead unless new lockdown restrictions come in in the meantime. It's been a weird one - I've been working on paintings all year with this goal in mind, but for much of the year so far I've been kind of assuming it wouldn't go ahead. I'm still not sure that it will, mere weeks away. So I haven't exactly been promoting it and telling all my friends to come and see it as I usually would. It might be very quiet, and perhaps that's no bad thing. I'm a little nervous about sitting in the gallery to meet people coming in, although I have been there since they put their Covid measures in place, and they are pretty good. The exhibitor sits in a little glass fronted booth they have made at the front of the gallery so you are not even really in the same room as visitors, unless you want to brave going out and talking to them with a mask on, which I'm not sure I will! Here's a little write up of my exhibition in the gallery website: https://www.samscorergallery.co.uk/whats-on/2020/11/3/hannah-cawthorne. It all still feels a bit unreal that it will be happening. This is by far the biggest exhibition I've had to date, and I wish it could be under different circumstances and I could be more excited about it. Sigh. Another rubbish thing about 2020 to add to the pile. I hope you are all staying safe, and what feels increasingly difficult these days, sane, my lovely LT friends. In the words of Sandy Toksvig in her super lockdown podcast "We Will Get Past This". (It's really worth a listen as it's largely about books and remaining cheerful in these difficult times - very good stuff!).

91SandDune
Out 7, 2020, 5:16pm

>90 HanGerg: If you’re doing ‘Couch to 5K’ you need to read A Run in the Park by David Park. Such a sweet book without being sentimental - and an author I’m definitely going to look out for in future.

92PaulCranswick
Out 8, 2020, 10:11pm

Hopefully the health scares are over, Hannah.

>90 HanGerg: I have a client who recently (over three months) shed 36 kilos (80lbs) in weight and says he feels like a new man. He is basically only eating vegetables which I will struggle to replicate but we have a shared interest in a Netflix series called "Resurrection : Ertugrul" which has some 450 40 minute episodes (I have done 180 episodes to date). He told me that his strategy was to only watch it while exercising. I made the mistake of telling him that I used to be a more than proficient cyclist and he has ordered a stationary-bike to be delivered to my home on 19 October!

93PaulCranswick
Out 17, 2020, 11:44pm

Bike will now arrive on Tuesday apparently.

Hope your Sunday will be a good one.

94charl08
Out 18, 2020, 10:22am

Hi Hannah - sorry - ETA just meant "edited to add " as in I had said I would look for the book you were reading, and then realised it was WAY out of my budget range.

I hope that your exhibition can go ahead: and if not that you can defer until post COVID. I've seen a few going online, but have not sought them out.
I do miss going to exhibitions, I went to one just after they reopened the Walker in Liverpool. It was so lovely just to have that headspace, and to see some loved paintings.
I was hoping to get to the Linda McCartney there, and another photography one at the Tate, but with the public transport restrictions that's now out of bounds. I have picked up a book about visiting art instead A Month in Siena - hoping this fills in a bit of the gap.

95HanGerg
Nov 2, 2020, 3:36pm

Hi everyone! I am around and lurking on threads, just not feeling very inclined to post at the mo - so far behind on reviews, and in need of less demanding entertainment. I will be back soon though - the new lockdown in England means my exhibition has been cancelled, so I have some unexpected time on my hands coming up! Don't feel too bad for me, I'm not too blue about the whole thing, disappointing though it is. I just hope you are all doing OK and hanging in there my friends. More soon.

96PaulCranswick
Nov 14, 2020, 10:13pm

>95 HanGerg: Sorry to see that your exhibition was cancelled but hopefully it can be staged when I am next able to get back home as it would be a delightful way to making a meet-up.

97HanGerg
Editado: Nov 23, 2020, 5:33pm

>96 PaulCranswick:. Thanks Paul! So the exhibition has been re-scheduled for the second half of February - any chance you'll be in the area then? Of course, it may not happen, but it might. Something to put in the 2021 calendar at least.

So, life straggles on eh friends? Lockdown part 2 here in the UK, and only a few weeks in and it's starting to drag. The husband has been through the wringer at work, where he had an occupational health assessment that concluded he had severe anxiety related to health, the result of which is that he doesn't have to teach in person on campus, which was the outcome he wanted but achieved in the rather sucky way of making him feel like he's the one with a problem rather than that the universities are putting their staff in harm's way unnecessarily. I'm kind of disgusted with the entire university sector and the way they have handled this to be honest. I know it's ultimately the government's fault for forcing them into this corner, but they should have clubbed together and resisted, not gone along with this collective madness. And a parent from L's class at school had tested positive, so today we made the decision to remove him from school for a little while. It seems the policy that is being enacted at schools is that children do not need to be tested if they don't show symptoms, and yet we all know that children are more often than not asymptomatic, so we have no way of knowing whether there are children in his class that have contracted Covid. More madness. We'll keep him home for a week with the school's blessing. Any more than that and they may be less supportive, but for now he's staying with us and everyone's OK with that.

Right, well I'm determined to get to the end of the year not owing reviews, but I have to go now, so I'll just park this list here and come back and populate it with some quick thoughts on each of these books at a later date. Stay well friends - better days hopefully round the corner.

49.The Perfect Wife - JP Delaney 3.5/5
50.Happenstance - Carol Shields 3.5/5

August
51.Network Effect - Martha Wells 4.5/5
52.Ambulance Ship - James White 4/5
53.Cetaganda - Lois McMaster Bujold 4/5
54.Sector General - James White 3.5/5
55.The Empress of Salt and Fortune - Nghi Vo 4/5

September
56.A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking - T.Kingfisher 4/5
57.Star Healer - James White 4/5
58.Binti - Nnedi Okorafor 3.5/5
59.Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race - Reni Eddo-Lodge 4.5/5
60.Queen Lucia - E.F.Benson 4.5/5 (Re-read)

98ronincats
Nov 23, 2020, 10:14pm

Glad to see you've been keeping on with Murderbot, Sector General, the Vorkosivere, and I liked The Empress of Salt and Fortune, the Kingfisher, and Binti as well!

Covid has been messing everyone up. Hope we all have it under control soon. Keep you all safe!

99PaulCranswick
Nov 24, 2020, 12:40am

97 Strong possibility I could be around then, Hannah!

100charl08
Nov 24, 2020, 7:44am

Love the title of book 56.

In sympathy with your other half for what he's been put through, and with you. Fingers crossed for a vaccine and change soon.

101HanGerg
Editado: Nov 25, 2020, 6:53pm

>98 ronincats:. Thanks Roni. Several of those series made it onto my reading list thanks to you! I've kind of stalled with Sector General as they are hard to get hold of in the UK for a good price. Maybe I'll try on Book Mooch or something, or else splash out in the New Year, as I am keen to continue.

>99 PaulCranswick:. Oooh, well that IS an exciting possibility Paul! I find it almost impossible to picture how far "back to normal" things will be by February, so I won't promise any fancy entertaining, but it would be lovely to see you!

>100 charl08:. Thanks Charl. "Wizard's Guide...." was a lot of fun, if some slightly whimsical, female centric fantasy sounds like something you might enjoy.

Ok, onto those reviews.

49.The Perfect Wife - JP Delaney 3.5/5
My mum passed this on to me as "something you might enjoy." I was touched as I thought that she meant she enjoyed it and thought of me, but what she actually meant was, it was weird and not her thing at all, and therefore she thought I'd like it. This is our relationship in a nutshell. (It is true that our tastes in literature are night and day) Anyway, the book. It was kind of fun, if a little silly. It's a thriller wrapped in a SF coating. Robotics genius re-incarnates his dead wife as a robot - it's told from her p.o.v. He seems like the model husband, so why does she have a secret phone and no idea how she died?? The best bit of the book was to do with her building a relationship with her severely autistic son and trying to find a way of caring for him that nurtures rather than harms him. This bit was obviously written from real life experience and it showed - it was the emotional heart of the book and stopped it being just another implausible thriller.

50.Happenstance - Carol Shields 3.5/5
The central conceit of this book is so brilliant I'm surprised it hasn't been done before (or maybe it has? I certainly haven't seen it). The book is split into two halves - literally, so you read one half and then turn the book round and start the other half from the other side. It's the story of a husband and wife and their simultaneous experiences over a few days when the wife is very uncharacteristically away from home at a quilting convention. Not much happens in either half - its very gentle. The wife kind of realises a few things about herself, grows a little, muses on her marriage - meets a man that she could form a connection to but ultimately it doesn't go anywhere. The husband has to adapt to dealing with domestic duties, then his friend has a crisis, and then so does another friend and he too has a few minor revelations about how life is. It was good, but didn't quite have that feeling of being about something universal that really good writers of this style of fiction can pull off. Not that Shields isn't a good writer - just that this wasn't the perfect showcase for what she can do. A great idea though.

51.Network Effect - Martha Wells 4.5/5
Yeah well, it's Murderbot, innit? A character for the ages. If I'm honest, it didn't quite live up to expectations, but then those were sky high after the four superlative novellas. I might just need to read it again and savour the details to get the full effect though, as I did just gobble this up first time round in big greedy gulps.

52.Ambulance Ship - James White 4/5
Part of the big "Sector General" series that Roni had many of us reading. I'd never heard of it before and have been really enjoying it - just what these confusing times need - books about people of such immense differences, all united in their desire to help each other. Heart warming stuff, with really great alien characters too.

53.Cetaganda - Lois McMaster Bujold 4/5
Another excellent series that Roni and Lucy got me into. Cetaganda is a very weird society that Miles and his dishy but dim cousin are visiting, officially on diplomatic duty, but it's not long before Miles is up to his neck in intrigue and subterfuge. I couldn't quite get my head around how Cetaganda works - it seems to have a very rigid social structure - a bit like Mile's home world, but their way of shaping it is to use genetic engineering honed to a very fine art to maintain an absolute iron grip on society. It all sounded pretty distasteful to me, and they were so terribly smug about it too. I think that's kind of the point, but then Miles falls in love with one of their elite women. The folly of youth perhaps. There is a subtext about how the women are kept invisible (literally. They have chairs with a special force field) and from the outside appear subservient, but when you delve a little deeper, they are actually pulling many of the strings that make society what it is. Quite a subtle book, if not my favourite in the series.

54.Sector General - James White 3.5/5
More Sector General goodness. They have all blurred into each other a bit, as the formula doesn't vary all that much, but are very good nonetheless.

55.The Empress of Salt and Fortune - Nghi Vo 4/5
I enjoyed this novella about a servant telling the tale of the empress she served, who married far from her own people and was then banished into exile by a ruthless emperor. Despite the huge restrictions placed on her in exile, she managed, through great craftiness, to exact a terrible revenge. The world it's set in is a fantastical one, and the narrator character to whom the servant is talking is non-binary, which some folk have made much of, but both elements are done with an incredibly light touch that suggest a promising young author at work. I've got her next book pre-ordered and I'm interested to see where she takes us next.

Ok, well a bit of a dent put into the reviews owing. More soon. Until then, take care everyone!

102HanGerg
Dez 2, 2020, 4:31pm

I just stumbled across this list elsewhere on LT, and I'm posting it here for my reference as much as anything, but do take a look - it's an interesting list. I've only read 8 on it! I feel a reading challenge coming on... https://iansales.com/2014/04/07/the-sf-mistresswork-list-revised/

103quondame
Dez 2, 2020, 5:43pm

>102 HanGerg: Oh, an interesting list. I've for sure read 30 of them and one I gave up to save my life because it was so depressing while I was in a depression, though I've read may of the author's other works. One I threw across the room in disgust after only getting into the first chapter.

Some of the choices puzzle me and I sort of understand distinguishing science fiction from fantasy, though there is a real overlap and I don't like the division, seeing it more of a scale.

It would be interesting to see an expanded post 2000 list.

104HanGerg
Dez 3, 2020, 2:45am

>103 quondame: - Hi Susan! Oooh, I'm sure we're all wondering which one you threw across the room in disgust! I can imagine several of them are depressing. I have The Handmaid's Tale just sitting on my TBR pile - it's near the top but always gets passed over in favour of something less grim. One day I'll get round to it. I have quite a lot of dystopian SF sitting around the house waiting to be read - it was a sub-genre I used to quite like at one point, but when the news so is apocalyptic it can feel a bit too much!
I also see Queen City Jazz is on the list, which is good because I have that in the house too. I picked it up for pennies at a library sale but the cover made it look a bit goofy so I haven't read it yet. That might be an early 2021 read for me. I'll have to see about researching some of the others and come up with a reading list - maybe we could make it a group read type thingy. I've never attempted anything like that before - maybe next year will be the year!!

Ok, so after being woken up in the middle of the night by the little guy, who was in distress as he couldn't find his pyjama bottoms (it's a long story), I'm having a spot of insomnia. I've already posted two new artworks for sale over on Artfinder, shameless plug here: https://www.artfinder.com/hannah-cawthorne#/, so now I shall continue being productive with another job I need to do - reviews!!

56.A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking - T.Kingfisher 4/5
This was a lot of fun. Set in a magical world where people with magic powers are reasonably rare, and most of those that have them have fairly minor ones - like our heroine who has a special, magical way with bread, and so works in a bakery for her aunt and uncle. (There's some hilarious stuff about a sentient sourdough starter that is worth the price of admission on its own). But, all is not well in the little city state in which they live, with sinister forces menacing them from beyond their borders, and a rising tide of bad feeling towards those with magical abilities within the city itself. Someone is murdering magical people, and the powers that be want them all to register themselves.... Although this book is mainly a fun fantasy romp, it actually has some quite pertinent things to say about how prejudice can be whipped up, and about holding those in power accountable for things that happen on their watch too. Recommended. I'm hoping she might write some more in this universe as the magic system has a lot of potential I think. Also, I want more sentient sourdough! (On a side note, and not at all in "whatever will they come up with next?!" type way, because I loathe that kind of shutting down of discourse, and try my best to not do it - but are we still saying heroine or is everyone a hero now?)

57.Star Healer - James White 4/5
As far as I've got with this series - our friend Dr. Conway has been promoted about as high as he can go and it's time to leave his story and try some new, rather more alien perspectives. These novels or the omnibuses (omnibi?) are pretty hard to get in the UK but I think I will try and track them down next year, as they are good medicine - ha ha!

58.Binti - Nnedi Okorafor 3.5/5
There was a lot of buzz about this novella and I liked it without loving it. I found it rather emotionally detached from a series of events that should have made Binti anything but. And I didn't understand the motivations of the bad guys for pretty much anything they did - two things that made it rather hard to get on board with. But having now read the second part as well, I am getting used to the style a bit more. I think it is just a slightly different way of telling a story that takes a while to get the hang of. And maybe Binti was in trauma induced shock at what happens - that would explain the detachment. But it is certainly something pretty fresh feeling - it just takes a little getting used to.

59.Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race - Reni Eddo-Lodge 4.5/5
Ooh. What to say about books like this? So many things, but at the same time, not much. Just read them, digest and try to move forward armed with the knowledge they provide. I actually got more than half the way through this, then went back to the start and started again as I felt like I hadn't absorbed it properly. I think that it is partly to do with the structure - that does jump around a bit, but also maybe just my in built denial. There was a very interesting point made on Instagram recently - by a lady well worth following if you are interested in "doing this work", which you know, all white people should be. She's called Nova Reid, and she's a prominent anti-racism figure in the UK(she has a TED talk that's worth a look as an intro). Anyway, there has been a lot of debate online lately as a British supermarket had a Christmas advert in which an all black family was seen celebrating in a traditional British Christmas way - Turkey, tree, presents, crackers, naff jumpers etc. Cue lots of outraged howls on Twitter and other places about "political correctness", why wasn't it a "British" family (insert eyerolls here) and other racist nonsense. That in turn led to a big pushback from white people saying they "can't believe people can be so ignorant", sympathising with black commentators about how they don't understand it etc. So Nova makes the point that it's actually kind of hurtful for black people to hear that you are shocked. Because that just shows how totally insulated you are, and how protected, that you can remain in blissful ignorance about just how bad the racism is in this country. No black people where registering shock - they know exactly how prejudiced people can be. And that really hit home with me. I would have probably reacted the same way - because you think you are commiserating - but actually, what you are deep down saying is "I'm not like that, I don't know how anyone can be like that, I'm Sooo NOT racist" - virtual signaling BS in other words, and that is no longer good enough. I'm learning a lot, but there's still so far to go. This book is a good place to start from a UK perspective as it gives a lot of historical back story to black people's experience in the UK, and puts to bed once and for all the idea that the UK is less bad than America - a lazy assumption many of us were under. And anyway, "less bad" is hardly good is it? But it's what many of us have been satisfied with for far too long.

Ok, it's actually time for the rest of the household to get up now, so I'll leave it there for now. Stay safe everyone!

105quondame
Dez 3, 2020, 3:29pm

>104 HanGerg: re:>103 quondame: It was the C.S. Friedman. I can't remember exactly what, but something annoyed me from the get-go. I like Cecilia Holland's restrained historical novels and her somewhat mystical viking series, but Floating Worlds is not a cozy read.

106PaulCranswick
Dez 5, 2020, 9:19am

>104 HanGerg: I was sure that I had posted something here after your marathon post but it doesn't seem to have appeared and I cannot remember what spurred me to post! Could be the pyjama bottoms I guess!

Have a restful weekend, Hannah.

107HanGerg
Dez 24, 2020, 7:56am

Well, I've just updated my stats at the top and I've done it! 75 Books! I began to think I wasn't going to get there, as I slowed down a lot in the final stretch, but making use of my slightly dormant Audible account helped, and three recently consumed audiobooks have propelled me to my total. I might squeeze a few more in before years end too! At least that small positive thing can come from 2020! Talking of which, I hope that wherever you are, lovely LT friends, you can find things to be thankful for this Christmas time. We've all had a very tough year and deserve whatever happiness we can carve out of this festive season. LT has been a haven of loveliness this year more than ever, and I wish all of you who make it the wonderful place it is a happy and healthy holiday season!

108HanGerg
Editado: Dez 24, 2020, 8:00am

109drneutron
Dez 24, 2020, 9:44pm

Congrats on hitting the goal!

110quondame
Dez 25, 2020, 1:19am

>107 HanGerg: Congratulations on 75 books Hannah!

Happy Holidays!

111PaulCranswick
Dez 25, 2020, 3:29am

Congratulations on reaching 75, Hannah.

112PaulCranswick
Dez 25, 2020, 3:30am



I hope you get some of those at least, Hannah, as we all look forward to a better 2021.

113FAMeulstee
Dez 25, 2020, 3:05pm

>107 HanGerg: Congratulations on reaching 75, Hannah!

114charl08
Dez 26, 2020, 1:25am

Well done on the 75 Hannah. Hope you had a nice Xmas together.

115quondame
Dez 31, 2020, 10:22pm

116ronincats
Dez 31, 2020, 11:17pm

Congrats on hitting the 75 book mark, Hannah! And I can't believe that your little guy is FIVE already. How did that happen?

Happy New Year!

117PaulCranswick
Dez 31, 2020, 11:55pm



Hannah

As the year turns, friendship continues

118HanGerg
Editado: Jan 2, 2:23pm

Ah, thanks for the congrats and New Year wishes everyone! I didn't make it round the threads on New Year's but I wish us all a much better year this year. Fingers crossed!
Well. I read 78 books in the end this year, which was pretty good. I didn't keep on top of reviews this year despite my very best of intentions, but hey, always this year for that! New thread is not properly set up yet, but feel free to drop by and say "Hi" anyway if you want: https://www.librarything.com/topic/328221#n7368949