Sakerfalcon reads again in 2023

É uma continuação do tópico Sakerfalcon reads more in 2022.

DiscussãoThe Green Dragon

Entre no LibraryThing para poder publicar.

Sakerfalcon reads again in 2023

Jan 5, 10:10 am

Hello and belated Happy New Year to you all! I'm looking forward to another year of attempting to read more of the books I already own, and bringing fewer new ones into my house. Well, I can dream!

Thank you to everyone who commented on my thread last year and who hit me with book bullets. I love to hear from you!

My main reading interests are Science fiction and Fantasy, Classic children's books (especially school and pony stories), and 20th century women's writing, particularly titles published by Virago and Persephone. But I'm a bit of a magpie and some odd things do take my fancy every now and then.

I started keeping a reading journal a few years ago when I realised that I was reading so many books so quickly that I didn't remember anything about some of them a few months later. I tend to have 3 or 4 books on the go at any time - one for commuting, one to read in bed, one that I'll dip into while checking email and an alternative if none of the others happen to suit the mood I'm in.

I live in London, UK and like to travel to new places, both in real life and in books. Welcome!

Jan 5, 10:12 am

Happy New Year!

Jan 5, 10:13 am

The Happiest of New Years to you, Claire. May all of your 2023 reads bring you joy.

Jan 5, 10:26 am

Happy New Year!

Editado: Jan 5, 10:33 am

I've managed to finish two books so far this year, one good and one disappointing.

The good one was The Moonday letters, a Finnish SF novel with strong ecological themes. It's told in epistolary form by a woman seeking her absent spouse, whose trail leads her from settlements on Mars, to a cylinder habitat in space, to a flooded Earth. It's more of an introspective book than an action packed narrative, exploring character and themes of identity and belonging as well as making the reader think about the impact of our actions on society and the environment. Interestingly, it blends traditional shamanistic practices with SF in a way that I found convincing. This is the third book I've read by the author and I have loved every one.

The not-so-good book was Juniper and Thorn, a dark fantasy loosely based on The Juniper Tree fairy tale. The heroine is Marlinchen, youngest and plainest of three sisters who live with their tyrannical widowed father, the last true magician in the city of Oblya. The three daughters have some magic and for Reasons, they have to use their powers to earn money for the family while their father keeps to himself. One night Marlinchen summons up the courage to sneak out to the ballet with her sisters, where she meets and falls in love with the principal dancer. Soon she is creeping out more often and keeping dangerous secrets. But there is a monster on the loose in the city, killing violently and seemingly at random. This book is REALLY dark, with all kinds of abuse, self-harm, and gore. Marlinchen and her lover are both damaged from abuse; unfortunately they fall in insta-love which doesn't give much hope of a healthy healing relationship. Marlinchen is mostly timid and fearful, except when the plot demands otherwise, and she makes some bad decisions which, again, felt to me like they were demanded by plot rather than part of her character. The killer storyline is in the background for most of the book until about the last third when there is a twist that I guessed. It felt like the author was throwing her ingredients in but not structuring the plot or developing the characters convincingly.

I'm currently reading Holy sister, the final part of Mark Lawrence's Red Sister trilogy, which is excellent so far. And on kindle I'm delving into the collected works of Leena Krohn, another Finnish author. This project was published by Jeff Vandermeer, which should give you an idea of how weird her writing is! I've read her Tainaron: mail from another city already and loved it; so far the rest of her work is as good.

Editado: Jan 5, 10:33 am

>2 mattries37315:, >3 clamairy:, >4 Narilka: Ooh, visitors already!
Thanks for stopping by!

Jan 5, 11:02 am

Jan 5, 11:02 am

Happy new year, and happy new thread!

Jan 5, 11:36 am

Happy reading in 2023!

Jan 5, 12:40 pm

Ah, one of my favorite threads. Looking forward to much friendly fire again this year. :)

Jan 5, 12:53 pm

Happy new thread!

Jan 5, 3:05 pm

Happy New Year; happy new thread

Jan 5, 5:49 pm

Happy New Year, Claire, and I hope you 2023 is a great reading year for you.

Jan 5, 9:51 pm

Happy New Year!

Jan 6, 4:23 am

Happy New Year!
I enjoyed the Sisters trilogy a couple of years back, but haven't read anything else by him.

Jan 6, 5:30 am

Happy New Year and I've managed to find your thread already!

Jan 6, 8:53 am

Thanks for visiting, everyone! It's good to know I have great company for the year ahead!

>15 reading_fox: This is the only series of his I've read, although I have his latest ready to start. The first two trilogies sounded too nasty for my taste.

>16 LyzzyBee: I may be in Brum in March - will let you know so that we might be able to meet up!

Jan 7, 1:51 am

Happy New Year ! The Moonday Letters is a book bullet for me 😀

Jan 7, 11:51 am

Hi Claire, a slightly belated wish for a wonderful 2023 for you, in reading and everything else.

Jan 7, 12:14 pm

>17 Sakerfalcon: Ooh marvellous! I was in London last Friday but only for an afternoon, will let you know when I'm down for longer.

Jan 7, 3:37 pm

Jotting down The Moonday Letters as a possibility. Happy new year (a week or so delayed!)

Jan 7, 9:59 pm

Setting my cushion down Claire. I hope it will be a good year for you, and look forward to getting together in the Summer.

Jan 10, 2:45 am

Happy reading in 2023, Claire!

Jan 11, 7:30 am

>18 Dilara86: Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy The moonday letters!

>19 Jim53: And the same to you and your family!

>20 LyzzyBee: Hope you had a good time!

>21 jillmwo: And to you!

>22 Caroline_McElwee: Me too! I must find your 2023 thread ....

>23 FAMeulstee: And to you Anita! I hope you and Frank are both well.

I finished Holy sister which was a strong finish to an excellent trilogy. This fantasy is dark and contains a lot of violence, yet the emphasis on friendship and loyalty between the characters always shines through. Nona has been betrayed by people she trusted in the past, yet she will still sacrifice everything for her friends if they need. In this volume we see her mature as she learns that what can be a weapon can also be a tool - used to heal and create rather than to destroy. I love the choices she makes and how they resolve at the book's end.

On kindle I've stepped away from Leena Krohn having read the first three novels in the collection (which were weird and wonderful). I've now started The Atlas Six which is about 6 more-or-less unlikeable people competing to join an exclusive magical society. It's fine as a commuting read because if I think too hard about it I'm sure I'm going to notice loads of logistical holes.

In print I've started to read Living next door to the god of love, which is a follow-on from Natural history. This shows the transformative, universe-crossing Stuff that was discovered in the first book has now become the basis of reality. We follow several viewpoint characters through some strange places. I enjoyed Natural History a lot, but I'm not sure about this one yet. I've also started Carnival of ash, a fantasy set in an alternate Italy with magic, and will be choosing something non-genre soon.

Jan 16, 11:20 am

>1 Sakerfalcon: found and starred!

Jan 19, 10:31 am

>26 Sakerfalcon: Thanks for stopping by! I need to get back to the Foreigner series this year.

So all my in-progress books got put on hold this week because I bought a copy of The grief of stones. I don't know why I didn't buy this when it came out, but better late than never. I started reading it on the train home and hardly stopped until I finished. I love these books. The characters, setting and story are so wonderful. Celehar is a very calm character, yet he conveys great emotion in his first-person narrative and I cared deeply for him. In this book his role as Witness for the Dead leads him to uncover a nasty conspiracy involving the foundling girls of his city; his response to it is characterised by care, kindness and a desire for justice. I think this book and its precursor, Witness for the Dead, would appeal to non-fantasy readers as well as fans of the genre, if they can get past the complicated character names and titles. The characters may be elves and goblins on the outside but inside they are very human.

I've also finished The Atlas six which I don't recommend even to fans of similar "dark academia" fantasy books. The characters were nasty and cliched, with some mostly overlooked by the author to the extent that you wondered why she put them in. There's the sexy girl, the mysterious Asian girl, the feuding rivals, and a couple of forgettable boys whose powers remain poorly defined even by the end of the book. There are dull sections where the characters debate the theory of magic and physics, and a ridiculously over-complicated denouement which made no sense at all to me. I kept reading to find out which of the six would be eliminated but even that was unsatisfying. The illustrations at the start of each section were quite nice though.

And I did add a non-genre read to the mix, which I finished in a couple of days. One Clear, Ice-cold January Morning at the Beginning of the 21st Century is a novel translated from German, which explores a few days in the lives of characters who are linked by the wolf they encounter as it moves from the Polish border towards Berlin. The chapters are very short, and move between a Polish construction worker and his cleaner girlfriend, two runaway teenagers, the father of one and mother of the other teen, a young couple who run a convenience store in the city, and a few more minor characters. The novel evokes wintry Berlin very well, and shows us moments in the lives of ordinary people, whose world is made briefly extraordinary by the elusive wolf. I really enjoyed this book; a chilly winter day was the perfect time to read it.

I'm still reading Living next door to the god of love which so far isn't as good as Natural history but is interesting enough to keep reading. On kindle I've started Our missing hearts by Celeste Ng, which imagines a near-future United States where Asian-Americans have been demonised and a chilling culture of surveillance has become the norm. A mixed-race boy is the protagonist and we follow him as he searches for his mother who left home some years before. It's very good so far. I've also started reading a YA historical fantasy set in C18th France, Enchantee, which I'm enjoying.

Jan 22, 7:23 pm

>26 Sakerfalcon: I love Celehar. You're right about the humanity on display in these books. I really hope she continues this series.

Jan 22, 7:43 pm

>26 Sakerfalcon: I too enjoyed The Grief of Stones and for the same reasons you note.

Jan 24, 11:37 am

>27 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caroline! Glad to see you have started the year well with some great books and movies!

>28 clamairy:, >29 jillmwo: The end of Grief felt to me as though she is setting up for at least one more book in the series - I certainly hope so.

I finished Our missing hearts which was a gripping and powerful read. I wish I could say that the premise - America is now constrained by laws which enforce the preservation of "American culture", following years of social and economic collapse. Neighbours and co-workers spy on each other, ready to report what they perceive as traitorous words and actions to the authorities. China has been blamed for the decline of America, meaning that all Asian Americans are particularly at risk of being denounced. Worst of all, the government has the power to take children away from families deemed to be suspect. 11 year old Bird is the son of a white American father and a Chinese-American mother. Through his innocent gaze we see what it is to live in these times, the risks taken by those few who dare to fight for freedom. I appreciated that libraries and librarians are quiet heroes, doing what they can to try and trace children taken from their families. There is also a strong focus on resistance through art, and the afterword details specific inspirations for the protests described in the story. This was a great read, very moving and thought-provoking.

Inspired by a conversation about the mid C20th writer Margaret Kennedy in the Virago group, this weekend I read The forgotten smile. This novel starts out with a deceptive light and humorous touch, as bumbling Selwyn Potter finds himself reuniting with a figure from his childhood in the unlikely setting of a remote Greek island. Kate Benson has had enough of being taken for granted and constantly criticised by her husband and children and made a home for herself on Keritha. She is less than thrilled to see Selwyn, whom she remembers for breaking a table while visiting her home. But as both characters' backstories are revealed the story takes on a more sober tone as we see real pain and loss. Both Selwyn and Kate are flawed but sympathetic characters, and the strange island on which they find themselves is a great setting. I enjoyed this a lot.

I'm still reading Living next door to the god of love but not really enjoying it. I'm about 2/3 through and I've lost interest in the characters, the physics of the worlds are over my head, and I just don't really care. I will probably abandon it.

I've started Child of all nations, a German novel written in 1938 and told from a child's perspective as she travels through Europe as an emigree after her writer father angers the Nazis. He is always leaving Kully and her mother ensconced in luxury hotels while he goes away to try and convince friends, publishers and other backers to fund his work. He is feckless and a philanderer, but always forgiven. Kully learns young the importance of visas and of keeping up the appearance of wealth so as to receive credit. Her narrative voice is wonderful, a combination of innocence and premature experience, often humorous but with a sad undertone to us adults who can see the precariousness of her situation. I've nearly finished but unless it suddenly crashes and burns I can forsee that I will be highly recommending this.

On kindle I'm reading Mrs March which I think is a psychological thriller. Mrs March is a society housewife to a famous author husband. She is terribly self-conscious, yet not very self-aware. Right from the start we sense something is a bit off about her, and I have a feeling that she is going to sink into madness of some form.

And I've started reading the non-fiction book, The story of art without men, which is what it says - a history of art that focuses on female artists. It's generously illustrated and very good so far.

Jan 30, 3:35 am

>30 Sakerfalcon: Ooh, I can't wait to start The Story of Art Without Men though will have to see who publishes it as am committed to #ReadIndies next month ...

Jan 31, 9:50 pm

>26 Sakerfalcon: I enjoyed Grief of Stones and Celehar is a great character, but I'm starting to find the setting a little too generic. The people are interesting, the locations could be interesting, if she'd give a bit more description. For me a really good book, but the lack of a sense of place, for lack of a better term, lowered my opinion of it a bit.

Fev 2, 10:58 am

>31 LyzzyBee: It's Profile Books - not sure if they are an Indie or not. It's very good so far.

>32 Karlstar: I like the setting but am always happy to have more details about a fantasy city. I didn't quite feel the need to have every part of Celehar's travels across town documented ("He took the tram to Fae bridge and then got off and walked down Circus Alley to .... "). I love the different tea shops and restaurants where they eat and drink though!

I've finished a few books since I last posted.

Mrs March was a good read, with elements of Patricia Highsmith's thrillers about it. We see the story in the tight third person perspective of the titular character who is married to a writer. As a housewife she is rather isolated, seemingly without friends of her own, living in fear of her housekeeper. On the day her husband's new book is published, an acquaintance suggests that the title character is based on Mrs March herself, something she takes great offence to. Mrs March hasn't read the book but the main character is a whore who is too ugly to sleep with and whose customers pay her out of pity. (Nothing we see of Mrs March shows her as having anything in common with the character.) Mrs March is already insecure and overly self-conscious, and this development pushes her further into a spiral of obsession and suspicions against her husband. This is a claustrophobic read, which kept me turning the pages (metaphorically as I was reading on kindle).

Also on Kindle I read Threadneedle, a YA urban fantasy about witchcraft set in London. Anna is an orphan who has been raised by her stern aunt and taught that magic is dangerous and will attract malign attention. Anna's own magic, what little there seems to be of it, will be Bound when she is 17, a fate she is resigned to. But then her glamorous aunt Selene arrives, with Anna's cousin Effie and an unknown young man, Attis in tow. Effie is open and carefree in her magic use, something that shocks Anna even as she envies Effie. When Effie starts at Anna's school, their relationship blows away the careful anonymity that Anna has developed over the years, exposing both girls to the cruelty of the bullies who rule the school. But Effie identifies two other magically gifted girls and the four of them form a coven, with Attis there too. Anna soon discovers the joy of using magic, as well as the perils, when a spell to bring down the bullies takes on a life of its own. This is quite a dark book, with Anna's abusive treatment by her aunt being very hard to read at times, yet the school scenes are very YA. There was enough intrigue and character development for me to enjoy, and I'll be looking out for the sequel.

In print I've read a Japanese novel, Sweet bean paste, about friendship, identity and what makes life worth living. Sentaro is a former convict, now working in a bakery making dorayaki. He's just going through the motions, doing the job until he's paid off his debt to the shop owner. One day an old lady comes along and says she'd like to work with him. It takes some persuading, but eventually Sentaro agrees when he finds out that the lady makes the best sweet bean paste he's ever tasted. Soon the shop is busier than ever. But Tokue has a secret in her past that comes back to haunt her, and Sentaro must make a difficult decision. The unlikely friendship that grows between Sentaro, Tokue, and a lonely schoolgirl who frequents the shop is touching and realistic - there is no insta-bonding, but caution and hesitancy to trust which is slowly overcome. Tokue's story is very moving; the author explains how he was moved to write the book when he learned of people like her. The ending is not conventionally happy but it is hopeful and positive. I really enjoyed this and it was a very quick read.

I've also finished two short SF books - both of which I am very late in coming to. The kaiju Preservation Society was written by Scalzi during lockdown, and the pandemic is referenced in the book. It's a frivolous, fun read, which still manages to make good points about the relationship between humans and nature. It's full of enviably snarky characters who always have a witty line at the ready (instead of thinking of it several hours later, as is usually my experience), some bad guys who get what they deserve, and some awesome monsters. I know a lot of you have read this already, so I'm just catching up.

The other "better late than never" read was Fugitive telemetry, the 6th Murderbot book. It's actually set before Network effect, although written after it, so I read FT first. This instalment sees Murderbot reluctantly helping the humans on Preservation Station to solve a murder. If you've enjoyed the other books in the series then you'll like this one too.

Now I'm reading another SF novel, This virtual night which is set in the same universe as This alien shore, by C. S. Friedman. It's very good so far. And I've got back into Carnival of Ash, a fantasy set in an alternate Renaissance Italy where poets are at the top of society and words hold power. And I've started a historical novel, Maurice Guest, for the Virago challenge of reading books from throughout the publisher's history. Maurice has arrived in Leipzig as a naive young man hoping to study the piano.

Editado: Fev 2, 12:06 pm

>33 Sakerfalcon: I think I took a BB with Sweet Bean Paste. I added it to my OverDrive wishlist.

I agree on the details of Celehar's travel about town. Also, get that man a new black suit so he's not constantly trying to keep his only good one spotless.

I think one of the things I appreciated the most about The Kaiju Preservation Society is how unattractive the Kaiju actually were.

Fev 2, 3:24 pm

>34 clamairy: Yes, someone please buy him a new coat, or donate one, or something!

>33 Sakerfalcon: I'll be looking forward to what you think of This Virtual Night.

Fev 2, 5:35 pm

>35 Karlstar: Perhaps the maroon tuxedo from My Cousin Vinny would work.

Fev 2, 5:46 pm

>36 clamairy:
“Are you mocking me?”

Fev 2, 5:53 pm

>37 pgmcc: "It's eitha weah the leatha jacket - which I know you hate. Or dis. So I wore dis... ridiculous ting... for you."

Fev 2, 6:21 pm

Fev 2, 6:28 pm

>39 pgmcc: One of my favorite movies ever!

Fev 2, 7:10 pm

>40 ScoLgo: Mine, too. And when I have had some wine (and I'm hanging around with my sister, who has lived on The Isle of Long her entire life) I start to sound just a wee bit like Marisa Tomei.

Fev 2, 11:34 pm

I think Profile Books is linked to Serpent's Tail, and would qualify as an independent publisher.

Editado: Fev 4, 1:37 pm

Sorry, posted on the wrong thread.

Fev 4, 11:41 am

I started The Story of Art Without Men this week too Claire. I'm just taking little bites now and then.

Fev 4, 3:16 pm

>38 ScoLgo: Lol! Great movie.

Fev 13, 9:53 am

>34 clamairy: I hope you enjoy Sweet bean paste when it arrives. And yes, the kaiju aren't described in detail but what we do learn isn't attractive.

>35 Karlstar: I really enjoyed This virtual night. I was already a fan of This alien shore which is set in the same universe and, although this book follows completely different characters, I think it helps to have read the first book just because you get more background to the Variants, the ainniq, etc. But plot wise they both stand alone.

>44 Caroline_McElwee: That's what I'm doing too. I can't read a heavy hardback for very long at a time, but I think that's the format to go for in this case so that you get the full benefit of the illustrations.

As usual I've left it far too long between posts, so thank you all for keeping my thread warm.

I've finished This virtual night and Carnival of ash, both of which were good reads. Night is set in the far future where it was only belatedly learned that using the technology necessary to travel the stars led to mutations in humans, and the colonies were abandoned in fear and disgust. Centuries later however, they are being rediscovered and brought into the fold of civilization. Ru is an Outrider, whose job is to find and contact these colonies, a life which suits her impulsive and adventurous nature. Between missions she is sent to check out an abandoned space station, which is thought to be the source of a devastating viral attack on another station's systems. Her path crosses that of Micah, the software designer who has been framed for the attack and is on the run to escape what he believes will be execution without trial. The two of them discover that the virus is far more dangerous than anyone imagined, and it's about to be disseminated throughout the inhabited galaxy. Can Ru and Micah stop it before human and post-human life is destroyed? This is an exciting and thought-provoking read, with a blend of action and speculation on the future. If you like character-driven SF I recommend it.

Carnival of Ash is marketed as fantasy but in fact it's closer to an alternate history. There is no magic in the book, which is set in the city of Cadenza, where poets and printers are the most influential people in society. You would think that a city of bookbinders and libraries would be idyllic, but that's far from the case. Cadenza has its own corrupt politics and in addition is constantly aware of the threat posed by neighbouring Venice. The book is more a collection of linked short stories than a conventional novel, with each chapter following a different character and people from previous stories appearing in the background. However, these vignettes build up to the climax of an overarching plotline, which shows that the real threat to the city may come from within its walls. The stories cover different genres - farce, horror, detective story, heist, political intrigue and more, with scenes occurring in palaces and libraries, printing workshops and taverns, graveyards and courtyards. There is a lot of violence and darkness in this world, but it is fascinating and compelling.

I've also read another of Gladys Mitchell's Mrs Bradley mysteries, Laurels are poison. This one is set at a women's teacher training college, where Mrs Bradley is asked to investigate the disappearance of a staff member following the annual end of year dance. Mrs B uncovers the mystery - and a number of red herrings - with the help of some irrepressible students. I always enjoy these books, for the quirky characters and humour and for the way Mitchell creates the settings in which the story takes place.

I'm still reading Maurice Guest which is both interesting and exasperating. Interesting, because I love the setting of C19th Leipzig among the international community of music students; exasperating because the title character and his love are melodramatic in the German romantic way that I associate with Werther - "She doesn't love me! I must die!" "He is too cruel! My life is not worth living!" There is a lot of angst!

I'm also reading Network effect, the Murderbot novel. Better late than never! Of course I'm enjoying it a lot.

Fev 13, 11:19 am

>46 Sakerfalcon: Re Maurice Guest: I’m charmed to see that Wikipedia quotes a review from The Age (Melbourne newspaper) as follows:
while the book is undoubtedly clever, it runs to the inordinate length of 562 pages, and is more like a scientific dissection of the love theme than the romance that the ordinary reader likes. Nor is the book quite healthy in tone. Stalwart manhood and woman hood are absent from its pages, which are occupied mostly in a study of the almost neurotic psychology, in which many authors seem to delighted. Mr. Richardson has the ability to write healthier and brisker books, if not cleverer ones, than Maurice Guest.
(A quick look at the scanned page, available on the National Library of Australia website, shows that the paper indeed wrote “to delight”.)

Fev 13, 11:26 am

>47 haydninvienna: Interesting. I have two cousins who work or worked on The Age.

Editado: Mar 15, 7:39 am

>47 haydninvienna:, >48 hfglen: I have to agree with The Age's reviewer : Maurice Guest was indeed a very long read, and I did find myself skimming at times. Their point about the unhealthy tone is, I believe, what Richardson meant to convey in her portrayal of her characters (although I would argue that Madeleine is an example of "stalwart womanhood"). I don't have a lot of patience for romantic angst, so parts of the book were a slog, particularly Maurice's tortured interior monologues. But it was fascinating to see how his obsession with Louise led their relationship into cruelty and destruction. My favourite aspect of the book was the supporting characters, mostly other young music students from Europe and the USA, and their lives in C19th Leipzig. They, and the focus on music, kept me reading.

I've read two short books in translation this week, from Japan and Lithuania. Weasels in the attic consists of three vignettes in the life of a couple and their friends over a few years as their relationships change. Like this author's previous books there is a surreal tinge to the narrative, but this is generally more realistic. There's not a lot of action, it's really about the characters and what they represent about modern life in Japan. I really liked it.

The Lithuanian book, In the shadow of wolves, is a spare narrative, set largely in what is now Kaliningrad, after WWII. The German population there, mostly women, children and the elderly, faced terrible hardships under the Soviet rule, struggling to keep safe, warm and nourished. Groups of children crossed the border into Lithuania to beg or work for food to bring back to their families; they became known as "wolf children". The book focuses on two women and their children, as they are gradually separated by various fates until only Renate remains. She is based on the experiences of two women whom the author learned about while researching for a proposed documentary film. This is a largely forgotten aspect of WWII, and unsurprisingly the book is quite bleak, though with a hopeful ending.

I'm still enjoying Network effect, and expect to finish it very soon.

On kindle I've just started to read Femina by the historian Janina Ramirez, which is a history of women in the Middle Ages.

Fev 19, 9:49 am

>46 Sakerfalcon: Carnival of ash sounds fascinating! I'm adding it to my wishlist.

Fev 19, 10:34 pm

>33 Sakerfalcon: Just catching up a bit after some time away. Like Clam, I've taken a hit on Sweet Bean Paste.

Fev 20, 4:23 pm

>49 Sakerfalcon: Will be very interested in hearing about Femina. I think I pre-ordered it and then decided i was spending too much money and cancelled it. I'm certainly open to hearing that I made the wrong decision.

Fev 21, 10:10 am

I've had Femina on my NetGalley shelf for too long so I'm now relying on you to make me read it! No pressure!

Fev 24, 8:48 am

>50 nonil: It was a good read. Once I figured out the structure, that I wouldn't be following the same characters through the book, I really began to enjoy it.

>51 Jim53: I hope you enjoy it! I really like Japanese fiction and this was a good one.

>52 jillmwo:, >53 LyzzyBee: I'm enjoying Femina so far. Each chapter takes a woman or women for whose existence there is textual or archaeological evidence and uses her story to explore that of other women and the society in which they lived. Learning about women gives us an expanded picture of the society and period as a whole. It's written for the lay reader, but copiously referenced.

I finished and enjoyed Network effect which, being novel-length, enabled Wells to write a more complex adventure for Murderbot. If you haven't read any of the stories before, don't start here; begin with All systems red.

I'm still dipping into The story of art without men and enjoying it a lot.

I'm also reading Changing vision, which is the middle volume of Julie Czerneda's Web shifters trilogy. Esen is the last of her species, a shape changer who can imitate any species in the known universe. Her forbears gained their knowledge of other species by devouring them - literally - leading them to be persecuted to extinction. The leader of Esen's web had developed a conscience, thus Esen was raised to direct her curiosity to peaceful ends. In the first book she broke the most important rule and revealed her nature to a human. Now in this second book she and Paul have been friends and business partners for decades, living peacefully, until on a visit to another planet they are recognised. Esen is an entertaining narrator, still immature and impulsive yet lovable. The many other alien species are very alien - Czerneda has a great imagination backed by her biological knowledge.

Fev 24, 12:49 pm

>54 Sakerfalcon: Ooh, the Czerneda sounds great. I didn't like her fantasy novel that I read, but I thought she was a great writer.

Fev 27, 8:29 am

>55 libraryperilous: I really disliked A turn of light, and I wasn't keen on her stand-alone SF novel, In the company of others (the romance didn't work for me), but I've really enjoyed pretty much everything else I've read by Czerneda. I think the Species Imperative series is my favourite.

I forgot to mention that earlier this month I read a thriller by Patricia Highsmith. It was such a fast read that I didn't note it down! A suspension of mercy tells of a young couple, a writer and an artist, living together in a lonely cottage in Suffolk. Their marriage is in difficulty and Alice sometimes goes away to visit friends in London or her parents. In the meantime, Sydney imagines the different ways that he might kill her and dispose of her body. These are idle fantasies, thought experiments that he means to put into his writing, but when Alice disappears without trace, suspicious falls on Sydney and his imaginings threaten to condemn him. I enjoyed this a lot even as I was mentally yelling at Sydney and Alice not to be so silly. It was a good read.

Editado: Mar 17, 12:10 pm

Another long-overdue update!

I finished Changing vision which was a good read. It took a little while to get going but once it did I enjoyed it. It's great to have a series where the central relationship is not a romance.

I also finished Femina which was a fascinating read. Each chapter started with an archaeological discovery (sometimes as compelling a story as that told in the rest of the chapter) which focused on a particular Mediaeval woman, and led to a discussion and exploration of the time and place in which she lived. Learning more about women's lives naturally teaches us more about the society in general, giving a fuller depiction of history. Ramirez is careful to note where she may be conjecturing, or where evidence is not conclusive, and she is also clear that her book is just a start and that much more needs to be done in opening up history. Some chapters were stronger than others - the one on Hildegard von Bingen was superb, while I was less convinced by the one about Jadwiga of Poland - but overall this was an excellent read.

I've also read Fevered star, the sequel to Black sun. This fantasy trilogy is set in a world based on pre-Columbian America among various factions competing for earthly and spiritual power. I'm really enjoying it and looking forward to the final volume.

After reading some discussions about Emily St John Mandel's books in a couple of LT groups recently, I decided to read The glass hotel. I know some people were disappointed by this compared to Station Eleven, and indeed it is, on the surface, a much more conventional book in subject and structure. Set around the titular hotel, it tells of the fall of the man behind a long-running Ponzi scheme, and the stories of characters whose lives have intersected with his. There are also some links to Station Eleven which I won't spoil. I loved the setting on a remote part of northern Vancouver Island and really enjoyed seeing how the different characters connected. I will read Sea of Tranquility very soon, as I gather that it links with both previous books.

I'm currently reading a very long Virago novel, The corn king and the spring queen, which is set in ancient times around the Black Sea, Greece and Sparta. It tells of the heroine Erif Der and her husband Tarrik, who are married to combine their powers in the titular ritual roles. Erif Der has agreed with her father that she will bewitch Tarrik in order that her father and brother can take his power, but when the plan is thwarted by a visiting Greek philosopher she is not entirely sorry, having fallen in love with her husband. But this is far from a romantic novel; characters have very different motives than those of our time and place, and behave in ways that seem illogical. This to me is the mark of a good historical novel - characters should not have the values of the time in which the book was written, but that of the time in which it is set, however alien or dislikeable that may make them. Yet I am engrossed in the novel, and fascinated by Erif and her society, and eager to see what will happen.

I'm also reading The terraformers, which libraryperilous highly recommended. It is a great read so far. Consisting of three linked novellas set in different periods on a planet which is being terraformed by a corporation prior to being sold off for investment, we see how the aims of the environmentalists frequently clash with those of the corporations. It also raises questions of personhood and identity, and our relationships with non-human species.

EDIT: Just realised the touchstone for Black Sun was wrong, so I've fixed it.

Editado: Mar 15, 10:46 am

>57 Sakerfalcon: I might have taken a BB on that Black Sun trilogy. Oy... I am riddled with BBs at this point. I hope you enjoy Sea of Tranquility as much as I did.

Mar 15, 11:43 am

>57 Sakerfalcon: and >58 clamairy: There've been a number of BBs from this page. I'm looking hard at the Highsmith title up there in #56. And you liked Femina which means I may need to take a second look. And The Story of Art Without Men is on my radar as well.

Mar 15, 8:23 pm

Fortunately I remembered my mithril coat, which has deflected the book bullets that tried to get at me.

Mar 15, 10:30 pm

>60 Jim53: But...but book bullets are nice...!

I think she got me with Femina.

Mar 17, 10:44 am

>61 Marissa_Doyle: No argument here. I just have such a long list currently that I'm trying not to add to it.

Mar 17, 11:01 am

What's wrong with having a list? You don't have to buy everything, but it's good to have ideas, or even to keep a list with a note of those reading ideas that you can refer back to if you're going to the library or just looking up your local library branch's catalogue to see what books you might be able to borrow.

Editado: Mar 17, 12:19 pm

To be fair, all of you have hit me with BBs over the years! I find the reviews of my friends on here to be a far more reliable guide as to whether I will like a book or not than any other source of information. And the less said about the length of my lists, and the height of my TBR piles, the better!

I forgot to mention that I read Second class citizen by Buchi Emecheta for the 75 Books group African reading challenge this month. Emecheta emigrated from Nigeria to London in the 1960s and this book is one of the novels she wrote that were based on her experiences. Not surprisingly she suffered from racism and discrimination from an uncaring State and society, as well as being bullied by her husband whom she had followed to London. But Adah (as she is named in the book) is undaunted and determined to make a life for herself in spite of all the obstacles in her way. Happily, her library jobs are a source of joy and friendship as her managers and colleagues accept her as part of the team without question. I shouldn't have been surprised that the hostility between the Igbo and Yoruba peoples was transferred to London; there was no instance of them joining in solidarity against a country that just sees them all as "coloured". This should have been a really depressing book but it wasn't; Adah is so strong that we are sure she will succeed in achieving her dreams. The novel ends very abruptly, and I need to seek out In the ditch which (although written earlier) continues Adah's story.

I finished The terraformers and really enjoyed it. It takes place over a large span of time and a whole planet, but focuses in on three crisis points within the bigger picture. In the first, environmental ranger Destry and her moose companion Whistle discover a community of archaic humanoids who shouldn't actually exist. In the second, centuries later, Destry's apprentice is paired with one of the archaic people to design a transit system for the continent. And in the third, set even further in the future, a sentient train and a feline journalist uncover scandals that could bring down the corporations who control the planet. We are in an era of transhumanism, where people seek the thrill of living as an "authentic" Pleistocene-era H. sapiens on a pristine planet - but with all the comforts and luxuries of their own time, of course. My only criticisms are that some of the conflicts were cleared up and events resolved very quickly; and also that the corporations and their execs are pretty much unmitigatedly evil. But I really enjoyed this read, especially for the non-human characters and the optimistic, imaginatively worldbuilding.

Now I've just started The magician's daughter which was another recommendation by LibraryPerilous, and Station Eternity which someone (possibly LP again?) reviewed favourably. And I'm still enjoying The corn king ... and dipping into The story of art without men. And I forgot to add, I'm also reading Frankenstein in Baghdad which is set during the American occupation of Iraq and uses the Frankenstein story to bring together a diverse cast of characters.

Mar 17, 3:47 pm

Looking forward to you getting to your purchases from The Heath Bookshop ...!

Mar 18, 8:49 am

>64 Sakerfalcon: I enjoyed the only Annalee Newitz that I've read so far and am always on the lookout for more of their work. Good to know this one doesn't disappoint.

Editado: Mar 27, 11:48 am

>65 LyzzyBee: I'm reading The fell today, as I should be able to finish it before going on holiday, and I'm taking the other two with me!

>66 AHS-Wolfy: From what I can tell (only having read this one of her 3 novels) her books are quite different from each other, although obvs they are all SF.

Just a quick catch-up before I go away for the next 8 days. I'm travelling to Brussels and Frankfurt am Main with my sister for a holiday.

I managed to finish all my in-progress books, which is good as I don't like taking books I'm in the middle of away with me.

The magician's daughter was a lovely magical read, very well written and with a small cast of well-developed characters. 16 year old Biddy has only known life on the hidden island of Hy-Brazil, with her adopted father Rowan the magician and his familiar Hutchincroft, who usually takes the form of a rabbit. Biddy is unhappy when Rowan disappears overnight, and her fears are realised when he fails to return one morning. The outside world is threatening to encroach on their paradise, and although Biddy has always longed to leave the island and explore, when her chance comes she realises that the world may not be as welcoming as she's hoped. Despite having no magic herself, she must save Rowan and stop the corrupt organisation that is hoarding magic and restricting its use in the world. It's set in an alternate pre-WWI Britain and Ireland, but has a timeless feel to it. I really enjoyed this.

Station eternity was a fun read, a true SF/mystery mashup. Wherever Mallory goes, murder follows, until she is so desperate that she leaves Earth to live on a space station where only 2 other humans are resident. It works - no deaths occur ... until one day it is announced that a ship of humans is arriving. And sure enough, the deaths begin. Mallory soon learns that all of the surviving passengers are connected to her by some degree, and that she must act fast if she is to save human and alien lives. The aliens are wonderfully well-realised - the rock-like Gneiss (of course!), the hive minded Swarm, the sentient space station itself, among others. Mallory was frustrating to me at first, acting on impulse rather than stopping to think, but in conjunction with other characters she works well and figures things out. It seems set up for a sequel, which I will be looking forward to.

The corn king and the spring queen was a long, wonderful read. I was totally immersed in the ancient societies of the Scythians, Spartans, Greeks and Egyptians. Erif Der, Philylla, Tarrik, Kleomedes and the many smaller characters were foreign in their ways and beliefs, yet relatable in their aims and aspirations.

And Sea of tranquility was wonderful too. I love how Mandel weaves fragments from different times and places to form a narrative that the reader pieces together as the book progresses. There are several "ah-ha" moments when one realises a connection. I find her characters and visions of the world fascinating and compelling. I will read whatever she writes next.

I'm reading a short novel, The fell before I leave for my trip. It's set during Covid and shows the repercussions when a woman who should be isolating decides to go for a short walk in the hills, against regulations. She'll only be gone for an hour, what could possibly go wrong? The author channels the voices of four different characters to tell the story.

Editado: Mar 27, 11:59 am

>67 Sakerfalcon: I hope you have a wonderful time! I agree about St John Mandel. Her stuff is (mostly) fantastic. And thanks for the spray of BBs. I have added The Magician's Daughter to my OverDrive wishlist.

Mar 27, 12:14 pm

>67 Sakerfalcon: I'm glad you enjoyed both of them. I found Mallory frustrating for most of the novel, but I loved the aliens (esp. the space station) enough to be invested in the story.

Happy holiday!

Mar 27, 12:29 pm

>67 Sakerfalcon:
Enjoy your holiday. We will be on ours by the time you return.

I look forward to your photographs. They always broaden my mind and my knowledge base.

Mar 27, 10:49 pm

Enjoy your travels!

Mar 28, 10:06 pm

>67 Sakerfalcon: Have a good trip, be safe! Don't go walking in the hills.

Mar 29, 6:50 am

Enjoy Belgium & Germany! Brussels has some of the best street frites in the world!

Editado: Abr 1, 3:13 pm

>67 Sakerfalcon: Finally two books I read as well, Claire, as most of your readings are not availble to me. I also liked Sea of tranquility, and enjoyed the connections. With The fell I felt a bit disappointed at the end, I wanted to know what happened after.

Enjoy your holiday.

Abr 9, 7:10 am

How was your holiday Claire?

Editado: Abr 12, 9:43 am

Thanks for the good wishes everyone! My sister and I had a wonderful time on our trip to Brussels and Frankfurt. We saw loads of art, walked for miles, ate great food, enjoyed some local beers, and didn't want to come home! There are many photos on Facebook.

>68 clamairy: I need to go back and read some of Mandel's earlier books, and I'm keen to see where she goes next.

>69 libraryperilous: Yes, I was relieved when the POV moved away from Mallory, as a whole novel from her perspective would have been too much for me. The aliens were fantastic!

>70 pgmcc: I hope you have a successful mission terrific holiday in France.

>71 Jim53:, >72 Karlstar: Thanks both!

>73 Bookmarque: We did indulge in some frites and they were excellent. I was sad that we didn't have time for waffles though.

>74 FAMeulstee: Yes, I'd love to know what happened after The fell ended. My favourite of Moss's books is The tidal zone, have you read that one?

>75 Caroline_McElwee: It was wonderful, Caroline! We saw exhibitions by Niki de Saint-Phalle (the reason for our trip to Frankfurt), Swedish visionary artists including Hilma af Klimt, and an unexpected exhibition of four early C20th Jewish women artists. Not to mention the Comic Strip Art Museum and all the street art in Brussels!

I did find time to read while I was away. I took with me Nevada, Summer fun, (these two were purchased at the Heath Bookshop in Birmingham with LyzzyBee), The quest for Christa T, and my kindle.

On kindle I read Beyond the hallowed sky by Ken McLeod, which was an excellent near-future SF novel. The world has split into three power blocs - the Alliance which is basically England, USA and India; the Union which is mostly Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and the EU; and the Coalition which is dominated by Russia and China. We have viewpoint characters from the Alliance and the Union, as the blocs compete to explore and settle the solar system. The Union are on the verge of discovering FTL travel - but unbeknownst to them, the other blocs may have stolen a march on them. I really enjoyed this, not just the plausible social and political vision of Earth, but the scenes on Venus and the planet Apis where aliens may have been discovered. I'm now eagerly awaiting the next volume of the trilogy.

I also finished Nevada, which is an immersive book about the experience of being trans. Maria is stuck in a dead-end job, in a relationship that's going nowhere, ill at ease in her body. She dissociates from people and situations, hurting herself and others. When she loses her job she "borrows" her ex-girlfriend's car and hits the road. The first half of the book explores Maria's life in NYC. It's a third-person narrative but reads like an inner voice, with colloquial phrasing and slang. I found this really engaging and enlightening. The second half of the book switches perspective to that of James, a young man who is questioning his sexuality and gender. He too has a terrible job and an ambivalent relationship. When he and Maria meet, she attempts to help him resolve his identity. Maria is kind of a car crash, constantly screwing up her life and causing problems for those around her. Yet I found her fascinating and could understand why she was that way. James I found harder to relate to - he spends his life almost constantly smoking weed and when he isn't, he's thinking about how soon he can start smoking weed again. This was a really interesting read, not a comfortable one, but one that put me in the head of a trans woman for a few days. There is a good afterword by the author which talks about what she was thinking and feeling when she wrote the book. Recommended if you want an #ownvoices read about one person's experience of being trans.

By coincidence, Summer fun is also narrated by a trans character and her identity is an important part of the book. Gala is an obsessive fan of quintessentially American 1960s band the Get Happies. She is obsessed with their founder, B____ and the novel is structured as a series of letters from her to him. She tells the story of his life, though we question its veracity - how can Gala know what B____ was thinking and feeling? - , while also telling her own story although she denies that she is doing this. This is a book about identity, fandom, creativity, abuse, self-discovery and music. I haven't finished it yet but I'm really enjoying it.

I also haven't quite finished Christa T, which for a short book is quite a dense and time-consuming read. It's the story of a woman living through and after WWII in East Germany, told by a friend looking back over the years. Its tone is analytical rather than narrative and requires a lot of concentration. I may have to start again from the beginning after putting it down to focus on other things.

Abr 12, 9:37 am

>76 Sakerfalcon:
All mission holiday objectives being pursued. Currently sitting on the veranda watching the lake and LibraryThinging on my phone.

Really enjoying your holiday pictures.

Abr 12, 9:43 am

>76 Sakerfalcon: That sounds perfect! I hope you have some wine and cheese to accompany you.

Abr 13, 1:24 am

>76 Sakerfalcon: Glad the Bookshop books worked out well for you! I am looking forward to Nevada and I am curious about Summer Fun now, too! Also glad the trip was so good - photos were excellent!

Abr 13, 7:48 am

>76 Sakerfalcon: The fell was my first book by Sarah Moss. The tidal zone isn't translated. I might try one of the others that are translated like Ghost wall or Summerwater.

Abr 13, 9:48 am

>80 FAMeulstee: Both of those are good!

>79 LyzzyBee: I finished Summer fun last night and loved it! I was dubious about the structure - "character writes letters to person telling them the story of their own life" - why would you write to someone telling them about events with which surely they are more than familiar? But it worked really well, especially once it's revealed why Gala is writing the letters she is literally using them to cast a spell, as she believes in magic. Although she states that she's not going to tell her own story, she reveals much about her life: her job at a motel, her friendship (of a sort) with fellow trans woman Ronda, and her relationship with Caroline. The fictional Get Happies are based on the Beach Boys, with their journey from catchy pop ditties to more complex experimental sounds. The author writes really well about music and creativity, as well as about identity crises, mental health, and the trans experience. This was a really enjoyable read for me, despite some dark passages dealing with abuse (mental and physical). It's a weird and very original read.

On kindle I've started reading a children's book by Josephine Pullein-Thompson, A job with horses. Kate is determined to leave home after her mother remarries, and takes the first job with horses that she's offered. She finds herself living onsite at a crumbling castle, teaching the children of the house to ride while caring for the horses which are used for ... jousting renactments! I'm really enjoying this so far! I do like a good pony book.

Editado: Abr 21, 9:56 am

A job with horses was a great read! It's nice to have a slightly older heroine - Kate must be about 19 as she has finished her A levels and then completed a 6 month course to qualify as a riding instructor. As well as the correcting the children's terrible riding and caring for the jousting horses, there is a mysterious prowler lurking around the castle, and Kate feels the first pangs of romantic attraction (although this is very understated). I thoroughly enjoyed this, my only complaint being that a lot is packed into the 3 weeks covered by the plot!

I've been rereading Max Gladstone's Craft sequence recently, as I have the newest book in the series on my TBR pile. This is one of my favourite fantasy series of recent years, quite unlike anything else I've read. It fuses spiritual belief and contract law to form a unique magic system and features well-drawn, diverse characters. I'm currently in the middle of Last first snow, the 4th book of the original 6, and will be reading them all before starting Dead country.

I'm currently reading Phoebe Junior, the last of Mrs Oliphant's Chronicles of Carlingford, with the Virago group. These books are often compared to those of Anthony Trollope as they focus on the lives of townsfolk and clergy in a small English town in the Victorian era. We meet characters of different Christian different denominations and statuses in society (Free church members are distinctly inferior to Anglicans), from penniless curates to dutiful daughters; up-and-coming shopkeepers to proud matriarchs; idle sons to fiery politicians. Oliphant focuses more on the concerns of women, as one might expect, and also pays more attention to servants than other writers of the period. Phoebe Junior is the granddaughter of a shopkeeper and the daughter of a Dissenting minister who has risen socially after leaving Carlingford. When Phoebe visits the town to care for her grandmother, however, her elegance and education mean nothing to those who judge her by her "inferior" family connections. The impoverished Ursula who serves her widowed father as housekeeper, children's nurse and general dogsbody, is seen to be socially superior on account of her father being an Anglican minister. These divisions seem absurd to us today, but at that time they were all important. However, Oliphant uses her plot to undermine these views, and gives us an entertaining story into the bargain.

I've just started a fantasy novel, Saint Death's daughter, which has immediately grabbed me. Lanie Stones has a gift for necromancy but is allergic to violence. When her parents - the royal Assassin and Executioner of the kingdom - die unexpectedly, she and her sister have to act in order to prevent the family estate from being seized by debtors. So far we have a revenant servant, talkative ghosts, unreliable magic, a interesting heroine and her alarmingly psychotic sister, and hints at an intriguing world. I can't tell where this is going as yet, but I'm happy to come along for the ride!

Abr 21, 10:35 am

>82 Sakerfalcon: I've been on the fence about Saint Death's Daughter. I couldn't tell from descriptions if it would turn too grim or depressing. I'll watch for your review.

>76 Sakerfalcon: I really need to get to MacLeod. I think Peter is a fan.

Abr 21, 11:30 am

>83 libraryperilous:
Full disclosure: yes, I am a fan where Ken’s work is concerned.

I hope you enjoy his books.

Abr 21, 11:06 pm

>76 Sakerfalcon: Glad your trip went well! The 2nd MacLeod book is on my TBR pile.

Editado: Maio 17, 7:53 am

Aargh, I hadn't realised it had been so long since I posted! Now I have lots of catching up to do.

>83 libraryperilous: Peter is the reason I've moved McLeod up the TBR pile! I loved SDD - see my comments below.

Phoebe Junior was a very good read, detailing life in a small town in Victorian England with all its social and religious divisions. I found it really helpful to read this as a group project, with comments from other readers to spur me on. I just need a push to read C19th prose these days!

Saint Death's daughter was brilliant, I loved it! Lainie is a sympathetic heroine, the world in which she lives is fascinating, and the cast of characters around her are interesting and well-drawn. Although she is a necromancer I didn't find the book to be too grim. Her sister Nita is a nasty piece of work and does some very unpleasant things, but she is killed off fairly quickly in the narrative. The found family and the emotional growth of Lainie's niece are heartening and balance out the darkness. The plot twists and turns, and I never felt as though I could predict what was going to happen. The end of the book is set up for a sequel, as a fairly major plot thread is left unresolved, and I am looking forward to whatever comes next.

I've also read Ocean's echo, an SF/romance set in the same universe as Winter's orbit, although you don't need to have read the first book at all. Tennal is a Reader, a powerful telepath who has been using his skills illegally. Surit is an Architect, who can write his will upon others. Tennal is conscripted to the army and assigned to Surit as punishment for his activities. Architects can be synched to Readers and their powers used strategically. However, Surit's moral code means that he refuses to synch with Tennal against his will, and the two, initially antagonistic, agree that they will fake the bond. But galactic events throw them into a situation beyond anything they could have expected. The romance is lower-key in this book than its predecessor, as both men realise that the timing is wrong for them to focus on anything other than the political situation. Tennal is so obnoxious for the first few chapters that I wondered if I could stand to read a whole book with him in it, but he develops gradually and realistically into a more mature and likeable person. I think I slightly preferred Winter's orbit, but this was still a very enjoyable read.

On kindle I've read Scattered all over the earth, a Japanese novel about migration and national identity in a world where climate change has caused some countries to cease to exist. It's a slightly surreal little fable, which brings together a group of characters of different backgrounds and languages as they travel around Europe in search of an elusive dashi chef. I really enjoyed this and am glad to see that it's the first of a trilogy.

Also on kindle I read a Korean novel called Whale which is on the International Booker prize shortlist. It chronicles the rise and fall of Geumbok, a woman who begins life in inauspicious circumstances but manages to create an empire of small businesses and find economic success. But she can't escape the past, and her daughter Chunhui will suffer as a result. I saw a review that compared this to 100 years of solitude and I thought that was ridiculous, but the more I read I realised that there was some truth in it. The elements of magical realism and fatalism, combined with characters' rise and fall over an extended timeline in a changing world, justified the comparison, although there is not the sprawling family that Marquez creates. This is a darker and sadder novel than I expected, but it was thought-provoking and took me out of my comfort zone.

I've just finished reading a collection of short stories published by Virago, She knew she was right. The author, Ivy Litvinov, is a British woman who married a Russian politician after the Revolution. For a while he was in Stalin's favour and the couple mixed in high social and political circles, but then he fell from grace. However, the stories are not political. The first four take place in Britain and are based on the author's childhood and youth. Then we move to Russia for stories of women and children, in dachas, holiday homes, and communal apartments, negotiating friendships with other women. The last stories return to England, with the final story being from a cat's POV! I really enjoyed these stories; the events in them are not world-shaking but you enter the everyday lives of the characters and feel the sense of time and place. I have a mystery novel by the same author, His master's voice, which I must read.

I've also read a Norwegian novel, Is mother dead, which is on the International Booker longlist. It's about an artist who became estranged from her family when she left her husband for her art teacher and moved to America with him. 30 years later, after her husband's death, she is returning to Oslo for an exhibition of her work, and she is obsessed with contacting her mother. This novel is very claustrophobic as we are inside Johanna's head the whole time, following the circular pattern of her thoughts as she merges past and present to create her own imagined version of her mother's life. From trying to call her on the phone, to lurking outside her apartment block, Johanna's actions escalate until a shocking confrontation. This is a fascinating novel of mother/daughter and sibling relations, and a disturbing portrayal of obsession. I've enjoyed all three novels that I've read so far by this author and I hope that more will be translated.

I'm currently reading Tress of the Emerald Sea, which is delightful, Light from uncommon stars, which merges Faustian fantasy with SF, and The ghostly lover, a novel from the POV of a teenage girl in 1940s Kentucky.

Maio 18, 4:24 pm

>76 Sakerfalcon: I've just started This is How It Always Is for our neighborhood book club, and I wonder if either Nevada or Summer Fun might be interesting to read with it. Yeah, in my copious spare time...

Maio 18, 7:42 pm

>87 Jim53: I loved that book! I am curious to see what >76 Sakerfalcon: advises.

Maio 19, 6:28 am

>87 Jim53:, >88 clamairy: I think either book would make a really interesting companion read to This is how it always is! This is how ... is from the POV of the cis parents of a trans child, whereas both Summer fun and Nevada are narrated by trans women (and both authors are themselves trans). The main characters transitioned as young adults without the support of their families and so have created found families of a sort. They are both very messed up and you can understand how they got to be that way. If you like music then I'd especially recommend Summer fun, but Nevada is shorter and a faster read. If you go ahead then I look forward to your thoughts!

I finished The ghostly lover (completely irrelevant title, btw) which was a very good novel about a girl coming of age without the support of her family. Marian and her brother live with their grandmother in small-town Kentucky, while their parents travel the country going from one failed business attempt to another. Marian yearns for their rare visits, but is unable to connect with either parent when they do come home. She makes a somewhat ambivalent attempt at friendship with Hattie, the Black maid; she has school friends but we don't see them. Marian strikes up a relationship with Bruce, an older man whom she sees watching her at the start of the novel. He moves in and out of the story, which takes Marian to college in New York City, back to Kentucky upon her grandmother's death, and out West to visit her parents, until she finally frees herself from the past. It's very well written and captures the awkwardness around race and class in the 1940s South. I enjoyed this a lot.

In its place I've started The Salzburg tales by Christina Stead, which is structured like Decameron or The Canterbury tales but set at the Salzburg festival in the 1930s.

Maio 19, 6:38 am

>89 Sakerfalcon: I may have taken a BB for The Salzburg Tales. Aren’t the LT reviews fascinating: only two, one of them 5 stars and the other a half….

Maio 19, 7:18 am

I think the negative review is actually 1.5* rather than 0.5*, and the words of the review don't go with the rating - in fact, the reviewer says s/he quite liked some of the stories and didn't like others, though not indicating why.

Maio 19, 7:24 am

>90 haydninvienna:, >91 elkiedee: Christina Stead is quite a polarizing writer in general, judging from some of the discussions we've had in the Virago group over the years! I like Letty Fox and For love alone a lot, but I was lukewarm on A little tea, a little chat and The beauties and furies, and I know Liz didn't get more than a few pages into Cotter's England before getting rid of it.

Maio 27, 7:33 pm

>76 Sakerfalcon: Glad you had a great holiday full of art Claire.

Lots of good reading too, by the look of it. Mine has slowed down a bit. Will have to put that right.