Thursday, 18 August 2016

A portion of the TBR pile

I came home from work tonight with a small pile of books to read.  It's not as though my existing TBR isn't already significant, but things just kept jumping out at me today.

Current loans from work include:

New Guard, by Robert Muchamore - the latest "Cherub"
A Call to Duty, by David Weber and Timothy Zahn - first of the new Manticore Ascendant sub-series
The Danish Girl, by David Ebershoff
While We Run, by Karen Healey
Queen Isabella by Alison Weir
Gay and Lesbian, Then and Now: Australian stories from a social revolution

So - how long will it take me to get all these read...?

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Wednesday reads - 10 August 2016

It's been a while...

What I've just finished reading:

The Heir/The Crown  - the final two "Selection" books by Keira Cass.  These two were unexpected sequels to the first three "Selection" books, a sort of "The Bachelor" dystopian YA... In The Heir and The Crown, it essentially becomes "the Bachelorette" as Eadlyn Schreave tries to find a husband.  The premise is dodgy, and the writing isn't brilliant, but it says plenty that I came back to this series after having read three books of it already.  I do feel the world building in the final two lacked something from the first three: there simply wasn't as good a sense of the wider world.  But Eadlyn was sympathetic, while flawed, protagonist, and both books hooked me sufficiently.

The White Rose - Amy Ewing, second in the Lone City trilogy.  I believe my summary of the first book in this series, The Jewel, was "Margaret Attwood did it before you, and better than you.'  Needless to say, this is still true. But the story has gripped me sufficiently that I've already put the final book on hold, and I probably wouldn't have done that I hadn't decided that I should follow up The Jewel to see if I liked the continuing story.  It's just that it took a while for me to decide that.

What I'm reading now:

Currently 75% through At All Costs, the next Honor Harrington in the sequence.

I picked up Cadogan Square by Carol Drinkwater today, a two-in-one British My Story compilation of Edwardian stories: it's pedestrian but the time period interests me.

What I'll read next:

I plan to return to Leanda de Lisle's The Tudors, and while I want to get through enough of the Harringtons to finally finish Torch of Freedom in sequence, I'm feeling Harrington fatigue at the moment and may put it off for a while.  I need to go back to the final Netherwood book, Eden Falls, but that will depend whether it's available from the library.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Discovering the second book first - When We Wake/While We Run, by Karen Healey

I rather startled my colleagues today.

I came into the returns room, saw a book on the shelving trolley, pounced on it and began to bounce with excitement.

The book was "When We Wake" by Karen Healey.

The reason I was so excited was that while I was working on Saturday, I'd picked up "While We Run", and began to read it.  I got 30 or 40 pages in, well into the actual plot, when I looked on the back cover and realised that it was the second book of two.  I really wanted to keep reading that story.  It had grabbed me really hard, in a way that was noticeable because "The Dreams of the Chosen", a Brian Caswell that I'd been very excited about, just hadn't grabbed me.  But I also wanted to read the first story first.

So I went off to the library catalogue, and promptly misread it as saying there was a copy of the first book, "When We Wake", on the shelf at the library (it was at a different branch), put it on hold, and was very disappointed on Monday morning when I discovered that it wasn't on shelf at all.

But today it arrived.  And I am so excited.

I have already begun reading "When We Wake" in spare moments.  It's future/dystopia set in Australia (not unlike "The Dreams of the Chosen" and, in fact, the two Ambellin Kwaymullina books that I really want to read soon if not next.)  There's politics and action and science and I cannot wait to get into these two books properly.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

I became a member of the World Science Fiction Society

So, I signed up for membership of WorldCon 75.

I did so the day that the shortlist of Hugo Nominees was released for WorldCon74 (2016), because that shortlist was so hideously stacked by the nominees of the Rabid Puppies slate.

I won't get to vote for the Hugo winners for 2016, because even the supporting membership for WorldCon74 is prohibitively expensive at the current exchange rate.  Besides which, the two categories I was most interested in - Best Fancast and Best Related Work - are complete puppy takeovers, which greatly disappoints me.

(I really, really, really wanted Letters to Tiptree to get on the shortlist, but of course I couldn't vote for them because, not a member.  Next year, I will be nominating!  And Galactic Suburbia will be top of my list for fancast.)

Friday, 13 May 2016

Reading Plaidy - May 2016

More than a year ago I promised to post about my progress with reading through the Plaidy books.  Then I totally failed to post a single thing.  I will rectify that right, now!

Epitaph for Three Women is just not sitting with me.  I have no idea why, because Katherine de Valois! Jeanne d'Arc!  But I think I'm just too eager to get to Margaret of Anjou, and the wars, and I have to admit that I'm disappointed in myself.

I have been variously dipping into a couple of the Georgian books, but not actually finishing them, and during a recent visit to a library that is not the one I work for, I borrowed what is technically the first of the Tudor saga, Uneasy Lies the Head, but which I tend to think of as I'm reading it as the end of the Plantaganet Saga, even though I was trying really, really hard to read them properly in order.  But see above re finding EfTW frustrating.

I've now bought Red Rose of Anjou, but ULtH needs to go back to the library fairly shortly, (actually, I have, just this moment, renewed it online) so unless I decide to be good and go back, yet again, to EfTW, I'll be working my way through the book of the first Tudor king.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Wednesday Reads - 11th May, 2016

What I just finished reading: 
The Tangled Thread - Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.  Book 10 of the Morland Chronicles.

The Emperor - Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.  Book 11 of the Morland Chronicles

What I'm reading now:
The Victory - Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.  I think this one is heading for Nelson's victory at Trafalgar? On, you know, the HMS Victory.

Red Rose, White Rose -  Joanna Hickson.  About Cicely Neville, wife of Richard of York, and mother of Edward IV and Richard III.

Stormbird - Conn Iggulden.  First historical in a long, long while that I've read written by a male author.  First of his Wars of the Roses quartet.

Cecily's King Richard - Sandra Heath Wilson.  Trainwreck reading.  A horrifyingly bad book about the daughters of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, and their apparent sexual obsession with their uncle, Richard III.  No, I do not know WHY I'm still reading this dreck.

Uneasy lies the head - Jean Plaidy.  Because Harrod-Eagles aside, I'm apparently reading across the entire Wars of the Roses period all at once.

What I'll read next:
The Regency - Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.  Book 12 of the Morland Chronicles

Eden Falls - Jane Sanderson.  Final of the Netherwood series.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Morland Chronicles #9, "The Flood-Tide" (and Hamilton)

It's the War of Independence and the Morlands!

One of the things this book is really good at is demonstrating the length of the war, and the uncertainty of it all.  That said, of course it's very much from the British point of view, but that didn't stop me singing "The world turned upside down" at the end of the Battle of Yorktown.

I really wanted this review to be peppered with Hamilton quotes. I've been listening to this musical since the moment the soundtrack was announced and I love it to pieces, but I'm just not creative enough to drop bits and pieces in as easily as I'd like.

That said - Charles' story was poignant.  Calculated to appeal to the British reader, but also very interesting, and something I hadn't so much thought of.  It wasn't only the British who were threatening to kill friends and family...

William's plot may convince me to read Patrick O'Brien and other Age of Sail authors.  I was so sad about poor dear Charlotte, but William has a wonderful story... of guns and ships. And oh, Thomas - you see, this is the problem with writing the review two books later: I forgot Thomas!  Key to the battle of Yorktown, where the world turned upside down, for Charles, for Flora (for the other Charles...)

Next up: the French Revolution and The Tangled Thread - everyone give it up for America's favourite fighting Frenchman!

(Maybe I didn't do so badly on the Hamilton quotes after all.)

Monday, 2 May 2016

Monday night Morlands...

I'm now halfway through book 11, The Emperor.  I haven't yet written my reviews of The Flood-Tide and The Tangled Thread, in part because I feel like they ought to be infused with the lyrics of "Hamilton" and "Les Miserables" respectively (even though we haven't even reached the time period of "Les Miserables" - perhaps I should save those lyrics for then...)

Meanwhile, here are some tweets from the last 200 or so pages of The Tangled Thread:

As for The Emperor: Mary is wonderful, Lucy is wonderful... this particular generations of Morlands are just brilliant.  It almost makes up for the generations of utter sods I've had to put up with.  I kind of want  fic where Lucy and Mary meet Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth...) And Heloise is just delightful, and has been since A Tangled Thread.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Review: "By Winter's Light", by Stephanie Laurens

I actually still have two first generation Cynster books left to read (the final two sisters), but this one
is something of a transitional book between the first and second generation.  It comes before the latest two that I've read and is referenced in the first of those - The Tempting of  Thomas Carrick.

In many ways the plot of By Winter's Light is slight.  The action takes place across only a couple of days, there is a great deal of feasting and merry-making, and most of the actual drama is unrelated to the romance, which is basically about Claire sorting out her own thoughts in her head.  As I finished it, I thought to myself, 'If Laurens wrote Chalet School fiction, this would be it.' There's a group of young people trapped in a cottage by a snowstorm, and on another occasion, a number of children play on an icy stream, with not-unexpected dramatic results.

It's a Christmas story, and a gathering of the clans, and the romance isn't even among the Cynsters themselves, but between the tutor of Alastair and Phyllida's sons, and the governess of Gabriel and Alathea's daughter.  The setting at Casphairn Manor (seat of Catriona) allows for a totally snowed in  Christmas tale, and sets the scene beautifully for the next two novels (focused on the eldest twins of Catriona and Richard - Lucilla and Marcus).

The romance is satisfying, and even when the main characters are not aristocrats but "members of the household", Laurens' heroines still get to have sex before getting married. (Although in this case that's less of a shock to the standards of the day, as Claire is a widow.)

I don't think missing this book would do anyone any harm in terms of understanding the rest of the series, but it was a lovely, light read, well suited to reading over a couple of days while still sick in bed.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Wednesday Reads - 20 April 2016

It's just a tad late, even though I had it started on Monday...  Also, I've been off work sick since last Thursday, which has meant a lot of reading, some of it via Audiobook.

What I've just finished reading:
The Flood-Tide by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles - this was the American War of Independence book, and very interesting I found it.  Still working on the review post, because I keep getting distracted into singing lines from "Hamilton".

Ravenscliffe, by Jane Sanderson - second of the "Netherwood" series, I really enjoyed this.  They're light and relatively undemanding, but the mining elements are fascinating.  Not sure what I'm going to make of the next one, Eden Falls, as I really dislike Eve's brother Silas who would seem to be featuring even more in that book.

The Taming of Marcus Cynster, by Stephanie Laurens - this one has lain fallow beside my bed, almost finished, for while now, but I got back into it rather easily this morning when I picked it up again.  Niniver is a marvellous addition to the Cynster extended family, and the beginning of the book absolutely grabbed me by the throat.

What I'm reading now:
The Tangled Thread by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles - next of the Chronicles, this one focusing on the French Revolution, and the "tangled thread" that is the Annunciata-descended illegitimate line.

The Queen's Choice by Anne O'Brien - Joan of Navarre. I'm probably 75% through this one already.  Really liking Anne O'Brien recently.

Marie Antoinette, by Antonia Fraser, eAudiobook via Bolinda Borrowbox - on Wednesday and, to a lesser extent, today, I had such a bad headache I couldn't read, so I went looking for an audiobook.  Unfortunately this was the best that I could do, but Antoinette is in the background of my current Harrod-Eagles, and the reader is lovely to listen to.

What I'll read next:
The Emperor by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles - assuming that I haven't sickened of the series again yet
By Winter's Light, by Stephanie Laurens - a 'between-the-generations' Cynster that I've had sitting around for a while now.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Reading the Morlands #8, The Maiden - concluded.

Poor Jemima.  She had such a rotten life for so long.  I still feel a little sorry for Lady Mary, but she was so unbending.  Not that Marie-Louise helped the situation one little bit...  (Annunciata fatigue has transferred to the younger generations.)

Loved the inclusion of Handel and Maurice going to Dublin, although I do wish he'd been a better father to Rupert. Although I know Jemima was perfectly happy to not be the Countess of Chelmsford any longer, it did make me annoyed that she loses everything when he dies.  Bah!  

When I finished The Maiden I went straight into The Flood-Tide, and as I'm writing this review I've almost finished that one as well, and need to put the next one on hold from the library.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Wednesday Reads - 13 April 2016

What I just finished reading:
The Maiden -  Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.  And by "just finished", I mean in the last half hour.

What I'm currently reading:
I've started The Flood-Tide already, which is the next book in the Morland Chronicles.
Glittering Images, by Susan Howatch
Still working on Epitaph for Three Women, by Jean Plaidy

What I'll read next:
All the other things I'm still in the middle of.
The Tangled Thread, which is the next Morland after the one I'm reading now. 

Friday, 8 April 2016

Books read in January/February 2016

I really haven't been reading much this year.  As proof, have my "books completed Jan-Mar" Project Life layout... (It says Jan-Feb, because I didn't finish any books in March.)  But I'm planning to get back to reading now.  I have to, or my TBR pile will overwhelm me.

Loving Rose: the Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair (Stephanie Laurens) - I honestly didn't remember who Malcolm Sinclair was, although as I was reading I knew I should know him.  It had been a long time since I read any Laurens, and I think this one may have reignited my love of Laurens.

Netherwood (Jane Sanderson) - This one has a sticker on the front saying "For fans of Downton Abbey" (or something like that).  It's set prior to the Downton era (Edwardian era, late 1890s), and very far from what's going on in London, but I'm really quite enjoying it.  The working class aspect of the story is less likely for this genre, but I really appreciate it.  

The Kingmaker's Daughter (Philippa Gregory) - Oh, my.  I do NOT agree with Gregory's view of Anne Neville in this book.  On the other hand, having read the first three books in this sequence, I suspect the genius of Gregory is her ability to get inside the skin of her major characters - because Jaquetta in Lady of the Rivers and Margaret Beaufort in The Red Queen are the same.  I'm looking forward to The White Princess now.

The Tempting of Thomas Carrick (Stephanie Laurens) - There's at least one Cynster I've missed (By Winter's Light) which apparently contains the first meeting of Thomas Carrick and his feted partner, Lucinda Cynster, daughter of Catriona, the Lady of the Vale.  Lucinda is awesome, and kickass, and Thomas gets there eventually.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Reading the Morlands #8 "The Maiden", pt 1

I have begun reading The Maiden, book 8 in the Morland Chronicles.  Annunciata is, would you believe, still alive!  And still meddling.  That said, she's enough in the background (as she eventually was in The Chevalier that she's not annoying me as much as she was. Although I still think there's just generally far too much Annunciata. That said, clearly Harrod-Eagles loves the Stuart/Hanoverian era, whereas it's never been one of my favourites (despite my totally having an interest in Queen Anne.)

Where I'm up to right now: Jemima Morland has been introduced - I know from looking at the blurbs of other books that she's the next key character: she at least gets the next book, although I don't think she's quite the next Annunciata.  Annunciata's granddaughter Mary-Lousie is a spoiled pain in the neck, and I feel so awful for the misunderstandings that have simply plagued the relationship of Jemmy and Lady Mary Holles.  I so wanted Jemmy and Mary to have a good marriage, and although the hideous Lady Derby has finally been dismissed, the damage has been done, and I'm terribly sad about it.

I will say I'm wondering what ever happened to the American Morlands - there's been nothing about them in the last few books.  And from where we last left them, they may well have died.  But I hope they'll be back as we get into the rule of George III (and if I've been uncomfortable with being a Protestant reading a very pro-Catholic story, imagine me reading about the American Revolution from the British side.  There will be a great deal of singing of "Hamilton" lyrics as I read, I imagine.)

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Wednesday reads - 6 April 2016

What I've just finished reading...
The Chevalier, by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

What I'm reading now...
The Maiden, by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Glittering Images, by Susan Howatch (re-read)
Ravenscliffe, by Jane Sanderson

What I'm going to read next...
By Winter's Light, by Stephanie Laurens
The Queen's Choice, by Anne O'Brien (recommence)
Blood Sisters, by Sarah Gristwood (recommence)

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Reading the Morlands, #7 - "The Chevalier"

Back in February last year, I gave up somewhere in the first fifty pages of The Chevalier due to The Chevalier again when I was about to go away for a weekend, and ploughed through to the point where Annunciata is now mostly offstage.

I am clearly suffering from Annunciata-fatigue.  It is clear that Harrod-Eagles is fascinated by her creation in Annunciata Morland, and to an extent I can understand why: her royal blood, her beauty and her string of husbands make for good fiction, but she's taken over the series in a way I find tiring.  I am so very over her, and it was only with a bit of perseverance that I picked up

Once she was offstage, I sped through the book in about three days. Maurice was a fabulous character to introduce: his connections with Scarlatti and Handel, and as a Vivaldi analogy through his second marriage were a lovely thing to bring in, especially Handel, and Maurice's ability to navigate Stuart and Hanoverian politics.  Karellie had his own sweetness, and Diane was lovely in her steadfastness.  I am starting to worry about all the men who marry women they've known since the woman was a small child, though. 

As to the other characters - I find the hints of Electress Sofie fascinating, given where the succession will go: India Neville (a one-liner indicates that she is probably one of "those Nevilles" although I haven't attempted to look at whether that's possible or not) was horrible, and I feel so sorry for poor Matt - but also for Davey and what he felt driven to.

I've already started the next book in the saga, The Maiden, and have the one after that on reserve from the library.  I am apparently back in the groove, Annunciata-fatigue or not.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Wednesday reads... 17 Feb 2016

And then I realised that it was Wednesday...

What I've just finished reading:
The Kingmaker's Daughter, by Philippa Gregory
Netherwood, by Jane Sanderson
The Tempting of Thomas Carrick. by Stephanie Laurens
The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo

What I'm reading now:
The Queen's Choice, by Anne O'Brien
Epitaph for Three Women,  by Jean Plaidy
Blood Sisters: the hidden lives of the women behind the Wars of the Roses, by Sarah Gristwood
A Match for Marcus Cynster, by Stephanie Laurens

What I plan to read next:
The Virgin Widow, by Anne O'Brien
By Winter's Light, by Stephanie Laurens
The White Princess, by Philippa Gregory

And all of a sudden, I'm back into the historical fiction in a big way.  Laurens and Gregory have captured my imagination (with Gristwood as a non-fiction addition.)

Choices, choices.

Have I really not posted here since last June?  I'm so sorry!

I finished Philippa Gregory's "The Kingmaker's Daughter" today. I have many many thoughts on this book, and hope to get to writing a review of this book very soon. Meanwhile, the choice for next read is between:
- the next in Gregory's Cousin's War series, "The White Princess"
- Anne O'Brien's Anne of Warwick novel, "The Virgin Widow", or
- the Anne O'Brien I have from the library, "The Queen's Choice", which is a two-generation jump backwards to Joanna of Navarre. 

Also I just bought Sarah Gristwood's "Blood Sisters", a non-fiction book about a number of the women involved in the Cousins' War.