HanGerg Reads Less Randomly in 2015

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HanGerg Reads Less Randomly in 2015

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Editado: Ene 13, 2016, 4:42pm

The beautiful valley of La Masca in Tenerife, where we did a lovely day of trekking in 2014

Hi, welcome to my 2015 thread. Pull up a stool and help yourself to a Hungarian Christmas pastry, in fact take two, no really, I insist, I've had too many already...

So, this year will be more of the usual - plenty of Sci-Fi, a fair amount of Contemporary Literary fiction, a few random things which are going cheap for my new Kindle... that kind of stuff. But also, I have devised a weird hybrid reading challenge for myself, about which, more below.

But first....

2014 Reads of the Year

Virginia Woolf - Hermione Lee
The Wind-Up Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
Bring Up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel
The Girl With All the Gifts - M. R. Carey

Editado: Ene 8, 2016, 8:26am

Books Read

1.The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett (Kindle Edition) 4/5 Reread
2.We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler (Kindle Edition) 4/5
3.Chance: Documents of Contemporary Art - Margaret Iverson 3.5/5
4.Take Back Plenty - Colin Greenland 3/5
5.Defender - C.J.Cherryh 4/5

6.Hiero's Journey - Sterling E. Lanier 4/5
7.Proust Was a Neuroscientist - Jonah Lehrer 3.5/5
8.The Hell of It All - Charlie Brooker 3/5
9.The Man Who Was Thursday - G.K.Chesterton 3/5
10.Wreckage - Emily Bleeker (Kindle Edition) 3/5
11.Moon Over Soho - Ben Aaronovitch 3.5/5
12.Invitation to the Waltz - Rosamond Lehmann 4.5/5
13.Explorer - C.J.Cherryh 4.5/5

14.The Warden - Anthony Trollope 4/5
15.They F*** You Up: How To Survive Family Life - Oliver James 2.5/5
16.Non-Stop - Brian Aldiss 4.5/5
17.Night and Day - Virginia Woolf 4/5
18. The Coming Race - Edward Bulwer-Lytton (Kindle Edition) 2.5/5
19.Annihilation - Jeff VanderMeer 4.5/5
20.The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett 4/5 Reread

21.Destroyer - C.J.Cherryh 4.5/5
22.The Unknown Ajax - Georgette Heyer 4/5
23.Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett 4/5 Reread
24.The Unforsaken Hiero - Sterling E. Lanier 4/5
25.How To Build a Girl - Caitlin Moran 3.5/5
26.Vurt - Jeff Noon 4.5/5

27.Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky (Kindle Edition) 4/5
28.Rimrunners - C.J.Cherryh 3.5/5
29.Guards! Guards! - Terry Pratchett 4/5 Reread
30.Last Exit to Brooklyn - Hubert Selby Jr. 3/5
31.Ring For Jeeves - P.G.Wodehouse 4/5
32.The Forever War - Joe Haldeman 4/5
33.The Common Reader: Second Series - Virginia Woolf 2.5/5

34.Brasyl - Ian McDonald 4.5/5
35.What To Buy For Your Baby - Liat Hughes Joshi and Caroline Cosgrove 4/5
36.Lorna Doone - R.D.Blackmore (Kindle Edition) 3/5

37. Icehenge - Kim Stanley Robinson 4.5/5
38. We - Yevgeny Zamyatin (Kindle Edition) 4/5
39.Room - Emma Donoghue 4/5
40.Cyteen - C.J.Cherryh 5/5
41.The Baby Book: How to Enjoy Year One - Rachel Waddilove 3.5/5
42.Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont - Elizabeth Taylor 4/5

43.The Circle - Dave Eggers 3.5/5
44.Acorna's Quest - Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball 2/5
45.Pretender - C.J.Cherryh 4/5
46.Conflict of Honours - Sharon Lee and Steve Miller 3.5/5

47.Agent of Change - Sharon Lee and Steve Miller 4/5 Reread
48.Carpe Diem - Sharon Lee and Steve Miller 4.5/5
49.The Borribles - Michael de Larrabeiti 3/5

50.The Borribles Go For Broke - Michael de Larrabeiti 3.5/5
51.Authority - Jeff VanderMeer 4/5
52.Acceptance - Jeff VanderMeer 3.5/5
53.The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling 4/5

54.Deliverer - C.J.Cherryh 4/5
55.Across the Dark Metropolis - Michael de Larrabeiti 2.5/5
56.Erewhon - Samuel Butler 3/5
57.Whispers Underground - Ben Aaronovitch 3.5/5
58.There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbour's Baby - Ludmilla Petrushevskaya 4/5

59.Queen Lucia - EF Benson 4.5/5
60.Death and the Penguin - Andrey Kurkov 4.5/5
61.Ghettoside:Investigating a Homicide Epidemic - Jill Leovy 5/5
62.Conspirator - C.J.Cherryh 4.5/5

Books Bought

1.Icehenge - Kim Stanley Robinson (Bury Market) READ
2.Once a Hero - Elizabeth Moon (Bury Market)
3.Defender - C.J.Cherryh (via Amazon Traders) READ
4.The Common Reader: Second Series - Virginia Woolf (Didsbury Bookshop) READ
5.The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood (Cancer Research shop, Chester)

6.Moon Over Soho - Ben Aaronovitch (Blackwells, Manchester) READ
7.Explorer - C.J.Cherryh (via Amazon Traders) READ
8.The Unforsaken Hiero - Sterling E. Lanier (via Amazon Traders) READ
9.The Great Fortune - Olivia Manning (Snowden Books, Bangor)
10.The Coming Race - Edward Bulwer-Lytton (Kindle Edition) READ
11.The Day of The Triffids - John Wyndham (Kindle Edition)
12.The Herland Trilogy - Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Kindle Edition)
13.Lorna Doone - R.D.Blackmore (Kindle Edition)
14.Erewhon Revisted - Samuel Butler (Kindle Edition)
15.Little Women - Louise May Alcott (Kindle Edition)

16.They F*** You Up: How To Survive Family Life - Oliver James (Oxfam Books, Chorlton) READ
17.My Next Bride - Kay Boyle (Oxfam Books, Chorlton)
18.Artists' Journals and Sketchbooks:Exploring and Creating Personal Pages - Lynne Perrella (Oxfam Books, Chorlton)
19.Your Babycare Bible - A.J.R. Waterston (Oxfam Books, Chorlton)
20.Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie (Paramount Books, Manchester)
21.The Two of Them - Joanna Russ (Paramount Books, Manchester)
22.Destroyer - C.J.Cherryh (via Amazon Traders) READ
23.What Makes This Book So Great - Jo Walton (via Amazon Traders)
24.Rimrunners - C.J.Cherryh (Bookmooch) READ

25.How To Build a Girl - Caitlin Moran (Given away free at her live show) READ
26.We - Yevgeny Zamyatin (Kindle Edition) READ
27.In Search of Lost Time Volumes 1-7 - Marcel Proust (Kindle Edition)


28.Room - Emma Donoghue (Oxfam Books, Exeter) READ

29.Pretender - C.J.Cherryh (via Amazon Traders) READ
30.Partners in Necessity - Sharon Lee (via Amazon Traders)

Editado: Ene 8, 2016, 8:28am

So, this is how the reading is going to be less random this year. I have combined the challenge to read a book from each of the last 150 years with the Guardian's list of 1000 books everyone must read, when I realised I'd only read about 10% of the list, and most of those from the Sci-Fi section. So this is my effort to educate myself in the classics a little more. I don't suppose I'll get it all done this year. 50 books crossed off by the end of the year will be a very ambitious target for me.

Books with a star next to them I already own, so I guess they will be read first. Years with multiple books mean I'm tempted by more than one and haven't made up my mind which it will be. Recommendations to help whittle it down very welcome. Years that are blank mean I haven't found a book I like the sound of for that year. Recommendations for any books published in those years would be exceedingly helpful!

1865 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
1866 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky* READ 4/5
1867 The Last Chronicle of Barset - Anthony Trollope *
1868 Little Women - Louisa May Alcott *
1869 Lorna Doone - RD Blackmore */> READ 3/5
1870 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne
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
1874 Middlemarch - George Elliot
1875: The Crime of Father Amaro - José Maria de Eça de Queiroz
1876 Daniel Deronda - George Eliot
1877 L'Assommoir - Emile Zola
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
1882 The Prince and the Pauper - Mark Twain
1883 Treasure Island - R. L. Stevenson
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
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
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
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 Burroughs
1913 Sons and Lovers - DH Lawrence / Remembrance of Things Past - Marcel Proust *
1914 The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - Robert Tressell
1915 Pointed Roofs - Dorothy Richardson / Herland - Charlotte Perkins Gilman * / 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
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 Nin - 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
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
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 * /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 / 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
2001 American Gods - Neil Gaiman / 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
2014 The Goblin Emperor - Katherine Addison
2015 The Just City - Jo Walton

Dic 27, 2014, 4:50pm

Welcome back!

Dic 27, 2014, 5:12pm

mmmm...Hungarian pastries :-) I'm excited you have some Hungarian books too! Do you have a favorite?

Dic 27, 2014, 5:21pm

Starred you Hannah!

Editado: Dic 28, 2014, 8:14am

Thanks Jim, and welcome back Rhian!

Hi Jennifer! Yes, I have some interest in Hungarian fiction (and non-fiction, actually). I lived there for 5 years, speak a little smattering of the fiendish language, and make regular trips there as my husband is Hungarian. Also, I do find the culture interesting (although don't get my started on the political situation there recently - yikes!)
What is you interest in things Hungarian, I wonder?
As for writers, Antal Szerb is a firm favourite with Hungarians themselves, but for me, I rather favour the darkly comic and ludicrous short stories of István Örkény. Hungarian poetry is something I have long wanted to know more about too, so last summer I bought myself a book of poems by the tragic Miklós Radnóti - I'll get round to reading that this year if I'm lucky.

Dic 28, 2014, 2:45pm

Starred and looking forward to following your 2015 reading! How do you feel about Magda Szabó? I'll be reading The Door at some point in the coming year.

Dic 28, 2014, 3:48pm

>7 HanGerg: My dad's family is Hungarian, and we traveled to Budapest this summer. Hopefully the first trip of many, as it was only a couple of days and really just whet my appetite (literally and figuratively :-) ). Outside of British literature, I haven't read many European authors and so I'd love to branch out this year. Thanks for the suggestions!

Dic 29, 2014, 8:24pm

Hi Hannah. I'm not one to turn down free food! I hope 2015 is full of many shiny books!

Dic 29, 2014, 9:22pm

Hannah I am looking forward to more of your artistic input into the life of the group in 2015.

Dic 30, 2014, 8:20am

Welcome back Hannah!

Dic 31, 2014, 4:13pm

Hi Hannah. I've starred your thread...I lived in Hungary for five years, and have several Hungarian books I've been meaning to read. Hope 2015 is a great reading year for you!

Dic 31, 2014, 10:09pm


Happy New Year from your friend in Kuala Lumpur

Ene 1, 2015, 12:10am

Ene 1, 2015, 2:12pm

Happy New Year, Hannah!

Ene 1, 2015, 5:10pm

Happy New Year, Hannah!

Editado: Ene 4, 2015, 3:11pm

Ah wow, thanks everyone for popping in, and the Happy New Year wishes! Sorry I didn't get around to sending wishes back, but I was in the wilds of Yorkshire for two nights over New Years, staying at a friend's house, and then no sooner did I arrive back into Manchester than my mum arrived for a hastily arranged visit, so I have hardly stopped since 2015 began! Tomorrow I'm off to start my artist's residency at the cool arts centre in Salford, so I won't have much time for posting next week either! I'll be back after that with pictures of all the arty shenanigans plus more updates, but until then I hope 2015 is off to a great start for all of you!

Ene 4, 2015, 3:14pm

>18 HanGerg: Enjoy your arty shenanigans Hannah!

Ene 4, 2015, 3:21pm

Arty shenanigans sound great, I hope you have a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Ene 7, 2015, 7:19am

Looking forward to photos of arty shenanigans! Best wishes!

Ene 10, 2015, 6:53am

Thanks so much for the good wishes Heather, Jenny and Kerri! The residency is going pretty well so far. I don't think I've created any masterpieces, but the process has been so interesting and given me so many new ideas, and that was always the aim - to broaden my artistic horizons a bit. The whole thing will culminate in an exhibition/party on Tuesday night, and the Facebook event page I've created for it is already filling up with people I kind of know, and some I don't at all, which is rather scary. I was just going to invite my friends but it seems it has generated a bit of interest beyond that, which is gratifying but also a little intimidating! I'll be back with lots of pictures once I've got over that!

Ene 11, 2015, 3:04am

I'm just skimming and starring but had to stop and say that Ready Player One is fantastic, and if you do audio and want a re-read/listen, Wil Wheaton's narration is so good.

Ene 14, 2015, 11:21am

RPO is a lot of fun!

Feb 2, 2015, 9:05am

Oh man, sorry everyone, I've been totally remiss in my LT duties so far this year. And the art residency is long over (it went well, more details WILL follow soon HONESTLY! ) so that's no longer an excuse. 2015 just seems to have got off to a hectic start! I have a few largish work projects in the pipeline keeping me busy, so that's partly my excuse, but really I must do better! And now I'm sooo behind on everyone's threads as well, I really have no idea what you've all been up to! But I promise to catch up soon!
On the plus side, I have started the year with (by my standards) quite a lot of reading. I've just finished book number 6, which still leaves me off target for 75, but not by much, and I think I could up the pace a little. Also, I've noticed that I seem to speed through books in no time at all when they're on my Kindle. Has anyone else noticed this?
Ok, so I will be back soon to write reviews and hopefully catch up on a few threads, but I just wanted to pop by and assure everyone I am OK, and still around, even if I never actually stay long enough to make a contribution. Ok, more soon I promise! In the meantime, I hope 2015 is off to a good start for you all!

Feb 3, 2015, 1:53pm

>25 HanGerg: Glad to see you back! I don't think I read any faster on my kindle but it does give me the opportunity to read in 'dead time' like at the doctor's.

Feb 3, 2015, 7:17pm

Good to see you here, Hannah!

Feb 10, 2015, 5:10am

Waving hi, good to hear that the residency went well.

Editado: Feb 10, 2015, 4:09pm

Hi everyone, and especially Heather, Roni and Kerry. Thanks for checking in on me when I'm being so uncommunicative. Ok, so part of the problem was I promised photos of my residency, and I knew that would involve some fiddly image re-sizing on Photoshop so that somehow, in my head, became a big hurdle to overcome. (I know, but cold weather makes me sluggish- at least, that's my excuse). Anyway, I have now done that, so on with the pictures, and then all the reviews I owe!! (Maybe not all at once, we'll see how long this burst of energy lasts)

So, my residency at the local cool and trendy arts venue "Islington Mill", back at the beginning of January. I was there in their downstairs gallery space for just over a week, making new work that aimed to be experimental and stretch me a bit, but then I also wanted to put on a show at the end, which I did. In hindsight, expecting yourself to make enough good work to fill a show in a week, especially when you are trying new things, was perhaps a touch ambitious, but everyone that came to the show I think realised this, and was very complimentary about the work, even though not all of it was successful, imo. Anyway, I tried lots of different stuff - some junk modelling, some collaborative painting, some weird stuff with old toys, but I won't bore you with all the details. I'll just show you the stuff that I think was the most successful. My main interest for the show was unexpected results, and also accidental mark making, which was where my "floor paintings" came from. I got the idea to paint onto canvas, (and also a sort of rubber mat thing, but that was a kind of last minute decision), and then tape it to the floor for everyone that came into the space for a week to walk on, hopefully to scratch up the surface and produce some interesting marks. That didn't exactly happen, but they ended up getting marked in different ways I didn't foresee (which was the point, right?) and turned out pretty interesting anyway. Here they are:

Here's a detail of the one in the middle - the one that was on a rubber mat type material. It ripped at one point, so I fixed it with gaffa tape, which produced these interesting marks:

This was a smaller one, on canvas, which got covered in blue paint when another artist who was collaborating with me (and who made several crazy films about toys going on adventures as part of the experience) used it as a painting cloth while he painted some things blue.

And finally, this was also a collaboration with a sculptor, which I found truly fascinating, as she worked in a completely different way from me. It was her input to put the curtain sashes and the yellow paint on this, which I just love. (All I did really was paint the background and figure out a way to keep the sashes there when I hung it on the wall). I definitely want to try more stuff like this in the future.

Overall, I would say the residency went well. Some things - like the collaborative painting, didn't really work at all, but collaborating worked well in other ways. I liked the fact that what I was doing inspired another artist to make a series of short films, and the sculptor has also said she has started some new work based on what we did together, so that was really rewarding. I like the idea of blurring the line between artist and viewer - making the viewer a bit of a collaborator - and kind of bringing my "day job" of teaching people art into my art practise. And I think the floor paintings turned out very well. They have a fresh, contemporary feel that my work doesn't always have. I will certainly try more stuff like this in the future.

Ok, that's all my arty meanderings for now. Normal, bookish service will resume shortly.

Editado: Feb 11, 2015, 3:25pm

Ok, let's get on with those book reviews:

1. The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett 4/5 (Re-read)

So, I was a huge Pratchett fan back in my teens, and I read pretty much every Discworld novel I could get my hands on for several years. Discussions about Practchett here on LT, plus the recent Radio 4 version of Good Omens made me want to reaquaint myself with my teen favourite once again. Plus it was going cheap for the Kindle. I really enjoyed re-reading it now; the humour was pretty much as I remember it, although perhaps more subtle than I fully appreciated the first time around. I didn't really remember the story of this one that well, mainly the characters of Rincewind and the Luggage, who were a delight. The story was good fun too, poking fun at lots of fantasy tropes. I will probably continue with this series throughout the year, and I guess I better read them in order as poor Rincewind was rather left hanging (literally) at the end of this one, but I'm actually most looking forward to re-reading the ones with the marvellous witches in. All in all, a really enjoyable romp down memory lane. Note: this cover isn't actually the one of the kindle version I read, rather it's the cover of the original book that I sadly don't own anymore, so I choose it for nostalgic reasons. Note 2. On closer inspection, I see this is actually the Hungarian version of the book! This was an accident, but the fact that I have strong ties to Hungary makes it a rather amusing coincidence for me, so I'll leave it as it is.

2.We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler 4/5
This is one of the contemporary fiction novels about family life that seems to be everywhere I go, and which I quite liked the look of for some indefinable reason, so when I saw it going cheap on the Kindle, I grabbed it. (There's a bit of a theme developing here, isn't there?) It actually lived up to my expectations, although it wasn't at all the book I thought it would be. It is about family life, but this is a family with a very unique secret. It actually gets revealed fairly early into the book so it isn't like a big twist at the end kind of story, but at the same time the reader is urged not to spoil the secret for others, so I won't. Suffice to say, it was a rich and satisfying novel about how families deal with trauma, the fallibility of memory, especially childhood ones, and...lots of other stuff as well. An unusual but satisfying read.

3.Chance (Documents of Contemporary Art - Margaret Iverson 3.5/5
So this was my first attempt at reading some art theory, which is a medium term goal I've set myself after realising I'm very under read in this area. This is an area of art I'm particularly interested in in my own work, and as such this was tremendously useful and inspiring for me. However, it was also a difficult book to access in many regards, and I read it over the course of several months as it was so dense. Basically, it was a series of essays about various artist's work that have "Chance" as a major element. Chance has several definitions here, which are in themselves interesting - the idea of "chance" simply meaning - not entirely pre-planned, or accessing the sub-conscious intentions of the artist rather than their fully conscious ones, to art that is made by a process that tries to negate the human aspect as much as possible, e.g. a painting made by a machine, or painted according to a random set of instructions. There are artists who have attempted all of the above, and several variations of these as well. The essays really varied in quality and coherence. I'm beginning to discover that some people who write about art like to write like they're experimental poets or something, which isn't always helpful. Also, several of the entries were actually interviews with artists, and again, asking the most pretentious and convoluted question seems to be an ongoing competition. Also, my major quibble with this book is a very straightforward one; why no photos??? It seems odd to write about visual artworks without showing the work in question. I had to read the book in front of the computer so that I could google pictures as I read, which enhanced my experience considerably. This book is part of a long series on themes in contemporary art, and maybe the intention was to keep the cost down, but simple B&W photos would have sufficed in most cases. Overall, for me a very inspiring book, but only because the subject was one I already had a very strong interest in, I think anyone with a less intense interest may have really struggled.

Ok, up they go on the internet before the information black hole swallows them.

Feb 13, 2015, 9:32am

>29 HanGerg: Thanks for sharing your work from the residency - very cool! And I think the collaboration piece turned out well. That does sound like an incredibly hectic set-up/timeline though.

>30 HanGerg: Helpful comments on We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. This is one I've been curious about, and I think I'll seek out the audiobook.

Feb 13, 2015, 9:47am

Hi Hannah! Thanks for the update on the residency. I really don't know much about art, but what you worked on looks cool!

Your post reminded me that I too want to get back into Discworld.

Editado: Oct 25, 2015, 5:59am

Hi Kerri and Kriti! Thanks your your kind comments about my artworks. Oh course, I've hardly made any new art since the end of that show, as I've been a bit busy with the other side of my life - the side that actually generates some money, helping to plan and then run workshops of kids craft activities in a local library, and also doing some community consultation and taking photos for a mural project that is going to liven up a newly opened local walkway. Both fun projects, but I'm glad the craft activities one is over now, so I can have some time to focus on my own stuff.

Ok, so some more reviews are definitely due:

4.Take Back Plenty - Colin Greenland 3/5
I picked this up at the local library pretty much at random, mainly because it is in the SF masterworks series which is usually a fail safe badge of quality, but I thought this book was only partially successful. It's about a feisty young heroine, her unique sentient spaceship, and a curious group of actors/theives/con artists that they unwisely agree to transport. It was a really fun romping adventure kind of book, with lots of action set pieces and layers of intrigue, plus an interesting structure where alternating chapters are the main character fleshing out her back story in chats with her spaceship, but somehow it never completely won me over. It wasn't quite energetic enough to be a zany adventure, and not quite serious enough to hint at a wider or more profound meaning. The stop start structure also meant the momentum sagged a little at times. Full of fun ideas though, so not a total write off.

5.Defender - C.J.Cherryh 4/5
The fifth novel in Cherryh's "Foreigner" series, and I am well and truly hooked now. It's not that each one is furiously compelling, because some of them, like this one, are really just filling in the gaps between moments in the overarching story that are more critical, but they are still all highly enjoyable. Maybe it's because this is kind of unchartered territory where few other authors have gone, to my knowledge; an alien race and humans, sharing the alien's planet and actually, after an initial conflict, trying their hardest to somehow make it WORK and to strive for mutual understanding. There's still a pretty long way to go, but Cherryh's brilliant way with characterisation means that even when the action slackens the journey is never less than fascinating.

6.Hiero's Journey - Sterling Lanier 4/5
I got hold of a copy of this, and have the second part on the way, as our own dear Lucy is writing the third part of this unfinished trilogy. This first part introduces us to a strange and thrilling far distant future world that has taken a very bizarre fork in the road ever since a nuclear apocalypse forever altered all life on the planet. The world is now populated by huge and terrifying creatures, weird mutant hybrids and worst of all, human that have developed awesome powers of mind control and telepathy. Human settlements are fairly few and far between, and are protected by priests from a far future Christian sect, who are kind of the good equivalents of the evil telepaths. Our hero is one such warrior priest who has been sent on a quest to try and find some historical weapons that will help the forces of good triumph over the seemingly much stronger forces of evil. If this all sounds a bit fantastical and magical, the novel does have a weird hybrid style of far future SF/Fantasy going on, that at first feels a bit strange but actually succeeds really well once you get into it. Throw in some brilliant travelling companions acquired along the way, some truly terrifying and ever stranger perils to overcome and lots of thrilling set pieces, and you have a really fun story that raises a few interesting questions about human nature and some before-its-time messages about ecology too. Great stuff.

Feb 26, 2015, 9:25pm

THRILLED with your review of Hiero, Hannah! Lovely. Sterling would have loved it.

As I plod through the rewrite, it's very helpful and kind of inspiring (but also scary) to know you are out there, ready to read whatever I've come up with!

Love the floor work. My husband once did a whole series where he ran various cars over pages of a book. I'm sure we still have it somewhere. Yes, book on chance with no pix seems .... well . .. . so low budget as to be almost pointless?

Mar 7, 2015, 7:06am

>29 HanGerg: Thanks for sharing some more pictures of your artwork Hannah.

>33 HanGerg: Great review of Hiero's Journey and I love that retro cover.

Mar 13, 2015, 8:45am

I came back to gloat over your review and rev myself up for work today - just finished swashbuckle revision of Chapter 17 - so two to go plus a brief epilogue! I wrote these last two chapter in a desperate frenzy to make it to the end, so they are going to be hard work! Daunting!

Mar 14, 2015, 8:58am

Woo Hoo! Progress! How exciting! Glad the review is providing some positive energy - I truly did really enjoy it. I have the second part safely tucked near the top of mount TBR and will get to it shortly.

Editado: Mar 14, 2015, 9:59am

Wow, I've been such a bad correspondent this year. It started off busy but lately I've had more time on my hands, so there is really no excuse. Perhaps it's that I'm feeling unsettled - my husband's three year contract as a researcher is coming to an end (I know! Where did the time go, right?), and our future looks very uncertain. He needs to get another job ASAP, but it's such a tough time to be looking for jobs in academia at the moment. He keeps saying how when he started down this road towards becoming an academic, jobs were so much easier to come by - the implication being he wouldn't have started if he'd known how tough it would get.
The situation has altered so much because of recent changes to how higher education is funded, meaning money is tight everywhere and the fact that institutions are rewarded for pumping out more and more PhDs regardless of whether there are any jobs for them, so you have a toxic mix of not enough jobs and too many candidates. He should be standing head and shoulders above the crowd with his track record of getting published and everything else - but recent job applications haven't even resulted in interviews. It seems there's nearly always a well placed internal candidate lurking whenever a promising job comes up.
Anyway, I'm just moaning now, but it's tough. His confidence has taken quite a knock, and we keep talking about plan B (opening some kind of eatery, as he is such a brilliant home cook). Having grown up in a family of caterers I don't think that life would really suit him, and academia is where his heart really lies, but it just seems so hopeless sometimes. At the moment the plan is probably to quit Manchester in a couple of months and move in with my uncle back down in North Devon, as he is alone in a big house and could do with some company anyway, so that would give us chance to save some rent money towards a move to...??? Wherever the next job is, if there is one. This should be the time when the few jobs that will become available are advertised, so what happens in the next few weeks is crucial. And on the positive side, there is a faint glimmer of hope in the form of a colleague at another institution that is going on maternity leave and has recommended him to be her replacement, but that is all very tenuous and may yet not result in anything, and may only be a few months work if it does happen. Plus the institution is kind of isolated and hard to reach so not ideal for moving to etc. That's the best hope so far and may yet have more long reaching positive results, but I don't want to jinx it by saying too much, and besides they have been very cagey about promising anything, to the extent that nothing is even in writing anywhere, just informal talks, so could collapse at any moment. So, as I said, lots of uncertainty and big changes afoot whatever happens...
So, that's my reasoning for not be on LT more. It's not a good excuse, but it's the best I've got!

Right, back to books. I have been meaning for some time to appeal for some help with selecting books. At the top of this thread I have outlined my plan to try and read a book from each of the last 150 years, and as a twist, each book was selected from the Guardian list of 1000 books everyone must read. Link: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/jan/23/bestbooks-fiction. So, that was my plan and so far it's going well, but the trouble is that not every year in my challenge has a corresponding book that I want to read, so I have big gaps in my list. So, I was hoping that all the lovely LT-ers could chip in with some recommended reads for that year. Without further ado, here are the years I need suggestions for:


As you can see, years are pretty clearly grouped towards the beginning and end of my timeframe. The list was actually complied in 2009, so that's one obvious reason why the later years have a lot of gaps. I'm not sure why the 1880's appear to be such a literary black hole, but I have great faith that you will all have some brilliant suggestions. Please feel free to chip in with any thoughts - I really don't mind what genre as long as it's fiction - the whole point of setting myself this challenge was to broaden my reading horizons and give me a better grounding in the classics, but anything will be considered!

Mar 16, 2015, 3:44am

>38 HanGerg: Sorry to hear real life is so stressful and uncertain for you both at the moment :-( I do hope something turns up.

Re books, a quick look at my tags reveals the following suggestions for the missing years that are on the Guardian 1000 list:

1865 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
1873 - 1877 Tolstoy's Anna Karenina was published in instalments over this period so one book could knock off several years? (it is a very long book)
1877 Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
1883 Treasure Island by R. L. Stevenson
1884 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
1889 Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog by Jerome K. Jerome
1891 Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy or The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
1892 The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith
1897 Dracula by Bram Stoker
1926 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
1936 The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann / Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild / South Riding by Winifred Holtby / Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
1945 The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford / Animal Farm by George Orwell
2006 The Night Watch by Sarah Waters / The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Mar 16, 2015, 10:53am

Hi Hannah. I too am sorry that you're going through so much uncertainty and stress.

I read a lot of new books, so I'll take a stab at 2009-2015. They're going to be SFF, but they're all really good.

2009: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (I haven't read this one yet, but it won the Hugo).
2010: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
2011: Embassytown by China Mieville
2012: Redshirts by John Scalzi
2013: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
2014: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
2015: The Just City by Jo Walton

You could also take a look at award lists for the newer years (all of mine except 2014 and 2015, which aren't out yet, were Hugo-nominated).

Editado: Mar 16, 2015, 1:08pm

Thanks so much Heather and Kriti! I have read a few of these recommendations, but there's plenty here that can be slotted into my projected reading list, so from having 28 gaps I've now gone down to 13! Great stuff!
Heather; is this a search of your library? I must remember to tag books by year - so helpful for this sort of thing. I've discovered the Guradian list is here on LT, and a quick scroll down suggests pretty much all of the books you suggested are on the list - I just hadn't picked them out as there seems to be no way to search the list - either here or on the Guardian site, by year. It shows your library is very comprehensive though - kudos!
Kriti; thanks so much for chipping in with more recent suggestions! That was one bit of the list I thought I would really struggle with, and looking the books up, they all look great! I'm especially impressed that you have already found me a book to fulfil my 2015 requirement! I was anticipating having to wait until the end of this year at least to do that! Also, I was just saying over on Lucy's thread that I MUST read Ancillary Justice, so the fact that I can fit it into this reading challenge as well is great! (Btw, I have read The Windup Girl and heartily recommend it. It was one of my favourite reads of last year.)

Editado: Mar 16, 2015, 1:11pm

Ok, all of Heather and Kriti's recommendations have been slotted into my challenge list up top, so the revised list of years that still need a book is as follows;


Mar 16, 2015, 3:13pm

>41 HanGerg: Yes, those were from my library - I am nothing if not obsessive about tagging my books and they are tagged by year of publication and whether they were listed in the Guardian 1000 :-)

>40 kgodey: Those are all really good suggestions too. I hadn't mentioned anything for the later years as I wasn't sure what suggestions you wanted if not Guardian 1000 books. I just finished Ancillary Justice and thought it was really, really good (so, yes, you must read it). I wasn't so keen on Redshirts but I enjoyed all the others except for The Goblin Emperor and The Just City which are on my wishlist.

Ignoring books which aren't the first book in a series my suggestions for later years are:

2012: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (retelling of Rapunzel) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (young adult historical fiction about female pilots in WWII).

2010: Room by Emma Donoghue / Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism by Natasha Walter (if non-fiction counts) / Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

2009: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel / The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver / The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan

2006: Genesis by Bernard Beckett / The Observations by Jane Harris

For earlier years I couldn't see anything in my library published in those years that was also a Guardian 1000 book :-(

Mar 16, 2015, 7:19pm

>38 HanGerg: In a similar position, without the complication of another person's job/ life in the mix, so you have my every sympathy - really hope it works out for you both. Everyone I know ends up saying 'maybe it will improve with the economy' - and maybe it will? :-) I hope so!

Some suggestions:
Could you ditch The Turn of the Screw and read The Golden Bowl (1904) instead?
1897 Dracula
1917 Christine Alice Cholmondeley apparently the pen name for Elizabeth von Arnim
1919 Strange News from Another Star
2009 Scottsboro or Accordian Crimes
2010 Zoo City or The Siege or Sacred Hearts
2012 NW

Mar 21, 2015, 8:01am

All I can say is, LT networking and all, that if you do go into the eatery idea, let Nathalie, (Deern) in on it - she's dying to do something like that!

I must say, going to live in the big house in Devon sounds like a classic start for a 'making a new life' novel. Of course - RL is rarely in the least bit like those novels, is it?

In all seriousness too, I am sorry things are hard for you both. Your husband obviously loves what he does - so the best thing would be if a door opened for him that would allow him to stay there.

Editado: Mar 24, 2015, 6:32am

Thanks for your visits Heather, Charl and Lucy!
>44 charl08: charl08 Thanks especially for your commiserations on the academic job situation! What is your specialism? Who knows, maybe my husband knows of an opportunity....
>45 sibylline: sibyx Fingers crossed Lucy! Since I wrote this a job has come up at another institution that he is going to apply for, and he is cheered by the simple fact that another job is being advertised, so that's some slight good news. Also, it's early days, but it looks like the research project he has been working on for these past few years is going to be published by a pretty prestigious University Press, who apparently want to make it one of the first in a series about Central European cinema! If this pans out it will be great, and hopefully seriously boost his CV at this crucial time!

I have incorporated some more of everyone's kind suggestions into the list and we are now very nearly there! I also realised that the Woolf I am currently reading Night and Day was published in 1919, which is a year I'm missing, so into the list it goes. I guess that's kind of cheating as it's not exactly considered a classic, but needs must! Also, I was looking at a copy of Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312, which unsurprisingly was published in 2012, so that gets a slot too. So now the only years left are:
I think I will have to abandon the plan to choose from the Guardian list for these books, as Heather's very thorough cataloguing seems to suggest there are no books for these years. What is it, I wonder, about the late 1800's that are making them so hard to fill in??

Mar 24, 2015, 3:12am

I had a few moments free and found these, haven't read any of them but have a couple on my 'to read' list.
1904: The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rügen by Elizabeth von Arnim, The Sea Wolf by Jack London & children's book, The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nesbit
1897: The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

Mar 24, 2015, 5:07am

>47 avatiakh: Ooh, the Phoenix and the Carpet. I loved that series as a kid.

Mar 26, 2015, 12:01am

Abr 3, 2015, 10:19am

Hi and many thanks Kerry, Charl, Amber and Roni for your excellent suggestions, which have got me neeeaarly to the finish line. So, from your combined lists, this is what I have gone for:

1870:20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne
1877: L'Assommoir - Emile Zola (That's the one you meant, isn't it Amber? That is what the touchstone took me to anyways.)
1878: The Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy (from what I hear, it's got to be the audio book version with Alan Rickman, is that right?)
1882: The Prince and the Pauper - Mark Twain
1888: Pierre and Jean - Guy de Maupassant
1897: The Invisible Man - H.G.Wells
1904: Nostromo - Joseph Conrad

I'm really pleased with these selections, as they feature some big name authors that I haven't read before, and widening my reading beyond my usual Sci Fi/ Contemporary Fiction comfort zone is what this is all about. I guess I will have to fit The Phoenix and the Carpet into my future reading plans too, as it seems to be such a favourite, but the thing that put me off about it is it's the second part of a series, and being a completist I think I'd have to read the first part as well, which would add to my already stiff target of 150 books. I certainly won't complete it this year at any rate - 3 years for the whole list is my goal, so 50 books a year. So far I've read 5 so I better get a move on!

Regarding missing years, unfortunately I've already read Far From the Madding Crowd and Dracula, so the years 1874 and 1897 remain unfilled, but thanks to everyone's sterling efforts, they are the only ones - yippee! Further recommendations welcome of course, but I certainly have more than enough to be getting on with!

Abr 3, 2015, 11:15am

Sorry to hear about the employment woes. Though I can't help with that I do have suggestions for reading ...

Wikipedia has a page with a list of novels published in 1874. Most of them I can't recommend one way or another, except for Far From the Madding Crowd, though I plan to "plan to read Middlemarch someday" for the rest of my life.

There is a similar page for 1897, but I'm a bit confused: haven't you already chosen The Invisible Man for that year? If you've decided against it, I remember reading Kipling's Captains Courageous a lifetime ago and liking it very much.

Abr 3, 2015, 11:19am

Hi Swynn, thanks for popping by. Yes, I have chosen The Invisible Man. What a silly fool I am! So actually I only have one gap, and why didn't I think of looking on Wikipedia to see if they had pages for each year? Thanks for letting me know about that - what a great resource! And with that, I can select Middlemarch and call my list...COMPLETE!!! Thanks for the help!

Abr 3, 2015, 12:18pm

WooHoo for the complete list!!

Abr 5, 2015, 11:38am

Very nice list indeed. I haven't read the Zola or the Conrad. The others are all very good reads. The Verne is one of my favorite Vernes. I remember EXACTLY where I read it, must have been about 11 or 12.

Editado: Abr 7, 2015, 6:57am

Woo Hoo indeed! Like I said, now all I have to do is read them! I must say, of the small sampling I've read so far, I've really enjoyed the books I probably would have read anyway - the Brian Aldiss and the Rosamund Lehmann and not been so taken with the ones that were new discoveries for me, The Man Who Was Thursday and The Coming Race, but then they were both interesting in terms of their place in the development of certain literary styles and ideas. However, I have no doubt there are some masterpieces on the list that I wouldn't have found otherwise. I'm probably reading one right now - Crime and Punishment. My first Dostoevsky, and although I'm only a little way in, I can tell already I'm in the hands of one of the greats. Of course, one always means to read these authors, with their already well established reputations, but in my case it can take a larger challenge like this to actually get me to pick the thing up and start reading.

Right, I'm way behind on reviews, so let's try and make some inroads into that task...

7.Proust Was a Neuroscientist - Jonah Lehrer 3.5/5
A non-fiction book with an interesting premise - that some of the great modernist innovators in the arts were actually years ahead of modern day neuroscientists when it came to their understanding of human consciousness and what it feels like to experience life from the vantage point of a human brain. So you have chapters on each of these innovators that the author has identified as having unearthed a particular truth - for example Proust on the fallibility of human memory, Walt Whitman on how the body and the mind are intrinsically linked, Virginia Woolf on the layers of consciousness and so on. Some of the choices seem quite odd - he hasn't limited himself to writers and poets, but has also included one composer and even a famous chef, and some of the arguments he advances seem a lot more flimsy than others, but overall he makes some really interesting points and exposes you to some fascinating concepts in the fields of both literature and neuroscience. Indeed, the point of this book might be said to be an appeal for much stronger links to be forged between arts and science disciplines, as it shows that human ingenuity in one field can greatly benefit and learn from that in another.
Proust was obviously the starting point from which all these ideas were expanded, and if I have one other slight criticism, it's that he then decided to stick to thinkers working at about the same time, for no particular reason that he shares with the reader, which again makes the selections feel a bit arbitrary. Other than that, a very rewarding read.

8.The Hell of It All - Charlie Brooker 3/5
Charlie Brooker is a TV and newspaper journalist who does a good line in being the cynical curmudgeon. He started life as a video games journalist, then came to wider attention for his vitriolic reviews of popular TV programmes, and now does TV shows and Guardian newspaper columns largely about the modern media, though in recent times his remit has widened to take in modern life in general and some aspects of current affairs. He is a very skilful commentator on how modern news coverage and the media in general uses the tools at their disposal to twist facts to suit their own agenda, and as such he is always someone worth paying attention to. His best work can also be mini masterpieces of bad taste and black humour. This was the case with a lot of the columns that were collected into his two previous volumes of paperback compilations, both of which I read and enjoyed a lot, and I was expected more of the same here. And maybe to some extent it was, but perhaps it's just that in this post financial crisis, ISIS infested reality, his constant exhortations for us all to wake up and realise we're sleepwalking into financial/ecological/ geopolitical disaster feels a bit like a hackneyed tune, and all we really want is someone being bright and breezy and upbeat for a change. Or maybe it's just me.

9.The Man Who Was Thursday - G.K. Chesterton 3/5
This is actually the first book I read for the "150 Books" challenge I set myself, and it's not one I probably ever would have read otherwise. It's a weird and increasingly farcical and surreal tale of a policeman who infiltrates an anarchist group, only to quickly discover all is not what it seems... Although it had some wonderful set piece action scenes (the elephant being chased through the streets of London was a particular treat!) it's a strange story that ultimately feels rather pointless, and certainly never really engaged me with its characters and plot as they quickly become so absurd. Other reviewers have suggested that the book is an allegory for free will, which I can see makes sense, but it wasn't a truth I could "feel" as I was reading. It was all just a bit of a confusing muddle for me, but such an unusual book that I daresay it will stay longer in the memory than many more straightforwardly satisfying ones.

Abr 12, 2015, 8:38am

Fascinating collection of reviews - the first one sounds the most intriguing to me.

Abr 12, 2015, 1:06pm

Same here!

Editado: Abr 14, 2015, 4:38am

Hi Lucy and Roni! Yes, I think you ladies would both find plenty to interest you in the Lehrer. Don't be put off by my slightly negative review, it really was very interesting, just could have worked a little harder to convince me in a few cases.

Ok, lets try and knock a few more reviews off on this slow Sunday afternoon.

10. Wreckage - Emily Bleeker 3/5
I picked this up as a "Kindle First" which I think is a way to bring books by first time authors to a wider audience. For a first book I would say it's a solid effort, but at the same time I would want the author to develop her craft a bit more if I was going to keep reading any future works. The premise is a pretty interesting one; two survivors of a plane crash who live for over a year on a desert island, are telling their story in flashbacks to a slightly hostile TV interviewer who suspects there is a lot more to their story than what they have told the public so far.... This premise is well delivered upon, with lots of twists and turns, several of which I didn't see coming, and even those that feel inevitable are nicely built up. The weakness lies in the characterisation and some of their motivations. After both swearing that they didn't want any more press intrusion into their lives, why did the two central characters agree to this final interview? The writing is also a bit clunky at times. However, the plot bowls along at a good pace, and there is some nice details about the stresses and strains of post-rescue life with families that had believed them to be dead, which show that the author has a thoughtful side and doesn't just do mystery/thriller style material, but can do more subtle and nuanced stuff too.

11.Moon Over Soho - Ben Aaronovitch 3.5/5
The second of Aaronovitch's very popular urban magic series. Like the first one, I enjoyed it without being totally bowled over. The central character is very likeable and well drawn, the plot has enough to keep you reading and introduces you to some fascinating aspects of London life, but for me it's all just a little less than the sum of its very fine parts. As evidence, I point to the fact that I read this about 8 weeks ago (I know! I've really been slacking off with reviews, but I'm doing my best to catch up now), and already the details are becoming very hazy and I'm struggling to put any specifics into the review. Having said all that, the stories are intriguing and original and the writing has wit and charm, so I probably will continue with the rest of the series.

12.Invitation to the Waltz - Rosamund Lehmann 4.5/5
Now, this was a real treat. Like a lot of VMC's it has a quiet, still atmosphere that relies on the quality of the descriptive writing and the strength of the characterisation for their success, and this one succeeds brilliantly. We follow the movements of Olivia, a seventeen year old debutante in Edwardian England, as she prepares for, and then attends her first ever ball. The description of the evening of the ball in particular, was dazzling in its vividness. I felt like I was there be inexpertly whirled around with Olivia, and some of the sentiments she expresses took me right back to some of my own painfully awkward teenage moments as well. For Olivia is awkward and shy and not a great beauty, in the way that most teenage girls of any period are, and the experience of attending a ball, which is simultaneously the most marvellously exciting and the most excruciatingly painful experience of her life, is rendered so perfectly it makes the book.

Abr 13, 2015, 6:38am

Excellent reviews you've got here, Hannah!

Abr 14, 2015, 4:52am

>59 HanGerg: Some excellent reviews and so glad you enjoyed Invitation to the Waltz. I would definitely recommend the sequel, Weather in the Streets, which I found a lot darker in tone but I think made more of an impact on me for that reason. I have several more VMC books by Lehmann on my shelves which I must get round to.

Abr 16, 2015, 4:26pm

Hi Amber and Heather! Thanks for the review praise. I've been struggling to get motivated to write any for a while - there's something about marshalling the jumble of thoughts you have while reading into a coherent opinion that can feel pretty hard sometimes - so it's gratifying to know the effort paid off!

Regarding Weather in the Streets I have that Heather - in fact, it might have been you that urged me to buy it on our day out in Birmingham! (Goes off to check). Yes! I bought it on that trip, so I'm pretty certain that was your handiwork! : ) I'll try and get to it soon, whilst the memory of the first one is still reasonably fresh, but the TBR pile is pretty high at the moment!

So, I have some exciting news to share!! I've been sort of putting it off for a while, waiting for the right time, but it's come to dominate my daily life so much these days it's pretty unavoidable as a topic ... I'm pregnant!! Just gone about 20 weeks, and due at the end of August! It's super exciting, and me and the husband are chuffed to bits, but given all the complications in our life as outlined above, it's come at an interesting time to say the least! But that's life I guess. We know the gender, which is male, and we have even got as far as narrowing down a list of names to about two... but I'm not sure I'm allowed to share at this point! I have some very cool ultrasound pics, that show a pretty cute little nose developing, but we've made the decision that this baby is going to be a non-digital footprint baby, so there won't be any pictures at any stage I'm afraid. (Well, maybe by email if you are super keen, but nothing on an open forum). Instead, how about a picture of the first little pair of baby booties I knitted to celebrate the event - not nearly as nice as the ones Roni makes, but these were my first ever pair....

Abr 16, 2015, 4:47pm

Congratulations! I am thrilled for you both, Hannah! And those booties look perfect to me.

Abr 16, 2015, 4:50pm

Congratulations! And I love the booties too!

Abr 16, 2015, 5:45pm

Super news! I am so happy for you both. It's an adventure.

Editado: Abr 16, 2015, 9:41pm

WOW! Congratulations to all three of you!!! Good news travels fast!

Abr 17, 2015, 1:11am

That's great news, congrats Hannah! And the booties are adorable!

Abr 17, 2015, 2:02am

Lovely to read your good news - and the booties are very cute.

Abr 17, 2015, 7:37am

Stopping by after reading a cryptic message on Lucy (@sibyx)'s thread -- congratulations!!!!

Abr 19, 2015, 3:38pm

>62 HanGerg: Congratulations!! And I think the booties look lovely :-)

Abr 20, 2015, 11:26am

Ahhh, thanks Roni, Rhian, Lucy, Lizzie, Kriti, Charl, Laura and Heather! I promise to still talk about books sometimes too, but obviously it is very exciting news! My knitting continues to improve due to baby's imminent arrival - I'm currently working on a little hat, and next maybe some non-scratch mittens. There's also a super funky knitted tie being done as a secret project for my husband's birthday - I'll post pictures as and when these projects get completed!

Editado: Abr 30, 2015, 8:51am

I read quite a bit while nursing, but after that . . . I remember one friend saying there would be days when I would never brush my hair. I scoffed inwardly. And was humbled!

Mayo 5, 2015, 7:44am

Ha! Yes, I'm a little intimidated at the thought of all immersive motherhood. Looking forward to it, but a little scared at the same time. I like a little bit of downtime every day - that's what keeps me on a even keel. And hubby will no doubt be busy with new job orientation and good impression making etc so I don't know how much he'll be able to pitch in. So, I maybe a little scarce round these parts for a while. I hope not too much. I'm bowling along with my reading total this year - I'm on track to make 75 for the first time ever, but there is part of me that's wondering if my reading will just drop of a cliff come September.... we'll see, I guess!

Mayo 5, 2015, 2:40pm

>73 HanGerg: there is part of me that's wondering if my reading will just drop of a cliff come September. Well, I joined my RL reading group when j was five months old and 15 years later it's still going strong. So some reading must have been going on!

Mayo 5, 2015, 2:58pm

Hi Rhian! That's comforting to know! Yeah, actually I think having a reading group or something to go to is a good way for a new mum to keep sane. I might look around for something similar when the time comes. I imagine that by then, a conversation with other grown ups that doesn't revolve around sleep regimes or nappy cream might feel like bliss!

Editado: Mayo 6, 2015, 5:14am

Ok, I'm so far behind now on reviews it's getting ridiculous, so I'm going to try and catch up a little bit:

13.Explorer - C.J.Cherryh 4.5/5
Book six in Cherryh's superb Foreigner series, and I really just can't get enough. This is perhaps the most exciting and action packed of the series so far, but I won't mention any plot details as I know a few Lt-ers that are hoarding these for a rainy day, and the characters and the world they inhabit have come such a long way since the first book, that really any description will bring with it a wealth of spoilers. Suffice to say, this instalment has the usual spot on characterisation, a great plot and some edge-of-the-seat action set pieces that add up to a very satisfying read indeed.

14.The Warden - Anthony Trollope 4/5
I read this as it regularly gets a lot of praise here on LT, and it's easy to see why - he is obviously an excellent writer with some lovely, poetic turns of phrase and some spot on, gently humorous characterisations. The moral conundrum at the heart of the story is indeed a poser - should the warden have such a comfortable living on the money set aside for his elderly and poor charges, even though he does such an excellent job of ministering to them? It feels like a question that does have a basis in the kind of moral problems that really are encountered in life, about what is fair? what is the right and proper thing to do? and as in real life, the answer is not straightforward or likely to serve all deserving parties equally well. On the other hand, to my modern and secular sensibilities, the author's own view of the matter seems a little too pat and deferential to the authority of the church. Not a major problem with the narrative, but the reason perhaps for the 4 not a 5, as occasionally this attitude seemed to me to be evident despite all the subtlety and nuance.

15.They F*** You Up: How to Survive Family Life - Oliver James 2.5/5
I wanted to do short quick reviews, but I have such a catalogue of complaints about this book that it's hard to know where to start. It's not a great book to read as an expectant parent, as it's main gist, and the point that it labours to prove time and again, is that the first three years of a child's life are absolutely crucial to their development. They set the blueprint for almost everything that is to come, and hardwire in place patterns of behaviour that are incredibly hard to change in later life, however much one may want to. This is fairly consistent with what a lot of other recent research on child development seems to suggest, although many other researchers would perhaps not take this argument as far as James does. He argues that things long since thought to have a large genetic component, such as Schizophrenia, can be traced back to childhood treatment. He also, rather controversially, dares to suggest that other things that are widely regarded have a strong component of "nature" are actually more about "nurture" - like homosexuality and autism. I'm not sure that I agree with that, but that's not my main problem with the book.
On the one hand, as I say, he makes I strong case for the vital importance of the first three years, and has lots of case studies to draw on of people that have subsequently gone on to have very dysfunctional lives, after some early childhood bad parenting. But for those of us that would be good parents, there is very little description for what this bad parenting looks like. Just vague phrases about "uninvolved" styles, or "unempathetic". Also, words like that are usually followed by the word "mothering" rather than "parenting", after he explains early on that it is still the mothers that do the majority of early childcare. That may be so, but constantly using the word "mother" when firmly laying the blame at someone's doorstep is hardly helpful - it smacks of demonising a group of people that are embattled enough as it is. So, this book is useless if you are reading it in the hope of avoiding some of the pitfalls of bad parenting. It certainly doesn't offer any alternative models of what good parenting looks like either. And it is equally unhelpful when it comes to advising anyone whose first three years were less than optimal how to deal with that in later life. There is some advice about not blaming the parents and some wishy washy stuff about how to let go of anger and move on, but it feels ill thought out and unconvincing.
The real agenda of this book seems to be disproving the "nature" lobby that would put the blame of a lot of bad behaviour on the part of certain people down to "bad genes" rather than parenting, or social deprivation or societal norms or whatever. I thought that was a rather outdated mood of thought, but towards the end of the book he presents some rather chilling circumstantial evidence of how right wing thinkers in America and the UK use this line of thought to justify social inequality. However, if this book is meant as a answer to them, it feels muddled, as much of it is presented more like a self-help book (although, as I said, not a very helpful one). Having said that, it does have some interesting things to say about how parental behaviour differs towards siblings, and why that explains differences in sibling behaviour more than any genetic explanation (he seems to have a particular bee in his bonnet about those famous twin studies that look at similarities between identical twins, especially those separated at birth), and also, rather worryingly, how trauma can be passed on to children from parents unintentionally - so for example a traumatic event in a parent's life like the death of a close family member, can be transmitted to a young child. So there you are - even events entirely beyond your control can turn you into a bad mother. But what can you do about it, that's my question???

Mayo 5, 2015, 8:31pm

I also joined a book group just before my second child was born. And it was wonderful to have that night out. I brought the baby with me in the early months. Just being with women friends, all readers, was a welcome change from baby care!

Mayo 6, 2015, 5:51am

Sorry Oliver James didn't hit the spot - I thought this was an interesting book (although I didn't agree with all of the arguments). Are you planning lots of baby-raising reading in the next few months, or was this coincidence?

Mayo 6, 2015, 6:59am

Oh, how did I miss your big announcement before?! Congrats!! I'm so excited for you! And little boys are the best, really, in my opinion. *grins*

Mayo 6, 2015, 8:42am

>76 HanGerg: Oh dear, the Oliver James' book does not sound like an encouraging book to read whilst you're expecting! Glad to see you liked the Cherryh and The Warden. There was a tutored read of The Warden a couple of years ago (thread here) which may be interesting reading. Do go on to read Barchester Towers which I thought was even better than TW.

Re small babies and reading - obviously I have no practical experience to offer but I hope you are able to squeeze some reading in somewhere. A kindle or ereader might be helpful for reading one-handed whilst breast-feeding?

Mayo 7, 2015, 11:15am

The Oliver James book sounds frankly appalling and unbalanced. I wouldn't trust anyone who's out to make an 'argument' on parenting one way or the other. Like most things it's a weaving of both, innit? I come from an immense family and all those things: some basic hard-wired stuff, some nurture, some sibling order, and some incredibly random stufff -- it obviously all plays in: we're all so different, we are all so alike, etc.! Duh! Humans are way too complicated for any easy answers. Ever. One of the most brilliant child psychologists, British, Donald Winnicott, came up with the 'good enough' parent idea, which is so sensible and which most people are. You can't do it all perfectly, so you do the best you can. Trust me, you will be fine! Humility, flexibility, unconditional positive regard. That's all you need.

Although truly one of the weirdest moments in parental life is when you get in the car to go home and there is a newborn baby in the back seat. And you and your partner or whoever is helping you sit there dumbstruck that they are letting you go off with it--like you have a clue!

I am going to think about what might make for some fun reading. One American novel, not deep or anything, that I loved and read around the time I was heavily pregnant was The Answer is Yes by Sara Lewis. Ann Lamott wrote a terrific 'first year' book and I am sure there are others. I found the good ones incredibly reassuring.

Mayo 18, 2015, 9:29am

Hi lovely visitors - sorry I'm so slow to get round to replying - RL has been full and busy lately, but more of that in a minute.

>77lauralkeet Hi Laura! Yes, a book group might be just what I need to keep my brain active! And I think I'm going to try and squeeze in a yoga class too. I've never really done yoga before, but I've been following some routines specially designed for pregnancy on Youtube and I've really enjoyed it.

>78charl08 Hi Charl! Yes, I agree the book was interesting - I think maybe I judged it harshlybecause it was SO not helpful in my currentsituation , but I think if you picked it up more dispassionately it might be better. Still rather muddled, but better. I read it because I guess it's an intersection of several things I'm interested in for various reasons - most recently, books on parenting to help me in my importatnt new job(!), books on parenting that help me understand the sometimes complicated relationship I have with my own parents, and books on child development because I have worked with children a lot professionally - many from very difficult backgrounds and I find the insight realy helpful.

>79scaifea Ah, thanks Amber : ) This particluar young man has barely able to keep still in all his scans so far - the people doing them have all remarked on it, so I might well have a big bundle of energy on my hands soon! Gulp!

>80souloftherose Fear not Heather! I have Barchester Towers near the top of the TBR. The final book in the series is also on my 150 books reading challenge list, although that leaves several in between to tackle. Do you know if it's essential to read all of them in order? And I do have a kindle now, so one handed kindle reading whilst breastfeeding might be a skill worth acquiring...

>81sibyx Hi Lucy! Yes, my brother remarked on the weirdness of that baby-in-your-car moment too! Can't wait. Any good tips for books to read whilst pregnant (ficition or non-fiction) gladly accepted here! I'll put both of those on the wishlist - thanks!

So, RL lately has been mainly taking up with packing up all our wordly belongings from our flat in Manchester and moving them back down to Devon. We were due to head down there this weekend just gone to join my brother and his daughter whilst his wife went on a hen weekend nearby. We thought we'd use the occassion to stay over at my parent's house, as we haven't all been there at once for....ooh, ages. Plus, I feel I've been a very bad auntie to baby Lily in the 11 months I've had the job - this is only about the third time I have seen her. So, then the plan was hatched to use this opportunity to begin the stressful moving process as well.
So, we packed up the majority of our stuff to be moved in a hired van now and just left the barest bones in our flat for the remaining few weeks we will be in Manchester. For various complicated reasons I went a day early and stayed overnight with my brother and family in Bristol before meeting up with them again in Devon the next day. That left my poor husband to load all our stuff into the van (not that I would have been much use anyway, not being able to lift heavy things an' all), but luckily his younger brother very kindly volunteered to come over from Hungary for a flying visit to help out.
Long story short, various members of the family from all sides assembled at my parent's house on Thursday, and hung out there and at the beach until Sunday. It was really lovely, although marred by a scary incident I wanted to share as I know lots of LT-ers have furry friends and wanted to get their take on it.
I wasn't at home when this happened, so I only have my brother and mother's account to go on, but it seems my mother was in the room supervising Lily, and gently encouraging her to "make friends" with her dog - a 6 year old golden retriever. The dog, I would have said, doesn't have a single aggressive bone in his body, but he can get a little over exurberent when playing sometimes. Anyway, it seems Lily grabbed some of his hair and gave it a painful tug, which sparked a short attack by the dog which in the second or so before my mum could react, resulted in a nasty scratch just below the eye and a less deep one on the back of the head for Lily. A trip to A&E for some penicillin, and some reassurance that it almost certainly wouldn't scar, did a lot to calm very seriously frayed nerves, but one shudders to think how much worse it might have been - especially given the location of the scratch. It has certainly caused a lot of soul searching in the family about how to manage the dog/child interface in future.
In the immediate aftermath my mum was talking about getting rid of the dog (very sadly, he is a much loved companion, but when it comes to first grandchildren...), and said that the people that had seen them at the hospital had more or less told her to do that. Apparently, they said that if it has happened once it is more likely to happen again. Obviously, I have some stake in this too, as I will soon have a little bundle of my own to think about. And it does give you pause for thought - that Lily could be harmed even with my mum very closely supervising - after all - dogs aren't reasoning beings that can distinguish between people who can defend themselves and those that are utterly unable to, and every now and again there are these terible incidents where dogs do harm babies. I would have said that could nevere happen in our family, as we would never leave a child in a room with a dog unsupervised, plus this dog seems so totally harmless, but this incident has acted as a bit of a wake-up call to us all. A decision has not yet been reached, but my feeling is that my mum will not get rid of the dog entirely. The solution that seems best is that he may go to kennels or with friends when either my brother or I are staying with our babies, which seems a shame in some ways, but perhaps the only solution, unless anyone has any better suggestions....?

Mayo 18, 2015, 12:05pm

I've been reading up on Golden Retrievers lately, as we're getting one in two weeks, and lots of dog experts seem to believe that no matter how mild-mannered a dog is - and GRs are famous for being pretty much the most laid-back, loving and attentive breed - you simply can't assume that a baby will be safe around them. Mostly this isn't the dog's fault; wee ones have very little concept of how to treat animals and tend to pull and squeeze and otherwise unwittingly abuse pets. So, I'd say that it's a bit extreme for your mom to get rid of her dog, but there is always a need to be extra-vigilant when a dog and a child under the age of 4 are in a room together, for the safety of *both*.

Mayo 18, 2015, 2:27pm

I'll add my vote for extra vigilance rather than removing the dog from the premises. I agree with >83 scaifea:'s points that you cannot assume anything and that it's mostly not the dog's fault. I would worry very little about a tiny infant that cannot initiate interaction with the dog, but once they are mobile they will want to interact but don't know how. They need to learn how to behave with pets, but even this is a process since each "lesson" must happen in an age-appropriate way. I would closely supervise, never leave them alone together, and keep them separated when close supervision isn't possible.

Mayo 18, 2015, 4:13pm

>82 HanGerg: Oh Hannah, how scary - so glad your niece wasn't more badly hurt. And that is a really difficult decision for you and your Mum to make and really difficult to judge when you weren't there. Adding to the advice Laura and Amber have already given it might be worth your Mum discussing this with her vet as they shoud be able to advise her or refer her to a dog behaviourist who might have more ideas about whether the dog needs to be completely removed from children or whether there are steps your Mum can take to help the dog control his reactions?

On Barchester Towers - Yay because it's one of my favourite Trollope's. The Barsetshire books don't have to be read in order but I think it's nice to read them that way as characters continue and grow through the series. And especially when reading The Last Chronicle of Barset I think some events in that book have much more emotional impact from having read the earlier books.

Mayo 19, 2015, 8:28am

What a terrible experience for everyone! I'm pretty much with the gang here on the dog issue. An unfortunate incident but not likely to happen again. I don't let children pet any dog of mine unless they talk and we discuss 'where' to pet the dog and how and never anywhere near ears as they are notoriously sensitive. I'd put the dog in another room, certainly, and if a kennelmakes everyone feel better, perhaps for the time being until everyone feels confident again, might make things easier all around. I am guessing the dog might also be more comfortable as no doubt it understands that there was a huge amount of distress over what happened. I would hazard that only a rare dog would not react negatively to a really painful ear pull.

When the LD was little I was very careful about both dogs and cats, although somewhere I do have a photo of the LD aged about one and our previous corgi, Evan, lying back to back on a bed blissfully sacked.

Mayo 24, 2015, 12:10pm

Hi everyone, and thanks very much for all the dog advice. I haven't really spoken to the family members involved yet, but I guess that now that the dust has had time to settle calmer heads will prevail and a solution such as you all suggest will be arrived at - no getting rid of the dog, and probably not even kenneling, but just very close supervision, and no baby/ doggie play time until the child is old enough to know not to tug on fur or poke eyes or whatever.
The one slight problem with this particular dog is that, despite having a lovely big garden for him to play in, he's always been a people orientated dog - if you put him out in the garden he'll be barking a clawing to be let back in again within a few minutes. Therefore keeping the dog seperate from the baby when the baby is with the other family members may be difficult at times. I guess it just needs careful management, and hopefully now we have all had a bit of a scare we'll not get complacent about it.

Mayo 25, 2015, 6:34am

Do they have an indoor crate for the dog? Golden Retrievers are, I think, very people-oriented dogs and are much happier when they're near their human family, so he'd likely be much more content to be crated in the same room than shut outside (and would likely appreciate the safe space near people yet separate from tiny yet ungentle hands)...

Mayo 25, 2015, 11:14am

Hi Amber, that's a marvellous suggestion, thank you! I must admit that hasn't occurred to any of us, and I think it might well be the perfect solution. I shall pass it on at the first opportunity!

Editado: Mayo 26, 2015, 5:05pm

Ok, I'm long overdue to catch up with some more reviews, so here goes:

16.Non-Stop - Brian Aldiss 4.5/5
I read this as part of my 150 books from 150 years challenge, and I'm really glad I was pointed in its direction by that challenge. The only other Aldiss I read I didn't care for overly much - it seemed to demonstrate a very jaded view of human nature that was depressing without being very illuminating. This on the other hand has some really fascinating things to say about humankind, and has placed them in a very unique set of circumstances. The premise of the story is genius; the main characters don't really know much about their surroundings beyond the narrow confines of the rather brutal society in which they live, and events soon compel them to leave this familiar setting and strike out into the unknown on a quest for answers in this uncanny, though clearly man-made environment. This sounds like it could be a bit cliched and unconvincing, but it is really done marvelously well.
There are lots of tantalising clues about the nature of the place in which they find themselves, and how they came to be there, and lots of the enjoyment of the story comes from trying to piece them all together to make a convincing whole. The revelations, when they do arrive, are partly what one suspects, but have a much more ingenius explanation than I could have imagined, and the final denouement then takes the story into a whole new realm and provides a very satisfying conclusion. A real Sci-Fi classic.

17.Night and Day - Virginia Woolf 4/5
Book two in my quest to read all Woolf's novels in publishing order. I enjoyed it a lot, though strangely it feels less like a typical Woolfian novel than her first book did. That one The Voyage Out, already had the beginnings of her mature style - that trademark rendering of the moment by moment experience of human consciousness. This book seems to have abandoned those early experiements entirely, and opted for a much more conventional omniscient narrator style. The plot isn't typical Woolf either - this one concerns several characters that all have a complicated network of unrequited feelings for each other, which can feel slightly melodramatic at times. And yet, there is a sense of people striving to find meaning and coherence from the muddle of emotions and impulses that make up their lives, and a sense of what a Modern life might look like, as society emerges out of the late Victorian era, that makes this a facinating study. Obviously only a minor novel in the Woolfian cannon, but one of interest nonetheless.

Mayo 25, 2015, 9:19pm

That's an Aldiss I haven't read yet, Hannah. Onto the wish list it goes!

Mayo 26, 2015, 6:48am

>89 HanGerg: You're very welcome! Here's hoping it helps!

Jun 20, 2015, 1:33pm

Thanks for the visit Roni and Amber.
I'm afraid I'm very neglectful of LT at the mo'. We made the move down to Devon two weeks ago, and we've been without internet since then, so I'm totally out of step. Hopefully we'll get our connection sorted in the next week or so and then I can participate a bit more. I'm fine, enjoying being a mum-to-be and keeping busy trying to get things ready for the young man's arrival, plus other fun projects like an exhibition at a local
Gallery that's currently ongoing. All the best to everyone here for now, and I'll hopefully be back soon!

Jun 20, 2015, 3:30pm

Oh wow, beautiful Devon. Enjoy the sunshine and the nesting.

Jun 20, 2015, 4:08pm

Hannah, the Aldiss has also gone on my wishlist. I hope you settle back in to Devon life soon.

Jun 30, 2015, 4:33pm

Our new year-long read of the Liaden Universe books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller kicks off tomorrow. Join us at http://www.librarything.com/topic/192715

Editado: Jul 1, 2015, 1:54pm

>94 charl08: Thanks Charl! The weather has been wonderful since we've been here, and as we are living right by one of Devon's most lovely beaches we've been really basking in it!
>95 souloftherose: Hi Heather! I think you'll love the Aldiss!
>96 ronincats:. Thanks for the invite Roni, I'll head over there and have a look!

Right, we're finally set up on the internet here - back in the folds of civilisation! It was rather nice to be out of the loop for a few weeks and just take it easy, but I was missing LT among other things, so it's good to be re-connected. All those outstanding reviews have been weighing on my mind, so I'm going to try and race through a few now. In order to force me to be brief, something I struggle with usually, I'm imposing a maximum of three sentences for each book on myself, which should be an extra challenge!

18.The Coming Race - Edward Bulwer-Lytton 2.5/5
A book for my 150 years challenge, a Sci-Fi from 1871, about a man who stumbles upon an alternative subterranean society that at first seems like a utopia but isn't quite. At times it reads like the author's thesis for a perfect society, but eventually manages a little more subtlety than that. Nevertheless, it feels dated and rather pedestrian in the telling, so by no means a classic.

19.Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy, Book 1) - Jeff VanderMeer 4.5/5
A unique, disquieting Sci-Fi Horror about the mysterious Area-X, a quarantined area of the present day US from which nobody returns unchanged, if they return at all. This book follows the members of the latest expedition by way of a journal by one of the team, who we soon learn has her own deeply personal reasons for wanting to go there. What unfolds once the arrive is uncanny, unpleasant and unnerving, and the reader is offered little in the way of explanations to help break the tension, forcing them to seek out the remaining two parts of the series, which I will be doing soon.

20.The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett 4/5 (Re-read)
The second Discworld novel, and the second in my re-read of the series. A direct continuation of the events of the first book, but maybe with a better narrative drive, with the scary red star that mysteriously appears in the sky and our first serious look inside the doors of the Unseen University and at the memorable characters of the wizards within it. Not such sophisticated literature as the later books, but still a super fun romp through some fantasy tropes.

21.Destroyer - C.J.Cherryh 4.5/5
After the breathless excitement of the last instalment, this one calms down a bit, but still keeps the tension fairly tightly strung. Some of the more ruthless elements of atevi society are to the fore here, and the cultural reasons behind them, not to mention individual characters motivations, are, as in everything Cherryh writes, highly subtle and completely convincing. I am well and truly hooked on her work and now lap up any and everything she does, of which this is another fine example.

22.The Unknown Ajax - Georgette Heyer 4/5

Another delightful romp of a regency romance from the peerless Heyer. A great male lead who enjoys stringing along his snooty, recently discovered relations, whilst getting the girl and just generally saving the day. Great fun.

Jul 2, 2015, 4:05am

Wow, what a range of reading you've been doing. I have such fond memories of Heyer and I go back to them from time to time. Tempting to get them all for the kindle for a reading 'emergency' (!).

Jul 6, 2015, 1:59pm

Hi Hannah! As Charlotte said, that's a nice range of reading. I've heard lots of good things about Annihilation and its sequels and am hoping to read them at some point over the summer.

Jul 10, 2015, 8:17am

Have to get right to the Aldiss! I love your sf classics reading and reviews.

Glad you are happily ensconced in Devon.

Editado: Jul 12, 2015, 7:43am

Hi Charl, Heather and Lucy, thanks for stopping by!

>98 charl08:. Yes, Heyer's a real "comfort read" kind of author isn't she? Good books to save for those rainy days when life just needs brightening up a bit. Wodehouse was always my "go to" author for that kind of thing, but it's good to have an alternative!

>99 souloftherose:. Yes, Annihilation was good Heather, I can recommend it. Very strange and creepy. Unfortunately, in their great wisdom, Manchester libraries seemed to have copies of the first and third in the series, but for some strange reason, not the middle one. So my reading is temporarily stalled. I might end up buying them, because they're just such attractive looking books.

>100 sibylline:. Thanks Lucy! Devon is a lovely place to retreat to, especially over the summer months. The Aldiss IS a real classic, from 1958, but seemingly not very well known. In my opinion it's better than his Helliconia series, although I have only read the first part.

Ok, time for a RL update, as life is moving fast! I'm now only weeks away for giving birth - Eeek! The reality of labour is dawning and rather worrying me, but one of the advantages of being a slightly older first-time-mum is that I have lots of friends who have been there and done that and can give me lots of advice. I'm a bit worried about how big this baby is going to be, as my baby bump looks rather huge:
but I'm told a big bump doesn't necessarily mean a big baby, so I'm clinging on to that thought.

In the meantime, the husband and I are now all settled in, living at my uncle's house in the lovely seaside village of Woolacombe. In my youth it was my grandmother's house, so it holds lots of happy memories for me, and also has a fairly unbeatable location. Here's the view from the balcony:

The current resident, my uncle, has struggled a bit in recent years to maintain his independence, as he is now in his seventies and has for years suffered from quite poor physical and mental health, so hopefully us being here is a good two way exchange - we get a free place to live for a crucial few months and he gets some company and people to keep an eye on him. He has a carer that comes in twice a week and helps him with some essential tasks, but we have been trying to provide some of the more intangible things that he has been missing out on - a varied diet of freshly cooked meals, company day to day around the house, and crucially, people to take him out on trips, as since he gave up driving about 6 months ago his limited mobility has meant he hardly ever leaves the house. Part of his mental health issues is a sense of being easily defeated by obstacles and getting rather blue as a result, so it hasn't all been easy with him. He tends to only focus on the negative even as we work hard to try and improve his quality of life, so it can be hard at times, and some of the wider family have voiced concerns that we shouldn't try to do too much at this crucial time in our own lives. But we'll only be here for a relatively short time, and me and my husband still have hope that we can effect some small changes to his lifestyle that will hopefully have positive results even after we've left. Having said all that, I really don't know how the shared residency of the house will work once the baby has arrived - obviously my uncle's needs will have to take a backseat to those of our new arrival. It might be a bit of a weird dynamic too, but like I said, it's a big house!

Ok, so now the big piece of news.... my husband got a job!!!! If you read my long whinge back in post 38 you know the future was looking very uncertain for us as, after many years of striving for a permanent job in academia, it seemed he was rapidly running out of chances to fulfil his dreams. But now, in a sudden reversal of fortunes, it looks like it will happen after all! We are so delighted and over the moon! And of course, it couldn't have come at a more crucial time, what with our imminent parenthood and everything. The details are that he will take up a post as a lecturer in film studies at Lincoln University in September, so a very hastily arranged move to that city is on the cards, very soon after the birth I guess. Lincoln have already proven to be good employers by saying they'll be flexible about start dates if the baby is overdue, and that G can take his paternity leave in that window if he wants to, which is great as I was getting rather stressed about the thought that my going into labour and him being expected to turn up for his first day in the office almost 300 miles away was going to coincide exactly!
You may well be wondering what kind of place Lincoln is, as I was myself until we went there recently. Luckily I can report that it seems like a lovely place - a small city in the North East of England, in relative isolation as it is surrounding by lots of farmland in every direction. The city itself is best known for its stunning medieval cathedral and nearby castle, which attracts a lot of tourists. Here's the one picture I took of it when we went for a night time stroll around it recently - that's my husband just disappearing round the corner in the foreground:

Not the most informative of photos, but I'm sure the coming months will bring lots more, as it is a truly wondrous building. After weighing up the pro's and cons we decided to wade straight into the house buying market rather than renting first, just because one move with a tiny baby sounds daunting enough, but two just sounds too awful to be contemplated! So our recent trip there was mainly full of rushing from one house viewing to another. Perhaps foolishly, a couple of days of that made us feel like we had got a good feel for the best areas to live in, and what kind of housing was available so we have taken the plunge and put an offer in on a house - a three bedroomed Victorian terrace house within easy walking distance of the city centre and the university. We are currently doing the dance of offer and counter offer, but we are hoping to have some resolution to that early next week - watch this space. So, to say that this is a time of rapid change in our lives would be a bit of an understatement, but it's all wonderfully exciting change, and as such I embrace it wholeheartedly! Now I just need to get this "giving birth" thing under my belt....

Jul 12, 2015, 7:52am

Oh, congrats to you both on your husband's new job! What perfect timing! And I'll be thinking of you as the time for delivery approaches - you can do it!

Jul 12, 2015, 12:54pm

>101 HanGerg: Bump! Great news about the job - will be keeping you in my thoughts re impending moves and baby deliveries.

Jul 12, 2015, 7:24pm

Great news regarding the hubby! Lovely baby bump! Lots on your plate, glad you came by to share it with us, Hannah.

Jul 13, 2015, 5:26am

>101 HanGerg: Congrats. Now that's a city with some WONDERFUL second hand bookshops. Glad to hear they've got paternity leave on their radar too. Hope you have a lovely time in the sunshine with your uncle too.

Jul 13, 2015, 11:26am

Wonderful news on so many fronts! Can't wait to hear more about your new arrival.

Jul 14, 2015, 6:13am

>102 scaifea: Thanks so much Amber! I really appreciate your support.
>103 souloftherose: And Thank you Heather!
>104 ronincats: So am I Roni!
>105 charl08: Thanks Charl. I have already spotted one or two good bookshops - sounds like there are a few more to discover!
>106 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura!

Wow, LT is such a great place to come if you want to find people cheering you on and sharing in your good news. It's got to be one of the nicer corners of the internet in that way. Thanks everyone, it means a lot to me! : )

Ago 9, 2015, 10:24am

Stopping in to hear all your news! I wonder whether your child has arrived yet!

Congrats on the new job for your husband. Very good timing indeed.

Ago 9, 2015, 7:44pm

Thinking of you!

Ago 9, 2015, 8:28pm

Just catching up here. Great news on the job and house hunting. Wishing you all the best for the arrival of baby.

My grandmother's family came to New Zealand from near Lincoln 101 years ago. We celebrated with a family reunion last year.

Ago 11, 2015, 3:33pm

He's here! But sooooo much else has happened as well! I don't really feel up to explaining it all now, but know that me and baby Leó and his dad are healthy and happy! More soon!

Ago 11, 2015, 3:45pm

Congratulations, that's wonderful news.

Ago 11, 2015, 4:42pm

> 111 Glad to hear your news. Adding my congratulations - and hopes that you are both getting some z's in amongst all the new things.

Ago 11, 2015, 6:48pm

Congratulations, glad Leo is here safely, and will wait (with bated breath) for explanations when you get caught up.

Editado: Ago 11, 2015, 9:26pm

Hi everyone. Yes, so little baby Leó arrived ahead of schedule, on August 5th. The birth was long and complicated and everything I'd hoped it wouldn't be when I made my birth plan with my midwife (seriously, almost the exact opposite), but as soon as the young man was out on my chest it was all instantly worth it of course. There then followed several days in hospital in which ridiculously good care was taken of me - not that I'm at all patriotic under normal circs but it made me proud to come from a country where health care that professional yet compassionate is offered free at the point of delivery - anyway, I digress. Leó had a touch of jaundice which they continue to monitor and continues to be a bit of a worry, but he seems to be doing well. So, I was released from hospital on Sunday afternoon, and we were just getting into a routine back at my uncle's house and enjoying the rollercoaster of joy and absolute panic that is new parenthood when this morning I received the news that my father had died suddenly in an accident at home the night before. He had met Leó once, in the immediate hours after birth when I was still immobile in bed after a Caesarian, which I think shook him a bit and meant he was a bit subdued. I'm glad he at least got to meet him. But now I worry that this grief will creep into my parenting. Above I review the book about how early life experiences affect you They F*** You Up: How To Survive Family Life, which as I mentioned, talks about trauma being passed to babies unknowingly by their parents. Now, what I didn't mention at the time, is that weirdly, this almost exact thing happened to my mother when I was a baby - her father died very suddenly of a heart attack. I was older than Leó is now, about 2, but I had privately concluded that this event might partly explain why I am prone to anxiety and depression whereas my younger brother is a very happy-go-lucky type personality. My mum has said to me that she kind of used me as a comfort in those times, and encouraged her mother to do the same - describing handing me over to my Grandmother to cuddle when she was distressed. Of course, I don't blame them for that, but I now see it as a pitfall I mustn't fall into. So me and my husband have really tried today, and will continue to try to be happy and cheery with Leó - also for ourselves. The joy of new parenthood had knocked me sideways and I don't want to miss out on it now because of my grief. So I am trying to put the two different emotions into two very separate boxes, but it's not easy. My midwife visited today and I asked if there was some kind of grief counselling available that could maybe help me do that. In the meantime I have a mother who is also grieving and would like cuddles with her grandson to help. That's as it should be, but perhaps I will have to talk to her. She has already said to Leó "you have to make your mum happy", to which I privately thought, no actually, it's completely the other way round.
Thanks for letting me share this. Funnily enough, I just finished The Circle, which highlights how the internet is seriously eroding all our privacy, and it feels a bit awkward sharing such intimate stuff in a public forum. But I know this place and how we all support each other here, so it just feels like a good outlet for this, especially as all my friends are still so busy sending me congratulatory messages about the birth. It's done me good to write, so thanks for reading.

Ago 11, 2015, 9:17pm

Wow. What can I say? So much emotion all at once. I was rejoicing in the moment when you first held your dear son, but then quickly fell to earth reading the very sad news about your father. My heart goes out to you. I have no doubt this community will rally for you and I hope it helps. Take care.

Ago 11, 2015, 9:44pm

So sorry that this happened to you at such a joyous time in your life. Your attitude seems well balanced and I hope that you receive the appropriate counselling to help. You are going to be experiencing a lot of emotions these next few weeks/months as motherhood hormones kick in....

Ago 12, 2015, 1:57am

So sorry to hear about your dad. I hope you find someone to talk to who will help via the midwife. We have a bereavement support group in our area, but I'm not sure how practical that would be with a new baby.

I know what you mean about the conflict between sharing info and Internet privacy. I do hope that writing and sharing your worries has helped a little.

Ago 12, 2015, 2:54am

Congratulations on the birth of baby Leó, but so so sorry to hear about your Dad. Try not to worry too much about the effect this will have on the baby. Remember you will be having a roller-coaster of emotions right now just from the birth ... My Dad died when J was nine months old, and had been seriously ill since his birth (he was too ill to visit when J was born, but he grew up to be a happy child. And try not to worry too much about what your Mum says, in my experience grandparents usually have quite inappropriate ideas of how to parent at times (at least from the point of view of the parent) and most children cope with it.

Ago 12, 2015, 7:58am

Oh my goodness, so much to take in for you. Congrats and welcoming hugs to Leo, along with all of my sympathies for losing your father. I'll be keeping you in my thoughts.

Ago 14, 2015, 5:42pm

Thanks so much for your visits and kind thoughts Laura, Kerry, Charl, Rhian and Amber. It is a comfort to know there are people thinking about you and sharing in your ups and downs around the world :)

Rhian I found your experiences an especial comfort. Thanks for sharing them with me.

In the meantime, here's a beautiful version of an old Hungarian folk song that my husband has been singing to Leó a lot in the past few days....


...and here's Queen doing an excellent job of the same song in front of 100,000 ecstatic Hungarians eager for a taste of the West in 1986...


Ago 15, 2015, 12:29am

Hannah, so delighted to hear that Leo arrived safely, and devastated to hear about your dad in the same breath. I'm sad that the two have to be conflated like this, but doubt that your grief for the one will affect Leo in the same way it would an older child. Relax. That's all you need do.
{{{{Hannah, hubbie, and Leo}}}

Ago 15, 2015, 6:39am

>115 HanGerg: Oh Hannah - congratulations and commiserations at the same time. Delighted to hear little Leo is safe and doing well but so sad to hear to the news about your Dad. What a lot of emotions you have to deak with at the moment.

I think grief counselling of some kind sounds like a good idea, particularly if you're concerned about how this might affect Leo. I have done a bit of (very) amateur reading about the impact of early traumas on mental health as it's something both myself and my husband have struggled with but my brother experienced similar early trauma to me and in addition, similarly to your circumstances, my father's father died very suddenly shortly after my brother (who's younger than me) was born but he's never shown any signs of mental health difficulties so there are presumably other factors at work as well? I think what I'm trying to say is that it seems nothing's set in stone when it comes to situations like this and I think the fact that you're aware of the situation will go a long way to counteracting any possible effects it might have on Leo.


Ago 15, 2015, 9:43am

Oh Hannah! Congratulations on the arrival of Leo. (I have never figured out accents, so forgive the lack).

And my sympathies (seems an inadequate word) about your father. How sad, how strange. But how lovely that he did see Leo.

I think everyone above has said everything brilliantly. I also might venture that holding on to that idea that Leo has not arrived to comfort you but that it is the other way around is a huge insight and further venture to say that it can be as satisfying to pour the love out as to take it in. It never runs out, luckily, not at all like some other things!

Counseling is a very good idea, esp connecting with a few others who have experienced something similar.

Another concern would be your mother - counseling could be very helpful there too. Do you have other sibs who can focus on her? - and yes - I agree too that grandparents seem to live in a category of their own.

Thank you for trusting us here. I know just what you mean about The Circle but this place here feels like it is getting the potential of the 'net right. For one, no one seems to mind here if you disappear for awhile, or can't visit threads; everyone has their own degree of participation that works.

Ago 20, 2015, 11:01pm

Thanks so much for your kind words Roni, Heather and Lucy. They really are a comfort to me. Lots of sound advice too, which I shall do my best to heed.

We are currently doing OK - lost in a whirl of feeding routines, health visitor visits and nappy changes. We haven't quite cracked breast feeding, so I spend a lot of time hooked up to a breast pump - this is my reading time currently, and I'm actually getting quite a lot of reading done that way! Not sure when I'll be able to report back on any of the books, or do the rounds of the threads and see what everyone else has been up to, but hopefully that day is not too far away. In the meantime, we have the funeral next Wednesday to get through, and then not so long after that, provided all proceeds smoothly with the house sale, we will be moving to Lincoln. I'm ready for the move - a fresh start in a new place feels like it's come at a good time. So, all things considered, I might not be around much over the next few weeks. I'll do my very best to check in when I can though. Odd times like now - 4am here and I'm sitting in front of the computer with a baby that's refusing to settle strapped to me in a baby sling. He was wriggling mightily earlier (we diagnosed excessive wind as the likely cause), but fingers crossed he may just of dropped off...

Sep 1, 2015, 4:18pm

>125 HanGerg: Lovely to see you check in Hannah - I hope Leo dropped off in the end! Glad to hear you are both doing ok amidst the whirl of new things you are having to learn. Most of my friends struggled with breast feeding initially but I think most managed to get there in the end and hopefully you will too. I think some of my friends found breast feeding clinics helpful so maybe once you are settled in Lincoln it might be worth seeing if there are any near you? However, I do believe there shouldn't be any shame in you deciding that breast feeding is not working for you and Leo if things don't improve.

Hope the Lincoln move is going smoothly.

Editado: Sep 20, 2015, 4:53pm

Hi Heather! Thanks for popping in and your kind thoughts! Alas, regarding the move, they weren't realised!
We should be nicely moved into the lovely house we were in the process of buying in Lincoln by now, but things have gone terribly wrong. Basically, the seller decided to take their house off the market at the last possible moment that they could do so without incurring any financial penalties, which was already a date they had pushed back by several days. It was mere days before we were due to move in and already two weeks later than we had said we ideally wanted her to vacate the premises so we could move in. The seller was an oldish lady who obviously couldn't bear to leave such a lovely house, so it's hard to be too angry at her, but at the same time, the implications for us have been pretty devastating in the short term.
I've just had five days of looking after Leó entirely on my own whilst my husband had to make the 300 mile trip up to Lincoln to start his new job. He stayed there for as much of the week as he could, but was also aware that he was leaving me with a difficult task, so was feeling pulled back here. As a result, he hasn't made the flying start to his new job that he desperately wanted to do, and for as long as this situation continues, will continue to struggle to do his job in the throughly brilliant and totally professional manner that he is capable of. Plus there are the considerable costs we have incurred in the process of the sale, the fact we will now have to rent for six months before we can try to buy again, meaning we'll probably have to move our belongings twice.... the lists of negative consequences goes on and on like a set of crappy dominoes. Sigh. I'm trying desperately to look at the silver lining which is; the six months will hopefully give us time to get to know the city a bit better and pounce on the perfect house for us as and when it comes on the market, as the previous house we had lined up, though brilliant in a number of ways, perhaps wasn't perfect and could be bettered. For now, he's off again for six days from Thursday, when as well as trying to fulfil his myriad new duties, he'll have to try and find us a decent house to rent (he looked this week but in the price bracket we could afford to rent in, found nothing good, so we have reluctantly re-drawn the budget and said we'll try in the next bracket up, for the sake of having a decent home to move our lovely son into).

Anyway, I didn't really intend to come here to complain, I just wanted to say really that although it's been a testing time, we're basically doing OK, that Leó is a constant, amazing delight and that we are slowly getting the hang of being reasonably competent parents to him. Oh, and despite all the other demands on my time, I am managing to get some reading done! I have polished off all three books that begin the Liaden universe series, and am now firmly hooked. I've also continued reading lots of my current favourite author, C.J. Cherryh, and I'm currently reading a compilation volume of The Borrible Trilogy, which I picked up at Heather's urging when we met up in Birmingham last year. I hope to get here again soon to do a few reviews (somehow, it really bugs me that I owe so many - I can't just write them off!) and catch up with some of you!

Sep 21, 2015, 9:45pm

Oh, Hannah, so sorry to hear about all your travails! Glad Leo, at least, is such a joy.
*waves cast*

Oct 8, 2015, 8:41am

I've had a low profile here at LT of late and so I am sorry to read of your travails. When last I was here everything looked so good. Would that lady have pulled her house off like that if she knew what she was doing to you?? On the other hand, as you say, it could all work out in the end.

Babies are so all-consuming and while some days might pass as if you are trying to move through jello, the fact is, they grow up in a flash. It's very very strange.

Oct 8, 2015, 4:53pm


Oct 24, 2015, 9:31am

>127 HanGerg: I hope things on the housing front have now settled themselves for you, Hannah. I think Lincoln is a lovely place and has a grand little second hand bookstore in the centre fairly close to the cathedral that I like to peruse through when I make my rare forays home.

I must say you were terribly charitable about the old lady, I would have been spitting fire, I think.

Take care and come back and visit us soon with an update or two.

Editado: Oct 25, 2015, 6:52am

Hi Roni, Lucy and Paul! Thanks as always for your warmth and kindness. They do me no end of good.

Paul, you are right, we were spitting fire. I should have said, being angry at her would do no good. She knew our circumstances, and did in fact send us a card to apologise, which tempered our anger a little, but on the other hand; she used words like "inconvenience" which hardly seemed to convey the seriousness of what her actions had done to us! Grrr. Actually, by a weird conincidence, my husband discovered at a welcome drinks thing at the university that one of his colleagues was her next door neighbour and knew her well. He was the one that finally revealed her motives for what she did (one of the annoyances about the situation was that she had never offered us an explanation). Apparently, it was her daughter who was demanding that she move closer to her, which she had obviously agreed to and then pulled out of at the last minute. So, I do have some sympathy, but at the same time she should of interrogated her feelings about the situation a lot sooner and more thoroughly than she did. Oh well, no use dwelling on it.

The good news is, we are in Lincoln now, as a lovely little family unit of three, in a nice flat with great views of the city, and now we even have internet! My husband is working hard at the uni (he has a book to finish by Christmas - eek!) and I am spending my days largely consumed by looking after Leó, although I did also manage to get into some creative professionals networks and go to a few things that they have organised. That might yield some interesting opportunities in the future, so that's very encouraging. Mainly though I spend my days on the playmat, and at a couple of good children's groups I've managed to find. The next goal is to try and make a few friends, and then Lincoln might really start to feel like home.

Ok, I'm going to try and tackle some of the many reviews I owe. To make this a realistic goal they will only be very brief, but better than nothing. Here goes...

Editado: Oct 25, 2015, 6:53am

23.Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett 4/5
More early series Discworld fun, featuring one of my favourites, the indomitable Granny Weatherwax.

24.The Unforsaken Hiero - Sterling E. Lanier 4/5
We still have Hiero, but he quickly loses all his travelling companions and most of his powers here, which made me think I wouldn't like this sequel as much, but by taking this harder route, Lanier has produced something richer and more satisfying. Roll on the third part, I say! ; )

25.How to Build A Girl - Caitlin Moran 3/5
I got this free when I went to see Caitlin do her live show, which was a hilarious mix of stand-up comedy, feminist call-to-arms and book tour. I so wanted to love this, her first foray into fiction writing, as she's one of my feminist hereos and brilliantly funny to boot, but this was just thinly veiled autobiography that actually wasn't all that empowering despite her claims that it was. (Sooo much bad sex with creepy men!) The recent TV show she wrote with her sister, "Raised by Wolves" covered similar territory much more fruitfully and amusingly, alas.

26.Vurt - Jeff Noon 4.5/5
Brilliantly weird SF set in an alternative Manchester, read whilst I still lived in Manchester and regularly walked down the streets he sets the book in, which gave it an added frisson. Very strange and very good.

Editado: Oct 25, 2015, 1:37pm

>132 HanGerg: Glad to read you're settling in and getting to go to baby and creative groups. One of my favourite things going swimming is when I happen to be there at the same time as a parents and babies swim class. Sooooo cute! I think I liked the Caitlin Moran more than you did, although that's despite agreeing with your criticisms. I am deeply envious that you saw her live. She comes across on TV as such a genuinely down to earth person (despite the intelligence and drive in spades).

Oct 25, 2015, 2:31pm

Hannah, so sorry to hear about the crappy situation with the house but glad you have managed to find some temporary digs in Lincoln so at least the family is together. Here's hoping you all settle in and have much better luck finding somewhere permanent to live.

Nov 22, 2015, 9:15am

Glad you are settled in a decent place and starting to make some connections.

THRILLED that you read and enjoyed Book 2. I agree it is richer, better writing. Book 3 is languishing, mysteriously, at the agency. Either it has become a doormat or they are considering it, nothing in between, I expect. Every month or so I write a polite request to know what is happening and get a polite reply that they will get back to me. It's a bit unnerving. I know the book needs a massive rewrite, so if they want it, I will have work to do.

Dic 23, 2015, 5:44pm

For my Christmas/Hanukkah/Solstice/Holiday image this year (we are so diverse!), I've chosen this photograph by local photographer Mark Lenoce of the pier at Pacific Beach to express my holiday wishes to you: Peace on Earth and Good Will toward All!

Dic 24, 2015, 11:48am

Have a lovely holiday, Hannah

Ene 8, 2016, 8:20am

Thanks for the holiday wishes Roni and Paul. Oh dear, I've seriously let things slide towards the end of 2015! I do have a small person who takes up most of my waking moments, so I guess that explains it, but it's frustrating nonetheless! Anyway, I'll wrap things up here and see you in 2016 everyone!

Editado: Ene 12, 2016, 5:18pm

Nice to see you here. Oh yes, and they keep on taking up astonishing amounts of time!

The agency, btw, has ACCEPTED the mss!