alithea: (altar candle (please do not take))
Wishing you all a special time with loved ones over the festive period and hoping the return of the sun brings light and hope, or at least comfort in the darkness, to you all. Much love and safe journey to all those travelling over the holidays x
alithea: (Books)
I had flu last week, which was incredibly annoying (especially as I had to soldier on working at home for the 1st three days because we had a software release to get out which I had put stacks of works into the website for and I couldn't bear to let anyone else mess up in my absence), but it did mean I got to spend Thursday in bed with Gemini, the final volume of the House of Niccolo series by Dorothy Dunnett.

For those of you who have managed to miss me raving about this series, it's a historical saga following the fortunes of Niccolo and his friends, family, and enemies, as he trades, plots and schemes his way through 20 odd years of political upheaval across Europe (mostly), in the second half of the 15th Century. It's something of an obsession in the Turret - spawning our choice of Bruges as honeymoon destination so we could visit locations from the story, which begins there, and inspiring the much-missed 7th Sea game.

You know a series is good when you finish it and immediately want to start reading it over to spot all the bits you missed without the aid of hindsight. It really is something of a masterpiece, I would wonder why it isn't more famous except I think I can guess. She doesn't make any effort to spoon-feed her audience - they are written from a very particular point of view so you mostly don't get to see inside the characters heads, allowing them to keep their secrets until the big reveals. The main character is something of a genius and she never tries to make his plotting easier to follow, although it usually makes sense by the end. But the other reason is probably that a major theme is how far the shadow of one man's inappropriate lusts can fall and whether your childhood defines who you are as a adult, or whether overcoming abuse is possible and a matter of nature or nurture. And the answers aren't all the easy ones, some of the characters are only ever victims... She has a real talent for writing very human characters though, some of them appear to be pantomime villains at times but it never lasts. By the time it comes to it, you feel a pang when anyone dies, even if you thought you'd celebrate beforehand. Having said all that, she also has a talent for describing physical comedies of errors, some of the set pieces are side-achingly funny, so it's not all heavy emotional stuff.

Anyway, much recommended if you like a good twisty historical saga to get your teeth into. And I now know how it connects to her other historical series, the Lymond Chronicles, so they are on my to-read list next. Well, when I track down copies anyway.

What I'm actually reading at the moment is 'The Lies of Locke Lamorra' by Scott Lynch, a rather delightful fantasy about gentleman con artists set in a city somewhat reminiscent of medieval Venice.
alithea: (Being human (base by ahlai))
I think I spent more of my long weekend watching the Tour de France and reading Ghost Ship from cover to cover, than I did tidying but I only have 2 plastic crates and 2 document boxes left to go through and the cupboard is looking fairly civilised (a lot of what we've kept is actually packing materials, but it seems silly to throw out bubblewrap and tissue paper when we are planning on moving next year). And I went swimming in the North Sea on Friday afternoon, which was very pleasant indeed. I should definitely get back into swimming, even if it's in the uni pool next time.

I also caught up with 3 friends, although it should have been 4, and didn't come last in 'Ticket to Ride' by screwing over the Boy which was a bit mean of me, but Brad had already blocked me from 2 routes and it was soo obvious where he was going and that it would mean a huge score... Bad wife ;)
alithea: (Windswept Francine)
5 months ago I walked home from work in the snow and this evening I did similarly. 5 months of on-and-off snow in this city, which is basically at sea level, has got to be some sort of record.
alithea: (Alicia)
My evening's procrastination is not in vain for I have discovered that Ellen Kushner is writing a Jessica Campion story.
alithea: (spring)
Why did I think this week was the time to break out my spring user icon?? We currently have a blizzard outside...
alithea: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
You can always rely on a Poliakoff drama to look ravishing if nothing else. I'm enjoying this one rather more than the last (Glorious 39) so far and Angel Coulby has a beautiful voice. Is it just me though, or is he a bit obsessed with sinister government bureaucracy?

In other news, the Boy found a copy of English Costume - painted and described by Dion Clayton Calthrop in our local Oxfam bookshop the other day, which has caused squeals of joy in the house. It was originally written in 1906, although our edition is from 1931, and covers 1066 to 1830 arranged in chapters by the ruling monarch of the time, and is utterly utterly charming, with its delightful turns of phrase and beautiful illustrations. She finishes with some observations about the lack of colour and pomp in 'modern' dress and I can't help wondering what on earth she would make of the clothes in evidence on a London street today!
alithea: (ice)
Have only broken the work website twice so far today.

My hair roots currently match my dark red dress but the rest of my hair is mostly still brown-black. It would appear Garnier HerbaShine is more effective at dyeing my bathroom than my hair. This a new disadvantage of having painted wood as a shower screen which hadn't occurred to me before. We may have to repaint the bathroom again...

Grey sleety weather is not conducive to getting up in the mornings, especially when you have SAD.

Can I hibernate until the sun comes out, please?
alithea: (ice)
This is the first time I've been able to get on here for days so a belated happy new year to you all - I hope 2013 treats you well.

2012 year review and other ramblings to come but I have work to do first.
alithea: (Books)
Because there is more to life than books, but not much more )
Witch Light by Susan Fletcher. More 17th Century, this time set in Scotland. A witch witnesses a massacre but will her knowledge save her? Love the description of what it means to be a witch at the beginning, chimes very true with me. Further comment here on my LJ

The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner (RE-READ). Perfect comfort reading - swashbuckling, intrigue, angst, sexual awakening and a happy ending!

Purity of Blood (Captain Alatriste book 2) by Arturo PĂ©rez-Reverte. No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Swords of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. John Carter hijinx - good fun if you can manage to judge its treatment of the female characters by the time it was written in. Slightly bizarre pacing.

Jack Cloudie by Stephen Hunt. Another madcap steampunk novel, shame about the new covers which don't match my existing collection!

The City & The City by China Mieville. Intriguing SF thriller which I thoroughly enjoyed - the plot is tight and gripping, and the setting is fascinating. I started off thinking maybe only the characters let it down a bit but by the end I was emotionally engaged too.

Firebrand by Ankaret Wells. Wonderful steampunk romance with great characters and intriguing world-building. Can't wait for the xmas freebie story set in the same world on

Currently reading:

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. A classic for the holidays, A Christmas Carol would have been a step too far!

Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow. Urban fantasy short story collection
alithea: (altar candle (please do not take))
Hope this Solstice finds you and yours safe and warm and dry and well-fed, and that the longer days bring happiness with them.

alithea: (Warrior River (made by brokenharlequin))
Yesterday was the first time my feminist hackles were raised at work. Depressingly, showing we are sometimes our own worst enemies, it was another woman who set them off.

We had a visiting scientist from the local hospital in for a meeting and afterwards she was in the office looking for someone to give her a demonstration of our software. Her ploy for achieving this was to simper at the room full of mostly male developers* and say "I'm a girl, I want pretty pictures."

Now I'm not anti using 'girl' in some contexts, I will merrily refer to myself as one despite being a married 34 year old with a PhD and a mortgage. However, a male-dominated professional work context is one situation I would never use it in. I didn't approve of her infantilising herself OR making out like she was too stupid to understand technical stuff (I don't know whether she has a PhD or not, but she's the new head of a microscopy project so she must know her stuff).

I've been lucky in this job in that no-one has patronised me or assumed I can't do technical things despite the fact I'm both female AND almost the only person without a technical background in the team. But still, I know enough other women in technical fields to know this is by no means typical, and this woman didn't know this lot like I do.

*I'm usually the only woman in the office but our American developer is visiting this week so I'm slightly less outnumbered than usual.
alithea: (Autumn wolf)
I walked home from work in the snow on Friday. And I don't mean rain masquerading as sleet, I mean actual, size of my finger nails, snowflakes. In the city centre. I'm pretty sure this is the earliest it has snowed in Dundee in the 9 years I've lived here. A friend commented on FB that her Dad thought someone had set this years' weather to shuffle - I think I agree! We have had some glorious autumn weather though, which makes up for the lack of summer in my book, although possibly not anyone else's ;)

Now I just need to see the northern lights when we are out at Glen Prosen for the Halloween LARP next weekend!
alithea: (Default)
I've tidied my flist a bit. I don't think I've removed anyone who comes anywhere near here with a bargepole these days, but if you are in fact still reading, please feel free to pipe up.
alithea: (Default)
Apparently I have become a morning person in less than two weeks - I was awake by 7 am every morning all week, including all weekend. My neighbours may be less impressed with this development because we had Florence & the Machine blaring out at 8am this morning (Radio 4 isn't safe until 8.50 am on a Sunday) and I'm currently listening to Tori's Little Earthquakes album and singing along very loudly (and probably quite badly!). Sunday morning worship Helen style ;)


Sep. 25th, 2012 10:19 am
alithea: (Autumn wolf)
Definitely a Wild Woman channelling day today - Boots of Wonder, superhero dress, leather trenchcoat, wild and woolly weather (I nearly got lifted off my feet on Hawkhill on the way into work!). Very glad to be in my nice non-howly office rather than the Turret today!

Have I mentioned how much I love autumn recently? ;)
alithea: (Books)
Is it just me, or are the Dresden Files books a bit sexist? I started reading the Harry Dresden short story in Naked City* last night, having never actually got around to reading any of the novels as yet, and there's something a tad 'I'm a New Man, honest, *nudge, nudge, wink, wink*' about the tone of it somehow. Or maybe it's just me...

*Which I did buy solely on the basis that it has an Ellen Kushner Riverside short story in it that I hadn't read, set during and after Swordspoint, because I'm a hopeless Riverside fan girl like that ;)
alithea: (Starbuck bang (made by amiyuy))
Caught the end of Newsnight last night and the piece they were doing on whether the success of women at the Olympics (this Olympics has been all about the women in my opinion) and the wall to wall coverage of women athletes on the TV, will actually translate into greater exposure for them *after* the Olympics and improve equality of access, participation and sponsorship. I'm somewhat afraid to hope it will because I suspect I'm going to be disappointed, but if the shortlist for Sport's Personality of the Year isn't at least 50% women this year, there needs to be a *lot* of angry letters written to the BBC (although I'll confess I won't mind if Bradley Wiggins wins it, just as long as the women get the recognition they are due too).

Turns out that when it's women playing rather than overpaid idiots with attitude problems, I'll even watch *football* of all things, although I think handball still wins the 'most entertaining sport I've never seen before' award.
alithea: (We are all made of stars)
I've been glued to the TV all week but it took 'til today for the tears to start. Anna Watkins went to high school with my little sister and I remember her as cheery 15 year old, enthusing about my Mum's green mini. It was a real privilege to watch her win a gold medal. There are some jolly proud folks in a sleepy little Staffordshire village today.

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