alithea: (Warrior River (made by brokenharlequin))
Probably no-one around here has missed me raving about the Requite books by our very own Ankaret Wells, but in case you weren't aware the latest one, Heavy Ice came out on the 1st of December and if you are a fan of SF with plenty of Adventure and romance, you are in for a treat! It's like the ultimate girl and her pony story, where the girl is a foul-mouthed bandit with the honour of the most pragmatic family of bandit royalty on her shoulders, and her pony is a 12 ft dinosaur with the most realised personality of any non-speaking animal character I've read for a long time. In keeping with its very different heroine, the tone of this book is altogether earthier and sexier than The Maker's Mask and The Hawkwood War, but the wonderful world building and background plots and intrigue are still there in spades, and if I have any complaints , it would be that I loved some of the secondary characters so much, I was disappointed it wasn't longer so we could see more of them. The lost colony main plot line is handled with wonderful attention to detail and, despite being set over 200 years after the other two, there are some lovely touches for fans of previous characters to squee over too. I finished it a couple of nights ago and am now going to have to read the other ones again over the holidays because I'm suffering Requite withdrawal symptoms.

My new motto when someone is trying to take advantage of my good nature is What Would A Hawkwood Do?
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: (Alicia)
My evening's procrastination is not in vain for I have discovered that Ellen Kushner is writing a Jessica Campion story.
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: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
The Boy met an over-sized cairn terrier with fangs called Sgt Taura and a cat with brittle bones called Miles today. Apparently even little old ladies in their 80s are not above Vorkosigan fangirling. This fills me with joy.
alithea: (Books)
Having finished Cryoburn and mostly resisted temptation to howl at length, I'm enjoying some comfort reading just now. My book of choice is The Maker's Mask, Book 1 (of 2) of Requite by Ankaret Wells. Ankaret is a very talented friend of mine, I've waxed lyrical about her wonderful writing before but I have new victims converts in the making now so if you are a fan of good old fashioned sci-fi adventure stories with wonderful characters and a bit of romance, you should check out her blog and read some extracts to see if it's your sort of thing. The adventures of Tzenni Boccamera, the ever-practical engineer who wishes people were as simple to understand as plumbing systems, and her blue-haired hermaphrodite bodyguard with a sharp tongue to match its sharp sword, await ;)

And in the interests of fairness, because I know several talented writers around here, for those of you who are e-book enabled - Ros Clarke writes fun modern romance, and Melanie Clegg writes historical romance and a wonderful blog about historical women, art and stuff.

Go forth and find new books to enjoy ;)
alithea: (Books)
Many thanks to all those around here who harped on and on about the Vorkosigan books until I started reading them. I finished A Civil Campaign last night and it was sheer joy from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed the space adventure novels in the middle of the series but dear me, that woman writes fantastic social/political intrigue. It was like the sci-fi version of Swordspoint, an instant favourite, with some really classic scenes.

I think I'm probably far enough through the time line for fanfic without spoilers, any recommendations?
alithea: (Avengers in paradise)
Buying an issue of SF&F just for a St Vier story was one thing, but I think I've just crossed a line into serious Riverside fangirling by ordering, with the assistance of a very generous American woman of my acquaintance, a copy of The Man with the Knives - a limited edition, handbound chapbook of Ellen Kushner's latest short story. Apparently, it's about Alec meeting Sofia from The Fall of the Kings so I guess I better finally track down a copy of that too...

ETA: Gah, there are two other short stories I don't have, that's two more anthologies to go on my wishlist!

In other news, my body is refusing to accept the switch to BST and I currently seem to be operating on GMT-1 just to be awkward. This is not awfully uncommon on Mondays however, so hopefully I'll be more in sync tomorrow. Also in defiance of the suggestion that it may not be winter any more, the weather is bitterly cold today and there is snow forecast for tomorrow. ETA2: and that snow has arrived now, in the form of sleet at least :( I'm glad the car is fixed, I would not be enamoured of the idea of walking to and from the Union tonight in this!
alithea: (Spring (from nomnomicons))
It's sunny but very windy here, winter hasn't quite given up just yet and my windows are whistling as usual.

Ended up taking a proper break over the weekend, which is probably a good thing, although I'm still tired today as I actually got up at a sensible time this morning because I'm expecting a heating engineer (who, of course, will now probably turn up at 4.30 pm!). Highlights of the weekend were:

- Ray and Maria winning the ice skating (Robin Cousins soo wants him to turn pro but I think he's going to take some persuading given I very much doubt there is much money in it, still it would be nice to actually have a decent British skater again)

- Managed to get hold of a copy of Fantasy & Science Fiction in Borders - the Ellen Kushner short story is rather good and now I want to read Swordspoint again!

- The Kingdom Beyond the Waves is really rather good; if you enjoyed The Court of the Air but thought he crammed too much into one book, I'd definately recommend the sequel, it's more streamlined and the characterisation is better. The 3rd one will be on my wishlist when it comes out in paperback.
alithea: (Avengers in paradise)
Because I just found out that the April/May edition of Fantasy & Science Fiction features an Ellen Kushner novella about Richard St. Vier from Swordspoint!

Now I just need to figure out if I can buy a copy in the UK or whether I'm going to have to resort to paying for the .pdf file and bribing someone to print it out for me.
alithea: (Imagination (made by celandineb))
On Friday, Jakob and I met up and practiced T'ai Chi in the park - I'm gradually getting the 37 and 44 move form versions into my head as two seperate entities, and we did Animals too - ahhh animals ;) Also, there was comic borrowing:

Strangers in Paradise - the 2nd to last issue EVAR. I'm not going to squee at great length, but everyone should read this, despite its faults (and i admit it has them), at its best it's one of those fantastic character stories that really has something to say about what it means to be human, and to love. Also, I *sooo* identify with Francine's journey these days...

Buffy season 8 - ohhh shiny! Joss Whedon is writing it himself at the moment, although I think only the first story arc (oh and the last apparently, if all goes to plan) and so far (I've read the first 3 issues) it's rather fine and the art work is good too. If you are missing the TV show (who isn't???) then I highly recommend checking this out! I can see certain peeps may have the fantasy dream image from the beginning of issue 3 burned into their imaginations for sometime to come ;)

Am also reading Joss Whedon's run of X-men - Astonishing X-men, which is rather good, although I've been a bit lost more recently as characters i'm not familiar with (not having read any other runs of the comic) have been showing up, and now I've missed an issue or two, and his new (to him) Marvel comic Runaways, which is about a group of supervillians' kids on the run, and is very funny indeed!

Speaking of Marvel - went to see Spiderman 3 last night. Enjoyed it in general, it was good but not fanastic, but was worth the £4.50 especially since the trailers were Pirates 3 (shiny, shiny, shiny!!), Shrek 3 (shiny!), Transformers (hmmmm...), and Harry Potter 5 (shiny, shiny, shiny!), and therefore would only have been improved if we'd got Stardust too. I was particularly entertained by how hopeless he is with women, and the obligatory 'black suit = brooding on gothic cathedral spire'. And that Saturday Night Fever-esque strutting down the street scene was soo cringeworthily funny I nearly cried. Overall, pretty entertaining I thought.

And of course the other cathedral and sound weapon featuring thing this week was the latest episode of Dr Who. I missed the first episode of this series but have seen all the others and while I've yet to be really grabbed by any of the new stories, I'm liking the less-manic post-Rose Doctor, and continue to be amused by their Whedon-esque ability to mix pop culture references - this week's mix of everything from Eliot to This is Spinal Tap was particularly notable. It was probably my favourite so far along with the Shakespeare episode. And the trailer for the rest of the season looked somewhat shiny - ummmm Captain Jack ;)

alithea: (Kaylee (made by viadisaster))
Pirates of the Caribbean 3 - At World's End trailer here for anyone who hadn't noticed yet
alithea: (Red Inara (made by singingrl))
My hormones hate me this week, i've felt like crap for days and this morning, this was elevated to death warmed-up. Fortunately, a nice cuppa, two nurofen and a long, hot shower are a remarkable restorative, and i'm feeling much more human now.

Deadlands last night was eventful - nattering about the session - the End of the World is Nigh, Demons from Hell and beyond )

Speaking of demons and fantasy - for those of you who haven't discovered it yet via [ profile] thebirdwoman, I'd like to point you towards Dark Red - the webcomic as it's rather fine, in the vein of Neil Gaiman and others of a dark fantasy in the 'real' world bent. You can even get an insight into the artist's creative process over on her LJ [ profile] thedarkredblog.

There, that's my good deed for the day :) Now to plug my own artistic endeavours - chalice piccies will be going up on [ profile] gathering_bones shortly. After consulting with Mum last night, I'm turning my big tile into a decorative piece for her kitchen wall and the four small tiles are going to be Sabbat plaques so I need to get designing those. I may well be doing my bit for interfaith understanding next week, as i fully expect someone to ask me what I'm doing...

In the meantime, work and pottering today, Games night tomorrow, and vistation from [ profile] psychohoebeast, [ profile] daboss and LM on Sunday. Better finish my abandonned spring cleaning :) And I have daffodils - two glasses full in the lounge and a vase on my altar, lovely and bright, and spring-like *happy sigh*
alithea: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
The Lodger is away until tomorrow so I've had the flat to myself all weekend. Saturday, there was general pottering and discovering that i can watch season 1 of Babylon 5 on my temporarily free Teleport TV service, which doesn't make up for the loss of BSG and will probably result in me being sorely tempted to invest in the 4 seasons on DVD (don't talk to me about season 5 - I've seen Neil Gaiman's episode and wondered at how fantastic it would have been had it featured Ivanova and allowed them to bring back Talia, and that is all), but has pacified me slightly, as it's amazing how fondly you can look back on it's early weaknesses and the dreadfulness of Sinclair, after you have totally fallen in love with it at it's best. I also made bolognase, 'cos I had a sudden craving and haven't made it for ages, and killer chocolate 'brownies' as my donation for Sunday, when I went over to [ profile] mcwoof's for a delicious roast dinner.

The eclipse on Saturday night was rather fine, although looked more grey with a hint of dirty browny orange, than red to me. It was interesting how much more spherical the moon looked when not all shiny and bright, like a bubble hanging in the sky...

Sunday, we watched The Brothers Grimm after dinner, which was quite entertaining but a bizarre combination of very silly and really rather dark, which somehow didn't quite work.

And now it's Monday, I have a pile of house work to do which I neglected over the weekend, on top of work work, so I better get on with something useful!
alithea: (Drew lips (made by iconoclastism))
The entire of the pottery class are now convinced that I'm a breast-fixated lesbian, thanks mostly to [ profile] mcwoof being a complete wind-up merchant. I can't remember the last time I ever blushed soo much, and I was laughing so hard, it brought tears to my eyes. My obsession with making female figurines has been noted, and last night the teacher Anne, talked me into trying an actual statue (30-40 cm high) rather than ickle figurines, and there followed a lot of discussion and ribbing about the size of her breasts, and me spending about 30 mins trying to get them vaguely in proportion and a sensible shape. Of course, my obsession actually has far more to do with me being a Goddess worshipper than the fact that I'm attracted to women, but nevermind. Anyway, a Celestial Goddess statue is in progress, I need to decide details for next week and might post some design sketches on [ profile] gathering_bones if I can get some half decent images together. I also glazed my three chalices so *fingers crossed* they will turn out well. I've made a Spiral Chalice, a Triple Goddess Chalice, and a Rock Pool Chalice. I would have had 4 because i poured them in pairs, but using the molds two weeks in a row meant they stayed a bit damp and the fourth one broke when I tried to remove it, so I converted the cup part into a moon and stars tea light holder, which I can glaze next week when the new antique gold glaze is mixed up. I should also be able to glaze my bowls next week, as the blues and greens glaze is finally in too, having been on order since before christmas!

When I got home, the Lodger and i watched the first of the new series of Grand Designs, which led him to coin the fantastic term 'architec-porn' as they were doing up a 14th Century castle and we were both in fits of jealous ecstasy over it. So who wants to buy a castle with me, hm?? I'd *love* to buy one and have a bunch of us live together in it - I'd even learn to drive so we could lift share 'cos obviously it would have to be out in the countryside. Any takers? And yes, I am serious, you all knew i was a bit of a hippy, right? Maybe I should start playing the lottery...
alithea: (Starbuck (made by aderyn))
Gizmo was fine all day yesterday so i gave her chunkies for tea and this morning she was sick again *sigh* I can't work out whether these new chunkies don't suit or whether she was just randomly a bit ill, after all this morning was one of her typical I'll-throw-up-the-remains-of-my-last-meal-and-then-scoff-my-breakfast-like-nothing-has-happened incidents, rather than the throwing up and making a mess in her box and actually seeming like she feels ill of earlier in the week... Dry biscuits for now I think. Of course, the fretting is probably displacement fretting but at least I'm not having kittens over next week's trip to Brussels.

Weather is scarily windy. I need to put the rubbish out but i'm afraid to go and look at the roof 'cos i think I might have lost a tile or two yesterday. Good job I gave up on my window boxes!

Anyway, slides for meeting next week are sorted and emailed off, and washing up, putting out rubbish and shifting recycling beckons. Didn't leave the house yesterday due to awful weather so must do better today. And it's obviously put me in a strange mood 'cos I left a very dodgy comment* on a friends LJ and then ran away (before you start thinking there is gossip in the offing, it was regarding the promo shots for Pirates 3 which are here for your enjoyment)

*Which may have alluded to my slight blades fetish and appreciation of Elizabeth dressed as a warrior woman... Possibly, maybe...
alithea: (Tea and universe saving (made by _kali_))
Excited about Dr Who tonight :) See the shiny new icon - universe-saving followed by tea and cake, how could I resist ;)?

Speaking of cake - Black Lab are no more (BOO!) but Paul Durham is in a new band called Cake or Death (whose CD I'm currently listening to courtesy of the ever on-the-ball [ profile] pluginchris) - isn't that just the finest band name ever??

And speaking of Dr Who, [ profile] purple_bug, i have The Clockwise Man for you, but I started reading it at Stirling station yesterday so I'll finish it before I pass it on.

Fun and games at Amy's this afternoon so i guess I better get ready - have a good holiday weekend, peeps :)
alithea: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
It's more or less sunny, I'm not shattered today, in fact I'm feeling rather alive, I've just finished listening to a very funny, inspirational, sound woman ( woodwitch's podcast), Katchoo and Francine are reunited at last (Strangers in Paradise), and someone out there was thinking of me not long ago...

The world's all shiny and hopeful, and I feel like dancing and telling Goddess I love her so I'm off to get my Priestess on!

*bounces off grinning like a mad woman*
alithea: (Kaylee (made by viadisaster))
Made T'ai chi on Wednesday evening and did 44, animals and sticky-hands (which I'm completely dire at given my inability to relax my shoulders at the best of times but nevermind!). Thursday's Exile game involved Demeter scowling a lot because the party animals were practicing for their new porn industry and Zay'bee killed the Baksa'Kusa (I've no idea of it's actually spelt like that!) woman who was rather cool. And we're in big trouble because the Diplomatic service may be after our passenger...
Am tired today due to getting to bed at 1am - [ profile] purple_bug came over last night and we had stir fry and watched Dogma and the first 3 episodes of Firefly (Wash *wistful sigh*). T'was the first time I'd watched it since Serenity and unfortunately did serve to highlght quite how different the start of the film is from what Simon tells them, but hey, nevermind, I can forgive Joss most things ;) The whole cat allergy is undecided as yet as her reaction seemed to settle down after a few hours, so we'll just have to see.
Other than that, flat wrangling has occurred, though not as yet to the level required, and I should really do some Xmas shopping! [ profile] frogclock, my pressie arrived this morning, thank you (and no, i haven't opened it) :)
More stomping later and then Adventure! antics, and tomorrow, [ profile] vodkafrenzy may put in an appearance before Nobilis, so all go :)
alithea: (Kaylee (made by viadisaster))
I've treated myself to a paid account and spent many hours today scouring icon communities! I'm too fussy, I've only picked 4 so far - firefly icons, since I'm hopelessly obsessed with it at present, and a really arty Six Feet Under one which I happened across. I also have space for photos now, so if you're very lucky I might give in and post a picture of my very red hair later!

April 2017

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