alithea: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
Something I hate: my kitchen. It's a building site with no storage. One day I will get a new one!
Something I love: kites. I haven't flown one in too long, the Viking (an ex) and I used to fly kites a lot because he always had one in the boot of his car whenever we went anywhere.
Somewhere I've been: Kirkcudbright. My parents used to holiday in Scotland before I was born and when I was really little. Having always heard them talk about it, the first time I saw it written down was one of those spelling and pronunciation mismatches that are hilarious when other people make them about somewhere local to you (for those who are oblivious, it's pronounced 'Cu'koo-bree' (I await being corrected by someone more local than me ;)))
Somewhere I'd like to go: Kelvingrove Museum - I haven't been for about 15 years and they seem to have made a lovely job of doing it up since.
Someone I know: Kevin
A film I like: Kind Hearts and Coronets

That was a lot harder than M, especially the places, I thought I was going to have to resort to the index of my atlas!
alithea: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
Something I hate: Mould on my walls from leaky guttering no-one will fix
Something I love: Mushrooms, because fungi are great, except when they are growing somewhere you really don't want them. Also, yummy.
Somewhere I've been: Malta - a very long time ago, I don't think I was even a teenager. Mostly I remember pretty painted boats and getting heat rash.
Somewhere I'd like to go: Madrid - Mim has got me hankering for Spain, somewhere else I haven't been for years and years.
Someone I know: [ profile] marrog
A film I like: Mad Max: Fury Road

If anyone else would like a letter, leave a comment!
alithea: (Books)
The book I'm reading: I actually finished reading Secrets of the Fire Sea by Stephen Hunt last night so technically none but I shall probably go back to the further adventures of Miles Vorkosigan tonight and start reading Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold.

The book I love most: That is a real toughy but if my flat was burning down and I could only rescue one book I owned it would probably be my signed and dedicated 1st Ed hardback of Stardust by Neil Gaiman because the illustrations by Charles Vess are beautiful, it's a wonderful story and it would probably be the hardest of my collection to replace.

The last book I received as a gift: The aforementioned Secrets of the Fire Sea - the Boy came in with it a few days before Evil Pink Hearts Day as a Not Valentines present :)

The last book I gave as a gift: The Requite novels (The Makers Mask and The Hawkwood War) by Ankaret Wells to the Boy's brother and [ profile] thebirdwoman for Xmas. I don't think I actually bought the Boy any books this time but I may be misremembering that.

The nearest book: Actually the Boy's nursing text book but I have a whole bookcase in front of me and another one just to my right.
alithea: (Ice berries (made by boundary))
Day 18 – Favorite beginning scene in a book

The opening of Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner - the description of the city in the snow, the drop of blood lying on the white background, the hero of the piece fleeing the scene. It sets the tone of the book wonderfully and draws you into the world of Riverside immediately.
alithea: (Books)
Day 15 – Your "comfort" book

Something absorbing and engaging that takes me away from the real world for a while. Can be Pratchett or Good Omens if I'm in the mood for funny, or something with a bit of romance - Swordspoint is on the list these days and I suspect Cordelia's Honor will be re-read several times over the coming years. A Taste of Blood Wine by Freda Warrington is probably next on my comfort re-read list - 1920s angst and vampires; I've recently got it back from a friend having lent it out about 3 years ago!

Day 16 – Favorite poem or collection of poetry

Poetry is a big gap in my reading these days. I used to read it at school and had verses on my wall as an undergrad, but I seem to have got out of the habit these days. Aside from The Odyssey and The Iliad, and the complete works of Shakespeare, the only poetry we seem to have in the house is some Blake and a collection of Irish poetry. I had He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven on my wall for 3 years as an undergrad, but I'm sure you all know that off by heart anyway, so have this, an old favourite from my school days:

The Listeners by Walter De La Mare )

Day 17 – Favorite story or collection of stories (short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.)

I'm a fan of the mythic fiction collections edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling but I think my favourite short story collection is Dreams Underfoot by Charles De Lint, either that or Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman, as I generally enjoy his short fiction more than his novels (with the notable exceptions of Stardust, which I love to pieces, and the Graveyard Book, which is probably so good because it plays to his strengths by being more like a linked collection of shorts).
alithea: (Being human (base by ahlai))
Day 13 – Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)

I had lots of different favourite books as a child, it really rather depends on what age you are talking about. My first favourite book was probably The Magical Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. As for YA - I don't really read this, my experience of the genre consists of The Vampire Diaries, HP, Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials and Sally Lockhart adventures and Garth Nix's Abhorsen series. Of these, my favourite individual book is Lirael, which won't surprise anyone who knew that is where my journal tagline comes from. It's a coming of age story about a girl who is the black sheep of her family but finds her own way in the world, discovering talents that help her find her place and help others. And her campanion is a talking dog, what more do you want? ;) Also, I love the magic in the series.

Day 14 – Favorite character in a book (of any sex or gender)

Robin Hobb's Fool - I have something of an obsession with travelling prophet charcters who see too much and try to save the world. Which explains why I took to Roland in the Dark Tower series so strongly and why I love Daneel in Asimov's Robots and Foundation series. Also, Francine from Strangers in Paradise (for ages Katchoo was my favourite and then Francine grew up), Elizabeth Bennett (who doesn't want to be wonderfully witty and intelligent, and infuriate all the stuck-up family matrons in the world by catching the best bachelor despite being poor and willful!), and plenty of others who don't immediately come to mind.
alithea: (Books)
Day 12 – A book or series of books you’ve read more than five times

Waylander and Good Omens are the books I own that I've read the most times. Several other books have probably reached 2 or 3 rereads by now but I think they are probably the only two that I've read more than 5 times.
alithea: (Arty thoughtful)
Day 11 – A book that disappointed you

Several of you are probably expecting me to answer The Fall of the Kings by Ellen Kushner for this but actually, I was expecting not to enjoy that as much as the other Riverside stories because I'd been forewarned about the magic. On the other hand, I've come across plenty of people who love Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock and I've loved other mythic fiction I've read, so I expecting to thoroughly enjoy it when The Boy bought it for me a couple of years ago. Instead, I've been completedly unable to get more than 80 pages into it because I just want to slap the protagonist :( So that was a big disappointment.

The other example that immediately springs to mind, because her books are sitting on the bookcase just to my right, is Affinity by Sarah Waters. I absolutely adored Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet but I found her other Victorian novel very disappointing plotwise; I don't think I'm that attached to happy endings as a rule but I wasn't expecting something so utterly hopeless from her.
alithea: (Ivanova (made by amergina))
Because I'm feeling more judgemental today, and some random browsing reminded me, there are a bunch of books that I was made to read at school which can be added to the 'hate' list:

Empty World (responsible for my aversion to any TV/books/films about a bunch of survivors of some disaster on Earth), That Was Then, This Is Now (some atrious depiction of drug-taking American teens that my foolish English teacher apparently though would appeal to the boys in the the class), and the supposed classics Animal Farm and The Lord of the Flies, because their portrayal of the human race as rentlessly without redeeming qualities irritates the hell out of me.

Just so you know.

And yes, ranting about books is very soothing, I find it much less depressing than ranting about the real world :)
alithea: (footprint (made by girlyboheme))
Day 10 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

I don't generally start books that I don't think I'm going to like from the offset but there have been a few I've struggled to get into but ultimately enjoyed - One Hundred Years of Solitude and Wicked immediately spring to mind, as does Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Preacher is probably the most extreme example though, there are bits of it I found incredibly distasteful but I was too caught up in the main characters to give up on the story. The bit where Cassidy meets another vampire in New Orleans is particularly enjoyable for anyone who gets fed up of whiny goth vampires!

In other news, the Boy and I watched Wild Swimming on BBC4 last night and it was a little gem of a programme. We are Dr Alice Roberts fans anyway but outdoor swimming, profound reflections on the link between water and humanity, and even the ever informative Prof. Ronald Hutton musing on the topic, made for a little bit of magic. I haven't been swimming outdoors for years and it made me long to redress that sooner rather than later.
alithea: (windswept)
Day 09 – Best scene ever

Okay, these are just getting harder! The most memoriable scene I've ever read is the catching a pebble in the moonlight scene in Waylander but it probably helps that I've read the book about 7 times. Best scene though... Oh, actually - the scene towards the end of Strangers in Paradise where Francine is sitting outside a cafe waiting for Mary Beth when some guy comes up to her and attempts to chat her up. She replies, "Hi Clay. I'm ten years older than you and I'm gay," and it's such a perfect demonstration of her personal journey that it makes me tear up and love her to pieces everytime I read it.
alithea: (Books)
Day 07 – Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise
Unconvincing happily ever after endings which don't ring true for the characters involved, especially if they assume marriage and babies automatically equals happily ever after. Even more so if they are blatantly engineered by killing off an inconvenient character for no other reason. Robin Hobb being the culprit I have in mind because Fool's Fate spoilers )

Day 08 – A book everyone should read at least once
Hmm, this is another tough one. It really calls for a classic but my idea of a classic and the general definition only overlap superficially, so I'm going to suggest Birds without Wings by Louis de Bernieres. Set against the backdrop of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Gallipoli campaign and subsequent bitter struggle between the Greeks and Turks, in south-west Anatolia, where muslims and christians have co-existed peacefully for centuries, this is an epic story about the personal and political costs of war, and about love. Heart-breaking and beautiful, while also giving an insight into old wounds which still trouble the area to this day.
alithea: (Books)
Day 06 – Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time

As we have already established, I cannot pick one favourite book of all time for the life of me. I can't even really pick a favourite series but I did answer the Dark Tower series in the end, so I guess the answer to this is Wizard and Glass by Stephen King, closely followed but not quite overtaken by (today anyway) The Wolves of Calla, the 4th and 5th Dark Tower novels.

And because I'm indecisive, I'll also share with you that my favourite Outlander novel is Voyager, my favourite Harry Potter novel is Prisoner of Azkaban, my favourite Abhorsen novel is Lirael, and my favourite Foundation novel is probably Forward the Foundation.
alithea: (Starbuck bang (made by amiyuy))
Day 05 – A book or series you hate

Hate's a strong word that I don't use often and I think you have to be emotionally involved in something to feel that strongly about it, so while I've read quite a few crappy books that I wouldn't recommend to anyone, there is only one candidate for this (well, there had to be one category I didn't struggle to decide on!):

Hero in the Shadows by David Gemmell.

Don't get me wrong, I adore some of his books and am very sorry the poor man died so young. But this is the only book I have ever recycled rather than donate to charity because I didn't want to be responsible for anyone else reading it. He takes Waylander, one of my favourite characters, who has an excellant and highly appropriate ending in Waylander II and turns him into a victim. The character's entire story had hitherto been about redemption and with the previous ending you could imagine him moving on and spending the rest of his life being content, if not always entirely at peace. But no, in this travesty of a novel, the only thing an aged Waylander wants to do before he dies is go back in time and save his first wife, undoing everything that made him the man he was! That's not what being human is about, we don't get to undo all the painful things in our lives that sometimes make us behave in ways we aren't proud of afterwards! No, we learn to move past them and make amends where we can.
Bad author, even if you are dead!

N.B. For those of you who may want to lynch me for the recycling confession, I solemnly promise I shall never do it again! I don't believe in destroying books whatever they are about and I did feel guilty about it afterwards.
alithea: (Books)
Your favorite book or series ever

Gah, I can't pick a single favourite book! I'm not sure I can even pick one favourite series - contenders would have to be The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, the Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb (I love the Tawny Man trilogy too but the last book should end about 100 pages before it does), Asimov's Robots and the Foundation series (note - series not trilogy; I love the ones he wrote later far more than the original trilogy, I wish everyone would start with Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation), Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series (the next one will be book 8 and I haven't given up on them yet so I guess it has to be a favourite!), Strangers in Paradise (of course!), David Gemmell's Jon shannow and Drenai novels, and Jeff Noon's Madchester novels (okay, not strictly a series I guess, but his novels all linked together until he moved from Manchester and wrote Falling out of cars). The Vorkosigan series is also set to become a favourite I think but I've only read the first two novels so far.
If I really had to pick one I guess it might have to be the Dark Tower books but that's probably only because the Foundation books are really overdue a reread.
alithea: (Books)
A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about

Hmmm, this is a tough one - because I read a lot of different styles/genres but don't get through books very quickly, I tend to be the last one on the uptake around here, accepting other peoples' recommendations rather than giving them out. However, I do wish there was more Riverside love around here, rather than just [ profile] ankaret and I - everyone who likes swashbuckling and political intrigue should read Swordspoint and the The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner. I also happen to think Garth Nix's Abhorsen series deserves to be more popular given how the whole Harry Potter (completedly overblown) phenomenon has made YA fantasy fiction so huge. More people should read Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore and Runaways (Marvel comic series) too.

The best book you’ve read in the last 12 months

I've looked at my reading lists for this year and the second half of last year and I think it's a toss up between The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly and Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold. The first probably classes as literary fiction while the other is SF so they aren't really directly comparable and I can't really choose between them. The Book of Lost Things is about growing up, courage and the power of stories, and probably meant more to me having read the Dark Tower series because it had Roland in it and added to my understanding of the archetype. Shards of Honor is a very different kettle of fish, thoroughly enjoyable for its world-building, plot, and witty dialogue but also with great characters, having thoroughly believable relationships, and a deeper message about society, war and responsibility.

Book meme

Jul. 26th, 2010 01:47 pm
alithea: (Books)
This one comes from [ profile] ankaret. Not guaranteeing I'll manage one post a day and I'm a bit stumped on some of them at the moment, but we'll see how it goes...

Day 01 – A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just freaking end already (or both!)
Day 02 – A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about
Day 03 – The best book you’ve read in the last 12 months
Day 04 – Your favorite book or series ever
Day 05 – A book or series you hate
Day 06 – Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time
Day 07 – Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise
Day 08 – A book everyone should read at least once
Day 09 – Best scene ever
Day 10 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 11 – A book that disappointed you
Day 12 – A book or series of books you’ve read more than five times
Day 13 – Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)
Day 14 – Favorite character in a book (of any sex or gender)
Day 15 – Your “comfort” book
Day 16 – Favorite poem or collection of poetry
Day 17 – Favorite story or collection of stories (short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.)
Day 18 – Favorite beginning scene in a book
Day 19 – Favorite book cover (bonus points for posting an image!)
Day 20 – Favorite kiss
Day 21 – Favorite romantic/sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)
Day 22 – Favorite non-sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)
Day 23 – Most annoying character ever
Day 24 – Best quote from a novel
Day 25 – Any five books from your “to be read” stack
Day 26 – OMG WTF? OR most irritating/awful/annoying book ending
Day 27 – If a book contains ______, you will always read it (and a book or books that contain it)!
Day 28 – First favorite book or series obsession
Day 29 – Saddest character death OR best/most satisfying character death (or both!)
Day 30 – What book are you reading right now?

Day 1 )
alithea: (Default)
My middle name is my paternal grandmother's. I think my parents just liked my first name, although coincidentally, I seem to remember being told that one of the midwives who looked after my Mum was also called Helen.

At the weekend.

No, it's appalling with a biro and just about passable with a fountain pen.

Ham, although I do have a soft spot for corned beef because it reminds me of going on trips as a kid.
continue reading )
alithea: (footprint (made by girlyboheme))
Words from [ profile] gothadh this time:
Quite possibly the most under-rated city in Scotland. People tend to be really rude about it because it is kind of down-at-heel but there are some really lovely bits, the people are friendlier than anywhere else I've lived, and I really love the position of the place. I love the East coast, it is softer and more homely than the very rugged West coast, and lots of places are within easy reach, it's just over an hour to Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Stirling and only about 2 hours from Glasgow. Plus, I can afford to live here and I have a lovely view across the Tay from my flat. Having beaches, hills, fields, forests and rivers all close by is the best of all worlds in my book.

The Boy and I are members of Historic Scotland and love visiting castles. I'm a big fan of castle architecture, they are generally in commanding spots with fabulous views, and the history is fascinating too. I find it really quite moving to stand within stone walls and think of all the history they have seen. It seems such a shame to me that so much of what gets built today is so flimsy and impermanent. EDIT: Elcho Castle is one of my favourite places in the world; it is a lovely homely castle in a most beautiful setting down by the river Tay with a lovely orchard in the grounds.

My dislike of intellectual snobbery extends to the art world too, I don't understand why some people look down on 'crafts' like anything that is useful can't be considered proper art. Lots of things can be beautiful as well as practical. I'm a big fan of the arts and crafts movement, and love beautiful wooden furniture, pottery and textiles. Of course these days my interest is more than just intellectual because I aspire to being a crafter myself, but I guess I've always been a bit of rebel when it comes to art, because I insisted on doing a mixed media Art GCSE even though my art teacher told me I was just making life hard for myself.

I'll tackle past and future later, I should really do some more flat wrangling since I'm using the mess to excuse my inability to concentrate on work!

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