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I realised that some of the books on my to-read pile have been there for an extremely long time, so I wrote them down and put them into a randomiser. Perhaps I will try to follow this order? Asterisks show rereads.

twenty three book titles )

And a few more review of things I actually have read:

#62: Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Soon, soon I will reach ones that I have actually read before! I think there's still another prequel though. I quite enjoyed this one, particularly when it turned out that there was actually a sneaky reason why some of the characters seemed to be unrealistically gullible. And I always enjoy some good continuity and Asimov's weird future-fashion theories. However, there was some bizarre racism stuff (see the quotes I posted before) and a large section which seemed like he was trying so hard not to sound sexist that he became even more sexist than before. Honestly, sometimes I wish he didn't even bother trying to write female characters; they almost all suck apart from Gladia and the roboticist (Susan Calvin, I think?).

There was a part at the end which was such a heavy-handed hint at something that I know happens in Foundation that I wanted to facepalm.

Still... onward!

#63-64: Saga vol. 1 and 2 by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples (Illustrator)

Some comics that Adam and Shaney made me read. Interesting art and interesting concepts, but a bit grim for me in some places.
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#56: Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words by Jay Rubin

A biography of Murakami focusing on his fiction, but also discussing his translations and his love of jazz, among other things. Now I want to reread all his books... and in fact after reading this I think I may not have actually ever read A Wind-up Bird Chronicle, so I'd better get on that!

The book is a little repetitive in its choice of quotes somehow and I found it a little weird when the author (Rubin) spoke about himself in the third person in one part, but otherwise it was a good read. But if you aren't already quite familiar with at least most of Murakami's novels, this would probably just be an incomprehensible spoiler party.

I have stocked my to-read pile with a bunch of Murakami rereads. (And also purchased AWUBC).

#57: The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks

This was interesting and the actual game-related parts were very well done, but I found the ending somewhat unsatisfying. I see why people recommended this to me as a better intro to the Culture than Consider Phlebas as it's shorter and simpler, but I think I still enjoyed that one more.

#58: Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, Volume 1 by Fumi Yoshinaga, tr. Akemi Wegmüller

A manga I bought a million years ago when it won a Tiptree. (So in 2009, I guess.) It's a sort of alt-history Japan where most men have died of a plague and so the structure of society has shifted quite a lot but also stayed the same in ways you might not have expected. An interesting concept and all, but the translation style (particularly the forsooths) got a little wearing.

#59: Walking with Harry by John W Winter

I have no idea where I got this from. A collection of mildly amusing anecdotes about a ramblers' group, mostly driven by the personality clashes between the group leader (who wants to climb every mountain) and one of the other members (who wants to stroll to a pub). A nice, easy read, but weirdly my copy seems to be missing the last few pages...

#60: A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

A cute story about a teenage girl dealing with synaesthesia and loss and teenagerness. I enjoyed it a lot. (But I hate when books have suggested book club questions in the back.)

#61: The Last Dance and Other Stories by Victoria Hislop

Disappointingly boring. I don't think short stories are the author's strong point... every time something was about to start happening, the story immediately ended, so every story was dull and ended too abruptly. ("Once upon a time, some totally Greek people were in Greece. They did nothing for a while. Then something happened! They felt conflicted about the thing that had happened. The end.")

I read this because my mother and sister both said her novel The Island was great, so perhaps Victoria Hisplop is better at longer stories. I probably won't hurry to check it out, though.
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Some quotes from the book I'm reading (Prelude to Foundation):

"He had a sallow complexion and the narrowed eyes so characteristic of people on millions of worlds. Seldon knew that appearance well, for there were many of the great mathematicians who had borne it, and he had frequently seen their holograms. Yet on Helicon he had never seen one of these Easterners. (By tradition they were called that, though no one knew why; and the Easterners themselves were said to resent the term to some degree, but again no one knew why.)"

Really, Asimov? Really?? I mean... come on.

And one that I liked, because I always enjoy Asimov's comments on future fashion trends:

"“A lank is someone who wears things for their shock value. I’m sure you have such people on Helicon.”
Seldon snorted. “There are those who wear their hair shoulder-length on one side and shave the other.” He laughed at the memory.
Hummin’s mouth twisted slightly. “I imagine it looks uncommonly ugly.”
“Worse. There are lefties and righties, apparently, and each finds the other version highly offensive. The two groups often engage in street brawls.”"

"“You’ll also find a lot of Southerners—dark skins, tightly curled hair. Did you ever see one?” “Not on Helicon,” muttered Seldon. “All Westerners on Helicon, eh? How dull! But it doesn’t matter. Takes all kinds.” (He left Seldon wondering at the fact that there were Easterners, Southerners, and Westerners, but no Northerners. He had tried finding an answer to why that might be in his reference searches and had not succeeded.)"

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I got a paid translation job today! My first one! :D :D :D Only 380 words of translation, but still. I am excited! And also nervous to hear my client's feedback. :s She said she'd email me about it tomorrow but I still sort of want to constantly refresh my email.

Instead I am playing Card Hunter!
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Today at last I can get down to being self-employed! Or... do all the million other things I need to do. Well, so far I have changed my address in lots of places (including the student loans company), cut my hair, gone food shopping, unpacked some more things, ordered a new recycling box, registered with HMRC and finished drafting my CV (anyone want to proofread?), among other equally thrilling chores.

So let me tell you about the City Race instead! It was fun but my legs still hurt even though it was two whole days ago and I don't even feel like I ran that much of the time. The course I did was the newcomer course, which was something like 7km, and I finished in 68:16. So I was 39th of 52 (plus 8 non-finishers) and about 28 minutes behind first place. Considering that I only started running this summer, I think that's pretty good!

Here is a photo I found of me at the finish looking kind of distressed for some reason! Haha.

Anyway, it was a good time... I think I will sign up to the Bristol Orienteering Klub at some point but the website tells me it will be cheaper if I wait until November to do so.
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Hello! I am back from a week of canal-boating on a boat called "Stavanger Fjord", with my family and Adam and Tris (Lisa's boyfriend). We went from Middlewich in Cheshire to Llangollen in uh... some part of Wales. Denbighshire?

Apparently it is indeed Denbighshire. Good job to me.

Anyway... we boated along at 4 mph or so from Middlewich to Llangollen and back and saw lots of herons and ducks and cows and suchlike, crossed two aqueducts (not good for those who fear heights, but great views which I will show you if my camera ever cooperates), played a lot of gin rummy and some mahjong and spent a lot of money in pubs. So after stuffing myself on pub food, drinking cider and getting rained on, now I feel fully reacclimatised to life in Britain. :)

Tomorrow I am going to London for the City Race! It will hopefully be fun? And then I must go straight to Caroline's and pack up the rest of my stuff into boxes so that on Monday morning some people with a van can bring it all to Bristol for me, and I will finally live in the same house as my possessions once more. Books that aren't on my Kindle! I miss you!

And then... I will have to knuckle down to life as a freelance translator because otherwise I will run out of money. Which should be interesting. :/


Sep. 12th, 2013 08:09 pm
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#51: Vintage Season by Henry Kutter

A thought-provoking scifi short story. Very interesting, but to say more would be a spoiler.

#52: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (tr. Constance Garnett)

From Project Gutenberg/LibriVox. I'm not really sure how I felt about this one. There are some parts which are very good, very insightful about the universals of human nature and the problems caused by social conventions, and I mostly enjoyed the Levin and Kitty plot, but I didn't understand the title character at all. It was a mystery to me why she liked Vronsky in the first place, and her feelings about her children made no sense to me whatsoever.

#53: Old Man's War by John Scalzi

I think this was in one of the Humble eBook Bundles? This reminded me a LOT of The Forever War, only with less weirdness about gay people and fewer references to Vietnam. I enjoyed this on the whole, but the third part was a little over-explained in places. Much lighter than I expected.

#54: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

I didn't think I would enjoy reading urban fantasy about people with magical animal companions, but I actually liked this book a lot! I haven't read many books set in South Africa, so that was interesting, and the action-y detective-style plot was very engaging. I particularly liked the reports, transcripts and film summaries scattered throughout the book to give a bit more background information and world-building - it reminded me a bit of World War Z in that respect, sometimes, as well as giving the author the opportunity to say "don't worry, I have heard of Philip Pullman".

#55: So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane

This was pretty cute. I think I'd have really enjoyed this if I'd read it as a child.
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Hello! I have returned to England, submitted my dissertation and moved house! Hooray! Most of my books and things are still at Caroline's in Hertford, but my laptop and Kindle and tea-making equipment are here and I went and got some more weather-appropriate clothes and shoes from Caroline's on Monday (although I forgot to bring a waterproof coat) so I'm alright for the moment.

Tomorrow I have to go and sign the tenancy agreement, and then on Saturday we're going on holiday with my family - a week of canal boating and probably playing a lot of games. So that will be fun. And then I will start trying to work out how to be a freelancing translator and finally stop being a student. Hmm.

The new flat is nice! The rooms are much bigger than our previous flats have had, and amazingly it seems the central heating and shower both actually work, which is pretty miraculous if past experience is any guide. And today we got internet and a washing machine installed and I managed to set up the bluray player and tv, so that's good too.

I'm behind on book updates, I expect, so I'll post one of those in a moment. I'll also post my address in a filtered post - let me know if you aren't on the filter and want to be, I don't think I've updated it in a while.

Edit: Oh yeah! And last night we (me, Adam, Shaney, Mickey, other Katy) went out for Japanese food at Noa in Clifton. It was nice to see people again :) and also to eat a green tea creme brulee!
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I'm going home this weekend, hooray! I'm getting pretty stressed out about all the things I'm going to have to do next week to get my thesis handed in and move house and pack for the family holiday the week after, especially since I can't actually do anything about any of those things now except send lots of frantic emails (which probably won't actually help matters). Augh!

But I'm definitely looking forward to being back in England, and even better in Bristol with Adam :)
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It's been a while since I've made a non-book post, I think! So here is a life update.

Uni stuff, Japanese, Spanish, Bristol, TMNT... )

Well, I hope someone enjoyed that ramble, even if that someone is just future me trying to remember the name of Morella.
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#48: Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link.

From the Humble eBook Bundle. A collection of fantasy-ish short stories, many of which are based on fairy tales. I liked the Snow Queen one, but otherwise they mostly seemed like they were trying too hard to be weird for weirdness' sake. Honestly, if you want good fairy tale rewrites you can get better for free in the Yuletide archive.

#49: The Jolliest School of All by Angela Brazil.

I think I got this at random when looking for boarding-school books on Gutenburg.

Wow, what a surprisingly racist book this was. And apart from that, the author seemed to change her mind halfway through about which was the main character (confusing), and exhaustively listed every type of flower that existed in every location the characters visited (boring).

(My reply to Fiona's surprise at the racism: "Well, it's set in Italy but at a school for "Anglo-Americans" (which apparently means British people, USAns, Canadians, New Zealanders and South Africans) whose parents don't want them to be influenced by the inferior continental types. There's one girl from Jersey who gets bullied for having a French-sounding name. And at a few points people give speeches about how important it is for the wonderful Anglo types to band together to maintain their superiority while of course being kind to all those who were tragically born in an exotic yet inferior type of place. It was all quite bizarre! Made me long to read a Chalet School book.")

#50: The Story of the Treasure-Seekers by E Nesbit.

I remember enjoying this a lot as a kid, and it's still pretty good now. Actually, in some ways it's even better because, aside from all the adventures the characters have, I'm now able to better understand all the things that are secretly going on in the background of the book with their father's financial problems and so on. Everything turns out unbelievably well in the end, but the fact that the children do get told off when they do something idiotic (e.g. getting their dog to attack a lord so they can rescue him from it, or the whole sherry thing) made it a little less saccharine.

Much like the last book, this one is a bit racist in places, although more in a "children are ignorant" way than anything actually malicious.

Still, it has cheered me up to read a book in which not all of the characters are terrible people... I feel like it's been a while.


Fifty already! I'm quite impressed. Perhaps I should get a job, ahaha.

Edit: I've been quite heavy on the children's books this year though, now I think about it, which might explain it. As well as a lot of quick-read biographies and a bunch of Asimov books, which are usually quite short. Oh well! If I can finish eight more I'll beat my record from 2008 (I don't think I was really counting properly before then).
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#44: Heart and Sole by Melinda Hinson Neely

A guide on how to prepare to run a marathon, with a mixture of anecdotes and practical advice. A fun, informative read, although I still don't have any plans to run that far myself.

It's a little USA-centric in places.

I received this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme.

#45: Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov

Quite an enjoyable read. I wouldn't have guessed this was his first novel - it's much stronger than The Stars, Like Dust (his second). The female characters are still very flat, though.

Now I can start the Foundation books! \o/

#46: Pump Six and Other Series by Paolo Bacigalupi

I bought this as part of the Humble eBook Bundle about a year ago. It's a collection of short stories, mostly scifi. All the stories were well-written, but almost all of them were so bleak that I can't say it was a very enjoyable read. I didn't enjoy the two or three biopunk stories, but I think that's because of my own body horror issues - fans of the genre would probably like them better. Not sure how I feel about this one.

#47: Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton

From the second Humble eBook Bundle.
This is going to be a rant, so I'll cut it to save your eyes! Read more... )
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I just spent about an hour playing the Discworld MUD and managed to get four achievements in one session:

- Addicted (for having this account for a year)
- Dual Talents (because I already had fighting.defence.dodging at 300 and today I got fighting.melee.sword there, and they're both primary skills for my guild (Samurai))
- Lost in L-Space
- Escape From L-Space (I somehow travelled from Djelibeybi to Sto Lat through L-Space! Awesome. I was a bit worried I'd have to spend a life and get my fairy godmother to rescue me from being lost forever.)

Now I'm trying to get my written Djelian and spoken and written Ephebian levels up, as well as fighting.melee.dagger. Hmm.
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Taking a break from writing my thesis commentary, so I thought I'd write a couple more book reviews.

#42: Anathem by Neal Stephenson

I think this is actually my new favourite Stephenson book! This is set in a world where, because of some kind of Terrible Events which occurred in the distant past, all mathematicians live in strange monastery-like cloisters ("concents") cut off from the general population and study theoretical maths and astronomoy, but are banned from studying things with real-world applications. It starts off feeling like a future or fantasy-world dystopia, describing the different rituals of the concent and the daily lives of the people who live there, but then due to outside events the main character ends up involved in something that affects the entire world, at which point the tone shifts to being more scifi. Every chapter begins with an excerpt from the dictionary of the mathematician's language, defining and giving historical context to some important referents. It took me quite a while to finish this, as the characters often engage in long mathematical or philosophical debates which are, however, quite plot-important, and so I had to make sure I wasn't skimming them. But I wouldn't call it a heavy read.

#43: Cyteen by CJ Cherryh

This actually reminded me a lot of some of the Asimov books I read earlier this year (particularly The Currents of Space): interplanetary politics, powerful people aware of the repercussions their actions will have on timescales longer than their own lives, people doing disastrous things because their incomplete information causes them to misunderstand the situation. However, it's even better than Asimov, because the female characters actually have personalities and roles to play other than "love interest". I enjoyed this a lot, but I found the very end a bit confusing, so I suppose I'll have to read the sequel.

Trigger warnings: Read more... )
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I realised that my book numbers here and on Goodreads did not agree, and it seems I forgot to post about one that I read back in May, so here:

#38 (or #27b): Type by Alicia Hendley
Surprisingly dark dystopian YA about a society where everyone's role is decided by a Myers-Briggs test at age twelve. Interesting read, but it ends quite abruptly.

And back to books I've read more recently:

#39: The Cloud Atlas by Liam Callanan
Despite the description on Amazon's webpage, this is not the same book as Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell!
A priest living in Alaska tells his life story to his dying friend, particularly about the time he came to Alaska as a soldier and ended up working under the command of a guy who was obsessed with weather balloons being used as a biochemical weapon by Japan. The narrator was kind of a terrible person in his youth, particularly towards the woman he was supposedly in love with, but he at least seems to realise that now. Interesting and sad.

#40: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho
A writer living in London in the twenties. This is a short romance novel, but touches on a lot of serious issues as they pertain to the writer-narrator's life: sex and sexism, racism and mental health problems. I enjoyed it a lot, especially the ending!

#41: In the High Valley by Susan Coolidge
The last of the Katy series. More interesting than the previous two, but the ending was not very satisfying and all of the female characters seem to end up having the exact same personality. They all live happily ever after, as polite well-dressed housewives who are good at decorating but not too snobby.

I've finished one more but I'm still thinking about it, so I'll leave it for next time.

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