- Silver Shark
- Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews: This is an interesting concept: e-book shorts/novellas. Set in the world of the Kinsmen, psionic clans in a world mostly populated by (non-Kinsmen) drones. I liked them a lot— a very (updated) 50s style. I have always been a sucker for espers and psionics. Strong characters, interesting world building, related stories.
- Cast in Ruins by Michelle Sagara: I really like this series by Sagara.
- Mandarin Plaid (1996)by S.J.Rozan: The third of what are now 11 books featuring Chinese-American PI Lydia Chin and her partner Bill Smith. Borrowed from my mom, I think I actually first read this 15 years ago. Now, I'm just enjoying the nostalgia and looking at how the world has changed: The opening scene mentions a restaurant that I used to eat at, downstairs from one of the offices I worked in; Lydia feeds a payphone (in Chinatown) with quarters- lord, how long has it been since I have seen a payphone? In NY, I assume they were all long ago broken down for their copper wiring!; there's some discussion of how a woman doesn't want her WASP son to marry a beautiful ABC (American Born Chinese) woman, who is successful and highly educated— I am not certain if I ever actually came into contact with that feeling from the "white" side of a couple, although the other side (also shown here) I have seen: that marrying outside one's ethnic community is strongly frowned upon. But in the Northeast US, Asian has been a favored minority for a very long time; the sexism: that really brought it all back. I had been working on Wall Street in the 80's and for myself in the 90's — sexism wasn't necessarily in your face at this point, but I felt it and saw it, in a way that I am seeing again now. Really enjoyed the book, it makes me want to start re-reading the series (and SJ Rozen is giving an e-short away on Amazon in this world- check it out.)
- Temple of the Winds (1997) by Terry Goodkind: It's such an investment, reading a series like this— each book in the 750-850 page range. The start of the second trilogy, as Richard and Kahlan discover the danger of the Empire and its ruler Jagang, now the walls between realms have been destroyed. I enjoy each book, but sometimes I just need to put them down and read something smaller(lighter, easier to carry, with an end in sight!). (DTB)
- Snuff (2011)by Terry Pratchett: What can one say? It's Pratchett. A great book in the CityWatch cycle. I really don't want to give anything away, but Goblins are the theme in the same way that one might say another species was in Unseen Academicals.
- The Thai Amulet(2003) by Lyn Hamilton: I read this series intermittently, when I grab one from my mom (last read was The Chinese Alchemist). Ahh, darn it. I checked to see which order these were in and she has died. Cancer in 2009. I am sorry to see that The Chinese Alchemist (2007) was the last of her 11 novels featuring Lara McClintock, antique store owner, whose trips allowed Hamilton's love of foreign climes and cultures to be shown. The Internet age allows much knowledge but also much lingering disinformation to be found: her blog still exists, but it appears that no one has cared for it in many, many years: there are ads for "medical products" displayed and not notation at all that she is no longer productively and currently writing. I look forward to reading the few that I haven't read. In a bittersweet way.(Here is an interview with Ms. Hamilton just before The Thai Amulet — the 7th in the series—was published.)
- Winter and Night (2002) by SJ Rozan: After I read Mandarin Plaid, I knew that I had another Rozan floating around so I pulled it out to re-read (and to return to Mom). Rozan's series alternates in viewpoint between Lydia Chin and her partner Bill Smith and this is from Smith's viewpoint. We learn more about his background and family, their estrangement, and how his character was formed through parental abuse. There are echoes of Columbine (April 1999) as Smith discovers that a death which has involved his nephew bears a terrible resemblance to a death involving the high school group of his brother-in-law.
31 October 2011
What I am reading: October 2011
30 October 2011
The end of the season
29 October 2011
But what we did enjoy on the way out was this baked treat. Since Frau Dietz mentioned it, I thought I would as well. We don't have them in Berlin (not part of the culture) and T2 wanted one when she saw them at the bakery as we loaded up before leaving. She wound up eating a pretzelzopf instead and I ate this, so I can say that it tasted quite nice: an egg yolk glazed white flour yeast recipe, not very sweet. The pipe is inedible, the eyes are raisins, and that's a glazed cherry you see.
This is a recipe and a story about Weckmänner. And here is an interesting Wikipedia article that, although translated from German into Esperanto, is not in English:-), while here is an interesting discussion of German religious holidays with information pertaining to St. Martin. On the way home we stopped off for lunch with my in-laws and my father-in-law told me much of what the article below said, as well as some more anthropological bits and the amusing info that those pipes (formerly a Bishop's crozier, and other things) were, not so long ago, functional and that they were changed to non-functional pipes because so many German children actually used them to start smoking (things:-)).
11. November: St. Martin
Der historische Martin wurde 316 AD als Sohn eines römischen Tribuns in Ungarn geboren, wuchs in Italien auf, wo er m Alter von 15 Jahren in die römische Armee eintrat. Als berittener Soldat kam er nach Frankreich, wo er zum Christentum fand. Er ist als Bischof Martin von Tours in die Geschichte eingegangen, zu dem er 371 AD geweiht wurde. Sein Todestag ist der 11.11.397 AD. Nach seinem Tod wurde er Schutzpatron der Bettler, der Soldaten, der Schneider, der Reisenden und der Hirten sowie der Reiter. Und natürlich auch der Kinder, die ihm zu Ehren am 11. November abendliche Umzüge mit bunten selbstgebastelten Laternen und Fackeln veranstalten. Auch große Feuer sind Usus. Ursprung dieses Brauches ist Lukas 11/33: "Niemand zündet ein Licht an und setzt es in einen Winkel, auch nicht unter einen Scheffel, sondern auf den Leuchter, damit, wer hineingeht, das Licht sehe." Typisch für diesen Tag sind Weckenmännlein, ein Gebäck in Form eines Menschen, mit einer Tonpfeife im Arm. Die Tonpfeife ist ursprünglich Martins Bischofsstab gewesen.
21 October 2011
I had friends in last month, though, and they were interested in visiting this, so I went along. The archtecture of the museum is interesting enough, but the name, to those used to the National Gallery in either London or Washington, DC, is misleading: rather than being a wonderful collection of portraits, the Alte Nationalgalerie is an eclectic collection with the majority formed from the personal collection of J.H. Wagener, who donated 262 paintings with the proviso that they be retained as a single collection and housed in the Nationalgalerie. The collection is primarily Romantic and Classicist and for me, a little goes a long way. More interesting is the extensive collection of 19th century statuary, as I have a fondness for Canova.
The most interesting take-away from this museum is how the Romantic period looks so incredibly modern: very many of the paintings could be used as covers for contemporary fantasy, paranormal, or "literature" novels.
20 October 2011
I thought the one that said Kleine süße Mäuschen would be the most apposite, but T2 wanted the blue and green one.
14 October 2011
Alegria in Berlin
Although I have seen several Cirque du Soleil productions, this was the first of the smaller, stadium shows that I have seen. I read the description before bidding on the package and the show was described as light and frolicsome, which was a good description: none of it was inappropriate for the kids (we saw Verekai in Berlin— in a Tent— some years ago and it would have been far too frightening)and they enjoyed all of it.
Strangely enough, both the girls liked the Clowns best (I guess it makes sense, although I have never been much for clowns). For myself, I found what must be the "aerial trapeze" act (although what I saw was not what is described) the most fascination: It was like a huge pendulum clock, building and growing and going higher and deeper with each trapeze artist. Very impressive. I also found the set itself extremely well-done- the "floor" was like a geodesic/fractal area, sloping upwards toward the back (and obviously adjustable to the stadium) and its coloring and intensity of lighting were controlled. The opening sequence was just charming and really made one feel as if observing an actual Faeryland (and the costumes and act made the fantasy even more believable). The whole experience was really well-done and I recommend the stadium experience: it is not lesser than the Grande Chapeau or Permanent Exhibition, only different.
As has been true with our other packages, I was very impressed as well by the VIP food and drink laid on (although wasted on us, as the girls eat two morsels and we don't drink while driving). In particular, the roast beef/prime rib that we had (in the Premium Lounge at the O2) was the best that we have had in Germany, matched only by the steak that we had at the Hotel Pulitzer in Amsterdam.
In addition to the show (and good seats), and the lounge access, the value added of this package was the chance to chat after the show with the director and the one of the performers. This gentleman is a performer in the Powertrack act and a former world class athlete from Iceland. As the kids were falling asleep in our arms, I couldn't take any notes, but the questions were strangely intelligent (unlike some of those asked at my "back stage" Q&A for Corteo). He discussed how one becomes an athlete and performer for Cirque (they can inquire or many are being scouted while still performing in their athletic careers), the route he has taken (with the ability to change shows through request and audition) and what opportunities the artist has going forward (he is currently team leading and choreographing and there are also non-athletic opportunities as one ages). The director talked about life on the road, how the stadium shows differ from big tent or permanent exhibits, the costs and transportation issues, and issues of the group as a whole traveling gestalt: eg, shipping costumes by post with each costume valued at €10,000s and up!
12 October 2011
The NPR Top 100 SF/F List- or how geeky am I?
1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien--- What can I say? I think I have read this more than 20 times. In storage, I must have at least 5 separate copies, bought when I couldn't access one for a period of time. (I'm still looking for a copy of the Barbara Remington triptyche cover poster-seen above- in good condition: anyone who knows where I can buy one would make me very happy...).
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams--- Didn't everyone read this at least once- perhaps in college? I played the Infocom game as well.
3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card--- Read and enjoyed this when it came out and before I knew Card's personal views (which ruined his writing for me). It was a really cutting edge book at the time.
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert--- I'm counting this, although I certainly haven't read all the books put out under this rubric. The first was a classic, the second good, the third a waste and everything after that worth avoiding.
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin: have the first, have the series waiting to be seen. Haven't read it yet
6. 1984, by George Orwell: I love this book. One of those first dystopian novels I read which formed my humorless character.
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury: I reviewed my re-read here.
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov: I used to quote from this, as a smart-alec child. My cousin thought the Galactic Encyclopedia was a spin-off of the Britannica for a while.
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley: See #6.
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman: nope.
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman: Loved it. Read Thackery (highly recommend The Rose and the Ring) because of this. Read Lang and the Ruritanian novels because of this. Wrote away for the missing Buttercup chapter and have the movie on my DVR right now (and watched it last week and think I'll introduce the kids to it this month.)
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan: Nope. Keep thinking I will, especially now that Sanderson has written the ending. But was this more important than The Belgariad? I guess I will need to read it to find out.
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell: see #6 and #9.
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson: Can I count this if I don't remember it? OK, I will.
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore: Loved it, have it, read more Moore because of it. Saw the movie and rebought the graphic novel, too.
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov: Classic. One of the many I read as I read my way through all the books in my public library that had atoms on their spines. Of course, everything by Asimov came early.
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein: Still re-read it (and everything by Heinlein) regularly, although The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is his best.
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss: not yet, although they have great reviews.
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut: Like the Gibson, I know that I read it, but I can't remember the plot. I think I'll count it because I have owned and read everything by Vonnegut and after 35+ years, my memory has a right to be giving out...
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley: Read, re-read, read about the literary scene at the time as well. Not to mention all the movies, from Karloff to "realistic".
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick: Liked the movie far better than the book. Loved the movie enough to see a WR Grace ad about the debt. Loved the concepts enough to read more by Dick but be unhappy with his writing.
22. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood: Thought it was well-done but was offended by her BS attempt to pretend she was not writing SF. Who is she to think herself better than HG Wells? (Although I understand that she has now "come out" about her SF writing.)
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King- nope.
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke: So long ago, I can barely remember even a bit of the movie. I did read all of Clarke published before 1982, though.
25. The Stand, by Stephen King:Oh, why did all the metaphysical stuff have to intrude into an absolutely fabulous end-of-the-world/epidemic story. Still read it multiple times and really like the 6 hour mini-series.
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury- Of course. Beautiful writing.
28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut- as above.
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess: This book gave me nightmares, interesting as the language was and although it tempted me to read more on the study of words. I actually couldn't watch the movie: it was too— I guess, I felt it too closely.
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein: I still like it,and I am still a Heinlein fangirl. I even liked the movie, ridiculous as it was.
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams: Read it when I was 12, and not since. But I remember loving it, though when I glanced at it recently I found it a bit pedantic and stiff.
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey: read it (and all of McCaffrey's work through about 20 years ago) and loved it.
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein: already mentioned my deep love for this book. I love this book.
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller: read it when I read my way through the Hugos in my teens. Barely remember a word.
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells: Read and re-read. Truly a classic.
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne: Of course. Classic.
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys: Read and even enjoyed, in a "required for school" sort of way.
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells: Read many times, seen in many movies, fell in love with the musical and listen to it quite a bit. Saw it in London for its anniversary tour last year and can quote along with the words when singing/speaking it.
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny: Read it (although there are many other Zelaznys I prefer) and actually have an omnibus on my side table of all 10 Amber novels (I think I only read the first 5 or so when they came out). Like the Dune novels, I stopped reading when I didn't find them as interesting: there are a lot of books out there to read!
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings: Here it is. Loved these books and forgot how much I loved them. I'll be buying both series for pick up next time I am in the US (and yet I know, somewhere in my storage unit, in those 167 boxes of books, these books exist).
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley: Read it when I was still madly loving Darkover, didn't love this.
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson: on my TBR list, with several other books by him.
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven: Classic, read with almost all other Niven novels and short stories (and he wrote some absolutely amazing short stories). He is still writing, but there was a period his work was just incredible.
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien: I won't count it, because I know that I never read it straight through. I was young and excited when it came out and then disappointed. I dipped in and out of it.
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White: Read so many times (and bought multiple times), in both its short and long versions. I make the kids watch the Disney version of the first section as well.
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke: from my classic period I remember the shocker ending, but nothing else.
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan: It's been 30+ years! But not only did I read it, I know that I reread it when I was at Cornell and I saw the Jodie Foster movie too. No memory of it at all.
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman: bought the book and read it after seeing the movie, which was wonderful. So was the book and its charming illustrations.
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks: read reviews and some blog posts, but not the book.
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle: In credible book. Wrenchingly sad in certain ways. Adore it. Also love the movie and make my kids watch it with me (though they thought the "wave" part was scarey). The sequel was terribly sad as well and I prefer not to think of it. When I read it, "Shmendrick" was still an inside joke.
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman: Yes.
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett: see 60 below. Although this is a charming book and better than 60.
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson: Yes, I read them all. But Donaldson's errors in discussing leprosy made me so angry that I actually threw the books at the wall a few times then gave them back to my then-boyfriend and told him all the ways that the book should have been re-written. In our defense, there weren't a lot of high fantasy sagas in existence at that point, so we were desperate for things to read.
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold: All of them, as they continue? Why are some cited as a series and some as books? In any case, I read all of Bujold, all of the time. I love her Miles books, but her Chalion books are even better in some ways (fantasy, not SF, but really quite gritty).
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett: Absolutely not the Pratchett I would have chosen. But I adore all Pratchett and, now that my Nortons and Francis' were destroyed by flood, his are the books I have in HC by unbelievably the most. In fact, I think I have all of Pratchett in HC, his videos and cartoons, almost all re-purchased or found in English and German so that the German can read them and I have Snuff on pre-order. I also go to Pratchett cons for fun.
61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle: Yep. On the gripping hand...
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind: I ordered the whole series in last year after watching the TV series and loving in. Have only read the first this month and like it very much. I'll probably wend my way through the next ten books over the coming year and enjoy them (although not enough to give up all other books in between!).
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke: Hated this book. Thought it was a total waste of a decent concept and only finished it because I have a strange masochistic bent when reading.
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson: Re-read this two years ago. Matheson was a great writer. But I also loved The Omega Man with Charlton Heston: what a great period movie! The Will Smith re-make was incredibly violent- too much so for my taste.
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist: Have a few, started reading one, put it down, now it's in storage and my TBR pile is a year high. Not interesting enough to me at the time.
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks: What can I say? I actually wrote a book report discussing its similarities to Tolkien. Was this the first contemporary high fantasy series after LoTR was published in the US? I certainly thought so (I was in grade school!).
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard: I haven't read all of these, but I read enough Howard that I think it should count. And the comics (which were why I found the books in the first place) and of course, Arnold. It's about to be re-made, I think? But the AS Conan movies were classics and I still love them.
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb: Have read other books by Robin Hobb, under both her names, but not this series.
70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger: Have the book and the movie (on DVR). Not yet.
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson: Have the book, haven't read it yet.
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne: Read, re-read, read it on Kindle last year. Seen the movie multiple times and saw the re-make last month.
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi: Great Heinlein-style book. The first I read by Scalzi before I read all the rest of his books and then started to read his blog regularly. I like his characters and I like his plots and I like his worlds: highly recommended SF.
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke: Read and not remembered, with much of Clarke.
77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin: I am starting to worry about my brain as I realize how many books have left not a trace! Read and not remembered, 35 years later! But as I read the Wikipedia entry, I see that I owned and read the first pb copy, and the more philosophical aspects were definitely above my head!
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury: I remember the beauty of the writing, I even remember the cover of the PB. But not the story.
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire: I really thought I would like this, but I just didn't.
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson: I have read a review of this series but it sounds so all-consuming, there is no way I am going to start.
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde- didn't like the one Fforde I read, although friends keep saying I will.
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks- read one book by his non-SF alter-ego, hit a line I found alienating and won't read anything else by him.
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart: read everything ever written by Mary Stewart, adore her with a passion, and miss having her books on my shelves.
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher: one of these days. It's intimidating that there are already so many books written and I have only read one. It's not cheap getting English language older books here in Germany.
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe: Read these (although the only Wolfe I remember is a short story about Sand Kings). Wolfe was the man who taught me not to start reading a series until I could be assured it would come out relatively quickly (I didn't learn as I wait 18 years and counting for the next Chtorr novel).
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldon: Loved her books, still reading them, waiting after her cliff-hanger ending for the next. Went to her reading (and bagpipe accompaniment) here in Berlin. Great stuff, time-travel and ley line fantasy with Scotland and early American history.
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock: Read a few, never got into it.
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury: Read all of Bradbury and this is a story (the title story of the collection which is this book) which I actually remember extremely well.
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley: Really loved this not-to-the-current-vogue vampire story with a sun-loving baker. I'd love a sequel (And I think it deserves one) but McKinley famously bashes anyone asking. Still a great read and a precursor to Patricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews success in the same tone and field.
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge: Have read all of Vinge. Don't remember it.
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov: Incredibly good classic Asimov. Just amazing stuff that anyone who says they read SF cannot pass by.
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson: They were given to me and I read them. Ok. I'm not certain why I didn't like them more because what I remember should have been great (I like a certain type of hard SF). Perhaps it was a bad month in which I read them.
96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle: Read it when I read all of Niven. Good stuff.
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis: I think that I have read just about every fiction and non-fiction book dealing with infectious diseases. Certainly did not miss this classic, which I read when it was printed.
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville: Just read his City and the City and greatly enjoyed it, so I'll need to dig this up to read it.
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony: Read the first 10+. Would happily re-read them again if theyw ere on a shelf by me, but got increasingly light and pun-dependent as the series went on. Not in Anthony's top works, it's too bad if this is what he is remembered for.
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis: I was quite young when I journeyed from Narnia through Hell (and the Screwtape Letters) and to that Hideous Planet. I was probably a bit above my head, but I enjoyed it and re-read them several times.