Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bedtime snack

First, some background.

With it being summer and holidays here, before Christmas Dave bought a little pup tent for Marcus. It's too small for Dave, and almost too small for me, but Marcus loves it. However, we don't really have any flat ground in our backyard (and I'm not having Marcus sleeping in a tent pitched on the fence-less front yard).

So we found a compromise.


Yes, Marcus has a tent (or more accurately, the tent lining) in his bedroom. Not only does he think it is one of the coolest things ever, so does his friend who came over the other day.

Tonight, Marcus came out and asked for a bedtime drink. His instructions were very specific. I was to provide:

  • One cup of milk for drinking
  • One cup of milk for dunking gingernuts
  • Gingernuts
  • An imaginary plate of mice for his stuffed toy snake to eat

Being a good mother, I provided the snack as required and everyone was happy.


All right, so in the end I wasn't happy as one of the glasses of milk got spilt. But he was so delighted I guess it was worth it. Hooray for Friend for Carpets.

(Tonight's post was brought to you by blatant product placement.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dust by Elizabeth Bear

Dust (Jacob's Ladder, Book 1)Dust by Elizabeth Bear

My rating: 4½ of 5 stars
Read: 6-1-11 to 11-1-11

I really enjoyed this. I was a bit nervous starting as my experience with Elizabeth Bear has previously left me feeling kind of stupid.

I read and loved Blood and Iron and Whiskey and Water, but mostly because of the beauty of the prose. I was left somewhat confused about what had actually gone on plot-wise. For that reason, while I own the other two Promethean Age books (Ink and Steel and Hell and Earth) I've never been quite brave enough to start them. I feel the same way about the Edda's Burden books, but since the first is a selection for the Women of Fantasy 2011 Book Club, I guess I'll be giving it a try this year after all.

I was first intrigued by the idea of Dust ages ago, but never actually bought it and started it. So here we are, the first month of the Women of SF 2011 Book Club and Dust is the choice. And finally, I read it.

I'm so glad I did. This time, I actually got to feel kind of clever instead of stupid. As the book revealed more and the world and plot developed, I could see the way the myth and society and near-mystical concept of the world had built out its past. And it was very cleverly done. It was almost as if the book existed on two levels, with the kind of bizarre setting of the present day imposed on the fundamental SF concepts underneath. But it is that intertwining and balance that makes the book such a good read (and so fundamentally Bear from what little of her work I've read). It would have been much less of a book if it had only been the SF tale, and I don't think I would necessarily have liked it. But having that underpinning there gave me something to hold on to and to ground the book for me. With the Promethean Age books I felt like I was trying and failing to grasp air. Here, I felt like I had something solid, and strangely beautiful in my hands, twisted into strange, reality-defying shapes.

For all the the narration switched regularly between Rien and Perceval (with side steps to other characters, especially Dust), this felt like Rien's book to me. We are introduced to the Exalt and the larger world through her eyes and that too may help provide the more grounded feeling I had with this book. Then we have Perceval's point of view to balance Rien's, and yet we find that in her own way, Perceval knows little more of the world than Rien does. So both young women find they way and we, the readers, find ours with them.

The supporting characters were less well developed I felt, but while reading didn't feel that the story was lessened by that. Yet I find I'd like to know more, especially about Tristen. Looking back, I think it is a pity those other characters weren't developed better, but there are two more books for that to happen and I'm pretty sure I'll be reading them. (In fact, when I finish this I'll be off to buy myself an copy of Chill although I don't quite know when I'll have a spare moment to read it.)

Mostly, I'm left with a feeling of something wondrous and peculiar and strange, in all the best possible ways. It's a feeling I'd generally expect to find in fantasy rather than science fiction, and this is very definitely a science fiction novel, which makes me feel like I've discovered a special treat.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 07, 2011

Geo Restrictions Sigh

Why is it that the stuff I don’t want to buy is not geo-restricted and therefore available to me, while the stuff I do want to buy, I can’t?

(Don’t worry, that’s a rhetorical question. There is no sensible answer.)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Down Side to Digital Readers

Jemisin, N. K. - Inheritance Trilogy 01 - The Hundred Thousand KingdomsI really love reading books on my iPhone, but today I have been caught out by one of the down sides of digital reading.

I’ve spent the day immersed in N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I’m reading it for the Women of Fantasy 2011 challenge over at Jawas Read Too! (I’m also planning to read Dust by Elizabeth Bear this month for the Women of Science Fiction 2011 challenge hosted by Dreams and Speculation.)

I bought The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms pretty much when it came out but hadn’t found time to read it, despite seeing many excellent reviews of the book and it featuring on a number of Best of 2010 lists. I was delighted to have the required kick in the pants to get it read.

Those reviews and list were right. It’s a really wonderful book. So yes, I’ve been reading it all day to the point of sometimes ignoring Marcus when I should be giving him proper motherly and holiday attention.

But occasionally my iPhone glitches. For some reason it can stop registering the drop in battery power, to the point that I have no idea how much   is left. And when that happens it will hit the point where it just turns itself off, totally out of power. It did that – right when I was at the climax of the book! Arrrggghhhh! I am so frustrated. I want to finish it. I want to finish it now!

So I’m writing this grumpy post instead while it powers itself up enough for me to use it. I’ll have to read with it attached to my laptop while it continues charging, but at least I’ll be able to finish the book.

I love my iPhone. I love reading on it. But it’s moments like this that remind why I’m lusting after a Kindle.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

If you have issues with “Twilight” and/or bad grammar…

If so, then you absolutely need to read Reasoning with Vampires. Go to the last page and work backwards. It really does work best that way.


The author, deciding she couldn’t mock Twilight without reading it, undertook the mission and is commenting not only on content, but on how fundamentally awful the writing actually is. I have read the book and I admit, I didn’t notice most of this at the time. But I sure am now it’s being pointed out to me. Also, any decent editor should have picked it up.

I’m also amazed to see how many times, because she must think it’s a good idea, one author can insert unnecessary details into the middle of a sentence.

Dave sent me the link and I am blaming today’s total lack of productivity on him. I’m sitting at my computer and laughing hysterically instead. (Still, it’s New Year’s Day and a holiday. It is also totally his fault that he’s been doing most of the Marcus-minding today while I read and laugh.)