Archives

Sci Fi Summer Read-athon starts tomorrow!

Seasons of Reading is hosting their annual Sci-Fi Summer Read-athon beginning tomorrow and running through June 7.

Some folks are really ambitious with their plans, posting that they plan to read three or four or more books.  In a week.  I don’t have that kind of time, but more power to ’em!

Of course, I could be wrong, and those are the books they intend to read throughout the summer.

Me, I just hope to get halfway through Olympos by Dan Simmons during this week.  It’s the sequel to Ilium, which I finished last week and plan to review in the near future.  Like Ilium, it’s a doorstop of a novel (upwards of 800 pages).  I’m currently on page 127.

What are you reading right now?

Advertisements

Further musing on this year’s SF/F Reading Challenge

Because I’m doing my best to “shop” my bookshelves and the public library, I’ve reviewed the awards lists carefully to find books already in hand, so to speak, to meet this challenge.  So far, I’ve found these here at home:

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.  Winner of the 2006 August Derleth Award (British Fantasy Awards). Winner of the 2006 Locus Awards.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  Nominated for 2002 World Fantasy Awards. Nominated for the 2002 British SF Association Awards.  Winner of the 2002 Hugo.  Winner of the 2002 Bram Stoker Award.  Winner of the 2002 August Derleth Award (British Fantasy Awards). Winner of the 2002 Locus Awards. Winner of the 2003 Nebula. This would be a re-read in preparation for the TV series that debuts on Starz in April 2017.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.  Winner of the 2009 Hugo.  Nominated for the 2009 World Fantasy Award.  Nominated for the 2009 August Derleth Award (British Fantasy Awards).

(Aside:  This is only a partial list of the nearly uncountable awards Neil Gaiman has been nominated for or won.  Why isn’t he a Grand Master already?)

The Wooden Sea by Jonathan Carroll.  Nominated best novel for 2002 World Fantasy Awards.

Ilium and Olympos by Dan Simmons.  Simmons was voted a Grand Master of Horror in 2013, so any of his works will qualify.  Ilium was nominated for the 2004 Hugo; and Olympos was nominated for the 2006 Locus Award.  Also on my shelf are Lovedeath, nominated for the 1994 Bram Stoker Award and 1994 Locus; Phases of Gravity, 1990 Locus nominee; Drood, 2010 Locus nominee; Worlds Enough and Time, 2003 Locus nominee; and The Terror, 2008 Shirley Jackson Award nominee.  Can you tell I like Dan Simmons?  A lot?

From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury.  Bradbury is a Grand Master of long standing in several categories so, again, any of his works will qualify.  From the Dust Returned was nominated for several awards in 2002: World Fantasy; Bram Stoker; and Locus.  I have lots more Bradbury on the shelf, but this one, Farewell Summer, and A Pleasure to Burn are the only titles I haven’t already read.

Horns by Joe Hill.  2011 Bram Stoker nominee.  Currently reading NOS4A2, winner of the 2014 August Derleth Award (British Fantasy Awards), and nominee for the 2014 Bram Stoker and Locus Awards.

Shadow and Claw by Gene Wolfe.  Another Grand Master.

Embassytown by China Miéville.  2012 Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke award nominee.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.  2016 Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy winner; 2016 Locus nominee; and so far the only female author on this list.  I have other female authors on my library wishlist, such as Elizabeth Moon, Lauren Beukes, and Octavia Butler.  I must make a point of checking out those books.

2017SFFReadingChallengeOkay, that’s 19 named books and three authors without named books, so let’s try for the Hydra Category (21+ novels).

Care to join us in this reading challenge?  Click the badge to the left to be taken to the sign up page.

Speaking of reading challenges…

2016SFFChallengeLet’s read some award winners!

I caught wind of this challenge to read books that won major science fiction or fantasy awards by way of Chris Pontius over at Exploding Steamboats.  Chris and I go back, way back, to our BookCrossing days. I’m no longer an active participant there, although recently I registered and released some books after a coffeeshop visit with Alice.  (Should have blogged about that, but see my recent post about blogging slumps.)

ANYWAY…..

Reading challenge.  First one hosted by Shaunesay at The Space Between, who is also a BookCrosser (and whose blog I am now following), and who recently decided that Award Winning Science Fiction and Fantasy deserved its own challenge.  Go read this post to find out why.

Luckily, I have several unread Hugo and Nebula winners already on my bookshelves, so I didn’t even have to buy new books.  That makes the spouse happy.

Gateway Cover  Neuromancer Cover

Man In The High Castle  Windup Girl 

Frederick Pohl has been on my list to read forever.  It’s coincidental that I purchased Gateway yesterday while visiting the Half Price Books that recently opened near me. (Okay, so I bought one new book.  Don’t tell spouse.)

William Gibson’s Neuromancer has long been on Mt. TBR. I’ve dipped my toe in only one other Gibson (Count Zero).  It’s past time to read the novel that initiated the cyberpunk subgenre.

Likewise, The Wind-Up Girl has occupied space on my bookshelf for several years.  I read The Water Knife last year and kicked myself for not having read Bacigalupi sooner, even though it was sitting right here in my house.

I bought The Man in the High Castle a couple of years ago when Amazon first piloted their TV series based on the novel. (It’s marvelous, by the way.  If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you must see it.)  I have only read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? previously, although several of Phillip K. Dick’s short stories and novellas are on my Kindle.

This challenge fits in nicely as an extension of the R.I.P 11 Challenge (hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings).  These four novels are a good start, and put me at the Ursa Major Challenge level.  If time permits, I’ll read more.  It’s not like I don’t have other SF/fantasy award winners waiting to be read — or even re-read.  We shall see.

New York, Day 5

Me in HarlemThursday was our last full day in New York. Being tired of waiting in lines for things, this was the day we planned to hit some of the little spots we wanted to see. First thing after breakfast, we took the subway to the nearest store of the chain that employs my husband. He wanted to take a look at how it was laid out for comparison’s sake, and he wanted to be able to tell his employees he saw the Big Apple version. Said store happened to be in Harlem.

Said store was really no different than spouse’s store.  I bought a little sunhat because we were going to be outdoors most of the day, and the top of my head was already sunburnt and tender from our long walk on Day 1 and the Statue of Liberty tour on Day 2.  Note to self: remember to take a hat next time you plan to play tourist outdoors.

Knitty CityWe headed back to the Upper West Side next, and found the yarn store.  Stop shaking your head.  Of course I had to visit a New York yarn store!  This was Knitty City on 79th Street, and it was a perfectly lovely shop, with a helpful and friendly staff.  The dinosaurs browsed while Kathi and I chatted; I wanted to buy local yarn, and she showed me several Project Bags 2options.  I walked away with two skeins of hand-dyed Chelsea Sock (Yellow, Chrysanthemum) from the local Nooch Fiber, which is 80% superwash Merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon; and one skein of a MadTosh Merino Light colorway (Urban Flagstone) dyed exclusively for this shop.  Also in my cool shopping-cum-project bag was another project bag, and three pattern books (the Interpretations series, Volumes 1-3) from two designers (Joji Locatelli and Veera Välimäki) I’d never heard of but fell madly in love with their work.

InterpretationsThese books are chock full of elegant (in all meanings, but especially the scientific sense of “gracefully concise and simple”) designs for cardigans, pullovers, and accessories, with clean lines and uncomplicated silhouettes, with careful attention paid to details like cables or lace or colorwork, and all beautiful and eminently wearable. It looks like this is an annual series, so I’ll be keeping my eye out for Volume IV, which I expect will be released sometime in 2017.

Oh, before I forget, here are the yarn-browsing dinosaurs.

Dinos Buy Yarn 2

NYPL and MeNext on our list was the New York Public Library: specifically the Stephen A. Schwarzman branch.  The dinosaurs and I had a hankering to visit the lions, Patience and Fortitude.  By this time, spouse and I were getting pretty good at figuring out which trains and subway stops we needed, so we made our way to Bryant Park and had lunch al fresco.

Have I mentioned the weather was absolutely spectacular that entire week?  It was no different Thursday.  I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the shade, eating a sandwich and fruit from one of the park vendors, watching the passersby, and enjoying the fragrance of the flowers.  The park was crowded like everywhere we’d been, but enjoyable nonetheless.  Even with the crowds, it was relaxing to sit and commune with a little bit of greenery in the midst of all that concrete and steel.

Dinos Visit the Lions 2

After we finished our meal, we wandered around the park and eventually made our way to the front of the library.  And there they were, the great stone lions.  These lions have fascinated me for ages.  I once read a fantasy/SF novel — can’t remember the name; in fact, the following tidbit is the only detail I remember of the novel — that took place in a devastated future New York, in which the lions had come to life and prowled the city, doing no harm, of course, but acting as protectors of the downtrodden and weak. So that’s how I think of them, always.

Spouse took my photo with Fortitude, on the north edge of the steps.  (Patience lives on the south edge.)  The dinos had their photo taken too.

Next stop was Tender Buttons, the button store on the Upper East Side that I told you about in this Work In Progress Wednesday post a couple of weeks ago.  Spouse is a tolerant man, but his tolerance extends only so far, and he’d already borne through an extended yarn shop visit this day; thus I didn’t spend nearly as much time in this little shop as I would have done had I been by myself.  I saw enough to know I want to go back there every time I need buttons.  Sadly, that’s not feasible.

Wall StreetOur last stop of the day (nyuk, nyuk, get it?) was Wall Street.  This was especially for spouse.  Long ago, in another life, before he took up retail management as a career, he worked for an investment firm where he guided his clients’ purchases of equities such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, and so forth.  He doesn’t really miss that rat race but he has some fond memories.  That being the case, he wanted to make a pilgrimage to the New York Stock Exchange.  And here he is, in his Master of the Universe pose.

Master of the Universe 3

Isn’t he the cutest?   We saw the bull, too, because it would be un-American to go to Wall Street and not pay homage to the bull.

Bull on Wall Street 2

After all these adventures, we were plumb tuckered out and went back to the hotel to crash.  Later we realized we hadn’t taken ourselves out to a fancy dinner for our anniversary, so spouse found a little Italian restaurant within easy walking distance of the hotel, and that’s where we went.  La Piccola Cucina is tiny, maybe ten tables at most; the atmosphere was calm and soothing with lovely instrumental music playing at a just-right volume over the speakers; our server was attentive but not hovering; and the food was divine.

One more day for this New York adventure.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Knitting My Library: Advance Planning #1

Craft Room 1Have I shown you this?  It’s my library of knitting/crochet books and magazines (with a few extra books spilling over from the “regular” bookshelves).  Unused yarn lives in the woven bins; leftovers from previous projects live in the plastic bin on the table.  This photo was taken a couple of years ago, and the collection of books AND yarn has only grown since then.  As you can see, I have ample selection from which to choose for the Knit Your Library Challenge.

One of the suggested ways to handle this challenge is choose a particular book and knit your way through it.  While I have a couple of books I’d be willing to choose for that method, my other focus this year is to knit from stash as much as possible.  My process will be to choose yarn in stash and find a pattern that works with it.  Here’s what I’ve picked out so far.

Footprints 2Stashed yarn #1: Blue Ridge Yarns Footprints, 300 yards of a main color and 100 yards of a contrast color, perfect for making socks with contrasting toes and heels.  I bought this yarn while in Florida a few years ago for a family event.  I needed to escape the family for a little while so I found a yarn shop.  (Yarn therapy + retail therapy = miracle cure for family stress.)  This project will help me achieve another goal, learning a short row or afterthought heel.  The pattern that appeals to me most right now for this yarn is Dumbledore’s Warm Socks from The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits 2013 magazine.

Baby Camel SilkStashed yarn #2: Wild Orchids Fiber Arts Swiss Mountain Baby Camel and Silk, 437 yards of fingering weight gorgeousness I bought at Stitches South shortly after moving to Atlanta.  This yarn is so special, I’ve had a dickens of a time finding just the right pattern for it.  It’s too delicate for socks; besides, this shimmering sheen deserves to live in the light.  Last summer I bought Interweave’s Warm Days, Cool Knits, and there it was, the Emmylou Shawl. Pretty and feminine and just right to show off this skein of fibery goodness.

Needles 3Stashed yarns #3 & 4:  The marvelous yet discontinued Rowan Plaid in the Lavender Mist (purplish) colorway, 1360 yards; and Moonlight Wave (bluish) colorway, 700 yards of beautiful bulky softness.  The challenge with Rowan Plaid is finding a pattern in which the details don’t get lost in the multi-hued strands.  I’ve found when using this in smaller projects that straight stockinette looks marvelous and big, simple cables work really well.  The Galadriel Cardigan from Verena Knitting Winter 2009 is perfect for the lavender.  For the blue, the yardage is pretty limited because I’ve used it for gifts several times already, including making a cardigan.  Either the Hooded Cardi Vest from Vogue Winter 2009/2010 or the Cabled V-Neck Slipover from Debbie Bliss Fall/Winter 2008 will work best.  I’ll decide between those two patterns when I get closer to actually knitting one of them.

knit-your-library_2016Okay, four stashed yarns, four library patterns.  That’s enough advance planning for one Saturday.  I still have the Wildflower Cardigan to finish, plus a couple of other long-neglected WIPs that, truthfully, may or may not get finished before I start one of these new babies.

R.I.P. IX — What I’ve read so far…

RIP 9 Peril the First
Constant readers may recall I committed to “Peril The First”, which means I pledge to read at least four books in the mystery, gothic, horror, dark fantasy, etc. genre between September 1 and October 31. At this point in the challenge, I can safely say, “Been there, done that.” Books read and finished so far in this challenge total 14. I’ve sort of been concentrating on books in a series recently. I’ll give mini-reviews of just a few here. You can click on the book covers to read the full review.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar ChildrenHollow City

Hollow City was read as part of this challenge. I’m including its predecessor here (but not in my challenge count) because you can’t read one without the other. Picking up immediately where its predecessor left off, Hollow City follows the further adventures of Jacob, Emma, and the rest of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children as they search for a cure for Miss Peregrine’s condition. Their search leads them to one timeloop and another, and ultimately to war-ravaged London during The Blitz, where they encounter more danger, not only from the bombs but from the hollowgasts and wights who have been pursuing them ever since they left Wales. Another cliffhanger ending left me scrambling to find out when the next book will be published. (Late 2015? Waaaaaaaaahhhh!!!! Who does this guy Ransom Riggs think he is? George R. R. Martin?)

The TalismanBlack House

The Talisman was a re-read, mainly because The Black House had been sitting on my bookshelf for several years (and through several moves), glaring at me with baleful eyes. I wouldn’t have felt right responding to that glare and picking it up without refreshing my memory and renewing my acquaintance with young Jack Sawyer and his epic quest through the Territories to find the Talisman and save his mother. As it turns out, a re-read wasn’t strictly necessary, because The Black House isn’t strictly a sequel. One could read it without having read The Talisman, although the story is richer if one has. The Black House catches up with Jack, now in his late 30s, after he left the LAPD and retired to rural Tamarack, Wisconsin. A child murderer has surfaced in this sleepy little village, and local law enforcement requests Jack’s assistance on the case. The murderer (who is revealed to the reader fairly early in the book) isn’t any ordinary human being. He’s a dark and twisted personality straight from the Territories themselves; only Jack’s forgotten almost everything that happened then. This novel has a shaky start, but eventually finds its feet and delivers a solid, satisfying read, and maybe even a happy ending for Jack.

WoolShiftDust

Wool was read before the start of the challenge, so it’s not included in the count. Its sequels, Shift and Dust, were read after the challenge started. These three novels, taken as a whole, constitute one of the most original SF/post-apocalyptic/dystopian scenarios I’ve encountered in a lifetime of reading. To preserve the joy of discovering them for yourselves (and to avoid spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read them), I’ll give you the set-up for Wool only: Several thousand people live underground in a self-sustained silo. No one goes outside because the world is poison. No one knows why or when the world was poisoned; they only know “the gods” did it; and anyone who expresses a wish to know more is granted that wish and sent outside to die. Then Juliette is appointed sheriff; in this position, she becomes privy to certain information previously unknown to her, and she begins to suspect there’s more to the ancient stories than she’s been told. RIP 9 PortraitGood stuff, people. Really. You should read them. By the way, if you’re an Amazon Prime member and have a Kindle, you can borrow them free of charge through the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library program. No, Amazon doesn’t pay me for this plug: I’m just that impressed with the selection in their lending program.

Stay tuned for another blog entry about a few more of the books read for R.I.P. IX, coming soon! And click that badge over there to be taken to a list of many more blog entries about this reading challenge.

It’s that time of year again: Readers Imbibing Peril 9 AND FrightFall Read-A-Thon!

I’ve been away from this blog for a number of reasons, not the least of which was dealing with an injury from a car accident and its attendant miseries. Nothing major, but enough to warrant hiring an attorney and going to the chiropractor several times weekly for the last several weeks.

My poor baby

My poor baby

Ugh. Luckily, my car wasn’t totaled and the body shop was able to make it just as beautiful as it once was. And the upside, if there can be one, was that the time my doctor took me off work was productive in the reading department. I’ve already met my Goodreads books-read goal for the calendar year (which was 52), and now am trying to see how many books above that goal I can reach.

Toward that end, I’m hereby pledging participation in two of my favorite reading challenges. They’re my favorite because they take place in my favorite season, Autumn, and they involve one of my favorite genres, the spooky story.

RIP 9 PortraitFirst, R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX (RIP IX), hosted by your friend and mine, Carl, over at Stainless Steel Droppings. (Every time I reference his blog, I promptly remind myself to read those damn Harry Harrison stories, and then just as promptly forget to put them on my list. Maybe this time will be different.) This is an annual challenge to read something in the Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, or Supernatural genres, or (as Carl says) “…anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.” As usual, there are several sub-challenges within the challenges. I plan on tackling Peril The First and Peril on the Screen. If you click the badge over there, you’ll be taken to the sign-up post with lots more information about the challenges.

FrightFall 2014One of the best things about RIP is it coincides with Seasons of Reading‘s annual FrightFall Read-a-thon, which involves reading at least one “scary” novel during a specified week. Two birds with one stone, one might say. This year, the FrightFall Read-a-thon is the first week of October. Click the badge to the left for details and sign-up instructions.

By the way, the Estella Society is coordinating with RIP 9 to host a read-along of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Carl has the details in the RIP 9 sign-up post linked above and, of course, you can get the information directly from the Estella Society’s blog post. I read that book too recently to participate in this read-along, but by all means, if you’ve never read it, or if you haven’t read it in recent memory, I encourage you to visit Ms. Jackson’s legendary haunted house. It’s worth every shiver.

Regardless of which challenge you choose, come join us! We’ll have a spooky good time!

High Summer Read-a-thon

High SummerIt’s been a while.

I tell you, once our class starts and I’m teaching a couple of times a week and getting lessons finalized in the times I’m not on air, I am exhausted when I get home. Very little knitting and crocheting going on recently, but quite a bit of reading gets done on the commute.

Speaking of reading, I’m taking part in the High Summer Read-a-thon (click the pretty picture over there for the link). I happen to be off work this week, so at least one book will be started and finished. Maybe two. I might even write a book review or two this week. It’s not like I’m 40 books behind in reviews or anything… 😉

I finished Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose yesterday morning (been reading it since July 14) (it’s wonderful), and started Marisha Pessl’s Night Film yesterday afternoon. So far, Night Film is every bit as good as Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which I thought was amazing, even though I have yet to write a review. (40+ books behind, remember?)

I’ll try to get a knit-and-crochet post up this week, too, because of course you want to know how many WIPs are currently floating around the house. And the new Vogue Knitting and Rowan issues are sitting here giving me the hairy eyeball.

*sigh* Projects are many. Discipline is lacking. And I’m beginning to feel the fun has gone out of blogging because it feels like a chore instead of an opportunity.

This feeling is probably temporary.

Once Upon A Time VIII

My reading buddy Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting another reading challenge/read-a-thon/read-along type thing that I was participating in by accident. I say “by accident” because somehow I missed the initial announcement on his blog (sorry, Carl). But I know about it now; and I hereby declare the last three George R. R. Martin books I finished (books 3-5 from The Song of Ice and Fire) qualify for one of the challenges.

Once Upon A Time 8What is this challenge, you ask?

It’s the “Once Upon A Time” Challenge, and you can read all about it by clicking that badge over there to the right. But I’ll give you the quick and dirty version right now.

Four categories of book: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy, Mythology.
Choose a challenge (go read Carl’s post for details on the various challenges), choose a category or four, choose a book or several, and read them!

The challenge began March 21 and will end June 21, so you still have time to get at least one book read. Like I said, I’m counting The Song of Ice and Fire books toward one of the challenges. A blog post will be coming about that in the next few days. Right now I’m trying to justify fitting my current read (The Twelve by Justin Cronin) into one of those categories…I’ll let you know if I can come up with a plausible rationalization. If not, I have plenty of other books to choose from once it’s finished.

Spring Fling, Horror Style

So I found out about this late.

Spring Horror 2014

(Click the pic to be taken to the Season’s Reading sign-up page.)

I’m in, as long as I finish my library book before Thursday. That will give me time for one good scare before Sunday. Perusing my bookshelf, I think maybe Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, or perhaps Ray Bradbury’s From the Dust Returned will suit the bill.

How about you? Better late than never, yes?