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tamaranth

September 2017

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2017/74: Penric's Fox -- Lois McMaster Bujold
Did demons mourn? Oh, yes, breathed Des. It is not something we come into the world knowing, as elementals. But we learn. Oh, how we learn. [loc. 1662]


This novella begins some eight months after the events of Penric and the Shaman: Penric has become friends with Inglis, and is visiting him -- and trying to learn shamanic magic -- when both are sought out by Senior Locator Oswyl. A local sorceress has been murdered, and he needs to find the murderer. Penric, though, is more interested in the fate of the dead sorceress' demon ...not very spoilery )
2017/73: Penric and the Shaman -- Lois McMaster Bujold
I take my first duty to be to souls, not laws. And to learn as well as teach, or what else do the gods put us in this world for? [loc. 856]


Four years have passed since Penric acquired, or began to host, the chaos demon he calls Desdemona. Now a fully-fledged Divine of the Bastard's Order, he is living in the palace of the Princess-Archdivine Llewen, sorcerously crafting printing plates, and studying greedily.
non-spoilery )
2017/72: Penric's Demon -- Lois McMaster Bujold
When he glanced up at the mirror, his mouth said, “Yes, let’s get another look at you.” [loc. 331]


Penric kin Jurald, scion of a minor noble house, is on his way to his betrothal when he accidentally acquires a chaos demon.
not spoilery )
04-06AUG17: Nine Worlds, Hammersmith
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09-14AUG17: Worldcon, Helsinki
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14AUG17: Recital, Suomenlinnan Kirkossa, Helsinki
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19AUG17: The Hitman's Bodyguard, Odeon, Greenwich
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20AUG17: Queer Art, Tate Britain
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25AUG17: The Iliad (Clare Goodall), The Lion and Unicorn / Camden Fringe
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28AUG17: Logan Lucky, Odeon, Greenwich
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2017/71: The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. --
Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland


Photography breaks magic by embalming a specific moment—one version of reality—into a recorded image. Once that moment is so recorded, then all other possible versions of that moment are excluded from the world that contains that photograph.” [p. 35]


I was really looking forward to reading this: perhaps that's why this is such a negative review, reflecting the depth of my disappointment.
spoilers )
2017/69: Christopher Wild -- Kathe Koja
The will is honed, trained, playful, relentless, the mind its twin in dark exuberance and nerve; and the body breathes in and out, one with the breathing world,rapt and glorying in even the smallest things -- the feel of breeze on bare skin,the vagrant scent of smoke, pink glitter of rain on a neon sign,the humble heat of bodies massed together on the train -- and all the vehicle and joy and habitation of Chris Marley, Christopher to his friends, his name a dare and a beacon, symbol and sigil, the poet's name, X04. [p. 195]

non-spoilery but long )
2017/68: The Lawrence Browne Affair -- Cat Sebastian
Sodomites had been a favorite subject of his father’s rage-fueled tirades... lumped in with other crimes against nature, such as Catholicism and being French. [p. 154]


Lawrence Browne, Earl of Radnor, is mad. (He's not technically the Mad Earl: that sobriquet was given to his elder brother, who's now dead.) Lawrence, who has sensory perception problems (loud noises make him anxious: he likes his environment to be predictable), is perfectly happy living hermit-like in Penkellis, his crumbling ancestral home, doing Science. Most of the servants have left (a small matter of an explosion or two) but the vicar visits several times a week. One day he suggests that Lawrence might benefit from a secretary.not spoilery )
2017/67: The Ruin of a Rake -- Cat Sebastian
... to combine scientific pursuits with actual orgies struck Julian as excessive in all directions. [loc. 63]


Julian Medlock is a shipping heir, the epitome of a Regency gentleman, whose carefully-polished exterior that armours him against the world and hides a number of secrets. Lord Courtenay is a notorious rake, penniless despite his aristocratic name, who has become bored of being bad. Courtenay is widely acknowledged to be the inspiration behind lurid bestseller The Brigand Prince of Salerno -- a novel which Julian knows rather well. not especially spoilery )
05JUL17: Spiderman: Homecoming, Odeon Leicester Square

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16JUL17: 'The Death of Christopher Marlowe'
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19JUL17: blink-182, O2, Greenwich
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20JUL17: Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity, Leighton House Museum
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21JUL17: Der Freischutz (Weber), Blackheath Community Opera, Blackheath Halls
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22JUL17: Adventures in Moominland, Royal Festival Hall
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27JUL17: Dunkirk, Barbican Cinema
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2017/66: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen -- Lois McMaster Bujold
"So, how long has my mother had this questionable fetish for bisexual Barrayaran admirals? I don’t think even the Betans have earrings for that one." [loc. 4825]


Three years have passed since the death of Aral Vorkosigan. His wife Cordelia, being Cordelia, has not resigned herself to a faded life of mourning: she is Vicereine of Sergyar (the planet where the two first met, back in Shards of Honour) and is pursuing a number of projects. One of these involves Admiral Oliver Jole, who has appeared -- fleetingly -- as Aral Vorkosigan's aide in several previous novels,mildly spoilery for premise of novel )
2017/65: Untamed -- Anna Cowan
The Duke’s transformation was absolute, down to the very marrow of his bones. There wasn’t a single hint of self-consciousness about him. His demeanour, the set of his mouth, the lazy sway of his hand, all belonged to Lady Rose. The ease with which he changed his skin was frightening. [loc 812]


Regency romance in which the Duke of Darlington flees London disguised as a woman: this is a factual but useless description. slightly spoilery for themes )
2017/64: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal -- KJ Charles
“I believe that each haunting is an unfinished tale, of some kind,” Simon said. “If the story can be concluded, so is the ghost’s presence. The untold story is agony, whether it is the fact of a murder or the location of a will, or simply…unfinished business." [p. 58]

non-spoilery )
2017/63: Spectred Isle -- KJ Charles
"...when dawn comes, am I going to find myself bare-arsed on Burwell Castle’s remains, and a lady antiquarian belabouring me with her parasol?”
“I can only pray you will. First it would mean we were home, and second, I’d pay to see that.” [loc. 1815]


Disclaimer: I had an advance copy because I'm interviewing KJ at Nine Worlds, and it will be Fun.

First in a new trilogy, The Green Men, which is set in the same 'world' as The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal. (I bounced off that book on first attempt, so didn't get around to reading it until after Spectred Isle.) Unlike many of KJ Charles' other novels, it's set in the twentieth century -- in the 1920s, in fact, in an England which is still recovering from the horrors of a World War -- and where the Green Men have been defending England against occult forces since well before the Archduke's assassination. Though the War made things rather worse ...

Saul Lazenby is a former archaeologist and military man, disgraced and discharged: he used to work with Leonard Woolley, but is now employed by Major Peabody, an enthusiastic amateur (or nut job, depending on point of view) who's keen on 'magical powers, haunted temples and secret societies'. Saul is grateful for the employment, and keeps his reservations to himself.

Then one day he's walking along, minding his own -- well, Major Peabody's -- business, and an oak tree bursts into flames.
not plot-spoilery but mentions some backstory )
2017/62: Touch not the Cat -- Mary Stewart
'Only you were reading my thoughts. Do you often do that?'
A pause, as long as four quickened heartbeats. Then he said, easily: 'Twin and I do it as a matter of course. Shades of Bess Ashley, the gipsy, didn’t you know?'
'It must save a lot of telephone calls,' I said lightly. [loc. 2067]

maybe slightly spoilery for mid-plot )
2017/61: Single and Single -- John Le Carré
'...what the hell happened next?’ He was so warm! He could feel it! It was here in the room. It was across the packing case from him. It was inside Massingham’s skull and begging to come out – till at the very last second it turned and scurried back to safety. [p. 282]

maybe slightly spoilery )
2017/60: Touch -- Claire North
Everyone needs a hobby, and everyone was mine. [p. 67]


Somewhere in London, in a dark alley, in the past, a woman is murdered. But she doesn't want to die alone: she reaches out and touches her murderer ... and becomes him, looking down at the corpse of his victim.
no spoilers )
2017/59: An Unnatural Vice -- K J Charles
Conscience makes flats of us all, Justin thought. How lucky I don’t have one. [loc. 1231]


Nathaniel Roy is an investigative journalist, the atheist son of an archbishop, and desperately lonely despite the good friends who've stood by him through love and loss. Justin Lazarus is the Seer of London, one of the most successful (and most expensive) spiritualists in the city, and determined that he'll never again be obligated to anybody. not spoilery )
2017/58: All Systems Red -- Martha Wells
I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. [p. 9]


All Systems Red is the first-person narrative of Murderbot, a self-hacked security cyborg -- 'SecBot' -- who, due to having disabled their governor module, is no longer forced to obey the commands of the Company . (Note the pronouns: Murderbot may not have what they primly refers to as 'sex parts' but they are very much a person, possibly more so than some of their human clients.)
not spoilery )
2017/57: American Gods -- Neil Gaiman
"Media. I think I have heard of her. Isn't she the one who killed her children?"
"Different woman," said Mr. Nancy. "Same deal." [loc 6102]


Reread sparked by the Amazon TV series -- which is a very different animal,
'based on' rather than a straightforward adaptation of the novel.
non-spoilery )
2017/56: Spandex and the City -- Jenny Colgan
He almost certainly had no idea that the fact that he was rich was as strange to me as the fact that he could lift up a truck with one hand. [loc. 1255]

slightly spoilery review )