tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
2017-10-18 07:44 am
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2017/81: Bellman & Black -- Diane Setterfield

2017/81: Bellman & Black -- Diane Setterfield
What little there had been to frighten or pain him was left behind in the forgotten days of childhood: as a man he saw no reason to be afraid. Now some great hand had peeled back the kind surface of that fairy-tale world and shown him the chasm beneath his feet


Young William Bellman, aged ten, aims his slingshot at a distant rook and -- improbably -- kills it. He's full of regret: he didn't mean to ... but then a fever strikes, and he begins the process of forgetting.
not spoilery )
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2017-10-17 07:58 am
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2017/80: The Furthest Station -- Ben Aaronovitch

2017/80: The Furthest Station -- Ben Aaronovitch
It was no use pointing out that we were actually policemen, not gentlemen, because Nightingale has a very clear idea where one ends and the other begins. One day, I’m hoping, he’ll show me where that line is. [loc. 159]
no spoilers )
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2017-10-14 09:14 am
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2017/79: Thin Air -- Michelle Paver

2017/79: Thin Air -- Michelle Paver
‘...the Big Stone’. That’s all Kangchenjunga is. ... It might possess a semblance of animation, because of the wind, and the crack of canvas, and the distant rumble of an avalanche on the Saddle – but that’s all it is, a semblance. There is no life up here. And no menace, either. The Sherpas are wrong. This mountain has no spirit, no sentience and no intent. It’s not trying to kill us. It simply is. [loc. 1382]


Thin Air is set in the mid-1930s. Stephen Pearce, who's just broken with his fiancee, is glad to have been recruited by his brother Kits as the doctor for a mountaineering expedition. The expedition's goal is to climb Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, which has never been successfully summitted. a bit spoilery )
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2017-10-13 06:10 am

Monthly culture: September 2017

02SEP17: The Limehouse Golem, Greenwich Picturehouse

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14SEP17: Outlaws to In-Laws, King's Head Theatre
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20SEP17: Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Wimbledon Odeon
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21SEP17: Giselle, English National Ballet at Sadler's Wells
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30SEP17: The Tempest, Greenwich Theatre
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2017-10-04 08:10 am
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2017/78: Tremontaine: Season One -- Kushner, Lo, Derfner, Johnson, Bryant, Maltese

2017/78: Tremontaine: Season One -- Ellen Kushner, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Patty Bryant, Racheline Maltese
It was a fairy tale, they said—a Riverside fairy tale. The fair maiden Tess needed a protector, and so the foreign princess had fought every pretender until she found the one Riverside swordsman who was honest and true. [loc 3991]


Serialised fiction, like the renaissance of the novella, is one of those publishing trends that's increased in popularity with the rise of the e-reader. Personally I prefer my fiction in complete chunks, so -- after sampling the first 'episode' of this SerialBox series -- I held off until the complete 'first season' was available in a single volume. True, I missed out on cliffhangers and suspense: but I was rewarded by a long day's delightful reading.
non-spoilery )
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2017-10-03 07:13 am
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2017/77: The Painted Queen -- Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess

2017/77: The Painted Queen -- Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess
'Shall I tell you where we went this afternoon?’ Ramses said, unable to bear my cheerful prattle. It is a trait (or a weakness) inherited from his father. I have been known to take advantage of it when warranted.
‘If you must,’ I said in a pained voice. (p. 81)

not really spoilery )
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2017-10-02 08:14 am
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2017/70: An Unsuitable Heir -- K.J. Charles

2017/70: An Unsuitable Heir -- K.J. Charles
"...How do I look?”
Greta surveyed him. “Handsome and beautiful.” [loc 1525]


The concluding volume of the 'Sins of the Cities' trilogy: see An Unseen Attraction and An Unnatural Vice for my reviews of the previous two novels. Also, this review may contain spoilers for the events of those novels.
not massively spoilery but does discuss plot )
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2017-10-01 08:22 am
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2017/76: Mira's Last Dance -- Lois McMaster Bujold

2017/76: Mira's Last Dance -- Lois McMaster Bujold
Mira, what are you about? asked Penric in panic. Are you out of my mind?
Come, come, Penric ... We have sat through any number of your bedroom ventures over the years. Turnabout is fair play. She added after a moment, Also, you will learn some new things. That should appeal to the scholar in you. [loc. 778]


This novella follows directly from Penric's Mission, and will make little sense if read without knowledge of the events therein.spoilery )
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2017-09-30 02:27 pm
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2017/75: Penric's Mission -- Lois McMaster Bujold

2017/75: Penric's Mission -- Lois McMaster Bujold
... physician, sorcerer, divine? Which of his bewildering multiplicity of selves had laid itself down in such hope-starved humility? [loc. 1624]


Penric, at thirty, is quite different from the generally light-hearted protagonist of Penric and the Shaman and Penric's Fox. There have been several important changes -- only gradually revealed -- in his circumstances, and at the opening of this novella he's en route to Cedonia with letters from the Duke of Adria, who would like General Adelis Ariseydia to come and work for him.minor spoilers )
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
2017-09-19 01:50 pm
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2017/74: Penric's Fox -- Lois McMaster Bujold

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 )
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
2017-09-16 10:53 am
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2017/73: Penric and the Shaman -- Lois McMaster Bujold

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 )
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
2017-09-07 12:50 pm
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2017/72: Penric's Demon -- Lois McMaster Bujold

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 )
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2017-09-05 07:27 pm

Monthly culture: August 2017

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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2017-08-23 09:23 am
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2017/71: The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. -- Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland

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 )
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2017-08-22 08:09 am
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2017/69: Christopher Wild -- Kathe Koja

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 )
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
2017-08-04 08:12 am
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2017/68: The Lawrence Browne Affair -- Cat Sebastian

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 )
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
2017-08-03 09:07 am
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2017/67: The Ruin of a Rake -- Cat Sebastian

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 )
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2017-08-03 08:39 am

Monthly culture: July 2017

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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2017-08-02 06:34 am
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2017/66: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen -- Lois McMaster Bujold

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 )
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
2017-08-01 07:02 am
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2017/65: Untamed -- Anna Cowan

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 )