Stuff and that.

Stuff. And yeah. That

Category: Books


I haven’t been blogging much lately. No real reason, and my head is full of half started bits and bobs that I’ve not had the energy to convert to something worth reading. Like the Pants Situation. That’s the one where I found some Perfect Pants, disposed of ALL of the less than perfect pants to homes anew, then the allegedly Perfect (but actually complete and utter fuckers) Pants shrank. Did get my money back, but am left pantsless. Which wouldn’t be an issue if we were actually having a normal spring/summer rather than the fuck it’s cold I wish I had pants season we’re currently enjoying. So hey, I look professional from the waist up. And chilly below.

And the follow on from the Winter Clothes Kon Maudy business. That’s the one where I discover that I don’t really have enough “summer” tops if it does actually warm up. This leaves me with another quandary – primarily because I can’t find anything I like that isn’t ridic expense, and I’ll be buggered if I spend $60 on a fucking cotton t-shirt. And after previous Kon Maudy experiences, I’m not buying shit because it will do and it’s better than nowt. But the half arsed spring/summer we’re managing means I am surviving. Did have a Wardrobe Emergency the other day. Well, wasn’t actually a wardrobe emergency, more a trusted the weather forecast combined with the work air-conditioning set on Antarctic instead of Ambient. Easy mistake to make, apparently. Ended up with a new cardy and another long sleeved shirt (oops). Cardy is good (wearing it now. Think it’s down to less than $10 a wear. It will be free by the end of summer). Long sleeved shirt in white and linen. Can’t go wrong really.

So there’s an update on my wardrobe in two paragraphs. More than enough. I have been a tiny bit more stressed than normal lately, too. Just a tiny bit. Lots of stuff that is out of my control going on. While I can control how I react to things, when there’s lots and lots and lots of things that need controllable reactions… to be honest, it’s easier to just run around in circles flapping my hands and yelling fuck you all you fuckers and hide under the doona with a good book and hope all the stuffs goes away.

Coincidentally, one thing I have actually been doing a LOT of is in fact reading. Over the last few years, I’ve managed to read somewhere between 20 and 30 books each year. This is a complete travesty, as BC (before childerbeasts) I would read somewhere between two and four books a week (even while studying and working full time); and if I was going on The Holidays, minimum requirement for a week away was ten books. Over the last few years, I’d be lucky to read 25 books, and as long as I had two books for a week away, set like concrete, mate. This year I have already read FIFTY books, and there’s still a month to go. I started slowly, read a couple of graphic novels, read some old favourites… still prefer police procedurals and urban fantasy. But I’ve discovered Australian Noir. It broke the ice somewhat and I’ve been reading almost like the person formerly known as the Maudy who who formerly read a lot. Of the list in that article, I’ve read most of the authors, and of the ones I have read, I’ve read most of them this year.

Did read a couple of duds (looking at you, Mr Reacher. There comes a time in a bloke’s life he has to face up to retirement. Ahem) BUT there was only one book I didn’t finish. Good year for books though, generally.

The other thing I’ve done is crochet a lot. I discovered I am better at crochet than I thought. I’m now a prize winning crocheter and everything. In two competitions even. Although, it was for the same thing, so yeah. Maybe I’m not that good. Although the bit that won the prizes was pretty damn ace. Anyway, this year, I’ve learned how to do tapestry crochet and overlay crochet and how to crochet in a flat circle. I am mildly impressed with myself. Particularly the project I’m doing now. I thought it would be at the far limit of my abilities, and it’s not. Last time I checked, I was on gauge and everything – which, considering I am a “high and tight” crocheter, is a minor miracle in itself. Maybe I am not shit at crochet? And maybe you can teach a slightly more mature dog new tricks?

I also developed a bit of an obsession with my fitness tracker. I managed to do 10K steps almost every single day (missed less than five days, I think) for about 22 months. That’s pretty good really. But I was obsessed. Tracking my steps and tracking my sleep. And beating myself up over missing my goals with one or the other (ahhhh, I see what’s going on here, something to stress over that is not only in my control, but something that I can control. Who would have thought? Fuck, I’m predictable.)

Anyway, the band on my tracker broke. What was a girl to do?

  • Rush out and buy a new band?
  • Rush out and buy a new tracker?
  • Flap around in a circle a bit and internally debate ordering a new band or a new tracker ?
  • Do nothing?

Weirdly, it turns out I’m doing option 4 for the time being. My particular tracker is superseded, so although it still works fine, it’s a bit harder to find a replacement band for it. If I’m really using it as a “controlled stressor” then that’s a tiny bit fucked up and I should perhaps back away from the tracking for a bit and work out what I was actually getting out of it before I do anything more.

I have been missing the availability of having the time in an easily accessible device (as long as the light was right); so again with the who would have thoughts… I have started wearing my watch on the “wrong” hand instead. Time keeping device, easily accessible, and can read it regardless of light conditions. Unless it’s like proper dark and all. (I am some kind of weirdo right handed right hand wearing watch person. Wearing my watch on my left hand is a bit peculiar. But I will live. And the time is more useful than steps)

So yeah, that’s me. Reading other people’s words instead of writing my own. Tying ever more complex knots in a piece of string. Walking a lot and sleeping not so much. Two big ticket items on my Stress list are more or less resolved, and while I’d still like to run away to a tropical island for a little while, eh. I’ll live.

Gosh, it’s been a while…

I’ve just realised it’s been a month since I last posted. Crikey. However, I have totally been reading like a total reading machine. Srsly. Reading a LOT. Well, a lot for me. I suspect I’ve actually read four books in the last month.

Firstly, I finished The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson. I liked it, I think. The books form the basis for the Longmire series on the Netflix. I loved that series, so I was really keen to read the books. The books are different to the telly series, the characters are different, but at the same time they’re the same. And they’re sort of funny. Not uproariously HARHARHAR funny, more of a quiet snigger here and there funny. I haven’t had the burning desire to read the next one yet (although I am currently in the midst of upgrading ma teckernologies and I haven’t shifted over books from the old beast of burden to the new whiz-banger (which has a weirdarse keyboard and I keep mis-fucking typing all the things). Anyway, I probably will read the next one as I did like it enough to read more.

The secondly, I read another of the Ruth Galloway ones –  The House at Sea’s End. I really like these ones. They’re sort of cosy police procedural type books with a bit of history and a bit of lovey dovey action and enough of a mystery to be quite soothing, really. I’m not sure whether I have the next one on the trusty e-reader, so I shall have to persevere with my reading list.

Yes, I’ve set myself a reading list – I keep getting all zomfg what the fuck am I going to read next, get side tracked definitely not acquiring books by nefarious means (I do in fact acquire books legitimately as well, I am not all bad.) and end up with some trash or other that I don’t want to read. So, yeah, went through the books, downloaded about 15 or so and I am going to read them before I read anything else.

THEN I read Stalin’s Hammer: Rome by John Birmingham. It’s another installment in the Axis of Time series. This was me reading it on the train… Oooh. OH. Nooo. Ow. Ohhhh. NO WAY. No Way. Hehehahehehaheheha Oooh, no. Ow. etc. The Axis of Time series is classified as alternate history science fiction. It is in fact all that. However, that doesn’t give you the whole biffo schmako that goes down in the delivery of said alt.history. Prince Harry is in this one, and he totally is and was Granny’s favourite. Anyway, if you’re into history, don’t mind a fucking excellent stretching of your imagination, and good dose of the “what ifs” do yourself a flavour and get on the Axis of Time bandwagon. Is Don. Is very very Don.

Finally was another by Denise Mina (Gods and Beasts) I am doing a lot of series reading this year – doesn’t matter – it’s reading and that’s the main thing. I had a couple of hours on public transport last week, and slammed through this afterward. Again, I’m not sure about it… don’t hate them, just not sure. It’s only book two, so eh, I’ll persevere.

So yep, that’s four books in four weeks. I’ve set myself a challenge to read two books a month, so that’s not too bad… I am reading a book that’s more on the literature side than the trash side for a change. Nowt wrong with trash, just sometimes a girlie needs a steak. And also to stay awake long enough to consume said steak and not nod off in three point two seconds! I’ve also been crocheting like I am the Queen of Crochet (patently not, however… also, this damn keyboard is taking a bit longer than I expected to be getting used to… it’s slightly narrower than the old one, and much narrower than the one I use all the time at work. I’ve also not been using it much – too much crochet and reading =/= typing on fancy new laptop!)

Two books in a week!

Yes, on holidays. Therefore, copious reading has taken place in between refereeing children, tidying shit, carting children to places so they don’t kill each other, tidying more shit, making a fancy pants bullet journal and um. Yeah, refraining from killing my kids (in fact, I did threaten to send them both to the holiday program and go back to work because feral as. Seriously. Who would have children and voluntarily stay at home with them every single day?* Crikey.

Anyway, I’ve read a whole two books this week. I read The Crossing Places and The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths. They’re book one and book two in the Ruth Galloway series. She’s an archaeologist and gets called in when bones are discovered (this happens in both books, so yeah). They’re written peculiarly – not so much second person but sort of. It was slightly disconcerting at first, however the story was interesting enough to keep me reading. I liked Ruth Galloway, she’s strong and feisty and intelligent, and she’s also not reed thin and drop dead gorgeous and describes herself as on the fat side (she still pulls the odd bloke despite her lack of thin and lack of gorgeous. The reed thin and drop dead gorgeous woman in the books is a bit of a silly bint, to be honest.)

The two books I’ve read are set in and around Norfolk, with lots of Roman and Iron Age ruins and the like to be poking around withThe stories are predictable in that you can certainly pick the baddies (I’ve only read the first two, and the second one was marginally harder to pick. If this continues, it will be nigh impossible by the end of the series), but they’re twisty enough that you’re not ever 100% sure that the baddies are whom you think they are, and the goodies are only about 75% good. This makes it worth reading. The two I’ve read have followed on relatively close to one another, and from what I’ve read, the rest of them do as well. So, they’re easy to read back to back. They’re also quick to read as well. Perfect if you want something mildly twisty and quite interesting.

I’m looking forward to book three and four, anyway, and it means I have now read TEN books for 2016 and the year is barely 14 weeks old.

I’m reading the first Walt Longmire book now (for something completely different…) it’s a Western with cowboys and Indians and everything. The series “Longmire” on Netflix is based on the books. While I’m not sure whether I like it or not, it keeps making me laugh so I think I’ll persevere.

*Yes, I realise it appears I am yet again bagging people who are making life choices that are different to mine, however, while I do love my children dearly, I love them MUCH more when I don’t see them every waking moment.

Reading stuff

Well, Reg was making me watch the footy, so I’ve been reading and fiddling about with my Kobo. It appears I can’t do what I want on the damn Kobo – I used to be able to sort books into reading lists on the old Sony e-reader I used to have – this was awesome, it meant I could have my to read selections in a virtual ‘pile’. Now I will have to try to remember what I want to read next, damn it. This annoys me inordinately. I am inordinately annoyed.

Ok, where was I… Right, reason why I was fiddling about with the Kobo is because I’ve read another book. This is is a minor miracle in itself, and facilitated by my spending about three hours on public transport today. Not that I could read for all of it – I’ve got to watch the train stations on the Metro to make sure I don’t get lost, and reading was not possible on the sardine can tram on the way back to Southern Cross. However, copious reading was done on the other trains I was on (five trains and a tram today. I am a legend at public transport.)

Still Midnight by Denise Mina is a Scottish police procedural. I wasn’t sure what I was reading and or why until I was about a third of the way through. The characters are all fairly abrasive and annoying (and stay that way for the entire book to be honest); and I felt as though I’d accidentally picked up book #3 in a series because there was Something going on with the interactions between the police characters that made me feel as though I was missing something (hence my desire to make folders so I can make sure I have the book in the series I am up to in one folder and move it over laters). However, something happened about a third of the way through that made me go “oh. That’s interesting.” The story was a bit whack, but hey – it was a suitably mindless diversion and I get to tick ‘read something’ off my {ahem} new habits check list. A lot of the abrasiveness of the main character becomes less murky about half way through, and clears up toward the end. As does the story. Which really is a bit peculiar. There were a couple of snorts of amusement (not actual laughs, per se – more Ha! than hahaha) when a couple of things happened. There was also a weirdarse Hallmark-y bit in it that was  – yeah. Nah. Bit like the Unicorns in Bladerunner. Anyway, I’ve popped book two on the Kobo so it wasn’t total garbage, and it was written well enough that I was interested in the characters (sort of) and the story (ditto). If I was the star giving type – probably three stars. Not shit.

Not sure what I am reading next – but as I’m actually on holidays for TWO WHOLE WEEKS and I have nowhere to be… The world of books is my oyster. There will be crime. There will be death. And maybe a history of Sydney.

Eh. Where was I…

Farmer Wants a Root is finished for 2016, so let me see…

  1. Reading (that’s why we’re here, yes?) reading has been a bit more excite than the books about tidying up (more on that later, you know you want me to!) I finished The Magician’s Land this morning  –  I actually really enjoyed the trilogy. It’s – well, it’s not all Hogwarts meets Narnia with sexy times – although, that’s a pretty damn good summary if I say so myself. There is more to it than that. Not much more to it, to be honest, but enough that it was a pleasurable read. Quentin grew on me in the end. He was still a massive dick, but any bloke who woos a lady with bacon (a little crispy) and champagne is probably alright. Apparently it’s on the telly. Might be worth a watch.
  2. Knee – well, I know you want an update on that. It’s been um seven months now. The nice bit is my patella tendon is now speaking to the rest of my body and I no longer have a slightly numb patch on the front of my shin. This is a win. The knee bone is still not really talking to me – however, will tolerate my weight on it when I crawl into bed. No more throwing myself into bed like I’m five. Although it’s fun. I might just do it occasionally.
  3. Watching the telly. Why yes, yes I have been. I have been watching Farmers try and get laid (various degrees of success would be my guess. The bloke that looked like a good looking version of Austin Powers hooked up with a girlie that looked just like him. They’ll be at it like. Assorted farm animals, probably.) Plus, this is the time of the year that all the shows I like are on the television, so I am recording loads of things. Right now, I am liking:
    1. Jack Irish (don’t normally like Guy Pearce, long story, I am old. He’s good in this.) I am an episode behind. No spoilers plz.
    2. Wanted. Well, I’m actually hate watching that. It shits me to tears. It’s so fucked up. Couple episodes behind now, not sure if I’ll catch up.
    3. The X-Files. DISAPPOINTED. Not saying any more. I haven’t watched the last couple of episodes. I really don’t know that I can watch the rest.
    4. Elementary – It’s pseudo Sherlock Holmes. It’s trashy and I like it.
    5. No Offence. It’s British police procedural stuff and it’s on after Jack Irish. Piss funny and pretty good.
    6. Accidentally watched a lot of the second half of “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here”. I was pretty sure I knew who’d come in the top two and I was right.
    7. Wallander (on the Netflix) I watched all three series. I liked it. It’s sort of mildly depressing but soothing at the same time. Very Scandinavian.
    8. VERY EXCITED that series two of Daredevil is out on Friday. I *hope* they’ll dump the whole lot again.
    9. Blacklist is recording again, but I’m not sure if it’s new episodes.
  4. I went to see a movie! Chaos wanted to see Deadpool desperately. He’s 13. It’s MA15+ so I wasn’t going to let him go on his own or with his mates. I may be a Bad Mother, but I do have some limits. We loved it! It’s very funny and meta and the gratuitous sexy times are vaguely comic-book and not too harsh for a 13 year old boy who still thinks boobies are gross, man. I am definitely NOT a Bad Mother – there was a little kid in the cinema as well, and by little, I mean under seven. Maybe five or six. Ahem.
  5. I’ve started crocheting again. I stopped for a while because it’s been so fucking hot – sweaty hands are not good for crocheting. I have four squares to go and a hell of a lot of ends to do.
  6. AND I HAVE BEEN OUT LIKE A YOUNG PERSON TWO DAYS IN A ROW. Yes. I’ve had a wee social life. I went out on Saturday night and drank the equivalent of about three months worth of beer and watched some bands. Some were awesome, some were crap. Some may have been more awesome because of the quantity of beer consumed. Having consulted Mr Google, I suspect some were in fact rather good. I went back again on Sunday. I didn’t have beer. I found more ace bands and more meh ones. I had donuts. Mmm jammy donuts are good for slightly hungover people. I didn’t spew. It was a good night and day. And you have no idea how pleased I am that today was a day off.
  7. OOH, I nearly forgot. I’ve been Complaining. I am such an Old Person. So far, I have received free sausages and a $15 voucher for a packet of dodgy taco shells. No wonder old people complain!
  8. Diet – going ok until this last week, when I hurt my back again (picking up the fucking BATHMAT of all things. Bloody hell.) so I have been s-l-o-w walking, and the whole parking close to work thing because when you’re walking like a geriatric cowboy with a foot long carrot up your clack, walking 1.5km to and from the car is best described as out of the fucking question. So, slow walking, beer and jam donuts are not conducive to weight loss. I am not expecting great things. However, today is another day and there’s been more fucking donuts because donuts are awesome. Ahem. Tomorrow.

That’s about it, really. I’ve also been doing some more tidying but separate post for that, and I have two weeks off in two weeks. I am most pleased. I have told the kiddies to come up with a couple of things they’d really like to do in the holidays. What I’d like to do is re-paint the laundry. Weird, hey. And finish all the squares for my blanket.

Reading about zombies and cleaning. Ahem.

Yep. Actually have been reading. And yes, zombies and cleaning. And magicians. I finished The Magician King – which was pretty cool. I still think Quentin is a whiny brat, and he should learn to be grateful for what he has –  and maybe once I read the third one, he will have learned his lesson and will be a more balanced individual instead of a petulant brat.

Next, I read a wee snip of a story by John Birmingham called Here be Monsters. It features a delightful Lt Watkin Trench, who is in charge of a bevy of convicts en route to Sydney in 1788. There’s a squall, a zombie apocalypse and some srs shootings. It’s only short, and it just begs to be read aloud to a pack of scruffy year eights. Complete with accents.

So, that’s technically Book #5 in six weeks. Although, it’s really four books and a short story.

In light of my other current obsession, I bit the bullet and actually bought the Marie Kondo books – the life changing magic of tidying up and Spark Joy. I picked up Spark Joy in a seriously pretentious coastal bookshop (as an aside, I have NEVER seen so many books about narcissistic personality disorder in one place. I’d never even heard of it six months ago, and now there’s an entire self help industry. Who would have thought…)

Anyway, I read it in less than a week (yay me, six books in seven weeks!) and I really enjoyed it – which is weird. It’s a book about tidying up and I am so shit at that. It’s also a bit fluffy bunny/hippy dippy, which I also hate with a strange passion. However, it’s tolerable , particularly if you consider the whole translation from another completely different language thing, sparking joy could be a bizarre translation of something else that’s much more sweary and less fluffy. (Although, I think Ms Kondo leans toward girlie and fluffy and not so much of the swears.)

Any book that has this as one of it’s ‘recommendations’ though…

‘Your course taught me to see what I really need and what I don’t. So I got a divorce. Now I feel much happier.’

My kind of book. (Not that I’m planning to tidy up Reg or anything. He’s quite nice.) Ms Kondo talks about the difference between cleaning and tidying. One is in your control and one isn’t. You cannot control dirt. It’s inevitable like tides or something. But tidying – the less crap you’ve got laying about, the less tidying you have to do. Easy peasy. And so fucking OBVIOUS. Ahem.

So far, I’ve KonMari-ed the fuck out of my clothes, accessories (such as they are) and I’m having a red hot go at my books. This has involved some lateral thinking because I still cannot kneel and cleaning out a six foot tall book case does actually involve getting down on ones hands and knees. I brought in one of the benches from the out door setting and I’m using that to rest things on. You seriously CANNOT cull books on the shelf. They need to come off and get groped.

Ms Kondo says that tidying up will transform your life… I know that when I had a massive clean out of my house, I managed to lose 20kg at the same time. And I also know that since I started on this Fly-Mari kick, I’ve stopped eating chocolate, lost four kilograms and ditched about eight bags of stuff to the oppy or elsewhere. Maybe it will transform my life, maybe it will just mean I give more of a shit about what I stick in my face, and stick in my house… Can’t be a bad thing, anyway.





Reading reading

Yep. Doing some of that, I am.

So far this year, I have finished two books and am half way through #4 and a third of the way through #3. I am enjoying reading a bit more so far this year for some reason – whether it’s because I’ve just picked the right book to read and not picked anything I hate, or whether I’m just in the Mood for Reading. Whatever it is, it would be nice if it keeps going. I’m not going to set any goals for reading this year – just that I should. I’m also taking the Offspring to explore our new library during the week, and I might end up re-visiting borrowing books again. (Although, my spooky cousin who has purple hair works there. We haven’t spoken for nearly 20 years aside from the odd mumbled ‘hello’ when we cross paths – she was working in the building next door for a while. Embarrassing. Families. Ahem.)

Plus, I can’t read while I crochet, and as my crochet buddy is at the joining the squares phase of our project, and I am still about to finish Square #10 (out of 14) and all the ends (may have mentioned ends before – 14 sets of nine squares, each with five colours, and each colour has two ends. Crikey. That’s a lot of ends), I sort of want to keep up with that as well. But I like reading, so here I am.

Book #1: Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith Now, I started reading this series before I found out who actually wrote it, and thought the first one was a decent first novel. Then, by the time the second one came out, the cat was out of the bag and everyone knew it was JK Rowling. This was sort of unfortunate, although I think people had got used to the idea she can write about things that aren’t child wizards. BUT the other unfortunate bit was that the editing got a bit looser – like, OMG JK ROWLING CAN’T TELL HER TO CHOP BITS. So, number 2 wasn’t as good as #1. It was still readable, and still a decent holiday read. Career of Evil is #3. It starts off well, although I found myself mildly irritated with the story (and for fuck’s sake, we know Coromoran is hairy, you don’t need to describe how goddamn hairy he is every five pages. He’s a one legged hairy gorilla. Ok. Got it.) for almost the first third. There was also a bit of ‘need to suspend disbelief’ here and there as well – Robin was being a bit pathetic – ok she did get delivered a leg in a box, but seriously. However, we did find out a bit more of Robin’s back story, which was useful. Somewhere a bit before half way through, it started to get REALLY good, like I’m not crocheting because I am reading. Ahem. The viewpoint switched between the killer and the story – not sure that was great as the writing in those parts seemed really stilted and clunky. But it certainly got going after the 40% mark. The end was a bit race to the finish, then a bit WTF. Like really WTF. But I’m looking forward to #4, and I’d really like it if the hairy was mentioned less than once.

Book #2: Hester and Harriet – Hilary Spiers. This was one of those random pick ups from Target while I was waiting for Chaos to get his act together. So, an actual book made of paper. Weird. Anyway, this book is everything I hate – it’s a cosy, and it’s written in an odd perspective. It’s not second person, but sort of. Like reading a play (the author is a playwright, that splains that). Anyway, despite my predilection for hard core crime and death/serial killer-y type books, this was pretty cool (although, many suspensions of disbelief required about some bits. They’re in the middle and toward the end of the book, you’ll know which bits I mean when you read it.) I liked the characters – one of them I imagined as looking and sounding like Vera from the telly show of the same name. I’m not sure that she really did, but there was something about her… Anyway, it was a nice read. I enjoyed it a lot and handed it over to my mum to read.

Book #3: The Road to Little Dribbling – Bill Bryson I’m a bit over a third of the way through this one. I’ve loved Bill Bryson for ages. Even if I did try to kill him once. Long story. I picked this up when on holidays a couple of weeks ago after sniggering like a loon reading the first couple of pages. He got hit on the head by a boom gate in a car park, and it’s hysterical. Also, something that could happen to me anyone. Reading Mr Bryson is like listening you your favourite old uncle tell stories in front of the fire. Funny and affectionate and a little close to the wind sometimes. He likes to take the piss, but he’s very gentle about it.

Book #4: The Magician King – Lev Grossman I had an epic trip to the Big Smoke last week, and because I had to lug a fuck-tonne of crap with me, I didn’t want to drag Uncle Bill up the highway because hardback books are heavy as fuck. So, I popped this one on the Kobo and got stuck in. I’m a bit over half way, and I suspect I’ll finish it before I go back to Uncle Bill. It’s the second book in a series (I read the first one last year – Harry Potter goes to Uni with alcohol and sexy times). This one is more or less what happens next. There’s a feeling that getting what you always wanted is a bit disappointing, although Quentin Coldwater is a whinger. He is probably the kind of person who can never be content. The book is enjoyable (even with the moaning) and the characters are interesting, and I whizzed through almost half of it on the train. So yeah. Looking forward to what happens next.


Some things

Ok… what’s going on at Chez McGee? Some reading, some gallivanting about the country, some making of decisions, some watching of the telly and some crocheting and some stuff, really. Lots of things.

Firstly the reading – I read a book called The Magicians by Lev Grossman. It was um. Weird as fuck but I liked it. Some kid accidentally wanders into a school for magicians and learns about magic (think Hogwarts with more shagging and a dorkier uniform. The kids are 17 or so when they end up there, so yeah, sex and drugs and rock and roll). It’s sort of a bit wafty and bizarre but at the same time, totally believeable. The end was a bit WTF, though but then I discovered it was a trilogy and that explained everything. While I haven’t picked up the other two books yet, they’re on my ‘to acquire’ list. Apparently, it’s going to be a tv series. I could believe that. It’s that kind of book.

I’m currently reading The Peripheral by William Gibson. William Gibson invented “cyberspace” in Neuromancer – which is one of the few books I’ve read maybe ten times (I’m more of a once or maybe twice kind of reader) but the world of Neuromancer was something unbelievable but completely real at the same time. (Apparently it’s unreadable now, because it’s no longer speculating and it seems weird. I won’t be letting my battered, sandy, sunscreen stained copy go any time soon though.) The Peripheral is set in the nearish future and the later future at the same time. Can’t really tell you much more – I’m about a third of the way through it.

The thing about reading speculative fiction ties in nicely with the gallivanting – driverless car conference which was rather epic and rather good. Since I watched Bladerunner, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of a future when you can call up a car to take you where you need to be and wave it goodbye when you don’t. The future is sooner than we think. If you can see past the future ridiculousness of the legislative dramarama that goes without saying when a very small population is spread over a very large area. Srsly, didn’t get rid of multiple gauge railways until  40 or so years ago. We’re good at ridiculous legislation – and this needs to be dealt with at a Federal level. BUT when the future gets here,  people who are unable to drive for whatever reason – age, disability, whatever – can potentially be handed the key to increased mobility. It has many potential benefits. And wombats (conference joke. Hur hur hur).

Reading reading…

Ok, I have been reading a bit. I’m on track to read about 25 books this year, which is one a fortnight. That’s not awesome, but hey, I can’t crochet and read at the same time. Not possible. So, I shall tell you all about the last few books I’ve read. Starting with the last…

I just finished the latest Val McDermid book (Splinter the Silence). It was ok, I think. I didn’t hate it, but it was more of a introduction to the next wave of the Carol and Tony series (which, I suspect, will be good) rather than an actual mystery. The key theme (cyber-bullying) was very topical and all, but the leaps and stuff… Pfft. There was something a bit skim over the top thing about the whole crime. It was like it was background to the ‘real’ story of Tony and Carol making up. And there was one thing that happened that I totally called (actually, two things. And a PSA.) Anyway, didn’t hate it, give it three stars because it was enjoyable while I was reading it, but afterward, not so much.

And the latest Kathy Reichs (Speaking in Bones) – that’s another one that was ok. I dunno, maybe I’ve read enough of these ones. The last couple have been a bit colour by numbers, this one wasn’t much different. Totally readable, though. I think when I read books with strong female characters, I have high expectations of their um. Strength. Mental strength. I also suspect that I equate mental strength with a high degree of sensibility. Sometimes Tempe does not show the mental strength I would expect of a character of her intellect. Also, the romance thing. Shit or get off the damn pot, wench.

(I also cracked it with the VI Warshawski books for a similar reason. Grown women don’t need rescuing because they’re idiots)

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell was absolutely brilliant, though. That one was was an absolute cracker. I didn’t do *anything* else while I was reading it and it made me stay up way too late – which is always a good sign. It’s sort of hard to explain. It’s a twisty turn-y across time story told from the perspectives of a few different people who cross paths and overlap here and there, with some psychic-y stuff thrown in for good measure. It’s hard to explain, but it was so engrossing, that I will quote the man in the hat and tell you to ‘do yourself a favour…’.

Station Eleven was another one that was worth the paper it was written on – sort of a zombie apocalypse without the zombies. There was a plague and almost everyone died. It’s another time-y wime-y one, back and forth along a series of timelines, with some interesting concepts along the way. As a completely related aside, check this dude out. He’s taken pictures of Fukushima after the tsunami where nature is taking over. It’s how I imagined the landscape after the plague in Station Eleven.

Oh, and speaking of books about people who always end up in pickles… Lee Child. Make Me. I um, actually paid cold hard cash for the paper version of this. However, it was worth it. Again with the colour by numbers… Jack Reacher discovers something that’s not quite right and punches people. Oh, and shags someone. (There’s usually only one someone suitable for shagging, that happens in every book, so not really a spoiler). The something NQR in this one was a bit WTF, to be honest. However, it provides an excellent diversion.

What else was there? THE DAVE!

How could I forget The Dave. Ascendance (Dave v the Monsters) is the third in the Dave Hooper series. I’ve mentioned the other two earlier (here, and here). They ARE the full ridiculous, and yeah, can’t wait for the next one to appear. It wasn’t until I’d almost finished this one that I realised all the action across the three books took place over maybe a week to ten days. Dave undergoes a physical transformation, but his general lugheadedness and being a bit of a dick-ery are obviously going to take a bit longer to transform. Karen/Karin is a Russian spy who is the lady equivalent of The Dave, just more badass and yeah, totally sensible. I can see her dragging Dave out of many many many scrapes. Also, there’s a posse of ladies who appear at the end whom I am seriously looking forward to. That’s the thing about John Birmingham. He writes ladies that are well capable of looking after themselves and they certainly do.

Last but not least…(ok, maybe least)… was the latest Charlaine Harris. Guilty pleasure, trashy reading. Couple of days to read. Completely silly. I can’t even remember what it was called… But yeah, it’s like reading a nice cake. Tasty and amusing, but you don’t want to read it too often.

That’s SEVEN books. Crikey.

Annihilation and Punching People in the Throat

They sort of go together, although you’d be thinking the punching would come before the annihilation. However, that’s not the order I read them in.

Annihilation By Jeff VanderMeer  It was short, it was weird. It was very creepy and not really reading before bed material because of the creepy and the weird. It’s part of a trilogy, and while I have the next two in the series, i) I don’t know if I want to read it and ii) the first volume was really short, didn’t really end as such and really felt like I’d read a third of a book. But, it’s a third of a book that I really don’t know if I want to finish. The Narrator is – well, I don’t think she’s particularly trustworthy. Although I do want to know if she does do the thing she’s thinking about at the end of the book (not spoilers! Ha.)

So there you go. I don’t know whether I’m going to go the rest of the way or not. It’s weird, and  strange and creepy and well written and interesting and – yeah, I think I’ll wait and see if I miss it or not.

As for punching people in the throat…

I’m currently reading People I want to Punch In The Throat by Jen Mann. Now, this book is a collection of blog posts from the blog of the same name. (Hence not being an issue reviewing in the middle)She’s def a weirdo, though because people in real life know who she is! Unlike other people who like to remain nameless and faceless. Ahem. Now, people either like her or not, going by the Goodreads reviews. Me, I’d be her if I didn’t go back to work in an office full time and outsource raising my children to a very competent village. Oh, and I blog about books and how much I hate housework, and she blogs about all the things about being a parent in a smallish town. I have smallish children (slightly bigger than hers, I think), and I’ve been on the kicking end of the primary school totem pole for ages (you work? Full time? Oh, you can just make these ridiculous bits of tat in front of the television. Not while there’s Candy Crush to be played. And blogging. Ahem.) While I’ve never done school pick up in pjs, that’s more because I don’t often do the pick up (outsourced). I’ve definitely been to the supermarket in plaid flannel pjs and a fabulous coat though. Looking for Drano. Long story. Don’t ask. No, really. Do not ask. (yes, it involved vomit. No, it wasn’t mine. And yes, it was nearly midnight.)

And the “mommy mean girls” (mummy, damn it) definitely exist in every playground – I incurred the wrath of the Cool Mums by not having an acceptable part time job (cafe good, office job bad. Full time job REALLY bad), using after school care and not making my unco kid play sport. Oh, and I knew exactly what she meant when she was talking about Kindergarten Art… I saw the constructions of *my* peers when Chaos had to build a building out of cardboard boxes and crikey, the kids in his grade had talented parents (yes, we both helped Chaos, although the design and painting was all his own work, I made the stencil for nice windows, and Sir Reg did the industrial gluing. The frill necked lizard from an egg carton, a coat hanger and two pieces of construction paper, however – all my own work!) So so pleased that subsequent teachers aren’t as keen on the construction homework any more, and aside from whipping up  a scarecrow costume out of an old flannel shirt and some streamers (and inventing yellow brick rocky road), my construction skills have been resting.

So, I can definitely relate to Punch in the Throat. As I’ve said – I *am* her. Although, I don’t whine as much, I don’t think. I do however swear as much as she does (I’m still trying, ok.) and when you consider she’s American and they’re not as good at swearing as we Australians are… She’s VERY sweary. (one of the reviews described her as very sassy – I assume that’s American for says fuck a lot?) Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And it’s a nice palate cleanser from the last book. But I’m a bit leery of books that are marketed as “funniest thing evah” because I do have a peculiar sense of humour, and stuff that everyone else in the universe finds hysterical (I’m looking at you Seinfeld), well, I’m often still waiting to hear the punch line. So, I wouldn’t describe this book as the funniest thing I’ve ever read, but it’s certainly worth a giggle or two. And it’s damn easy to read before bed.