vivdunstan: (botanics)
Friday, May 3rd, 2013 10:40 pm
Quite a good month for books finished, though some were quite short.

First up was Ash by James Herbert. This is the third in a series of books featuring paranormal investigator David Ash. I must have read the first one in the late 1990s, but never read the second one. This is the last book James Herbert published before he died. And I enjoyed it. It's set in a castle in Scotland, and in some ways is more about the inhabitants of the castle than hauntings and ghosts. But it was quite excitingly plotted, and gripping, and a page turner. I read it on my Kindle and knew it was a long book, but when I saw a paperback copy in the supermarket the other day I was shocked at just how thick it was. And I read all that!

Next up was Summer Falls, a Doctor Who tie-in book supposedly by Amelia Williams, and featured on-screen in the first episode of the second half of the current series, the one reintroducing Clara. This was a very lightweight read, almost in an Enid Blyton vein. Fun, disposable, but enjoyable.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff was this month's Yoggie Book Club read, a book given to Helen by her Mum, leading us all to read it. I'd probably never have read this otherwise, and really enjoyed it. It was a short quick read, perhaps it needed a little more plotting, but it was gripping, and had unexpected plot turns. Not sure how well it will do as a film (coming soon) but the book was good.

I've read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis many times since childhood. It was the first Narnia book I ever read, and on my reread of the series it was the one I automatically turned to first. As an agnostic and an adult I am more aware of the Christian overtones running through it. But I still think it is a thoroughly enjoyable book.

Doctor Who: Shroud of Sorrow by Tommy Donbavand is one of the recent new Eleventh Doctor books, this one including Clara. I wasn't convinced by the relationship portrayed between the Doctor and Clara: more spikey than it is on-screen. But in other respects it was really good, and felt like a celebratory anniversary book, even though it is not deliberately intended to be one. There are nods throughout to the series' past, and it also tied in nicely with the start in 1963. Good stuff.

My final finished read in April was Philip Reeve's e-short The Roots of Evil featuring the Fourth Doctor and Leela. This was fun: told more from Leela's perspective than the Doctor's, but the Fourth Doctor became more visible and recognisable in the latter half of the book. It also used the short length well, packing a lot of adventure into not many pages. Very good, perhaps the best in the e-short series so far. Which has admittedly been strong, apart from the first book mis-step.

Not sure I will finish so many books in May. I started a new long book a week or so ago, but have now had to put it to one side to be sure I get through the Yoggie book club choice for May, which is also a long one. We shall see anyway.
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vivdunstan: (botanics)
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 09:19 pm
First book finished was American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I didn't read this when first published, and was only able to read it now because of the Kindle version. I wasn't sure what to make of it at first, with much more swearing and sex than I'm used to in Neil's books! But I quickly adjusted, and grew to love what it did with mythology and storytelling. I now look forward to reading his Anansi Boys, also waiting for me on my Kindle.

Patrick Moore loved his many cats, and Miaow!: Cats Really are Nicer Than People! is his book about them. I read this in Kindle version, but mainly on my iPad, so I had full colour pictures. I wanted to like it more than I did. It was very touching in places, but needed to be edited much more ruthlessly. For example there was an awful lot of repetition throughout.

Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer was a Kindle deal of the day, which I snapped up, intrigued by its telling of a romance played out in emails. I have a personal connection with this, given partly how my husband and I got together, back in the early days of the Internet. But I found the book frustrating. In particular I regularly wanted to slap the female main character. It was such an irritating reading experience. I do not intend to read the sequel.

Ever since seeing Audrey Niffenegger talk to Neil Gaiman at the Edinburgh Book Festival I'd wanted to read her The Night Bookmobile graphic novel. I was able to borrow a copy through the local library, having one sent over to my local library to pick up. And although I liked the idea of a story set around a mobile library I had huge problems with the book, specifically the ending. It was such a problem for me that it plummeted at that point from earning a Goodreads rating of 3/5 to 1/5. I cannot recommend this book.

For the Yoggie book club last month I read The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers. This is a time travelling concoction involving ancient Egyptian sorcery and timey-wimey Doctor Who style plotting. I enjoyed the plot, but had huge problems with the writing style. So often it seemed to be written in a way - arguably over-written - which made it really hard work for me as a reader. I also thought it needed to be edited far more brutally. Still glad I read it.

The BBC are rereleasing a number of Doctor Who old novels, one for each Doctor, in print and digital form. I snapped up Mark Gatiss's Last of the Gaderene, which I tried to read in print years ago, but could never get into. This time I got on much better. It features the Third Doctor and Jo, and although I had some problems with it, and also found it a bit too similar for example to the same author's Nightshade, I really enjoyed it.

Last finished was a quick read: Marcus Sedgwick's The Spear of Destiny Doctor Who anniversary e-short featuring again the Third Doctor and Jo. I really enjoyed this, and found it another step up in quality from the previous month, and a vast improvement over the appalling First Doctor story of January. So very pleased. Having read American Gods recently I also liked what it did with Norse myth. Very good story.
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vivdunstan: (botanics)
Sunday, March 3rd, 2013 08:21 pm
I finished quite a few books in February.

First up was MetaMaus, a book full of behind-the-scenes stuff and interviews with Maus creator Art Spiegelman. I skim-read some bits, but read most thoroughly, and really enjoyed it.

Next was Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse, this month's choice, actually my choice, for the Yoggie book club. I'd read an extract from this before, and had seen a TV adaptation of it with Fry and Laurie many years ago, but had never read the original book. I enjoyed it greatly, laughed throughout, and all the book club enjoyed it too.

Next was a Doctor Who Quick Reads: The Silurian Gift by Mike Tucker. This was a very easy read, and although it covered much of the same ground as prior TV Silurian adventures it had some original elements, and was enjoyable enough.

Dotter of Her Father's Eyes is a collaborative graphic novel between husband and wife team Bryan and Mary Talbot, combining an autobiographical element of Mary's life with a biography of James Joyce's daughter. I enjoyed this a lot, though it was rather short. To be honest I was more interested in Mary's story than the Joyce one, and found that more compelling, though the interplay between them did work quite well.

The final book I finished was another Doctor Who e-short: The Nameless City by Michael Scott. This is the latest in a series of short stories looking at each Doctor in turn, and this one looked at Patrick Troughton's second Doctor, accompanied by Jamie. As a real bonus for me there were lots of Lovecraftian elements to this story, including his infamous fictional book The Necronomicon. And best of all it was leaps and bounds better than last month's First Doctor e-short by Eoin Colfer.

I've just finished Neil Gaiman's American Gods but will blog about that in my post next month.
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vivdunstan: (botanics)
Saturday, February 9th, 2013 04:11 pm
Belated update this month, because I've been suffering from an extremely heavy cold, on top of tons of chemo-induced immunouppression, so couldn't post at the end of the last month.

First book finished in January was Kim Newman's Anno Dracula. This was the Yoggie book club choice of the month, and something I'd bean meaning to read for ages. I really enjoyed it, once I got to grips with a mass of characters, and could distinguish between the vampires and not vampires. Excellent stuff anyway, thoroughly recommended.

Next up was The History of the Beano: The Story So Far. This is an absolute brick of a book. I sort of needed a crane to prop it up as I read it! But I'm very glad that I did. It was lavishly illustrated with old strips, and told the changing history of the Beano over time.

I'm currently rereading Hitchhiker's, having got the five books very cheaply on my Kindle. Latest was The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. I didn't enjoy this as much as the first book, and am surprised how much I forgot. But it was still an entertaining read.

BBC Digital are releasing a series of e-short stories by noted children's writers featuring the Eleven incarnations of the Doctor, one story on the 23rd of each month, in the run-up to the 50th birthday. The first story, A Big Hand for the Doctor, was written by Eoin Colfer. I was bitterly disappointed by this. I couldn't recognise the characterisation as the First Doctor at all, and struggled to read the short story, let alone finish it. And the plot was very poor. Fortunately the preview of the second story looks more promising, including featuring Lovecraft's Necronomicon, otherwise I'd possibly be giving up in despair.

Last year, for the Yoggie book club, I read Maus. I've just finished MetaMaus, which is the behind-the-scenes interview / accompanying book. I really enjoyed this. It gave a wonderful insight into the creation of a comics masterpiece, and was fascinating to hear from the artist himself why he did things in certain ways.
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vivdunstan: (botanics)
Saturday, December 29th, 2012 11:41 pm
I've finished quite a few books this month.
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vivdunstan: (botanics)
Monday, December 24th, 2012 12:14 am
I have many different blogs now, but thought I'd recap here on what's gone on, with a few links where appropriate to other more targeted blog posts.

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vivdunstan: (botanics)
Saturday, December 1st, 2012 02:33 pm
It's been quite a good month for finishing books. Many were shorter ones, but I got through a fair number, and have quite a few more currently on the go.

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Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 08:36 pm
I've finished judging IF Comp now, and have played through and judged 27 out of 28 games. I've been judging games since the competition started in 1995, but in recent years have often only managed to play and judge the minimum 5 games for my votes to count, if even that. So this year's proportion judged is a big result for me. Partly it's because I kept nibbling away at the games over the judging weeks, but I also suspect it's because the games are generally shorter than in previous competitions, with fewer vastly long games that individually require a massive investment in time from the player judge. Personally I think this is a very good thing, because although as a player I like long in-depth games, I find them hard to manage in the IF Comp setting, which is better suited to shorter ones. I also tend to find that shorter games can often be better implemented than longer ones, and certainly more so than sprawling ones with vast numbers of rooms.
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Thursday, November 1st, 2012 10:20 pm
It was quite a good month for finishing books, though some were quite short. Though I'm still very knocked out for much of the time, so can only read for short bursts.
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Monday, October 1st, 2012 11:27 pm
It's been a very lean month for finishing books. I started quite a few, but some went on hold. And then I was extremely weak for a fortnight or so, probably due to the neurological disease and associated brain inflammation increasing in activity. To be honest I was relieved to finish any books at all. Though I still hope to do better in October.

The first book finished was Italo Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveller. This was a book club read, my choice, and I'm afraid to say I didn't enjoy it at all. There were a few redeeming features, particularly one chapter written from the writer's perspective which was insightful and thought-provoking. But the rest of the book was very disappointing, and I wouldn't have finished it were it not for the book club. The other members of the club shared my views. We were remarkably uniform in our response to it.

Much more enjoyable was The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe. I started to read this in print a year or two ago, but with my problems with print, even in a very small easy-to-read book I gave up, even though I was enjoying it. I restarted it this month after it was a bargain Kindle deal of the day, and too good a deal not to pick up. It was made into a film by Aardman Animations, which I'd still like to see. The book was great fun, featuring probably the most piratey pirates I've ever come across in any media.
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Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 07:07 pm
I've finished very few books this month. I've been extremely weak for much of the time, due to the warmer weather which makes my MS-like illness worse. And I've a final chemotherapy infusion tomorrow, so I'm not going to finish any more this month. So might as well blog now.
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Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 10:14 pm
I haven't got through too many books this month, mainly because one of them - The Dark Monk - took me over a month to finish. More on that shortly. Plus I had another chemotherapy infusion, which wiped me out for a week, and a weekend away in Edinburgh to see the Hitchhiker's Live radio show at the theatre. But I did get through some books.
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Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012 06:06 pm
Not many books finished this month, mainly because I was in Dublin for an academic conference for a week at the end of the month, and what with managing that, in addition to the MS-like illness, I was too tired to read. Plus I started a *really* long book: The Dark Monk: A Hangman's Daughter Tale by Oliver Potzsch. I'm enjoying it, but it's going to take me ages to finish.
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Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 12:34 am
May was not a good month for reading for me, with three chemotherapy pulses sqeueezed in over just a few weeks. Most nights afterwards I wasn't able to read anything at all. Even in hospital I couldn't read much, because it was often too busy/noisy.

However I did finish four books. So here's my writeup of them all.
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Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 08:14 pm
I've finished very few books this month, mainly because I've been very knocked out, as I had to come off one treatment unexpectedly, and was waiting to start another one, and in the meantime the inflammation in my brain started to go out of control *sigh*. May is likely to see even less books finished, as I have three cycles of heavy chemo treatment to get through. Ah well.

First up this month was a comic book: Neil Gaiman's "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?"  I read this on my iPad, though I bought the comic issues at the time. Enjoyable imaginative tale, which I won't say too much about for fear of spoiling people. Short but sweet, and well worth a read.

Then was another comic book, longer this time, again read on my iPad. It was Book 1 of the Korgi collections by Christian Slade, called "Sprouting Wings". This almost seems like a love letter to corgis, which are drawn exquisitely throughout in this child-friendly fantasy tale. On the downside for me there was no dialogue in there at all. This might be nice if you are reading it with a young child, and they get to guess at what is happening. But for me I would frequently turn to a panel, not have a clue what was happening, and go to the next panel and try to back pedal. Somewhat frustrating. Though, again, the artwork, especially those corgis, was adorable.

The only long book I finished this month was "The Sword of Albion" by Mark Chadbourn, or as it is called in the US "The Silver Skull". It's the first of his trilogy of Elizabethan spies versus evil faerie stories. I enjoyed this a lot. Swashbuckling tale well told, and a very good evocation of Elizabethan intrigue and setting. I'm glad there are two more to read. Treats to look forward to.

I have lots of other books on the go, including some nearly finished, but I'm expecting to crawl through them over the coming days. But still glad to be able to read them. I spent 5 hours sitting around in hospital this morning, and although I was too tired to read much at all it was still great to have my Kindle there. As I could manage it I was flicking between a Torchwood fiction book (old one: more Bilis Manger), and a very funny book by Tom Cox about his life with lots of cats.
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Sunday, April 1st, 2012 10:40 pm
My reading per month is increasing, and I got through quite a lot this month.
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Sunday, March 4th, 2012 06:07 pm
I've mentioned my reading problems here a lot, and how pleased I have been to overcome them.

I've just written a lengthy blog about this on the Vasculitis UK discussion board, prompted by a question that came through Twitter today to me about overcoming reading problems caused by brain damage.

I fell ill in 1994, initially misdiagnosed with ME, but rediagnosed in late 1997 with cerebral vasculitis, a progressive incurable neurological disease that causes lots of strokes, causing cumulative and irreversible brain damage and subsequent disabilities.
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Thursday, March 1st, 2012 04:53 pm
Happy World Book Day! I've lots of books on the go at the moment, and should be finishing a few more soon.

In the meantime here are my thoughts about the books I finished in February.

First up was a Quick Reads book, Doctor Who: Magic of the Angels by Jacqueline Rayner. As a Quick Reads book it was short, but it was much better than many longer Doctor Who books. The plot was well constructed and zipped along nicely, and the characterisation of the Doctor, Amy and Rory was bang on. I enjoyed this immensely.

I've wanted to read The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo for some time, but had to wait for it to come out on Kindle. I really enjoyed it. It's very similar in style to other classic children's magical/mystical books, like Alan Garner's works, and Susan Cooper's. The plot starts out quite formulaic, albeit very well crafted, but then it gets more interesting. I enjoyed it immensely, and because it's the start of a trilogy (already sitting on my Kindle) I have two more books in the series to look forward to.

Merv Pumpkinhead: Agent of D.R.E.A.M. by Bill Willingham is a comic book spin-off from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series. It's not written by Neil, but it uses his characters in a new story. I quite enjoyed it. Merv was my second favourite character in the Sandman, after Death, but this book was somewhat unsatisfying for me. As a comic book it was short, but that wasn't the problem. I think it was more the plotting. I also wanted to read about the Dream world, rather than the real world Merv ended up adventuring in.

Last book finished of the month was Pure by Andrew Miller. This has won lots of prizes, but it was on my to-read list for a very long time before it won any prize. I just liked the idea of the plot. I'm glad to say that it was everything I hoped it would be and more, one of the most satisfying books I've read in a long time. It's all about the clearance (including human remains) of a Parisian cemetery shortly before the French revolution. It's very well crafted. I wished it wouldn't end, I was enjoying it so much. Thoroughly recommended.
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Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 06:52 am
I've only finished two books this month. I was extremely ill for the first three weeks, battling an infection on top of my existing neurological illness and heavily suppressed immune system due to many permanent chemo drugs. So for three weeks plus I didn't read at all. I had many books already started, but made no progress on them. Even when I started reading again it was slow. Given that, I'm relieved to have finished two books this month. Could have been one, or none!

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Monday, January 2nd, 2012 10:31 pm
I always have lots of books on the go, but usually only one novel at a time. For example I'm currently reading Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Looking further ahead in the year I've drawn up a list of other novels I want to read. This list is not in any particular order, nor is it complete: it's bound to grow over time as more new books are announced that appeal to me. But it's a good starting point. I own some of these books already, mostly on my Kindle. Others will need to be bought.

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