Tag Archives: gottakeepreading

TBR Pile: March 2018

My TBR pile has expanded (again) but I’m actually off on holiday in about a week, so – time to read! *happy dance*

My physical pile is about the same as always – Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell has lost a few chapters, but everything else has mostly been waiting on a point that I’m taking a phsyical book someplace! If I have my laptop handy, I tend to be reading for work…

TBR pile March 2018

And my Kindle pile has gained a few. I’m halfway through No So Stories and The Djinn Falls In Love, along with the anthology Lost Lore. Also on the pile are Jen Williams’ The Ninth Rain, Lucy Hounsom’s Starborn, Peter Grimbert’s The Secrets of Ji, Guy Haley’s Champion of Mars, Cassandra Khaw’s Food of the Gods, Jasmine Gower’s Moonshine, Fran Wilde’s Updraft, Keene and the Last Guardian from Robert Harkess, Redemption Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky, The Memory of Water by Emma Itaranta, and Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire series. Add in Full Moon Dragon Gate from Joyce Ch’ng and the ARC of The Underwater Ballroom Society that I’ve just been offered, and I’ve definitely still got a pile!

But then I do have lots of airport waiting time in which to work through them. *more happy reader dancing*

Review: The City of Woven Streets

The City of Woven Streets by Emmi Itäranta

The tapestry of life may be more fragile than it seems: pull one thread, and all will unravel.

In the City of Woven Streets, human life has little value. You practice a craft to keep you alive, or you are an outcast, unwanted and tainted. Eliana is a young weaver in the House of Webs, but secretly knows she doesn’t really belong there. She is hiding a shameful birth defect that would, if anyone knew about it, land her in the House of the Tainted, a prison for those whose very existence is considered a curse.

When an unknown woman with her tongue cut off and Eliana’s name tattooed on her skin arrives at the House of Webs, Eliana discovers an invisible network of power behind the city’s facade. All the while, the sea is clawing the shores and the streets are slowly drowning.

Just wow. If you like lyrical poetry, beautiful imagery, stunning worldbuilding and a tense mystery, read this. It’s been compared to Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, but I think it’s closer to Margrét Helgadóttir in the lyricism, Mieville in the worldbuilding – it’s strange, alien and familiar, set on an island where the sea is rising and the Tower stands tall. The House of Webs endlessly weaves and re-weaves their maze-path, and Eliana walks the corridors to make sure nothing lurks in the darkness of dreams.

But if you suffer from nightmares – if they crouch on your chest and try to show you another future in the night – then you are outcast, sent to the House of the Tainted. The nightmares are a sign of a threat, a plague that is spreading through the Islands again – and the Council are doing everything in their power to stop it.

But the appearance of the unknown woman, attacked and bleeding in the Weaver’s courtyard with no tongue, no name and no record, is a mystery that shouldn’t happen. And the name on her palm – a name that Eliana shouldn’t be able to read, and one that has only been given to her – is a mystery that will take Eliana down a path of strange weavers, inks and tattoos, maps and books, and eventually to some of  the secrets of the Island itself, even as the waves rise higher and higher.

The thing I loved most about this story was the detail; it’s the normalcy of a life that is so strangely woven. I loved the relationships and conversations, and the way that everything weaves together by the end. It’s a beautiful read and a wonderful story.

I have picked up Memory of Water, and I’m looking forward to it! But definitely worth picking The City of Woven Streets up.

Review: Children of Time

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovksy

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age – a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare.

Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?

Definitely sci-fi, but good sci-fi. And this is coming from someone who definitely dislikes the This-Is-How-It-Works-In-Ten-Pages-Of-Detail that seems to plague so many of the classics. I did find it slightly heavy going (and tended to read in chapter-sized chunks) but the payoff is absolutely worth it.

It’s a story of genetics and modification and evolution, but it’s also characters. It’s humanity’s last rag-bag of peoples who have clawed their way up through the ruins of our civilisation, and done the best they can with the remnants of technology to leave a dying Earth. But when the ship Gilgamesh, carrying its cargo of humanity, reaches their best hope, they find it’s occupied – and the sentinel does not want them to land.

And down on the terraformed planet, the experiment to produce a new space-faring race is progressing – species rise and clash, adapting and moulding to their environment, facing challenges that are both similar and unexpected to humanity’s journey. But over two thousand years, what rises to meets its test isn’t what the sentinel expected.

The two strands wind nicely; the evolution of life on the planet jumps forward, generation by generation, but I loved that the names stay the same to keep a sense of continuity. And up on the Gilgamesh, it’s the same names, coming in and out of deep-sleep over the course of time. The character’s stories are as fascinating and enthralling as the technology is, and I absolutely love the part-alien, part-familiar mindset of the planetside civilisation.

And that mindset, for me, is what makes this book absolutely worthwhile – the final twist is brilliant. It’s a story of challenge and technology and people and civilisations, and it’s definitely worth reading.

Review: The Carpet Makers

The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach.

Since the time of pre-history, carpetmakers tie intricate knots to form carpets for the court of the Emperor. These carpets are made from the hairs of wives and daughters; they are so detailed and fragile that each carpetmaker finishes only one single carpet in his entire lifetime.

This art descends from father to son, since the beginning of time itself.

But one day the empire of the God Emperor vanishes, and strangers begin to arrive from the stars to follow the trace of the hair carpets. What these strangers discover is beyond all belief, more than anything they could have ever imagined…

Well. Um. Good, but weird?

It’s pieces of a story, all smushed together. There is a thread running through it: carpets made of hair, woven over a lifetime by the carpet makers from the heads of their wives and children. Delivered to the traders and then taken to a spaceport, and then taken to the Emperor: eternal, everlasting, and ruler of the universe.

Except that the rebels who have taken over, killed the Emperor and destroyed the Empire, have no idea about them. So where are they going? Why are so many worlds dedicated to producing these beautiful, eerie carpets, and what are they for?

I found the book frustrating, in many ways. It’s a collection of short stories; the view jumps from the carpet maker and his wayward son to an explorer, back to a trader, to a tax collector, to a rebel…we see a lot of different aspects of life in the Empire and on the worlds, and the main characters from one story rise again in other stories, woven in the background and scenery. It’s very clever and very different, but it also meant that I was putting the book down a lot between the chapters, unsure of how anything fitted (which is the point) but also unsure if I wanted to keep reading.

The language and telling of the story is beautiful in places, but it’s the strangeness of the world that takes centre stage, and the lives of the characters for the brief moments that we stay with them. It’s definitely a sci-fi story, but I liked the way it doesn’t focus on the technology; it’s just an odd, broken machine, and we swoop from part to part until at the end, we understand the whole.

I can’t say I necessarily recommend it; it’s an interesting but odd book, and honestly there’s other things I’d rather read. But it’s worth reading, just to experience something that isn’t your run-of-the-mill storytelling. And if you start it and like the first few stories, push on: it’s worth finishing it.

A February Update

Just a bit…grey, really.

Mordic Cafe speciality teas boardI’ve had a pile of editing work, so I’ve been trundling onwards through that. Then I’ve got proofreading and some formatting to finish, and then just the rest of my list, really. It’s all ongoing, and nothing particularly special – I’m still enjoying it all, but it’s all become routine (which is nice in some ways!) The pile’s not really leaving any time for writing, but then I don’t really have any stories in me at the moment. I’ve got some ideas – I mean, check out the list of teas from the Nordic Cafe in Lymington (which, by the way, is excellent): I just want to write all those characters! But nothing’s really flowing, or fitting itself into a story. I’m just uninspired.

In the rest of life, it’s sort of ongoing as well. I’m waiting to hear back on a job I’d love to get, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up; I’ve had some friend drama, but I’m so tired of it that I just stepped away rather than try to fix anything. I’m still playing games on a Tuesday night, still trying to walk every day. I’ve been reading a bit, but it’s either old favourites (Martha Wells’ All Systems Red) or I’m halfway through new ones (The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach and The City of Woven Streets by Emma Itäranta). So nothing particularly new there.

There has been some good. I had a wonderful present through from my friend Pasty & Purls, which was brilliant and I’m currently halfway through framing – isn’t it CUTE? That was definitely a highlight in my week, as was Disney films with a friend – he hadn’t seen The Emperor’s New Groove. JUST WHAT. So we watched that. And I got to go out on a powerboat over the weekend in brilliant sunshine and a flat sea, which was fun (if cold!)

But beyond that…I don’t know. I don’t think it’s depression – or at least, it’s mild. It’s just grey. But I’m doing ok, just trundling along; just one step at a time and one thing at a time, every day.