Review: The Mime Order

Briar Lawry reviews The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon on Newstalk ZB with Tim Fookesthe mime order

I’m currently working on a few long-ish form book reviews for a couple of places – and when those are complete, I will link to them here – but in the meantime, here is a link I meant to post a few weeks back. My first radio review – simultaneously nerve-wracking and fun. These will be cropping up every six-ish weeks, as Tilly and I swap from session to session. Since I’ve previously reviewed The Bone Season here, it only made sense to make sure my review for its sequel ended up on here too, regardless of the different format!

Review : The Bone Clocks

A good book leaves you thinking about it between reading sessions. A great book leaves you thinking about it after you’ve finished. A freaking spectacular book not only leaves you thinking about it, but colours everything that you try to read afterwards, and leaves you feeling slightly hollow, because the experience is over.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell falls into the ‘freaking spectacular’ category. As the page numbers started growing ever larger, I felt enormous internal conflict – on one hand, the compulsive desire to find out what happens, but on the other hand, the need to draw things out slowly, to savour every page and thought. I suspect the fact that the last book that really had that effect on me was The Luminaries is a very good sign for The Bone Clocks’ chances on the award circuit.bone clocks

Even now, days after I finished it, I think about the feeling of closing that heavy pink hardback after reading… and then opening it again, to re-read the final page – knowing that it was going to be a hard act to follow. Perhaps intentionally I have limited much of my reading since then to easily-packaged pop YA fiction (even when I have responsibilities to other books) – I don’t feel like I’m quite ready to fall into another story so deeply.

The Bone Clocks is mysterious. It contains fantasy, but you wouldn’t dream of shelving it in an SF/Fantasy section. It’s epic and complex without being incomprehensible. It visits the past and the present, the real and then unbelievable. David Mitchell is a wizard. I have heard mixed things from others about his earlier books, so I’m a little wary of dipping my toe into those waters – after all, I would hate to taint the admiration that I currently have for the man.

I’m loath to go into too much detail, because however I try to describe it, I won’t do it justice. Good and evil are more black and white than they are in some tales, and yet it takes quite some time to figure out precisely which is which. It’s about survival at any cost and in the worst circumstances. It’s about examining the way in which we treat our world. It’s about one person, and so many people at once.

It is not a book to jump into lightly. You need to treat it carefully, give it the time that it deserves. If you peck at it bit by bit, you might not be captured by it as much as it deserves. Get yourself somewhere comfortable, allow yourself a decent chunk of time, make yourself a pot of tea or a plunger of coffee. Appreciate the beautiful design, both aesthetically, and conceptually. Be prepared to have people comment on how pink it is. Laugh gently, knowing that they have no idea what this pink tome holds. Then, when you’ve finished, pass it on to someone else to read, so it can inhabit them next. It’s what Marius would do.

This is the first of (hopefully) several reviews of books longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize. Last year I only managed to sort out The Luminaries and We Need New Names – this year, I will hopefully manage to do the whole shortlist (all the better if this magical title makes it through to the next round – my hopes are certainly high).

Review : The Bone Season

I wrote this up over the last couple of evenings, and just as I went to post it, I saw that Samantha Shannon posted on Twitter that it’s a year to the day since The Bone Season was released. Most fortuitous timing to be nattering about it here then, hm?

The Bone Season hovered on the edge of my reader consciousness for a while before I took the plunge. As I’ve probably mentioned here, the life of a bookseller is a wonderful one in many ways, but difficult in others – particularly when it comes to prioritising books to read. But months of noticing a staff pick card stuck to one of the computers at work (thanks, Ness!) eventually piled up and I decided it was time.

Nice work, self. The Bone Season

The basic genre concept of The Bone Season combines supernatural fantasy (love – when well executed) with dystopia (double love). I’m sure there are other examples of this combo out there, but I can’t recall having encountered one. Clairvoyance, alternate history, bit steampunky, dystopic future… it’s a helluva combo.

The main character, Paige, is well crafted in a way that many ‘genre’ characters tend not to be. She’s not superwoman, despite having rather unusual abilities – and at the same time, she’s not one to swoon wildly in the presence of preternaturally-beautiful god-like beings. Which is refreshing.

I’m looking at you, paranormal romance.

It’s such a fascinating world that Samantha Shannon has created. Dystopia always seems to exist in the terrifyingly plausible and familiar world, whereas fantasy is, well, fantasy. Combining the two is a satisfyingly eerie combination – some of the standard ‘oh GOD this could HAPPEN’ of dystopia is worn down because of the fantastical elements – but the characters are no less accessible because of it – the amaurotic vs. voyant divide may be an imaginary rift but it echoes many such historical instances of persecution.

It breathes life into a realm of fantasy that dances closely to real life – obviously there are people in the world who do place a lot of faith in psychics and tarot readers. What they would make of Shannon’s world, I don’t know, but it (almost) makes me want to believe.

We have many more to look forward to in this series, with Shannon being signed for three titles from the get go, and recently having this extended to all seven intended instalments.

As a reader? Bloody loved it. Read it swiftly. Finished it and looked up exactly when book two is due out.

As a writer? The usual sense of ‘what am I doing with my life?’ that one feels when encountering authors who get signed while still in undergrad. Admiration and frustration.

As a bookseller? DREAM. It’s adult fiction, but eminently readable but most of the young adult crowd. Written well – in such a way that non-‘genre’ readers might be willing to give it a go, but not so ‘literary’ (ugh, these labels) that those who generally stick with fantasy and/or SF (often high-concept/poor-execution)


The Bone Season is out now from the clever folks at Bloomsbury.

2014 in review. prematurely. sort of.

books gotta get read…

Well, it’s the first day in a year that I don’t have to post on here, and yet here I am! You haven’t gotten rid of me yet, internet.

I will at some stage compile a bit of a collection of my favourite picks from the 365 pieces project – though if any of you have any particular favourites from them, do let me know! I’m definitely interested to know what readers have to say, rather than just my highfalutin feelings.

On the subject of readers, though, that leads me onto my new ‘project’, though less official than my previous one, since I’m planning on giving myself a little more creative flexibility this year, in terms of specific output. However, I’m still a reader, a listener, a consumer of art and media and entertainment. And I feel like I have not paid proper attention to these areas on this blog, especially considering that was what I originally intended this to be.

So each week, for the most part, there will be at least one review posted here. The emphasis will be on books, but if I am in the middle of something and don’t wish to distract myself – or if something amazing comes into my ears and/or eyes , it may well be interposed with music and film and even TV reviews, because why limit myself, am I right?

As a bookseller/buyer/soon-to-be-publisher-in-training/writer/generally bibliophile, I always have a ridiculous number of books either on the go, or on my to-do list. One only need check out my GoodReads account for that – and that doesn’t even contain all of the madness, since I don’t keep it totally up-to-date with my Kobo readings too. And most of my books are still boxed up from my move, so the only ones I have around are more recent acquisitions/ones that were shelved in strange places.

But here’s a cursory list of what I’m in the middle of, or have at least started (excluding re-reads… Suzanne Collins and Tamora Pierce are like comfort food, okay?)

The Great Gatsby – F. S. Fitzgerald (I know, I know, most people read this when they’re 15 in high school, but we didn’t, sorry ’bout it).
Allegiant – Veronica Roth (already finished Divergent and Insurgent, but will review them all together)
The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling (way overdue)
Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood (I have started this book SO MANY times. I don’t know what it is about it. But I’m determined to persevere)
The Sandman – Preludes and Nocturnes – Neil Gaiman (also way overdue. I feel like a fake Gaiman-fiend, but I’m remedying it!)
The Gift Lewis Hyde (the only NF title on this list – Eleanor Catton referred to it in her Booker acceptance speech, and then I saw that Margaret Atwood wrote the introduction… sold!)
Snake Ropes – Jess Richards (a publisher rep or a review or something recommended this book as excellent for people who like Margaret Atwood. So I bought it, obviously.)
The Twelve – Justin Cronin (so far taking longer for me to power through than The Passage did, but still proving worthwhile, bit by bit)
Unspeakable Secrets of the Aro Valley – Danyl McLauchlan (NZ author, really good so far, just need to push distractions aside!

And here’s the vague to-read list, as it stands (see the photo at the top for appearances of a fair few of these…) The links are becoming a bit draining, so I will leave you to do your own searches on them, should you wish to investigate further.
The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt (actually, I should really review The Secret History, since I read that recently, hmm)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson (I was a 18 y.o. semi-hipster lit student working in a chain bookstore when this was at peak popularity, so naturally I avoided it at all costs. Having enjoyed both adaptations, I’m going to give it a go)
Speaker for the Dead – Orson Scott Card (even though OSC’s a pretty awful person, I did really enjoy Ender’s Game, so I kind of want to pursue the series further)
Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace (just because)
– Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell (sounds a bit trippy and fairly good)
On The Road – Jack Kerouac (left my original Popular Penguin somewhere in Brooklyn, I think, so am starting from square one, only, err, four and a half years later?)
Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems – Allen Ginsberg (been on my to-do list for ages, thanks Book Depository sale!)
The Flood – Maggie Gee (#2 book acquired via the Book Depository 25 hour sale – looks cool, will expand later, naturally)
The Best of H.P. Lovecraft – um, H.P. Lovecraft (lucky last book purchased in the Book Depository sale. Never read any Lovecraft, thought I should fix it. This fairly weighty tome should do the trick!)
The String Diaries – Stephen Lloyd Jones (advanced reading copy from work that our gen. buyer thought I might like, and still haven’t gotten around to it, but it does sound interesting, so on the list before the move!)
Persuasion – Jane Austen (because I’m the worst English major ever and have never read any Austen. Several people have told be Persuasion is her best work, so I bought a lovely leather bound copy and hope that aesthetic allure will encourage me.)
The Murders in the Rue Morgue and Other Tales – Edgar Allan Poe (ridiculously, I’ve never really read any Poe, despite taking a ‘Theory and the Gothic’ course in my final undergrad semester – but then, I was pretty much in max-sickness situation then, so my reading list had more than a few holes in it.
– 1984 – George Orwell (another classic lit hole to fill)

Yeah. I’m a bit all over the place. Any recommendations are more than welcome – I love love love making new discoveries, so bring a little joy to my life!

‘the luminaries’ by eleanor catton

***UPDATE! As those of you with your fingers on the literary pulse will likely already know, Eleanor Catton has taken home this year’s Man Booker Prize, which is a ridiculously huge honour, and all of the NZ literary community is pretty much on cloud nine. Either way, if you’re unsure about whether you want to undertake the massive read that is The Luminaries, then hopefully my review below may sway you.***

Front page review of The Luminaries by yours truly on the University Bookshop Ltd (aka the biggest academic bookshop presence in New Zealand) website! AKA my workplace, but still… We’ve only just instated these online staff pick reviews, and I was first pick, so that’s quite satisfying! Read on – and seriously consider buying a copy. The trade paperback is lovely, but the hardback is absolutely gorgeous, and worthy of the splurge, I feel. I’ve mentioned this book a couple of times before, so some points may sound familiar.

Anyway, it reads as follows –

The word Dickensian has been thrown around with regard to Eleanor Catton’s sophomore release, The Luminaries, and it’s certainly got the Victorian grittiness – and impressive page count – that one would expect from any decent Dickens novel. But it’s so much more than that. Catton may only be in her late twenties, but her ability to enter into the minds of the multitude of key characters – almost all male, from all kinds of ethnic, social and moral backgrounds – is staggering. The descriptions of Hokitika and the surrounding lands are beautifully evocative, the constant presence at the beginning of chapters of an omniscient narrator feels like a reassuring indicator that the mysteries will all unfold. And Catton’s ability to stick to period style writing and editing in a completely believable fashion is ‘d—ned’ impressive.

Despite the book’s length, you are drawn into the various mysteries at hand almost immediately, and between the evocative writing and the constant unraveling of the mysterious strands of stories, it’s thoroughly unputdownable. It’s a historical novel, a mystery, with a touch of the fantastical (the omnipresent references to the zodiac) – all by a young contemporary New Zealand author, whose future works will have the world’s attention. Highly, highly recommended.

The best historical mystery about Hokitika that there ever was or will be.
The best historical mystery about Hokitika that there ever was or will be.

To further elaborate – I was constrained by word/space requirements, naturally – I was overall a big fan of the book. That being said, I do think that I preferred The Rehearsal to The Luminaries – and perhaps that’s just my genre preferences coming through, not to mention 300 and something pages verses over 800 – but given that The Rehearsal is possibly my favourite conventional ‘contemporary fiction’ book, that’s a difficult honour to top. So many authors these days are either good story makers or good writers (especially the former) – but not necessarily both. Eleanor Catton is, most assuredly, both of these things. There’s always a storyline to weave the beautiful language around, rather than just to exist for beautiful language’s sake (for which there is a time and a place, but I’d argue that’s something that should generally be reserved for poetry and short prose rather than a fully fledged novel).

Back to the story itself though – one of my favourite aspects of the novel, beyond the overarching story and the writing, was the character development. No character was truly left unexplored – and virtually every man and woman had some varied shades of morality in them – except, perhaps, for the villainous Francis Carver, who was pretty much straight up nasty.

Having visited the West Coast – though not for at least a decade (being able to write that makes me feel so very old) – I am somewhat familiar with the environment being written about, particularly since we had a family jaunt to ‘Shantytown’, a West Coast tourist attraction that is set up like a 19th century gold mining town that’s about half an hour up the coast from Hokitika. But even without that experience, I love the way Catton conjures up the ramshackle, wild environment that these people were living in. It’s known as a bit of a grim, rainy place, rough of weather and of sea, and there’s certainly no lack of that feeling in the book.

The integration of astrology into the book is an interesting element that I feel is reason enough alone for a re-read – I sort of want to work my way through it slowly with some sort of reference book or Wikipedia open to sort out what all the references mean – and I know I’m not alone with that sentiment. As with many books of its girth, the initial read through is all too skimmed through in parts, as there’s just so much to get through – particularly when there is mystery involved. To explicitly have something like the astrological connections fuels the desire to reread and absorb more to an even greater extent than usual, because it does feel as if a whole other layer of meaning may have been lost to the layperson reader.
Overall, it’s truly a triumph – so get your greedy book-fiend paws on a copy now. I really do recommend getting a physical copy, it’s so satisfying and gorgeous (did I mention the beauty of the end papers in the hardback?? they are stunning – at least in the NZ version by Victoria University Press, I’ve no idea what the Granta or Little, Brown ones are like I’m afraid) but it is available in ebook format too – meBooks is a great source for NZ ebooks, with both epub and Kindle formats available. Physical copies are available through all regular retailers – UBS, obviously, as linked at the beginning, but if you’re overseas, try below at Indie Bound to support independent bookshops! Or, if you’re super attached to Amazon, then you can get it there too.


The Luminaries

At the time of writing this, we are two days out from the final Booker prize announcement, and Catton is the favourite of some sources. I’ll be sure to update with the details – even if she doesn’t take home the prize this year, to be nominated at such a young age (born in 1985!) is a coup in itself. And there will hopefully be many more thought-provoking and superbly executed books where this one came from.

hobbit-forming

Har. Har har. Don’t you live a good literary pun? Don’t worry, I hate myself for it too.

BUT. It is so very timely. Whilst I know that The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey hasn’t yet arrived in cinemas over much of the globe, we here in New Zealand, AKA the backdrop of Middle Earth, were lucky enough to get the film on December 12th. I would have, in hindsight, loved to have gone to the midnight screening (hell, I would have especially loved to have hit up Wellington for the premiere), but alas, my 8-5 work schedule doesn’t really permit such things. So instead, I patiently waited through the work day… and to be honest, it wasn’t really the top thing on my mind. I have an odd relationship with the story of The Hobbit, I suppose – in that despite my mad rapturous LotR devotion as a (pre-)teen, I could never get into The Hobbit, and didn’t actually get around to reading it until the past year or so. Which seems ridiculous, both to myself, and so many. How can an eleven year old happily gorge herself on the full LotR trilogy, and in the ensuing year or so, teach herself Tengwar and Tolkein’s Dwarvish runes? How can one take a stab at the Silmarillion, but plead ‘meh’ in the face of ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit’?

I just don’t know. But, in some ways, I think that this has set me up perfectly to enjoy the film as Jackson and co. have presented it. I do agree that stretching it out to three films is somewhat absurd. And I did  have a few moments of ‘…they must be getting to an end point soon’. But the film was, nonetheless, spectacular. The extra time that the 3 film structure allows means that we get a chance to really get a feel for what’s going on everywhere (love the inclusion of more Radagast et al), and, more’s the point, we get a feel for the darkness building that connects it all the better to the LotR film trilogy. Obviously this isn’t the way it happened in the book, but it really helps give it the more ‘epic’ edge that the film would probably lack if it stuck solely to the goings on and pacing of the novel.

The CGI, by and large, is unquestionably awesome. There were a couple of moments of ‘mmmhmm green screen’, but for the most part, you can really see the leaps and bounds that the amazing folks at WETA have made – Gollum was phenomenal, for one. The scenery was, of course, spectacular – and really reminded me that I really need another road trip around my fair nation some time soon – and the Howard Shore score (one of the things that really never gets old for me) was pretty damn perfect – themes and motifs from LotR throughout, but it still has its own Hobbity sound – Song of the Lonely Mountain, as performed both by the dwarves during the film proper, and by Neil Finn during the credits, was very much representative of that unique sound.

I saw it in old-school 2D, partly because the boyfriend wished to do so for a very sensible reason – after seeing having first seen Avatar in IMAX, he’s been unable to enjoy it in other formats, because the format was so integral to it. So rather than go straight in for full-bore 48 fps 3D, we went the old-fashioned route first, but sometime in the coming days, we will almost certainly check it out in all it’s high-tech glory. Because I definitely want to check out this film again. And slightly shake my fist at the fact that there won’t be another one for a year.

gollum and government

It seems appropriate, given the current Hobbity furore (which I’m something of a part of, I’ll admit – hard not to be when you were a die-hard LotR fan as teen in the early noughties), that my intestinal word association of the morning as I’m lying in bed writhing (even though I popped Tramadol two hours ago) was of a Hobbity nature.

As I moaned to myself ‘take it OUT, don’t want it,’ some constantly fantastical corner of my brain piped up ‘We don’t… neeeeeed you.’ Granted, if it gets to the point where ‘jpouch looks after us now’, then I won’t even have any angry colon-gollum to talk to (and with its grumbles and gurgles, perhaps it is talking back… bitch). ‘Go away’, ‘leave now and never come back’… bro, those are my vocabulary almost every morning.

The pain for the morning is slowly – very slowly – abating, but this is really just cementing the fact that I really want off this stupid trial. I wouldn’t even care if they decided to skip infliximab/Remicade entirely and just took the damn thing out. That being said, I really can’t take an extensive period of time off work until April (working in a uni bookstore means WEIRD periods of business. March and July are the ‘yeah, you want leave? time to resign, buddy’ months, whereas December is, for most people – except for me, since I deal with the orders for several schools which start back in January, huzzah – our quietest month of the year. The possible problem with Remicade is that typically government funding wouldn’t cover a large course of it for me since I only (at last check) have left-sided colitis, even though the left-side in question is super bad. A long course of Remicade would normally require pancolitis. But, given that I have exercised every other possibility, including way too many months on this damn trial, I think the docs are fairly confident that an exception could be made for me – the hospital has additional funding for situations such as this, or something. Things like this give me the tiniest glimpse into the hell that the US healthcare system must inflict on those with an IBD or any serious/chronic disease really. From what I can tell, it looks as though a single infusion of Remicade runs about 6000USD, and even people with insurance seem to be having to pay a thousand dollars or so towards that.

That blows my mind. It won’t cost me anything, in effect. I know that taxes pay for it, but it’s not like having higher taxes on my hardly noteworthy salary makes me incapable of carrying out day to day work. It sickens me to think that a purportedly first world country can have so many people who think it’s acceptable to maintain such an ‘every man for himself’ mindset, to be so anti tax. No government is perfect, and for sure there are things that they do or say that aren’t to my liking – hell, I can’t stand our current PM or his party – but at least we don’t have to worry that getting sick will bankrupt us. If I had one of these ‘deductibles’ or ‘out of pocket payments’ or whatever the hell it is that the terrifying insurance companies make you pay in the States, I don’t know what I’d do. It would make what is already a horrific thing to deal with so much worse. My prescriptions cost me $3 for a three month supply, regardless of what they are. Because Remicade would be administered in a hospital, it wouldn’t cost me anything.

But, like I say, at this point, I’d almost rather they just take my damn colon out. It may have had 18 or so years of reasonably perfect function, but for the last 3/4 years it has just shut down shop. It’s about 2 years since I was officially diagnosed. And despite going through the rigmarole of Pentasa, Colifoam, Asacol, azathioprine, and now several months of trial injections, not to mention an upper endoscopy, two full colonoscopies and five (I think?) flexible sigmoidoscopies, I’m pretty much as bad as I’ve ever been, if not worse.

So, take it. I don’t want it anymore.

Mr Nancy, I presume.

Today I finally finished Anansi Boyss.

I have a weird relationship with Neil Gaiman books. Probably it’s because I have a weird relationship with the entity that is Neil himself (spot the Twitter reference) – he was an author I knew of, and I’d watched and enjoyed Stardust (but hadn’t read the book) when suddenly he was a focal point in the Amanda Palmer world that I was somewhat involving myself in.

(By somewhat, I mean going to shows in Florida whilst living in Montreal, and the like. You know, the usual.)

I had vowed that I would read at least one of his books before meeting him, but alas, it did not happen in time. I’d started Neverwhere, and read a few stories from Smoke and Mirrors, but nothing more, when I met him at a show/reading he and Amanda were doing at the Housingworks Bookstore in NYC. I shook his hand, he introduced himself and knew who I was (I was at that time part of an apartment dwelling duo known to Teh AFP Internetz as ‘The Barely Legal Lesbians’, partly identifiable by our unnaturally coloured hair) and he signed a setlist for me after the show. Badass? I think so.

But I still didn’t get around to properly reading any of his books until I returned from the Great North American Adventure of 2009 and found myself back in Kiwiland. I read Stardust soon after,  and thoroughly enjoyed it. And then I eventually got around to reading The Graveyard Book, a topic which has already been broached here. I love the way he writes, the way he creates characters and places and manipulates words. He would certainly rank highly among my ‘favourite’ authors. But every time I read something he’s written – Stardust excluded – I take a bizarrely long time to power through the pages. In one respect, this means I’m absorbing the story more, I suppose, but it’s also frustrating as I tend to be more of the zap-pow variety when it comes to reading speed. American Gods was glorious, but again, took me quite some time to get into, and even then, the actual time taken to complete the novel, even once I was immersed in it, was pretty damn long.

Anansi Boys has been the bane of my life for the last couple of months. I started it. And then forgot I was reading it. And then had to start again, got about 100 pages in, and then stopped again. I would try to hack back at it, but would wind up only reading a few pages at a time. I suppose it didn’t help that I was also in the middle of exams/December work whilst trying to do this, but still. Then, yesterday, I decided to put in a proper effort, choose only appropriate reading-supportive (rather than distracting) music to play, and get into it. And I finally finished it.

It was definitely a book that kept building and building and building as it went along, with a pleasantly short dénouement, rather than trying to drag it all out after the main action had occurred. I spent the first half of the book enjoying it, but being disappointed when comparing it back to American Gods, but by the time I finished it, I was much more satisfied with it. I still preferred American Gods, certainly, but Anansi Boys proved itself a thoroughly excellent read, in the end. I think the more constant presence of creeping supernatural themes in American Gods kept me a little more engaged, but that was really the whole point of Fat Charlie Nancy, I suppose, his supposed distance from the godlike.

And now that I’ve finished this spiel, I must go be A Helpful Daughter and clean and tidy things, as my mother’s cousin from the US is coming to visit. Maybe some of my Amurkin friends should stow away in her luggage? DC’s not that far from NYC, after all…

(And appropriately, her name is Nancy.)

iNaNoWriMo

It sounds like an Apple product of some kind, with the ‘i’ at the front, but that’s just me attempting to include myself in the phenomenon that is NaNoWriMo. Since it stands for ‘National Novel-Writing Month’, I feel obliged to switch it up for my unAmerican purposes. InterNational Novel-Writing Month. iNaNoWriMo. Catchy, n’est-ce pas?

Perhaps pas.

Anyway, I’m going to strive towards doing it, although November is, naturally, a terrible month for them to pick, given that it’s a month that involves final exams and then ideally as much work as possible. Nobody ever thinks about us poor Southern-Hemisphere-dwellers. My story is currently called The Poetic Life Of Ruby Palmer, Lost Cause – and while this is subject to change, I am rather attached to it, as I tend to be with titles I let hang around my brain for a while. It has elements of real-life influence, obviously – it’s about a somewhat offbeat writerly girl in her last year of high school, which sounds a little like me a few years ago – but I’m pretty sure Ruby’s going to wind up more badass than me, or at least more badass than I was at sixteen-going-on-seventeen, for the most part.

I’ve (barely) survived  my first exam, which involved much prattling about Ovid, and only have two more before supposed ‘freedom’. Colour me stoked.

In the watching/listening/reading realm of things, I have offish finished reading all the Tortallan books (save for Terrier and Bloodhound), having finished reading Trickster’s Queen. And now, in addition to my reading of The Hobbit, I’m lazily getting through the first Circle of Magic book. My Hobbit-y reading has been paired with watching Fellowship of the Ring at this exact moment. They’re about to go into the Mines of Moria. I just had a ‘No, Frodo, what are you saying?! Y’all should try to finish taking the Caradhras pass!’ moment. Poor Gandalf. /nerd.

And musically, I’ve been listening to Voltaire’s Ooky Spooky record, which is excellent indeed, and The Passenger by Iggy Pop has been on repeat (just the one song, because… why not?).

I’ll keep you updated on how iNaNoWriMo gets along, my friendos.