And so for something completely different…

I’ve been away a wee while. I’m so sorry.

I have a much better diving story which I’ll relate next post, but meanwhile I’m keen to tell you about my surprise awesome reading experience! I don’t know if you’re into intelligent women, I don’t know if you’re kinda nerdy. I don’t care tbh – Mary Robinette Kowal is the best thing I’ve found this century since Fibre. She’s clever, she’s funny and she makes you feel smart while you learn stuff.

Her first series is about a woman who wants to become an astronaut from the age of something silly like six. This chick grows up to be a mathematician and is hired at the alternate equivalent of NASA as a computer. She’s AWESOME!! Bloody hell I love when you find awesome.

Her last released book is called Ghost Talkers and is about a woman in the Second World War and her fiancé, who dies early in the book (okay, maybe should’ve put spoiler but it’s kinda obvious so I’m not going to. If it wasn’t obvious I’m SO sorry) but plays a key role all the way through. Again, inspiring, heart breaking, and totally immersed in this world she’s built. AWESOME!! Everyone needs to see what awesome looks like sometimes – go read Mary Robinette Kowal

Blue Danube

Am totally obsessed with the diving thing. Totally. I know it’s insane. I know that my people (Caitlin, Kane, Duane…) do not share this. But I don’t really care. I just want to keep doing it. Sorry.

So. Lots of stuff.

But mostly want to say Martha Wells MurderBot series is AWESOME!

My gosh – I read the first one (they’re quite short) and immediately wait listed the second… and continued in that vein for a few books. Did a tiny bit of research on Martha. She’s written (very good) Star Wars fan fiction, Stargate fan fic but also for the actual series.

And I’d never heard of her. But found the MurderBot diaries by accident and was hooked. Absolutely hooked.

And hated the end of the last book. But that’s okay. I don’t have to love stuff to enjoy it (reference Narnia) 😏

The other thing I’ve discovered recently is Temeraire by Naomi Novik.

Actually discovered Naomi through other books – Spinning Silver, a Rumplestiltskin/Baba Yaga cross over, Uprooted – just a brilliant story teller and the Temeraire series is a cross over of Robin Hobb and Georgette Heyer – “Infamous Army” and with Anne McCafferty definitely thrown in. It is all about the Napoleonic wars but with an added level.

Bloody hell – just really good writing.

I’ve been in a weird space.

I bought the entire Narnia books in Audible and have been listening to them to and from work for the last couple of months. I’ve read them before, though it’s been 20 years or so, and first heard them when I was 4 or 5 when mum and Peter read them to us. So they’ve always been at the back of my reading – whatever I’m reading. They were truly magic. Right now I’m listening to them in Narnian chronological order, so not the order I first knew them in but in semi-logical order. So have got through all of them except The Last Battle which I’m reading now. Have always hated that book, no idea why. Am very interested to know how I see it now and what the actual story is.

And I’ve found Temeraire – it’s an amazing series based in Napoleon times, has the English naval history as well as the whole regency period thing going on, but with dragons and Air Force! And am discovering also very much focussed on slavery, reforms and to a small extent women’s rights. Its an amazing world to be in – half of it known and the other half absolutely believable.

And then I got sick. Quite sick for a while now. Nothing life threatening but just completely wiped me out. So looked through Amazon Prime Video to find new stuff and discovered The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Wow! Immediately sought out the books.

All of the things come together perfectly really. The Magicians is obviously based on the Narnia books, but with a slightly (only slightly) more grown up point of view. Focussed more on the magic and less on the how men should be thing, am ignoring any religious overtones right now, but have to say The Magicians does that beautifully in the end. Absolutely elegantly. And have to say, while I was reading the books (it’s a trilogy), listening to CS Lewis and watching the Prime Video adaptation I hated the adaptation more and more. And given that the author is one of the producers I really don’t understand how he let the series get so messy when he’s controlled the story so perfectly in the books. Though I love the diversity in the programme. It’s all very English upper crust (despite being American) in the books, but the series shows the anger and the angst so much better. I just hate when the time line jumps all over the place. (American Gods I’m looking at you too – where is the lake story??!!!).

Sorry Mr Gaiman

I’ve loved the Narnia audiobooks so much – actually maybe more than when I was a kid, it’s just a beautifully realised world and while yeah the Christian motif is obvious it’s actually not at all what it’s about. And actually I think this is where my first love of Greek mythology comes from. But I’m struggling with the right god/wrong god bit just now.

Bloody hell.

And then Temeraire. Which is an epic tale that calls to me. And is something everyone that loved Biggles or Anne McCaffrey or Robin Hobb or even James Patterson or Tom Clancy would enjoy escaping to in a totally stressful fantasy kind of way.

Mate! Books adventures are awesome!

Okay. Am putting this out there but have actually just done (finally!! Sucks to live in Wellington) our first sea dive!! Will be posting that ASAP. With video!!

Addendum to my addendum…

Alyssa Cole is awesome! I really love her work. Not so much for the romance to be honest, but the geek girlness is perfect! Actually really cool. And my favourite authors just now are all geek girls – thank goodness I am here now when there are others here now that write stuff that make me happy. Actually. Imagine being in 1819 and wanting intellectual stimulation & funny!! Well there was Jane obvs. Okay. So wouldn’t have been completely unhappy, but definitely so pleased I have the plethora of authors to sift through today.

Kianna Alexander is a wee bit more challenging for me. I’ve only started one of her books. It was neither clever or funny. And I just couldn’t get into it. Sorry. But I feel exactly the same about Debbie MacComber, though she used to be both! I miss her.

I’m going to try a few more Kianna books, will never read another Debbie btw, but I just really love the geek connection. Sorry. If you enjoy Penny Reid, you’ll enjoy Alyssa Cole. I luff them both.

My next post will be about our SCUBA adventure I promise!

It’s harder to write than I thought it would be.

It’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then…

I now have a blog, which means I need to write something. Gosh knows what…. But I feel like I should put something. So. Going back to the reading thing… I’ve been reading since I was 3. I’ve read most of the ‘classics’, and often read the book du jour but had my teenager years with the best little library in the world, the Linwood library which was for all of my teens and a great deal of my early motherhood on the corner of Worcester Street and Stanmore Road in Christchurch, New Zealand – 2 doors down from my home.Very eclectic range of books, but its definite draw at that time (other than stories about Edmund Hillary and Thor Heyerdahl)

was the Mills & Boon section. It was extensive and the books were heavily annotated by those that had read them before me – a gift in fact if you were a writer that wanted to know what readers wanted… unfortunately I was a supremely self involved teenager/woman who just wanted to be entertained. Though I did read the marginalia and was so impressed by the women who’d been there before me. I read the 60’s Mills & Boon with the timid mice women who were just glad that their strong heroes weren’t beating them, the 70’s where the women were extremely smart and relieved to find someone smarter and stronger and the 80’s where the women were both smart and strong and were very happy to have heroes that were much cleverer, much stronger and also so rich (a Sheik!) that whatever she was didn’t really matter. I enjoyed the ‘new’ writers – the 90’s comediennes – Emma Goldrick, Debbie Macomber (weirdly not so funny in the ’00’s and beyond, though still prolific), the idea that woman were not only relevant but had a choice. I really think, above anything that my Mum said about the fact I could do anything was this – the idea that I could be all and do all and still be funny, happy and successful (and yes!!! Maybe even get a man!!!) was part of the reason I never really stopped trying new things. Way more to my back story obviously, but this, and the marginalia of the women that had come before me in the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s books gave me the confidence that if I tried anything and failed then it was on my own merit. My mum obviously did the same – her absolute belief (or my absolute belief that what my mum says is true) definitely showed me if you don’t try then you won’t gain.

And now – April 2019 – I read this https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/04/fifty-shades-of-white-romance-novels-racism-ritas-rwa. And it has just now occurred to me, that yes – I’ve read books that have protagonists of colour, I’ve read comedies where there are Hispanics and black men (though not often women, at least in my memory) in the lead ‘roles’, but actually no, it’s very rarely that I’ve read a romance where there are any black people yet alone in the role of protagonist. Is this because I’ve been deemed to kick up a stink if there’s people that aren’t like me in this book? Is it because I can’t cope with people who aren’t like me? Not sure what that means to be honest – if you get the privilege of unreliable periods, bitchy days and agonising nights and you still have to make nice, I’m guessing you’re a woman. Just like me. And so I’ve been reading Alyssa Cole, and have asked my library to get books written by Kianna Alexander, and will continue to seek out stories written by women all over the place – because if I get my unlikely ‘you can do it’ from Mills & Boon, then honestly everybody should be able to – whether their mother believes they can or not. It’s a good message (well from the 90’s on) and you just need to disregard the fact that a male will round your life out nicely….

Addendum: if you haven’t read the Guardian story I linked above you won’t really know wtf I’m talking about. Basically it’s that Mills & Boon, who became Harlequin and I think are now something else again, don’t sell books written by Black authors in the same way as they do “mainstream” books ( books written by white authors.)

In fact books written by Black authors – whatever the subject – tend to be shelved under “Black” in book shops. In America at least.

Even if that book is about a woman falling in love with a man, getting pissed off with that man and ensuing drama. And then that man and woman getting over it and going with the happily ever after. Just like every Mills and Boon ever, Love Boat, bloody hell Thorn Birds even. Melted down to its basic, that’s nearly every story ever. But yeah. It’s written by a Black person or has people of colour as hero or heroine or both so obviously should be shelved with Neil deGrasse Tyson. (Who is also awesome FYI!) And biographies of Mohammed Ali. Which, hey why not?!

But none of these books are in the best place for their target audience to find them.

FFS

Pretty confident that isn’t done here, but I’m definitely going to be looking for “Maori” at Whitcoulls next time I’m in there.

And Black

P.S. Not sure why the autocorrect to Black when I type black, but I’m keeping it. Sorry