Women of Futures Past by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (editor)

Women of Futures Past: Classic StoriesWomen of Futures Past: Classic Stories by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars (9/10)
Read: 25 May 2017 – 26 May 2017

I heard about this one when it came out and thought it looked interesting, but I had read a number of the stories and, to be honest, it was a bit more expensive than I wanted to pay.

It came to mind again in the last couple of weeks and when I check the price had dropped, so I bought it. In the end, I only skipped one – Lois McMaster Bujold‘s “Aftermaths”, which is a great story, but one I have read several times before. The others, I’d only read once.

I enjoyed all the stories, both the rereads and the new ones. Kristine Katherine Rusch‘s introductions, both to the anthology and to the individual stories, were very interesting and well worth reading. I feel I understand some of the early women writers of SF a little better now and it’s good to have read work from some of the more modern authors who I know all about, but hadn’t necessarily read.

My favourite new read from the book was C J Cherryh‘s “Cassandra” and my favourite reread was probably “Fire Watch” by Connie Willis (I want to go and reread To Say Nothing of the Dog now, with Zenna Henderson‘s “The Indelible Kind” a close second.

I highly recommend this anthology as a good taster of some of the women who have been writing SF since the 1930s, and if, like I did, you think to miss it because you’ve read a number of the stories, I found the rereads to be just as lovely as the new reads.

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New Zealand’s History Samplers by Vivian Caughley

New Zealand's Historic Samplers: Our stitched storiesNew Zealand’s Historic Samplers: Our stitched stories by Vivien Caughley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars (9/10)
Read: 11 May 2017 – 25 May 2017

Way back in 1969, the year I was born (you can do that maths if you want to), my mother did a correspondence school embroidery course. She was a new mother, still fairly new in a new town, and I’m suspect she needed something to do for herself while my father was at work and she was home with a new baby. She finished a beautiful sampler as part of her coursework.

A number of years later, she had it framed and gave it to me as a birthday present, but it was always understood it would stay in my parents house while they had a house to hang it in. As indeed, it has done over the years.

My local needlework shop here in Wellington turned 50 years old at the beginning of May this year, and one of the ways they are celebrating is by having a display of work from the decades the shop has been open. May was for work from the 1960s. Hearing about this, I suddenly thought of Mum’s sampler and borrowed if from Dad for the shop to display. I needed to write up a little bit about it to go with it, and realised I have only my unreliable memories of what Mum told me about it. Of course, as is the way when we lose someone, I now desperately wish I had thought to get the full story from her before she died and made a record of it somewhere. I didn’t.

The owner of the shop in question then told me about this book and I requested it from the library. Knowing how many other books I’m trying to read and having a limited borrowing time, I didn’t manage to read the whole thing, but focused on the section about the School Certificate embroidery course. I found a photo of someone else’s sampler, stitched in 1975, that is very clearly from the same course as the one Mum did. While unique to the person who stitched it, it has the same guiding hand as Mum’s one does.

I learned a lot of interesting things about the development of embroidery courses in New Zealand and while I’ll never know for sure, I think I can make a good assumption about what course Mum was taking and how it developed into the sampler she stitched. It will go back to Dad when the little exhibition is done and, while I hope the day is still many years away, when it comes to live with me I will have more information about its background and something to pass onto the next owner, whoever that may be.

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A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #1)A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars (8/10)
Read: 17 May 2017 – 24 May 2017

As much fun as I had been told. I’d been dubious and had not tried the series, but a friend loaned me this one and I’m definitely happy to have read it. I have the next one in the post and while I don’t know exactly when I’ll get to read it, I hope to do so quite soon. (As always, too many books…)

Being a memoir, it did have a slight sense of dryness to it that, but I think it worked anyway, and I think it was probably deliberate on the part of the writer. Given some of the hints the now elderly narrator throws out of what she has been up to in her life, this is clearly the “young and naive” volume. I shall be very interested to see just what Lady Trent gets up to as the years go by.

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Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary's, #1)Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars (7/10)
Read: 15 May 2017 – 17 May 2017

I blame my friend Jacqui for this one. She’s been suggesting I read it for ages. It was cheap on Amazon a while back, so I bought it and it’s been sitting on my Kindle since then.

I finished American Gods and wanted something light and quick to read. This was the first one that caught my eye as I browsed my “new books” collection. I started of skeptical, largely because of the way other people had told me I should love it, but I was enjoying it by the end. I’ve moved from, “I don’t want to get caught up in a series that’s 9 books long” to “I have other things I need to read first, but I’d like to try the second some time”.

I’m not totally blown away, but I did enjoy the read.

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods (American Gods, #1)American Gods by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars (9/10)
Read: 1 May 2017 – 14 May 2017

I’m still not sure if I actually liked it, but I was fascinated and captivated by it. It’s weird and peculiar, strange and crazy and kind of marvelous.

I haven’t actually really read Gaiman (only Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch I think), but I’ve been aware of this one for a long time. With the new miniseries from Starz, I was even more aware of it, but, I admit, not actually planning to read it. Then I watched the first episode and immediately started the book.

I’m really enjoy the TV show (now up to episode 3), but I think I’m definitely getting more from it from just having finished the book. Things that might have left me puzzled instead are weird and peculiar, strange, crazy and kind of marvelous.

(Testing posting this to my blog direct from Goodreads…)

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So Vile a Sin by Ben Aaronovitch and Kate Orman

So Vile a SinSo Vile a Sin by Ben Aaronovitch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars (8/10)
Read: 5 May 2017 – 9 May 2017

I’ve been rereading my way through some of the latter Virgin New Adventures along with a podcast I listen to (The Oncoming Storm).

I enjoyed the reread a lot (a little more than the podcast presenters did I think, but I always liked Kate Orman’s writing, back in the long ago). This is not a book to jump into a read, but it was a good conclusion to a lot of ongoing arcs for the long term reader, which I was at the time.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to reread the next one or not. I have a month, so I’ll decide in a few weeks.

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The FitzOsbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper

The FitzOsbornes in Exile (The Montmaray Journals, #2)The FitzOsbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars (9/10)
Read: 25 April 2017 – 5 May 2017

A really fun read. I’m so glad I got back to this series and I look forward to fitting in the last one.

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