la la la, what do you mean I have a deadline at work?

stalinWithout fail, when I have a very high pressure deadline, I start reading a really interesting, really long book.  I’m sure it’s just a coping mechanism, but I am equally sure it looks like craziness. I’ve pick up Stalin before, but I got distracted by some BookGeeks books, and it spent some time languishing on my shelf.  Not because it wasn’t fascinating, because it is, and tremendously well-written, but I’m fairly certain there was a David Eddings and random young-adult-lit craving in between then and now, and it just wasn’t the right time to read the book.

Now, though, now that I need to write a 6,000 word article by Tuesday, well, now I really feel like some gritty Russian history. Unexpected, I know, but it’s really engrossing right now watching everyone run around in response to some of the truly terrible policies they were busy implementing while he was in charge.  I suppose it’s partially about perspective.  (If I think I’m stressed, imagine what day to day life at that point must have been like). I think that it’s also so divorced from what I’m experiencing that it’s easy to forget about everything else I’ve got going on when I read it, making it quite a successful distraction.

The second most successful distraction in my life (well, after my husband) would have to be the horses. I am so glad that I’m back to my four day a week riding schedule with Moss. The holidays were nice, and the extra sleep was nice, but seeing the sun rise Thursday morning on my hack was just one of those things that seems to make life solid and happy. There was no one else on the farm ride, and Moss just relaxed, stretched his giraffe’s-would-be-jealous-neck out, and ambled around.  He’s easily the happiest horse I’ve ever ridden, happy to be in work, happy to be on a hack, happy to snuffle through pockets for mints.  He’s still got the thoroughbred edge, which is what keeps me interested, but there is something about a horse that sincerely seems to be enjoying himself that is gratifying and confidence building.  I’ve been working lately on getting him really motoring around and going forward-forward-forward.  Suddenly, I’ve got this huge powerful horse on my hands, and we’re magically able to work on collection (before we’d unlocked the motor, he’d always strongly objected to any sort of compression in his stride).  Next I need to work on his downward transitions, as I think I’m too hesitant to really demand them.

I keep considering writing a review instead of going back to the paper, but I think I’ll save that for a reward for myself after I finish the edits on the paper.

Sigh. And now, back to the typing and editing of the paper.

London: Fog, Books, and Free Museums

Catherine Parr
Things I learned while in London last time: First off, Catherine Parr was absolutely gorgeous, if her portrait is anything to go by. Poor woman. Especially as I had just run across her as a character in the Shardlake series of mysteries, so seeing her portrait was a bit of an “ah-ha, that’s what all the fuss was about” moment. Second, the Oyster card is a genius idea, and I’m sure it will never happen in Manchester (what with our private companies all vying for passengers and being unwilling to invest as a group in anything, and the whole “charge different rates depending on where you’re going” complication), but it was so easy to get from place to place on whatever mode of transport was nearest  (trains! tube! bus!), and I loved just swiping the card and not digging for change.

It was fun to hit up the National Portrait Gallery, and even more fun to go out to a BookGeeks night out.  So much fun, in fact.  Especially because I managed to snag a seat near enough to the food to make sure that any stray potato wedges were alllll taken care of.  I’m sure the rest of the attendees appreciated it. There were a number of the other reviewers there, and we all had a fun time putting a face to the reviews we’d read.  I was slightly jealous that so many of the reviewers managed to have book oriented jobs AND write for BookGeeks. Of course, most of them live in and around London, and I’m not really sure I’m ready for that sort of move, let alone, for example, changing jobs.

It was a nice way to wrap up my November though, before the madness that was the holidays (and what was the best week ever in Wales. If you haaaave to be ill with the flu, and you have to also rent a house for the week with a group of awesome people, I recommend Wales.) I managed to read about 15 books during the two weeks of holiday, and now that I’m better and back at work I’m looking on catching up on the reviews. One of the best bits of the holiday was that I brought an assortment of books to loan out as well and dropped them off with friends throughout the two weeks, I felt like some sort of amazing book fairy. It was excellent.

The best books I read over the two weeks were probably: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (young adult) and The Dragon’s Apprentice by James A. Owen (also young adult).  In terms of plot and characters, they were easily the most engrossing, and I’ve been a fan of the “Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica” series for ages (the Yovanoff was a debut novel). I’ve now finally gotten around to “Dr. Yes” which is part of Colin Bateman’s “Mystery Man” series, and hilarious, so at least I’ve got something fun to look forward to after work (besides, obviously, riding. Moss is still lovely.)

tea, sun, and holiday success

photo Sri Lanka was gorgeous. Gorgeous, warm, fascinating, and fun.  It’s always a pleasure to travel somewhere for a happy occasion (we were there for a wedding), and to travel somewhere new, where you might never have gone, is an extra treat.

Of course, for me, a large part of the planning for the trip involved what books to take, which friends I could depend upon to have extra books I could borrow, and, now how much money I was willing to budget to spend on books for the iPad.  The iBookstore is still fairly minimal (especially if you don’t necessarily read books of the NYT best seller list), but I can normally find at least a few, and the ability to buy a new book from an hotel room and read it within a few seconds is…dangerously pleasant. As soon as there are more books available, and e-book formatting gets more consistent, the iPad is going to be one more thing that makes it far too easy to spend money on books.

iPad aside, the most successful book of the trip was definitely Connie Willis’ Blackout–Willis is one of the authors I feel is criminally unknown. She’s one multiple awards for her short stories and consistently turns out fascinating, funny, and wonderful books, but it’s rare to find more than one or two of her books on the shelves at a bookstore and libraries are rarely any better. Continue reading