It’s Readathon Time (April 2018)

8am

The Dewey 24 hour Readathon is starting in a minute. This time, I have less time, since my family is having a brunch get together today, so that’s a several hours break in the middle.

Outside of that, I plan on binging on Tor.com novellas, an essay collection, and an audio book. First up, Dusk of Dark or Dawn or Day, by Seanan Mcguire. The lives of ghosts in New York City.

9:30 am

Time to head over to Dad’s. Since I will be driving, I am switching to River of Teeth, bu Sarah Bailey. Hippos in the American South, and a cowboy historical. Can you get sillier than that?

1:45 pm

Home from a delicious brunch, and resisting the urge to take a nap. I’m 25% of the way through River of Teeth, but now I’m switching back to the McGuire.

3 pm

I’m now 90% through the McGuire (and it’s a fantastic read), but brunch is weighing down my eyelids, so I’m going to crawl into bed for a couple of hours. I’ll see how much of the Gailey I can listen to without losing track of the story.

5 pm

The nap helped. I am now halfway through River of Teeth. Time to finish Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, then into the next novella.

6 pm

Seanan McGuire made me cry. Not for the first time, and I doubt for the last. I then moved on to Cry Murder! in a Small Voice, by Greer Gilman. It’s a short chapbook mystery with William Shakespeare, but Gilman’s beautiful prose makes it a leisurely read. I’m only 25% into it so far.

7 pm

I’m at 55% in Cry Murder. The book is only 62 pages, but the language deserves to be read slowly and with great attention.

8 pm

85% done. I’m almost to the end of Cry Murder. Then I’ll go back to River of Teeth. I want to finish it before tackling the next book.

9 pm

I finished Cry Murder! In a Small Voice, and am now 67% through River of Teeth. I will finish it before I consider bed.

10 pm

I finished River of Teeth, and was tempted to jump straight into the sequel, but instead I decided that after dark fantasy, historical mystery, and alternative history it is time for an SF book, so I am now 12% into Binti by Nnedi Okorafor.

11 pm

I am 58% of the way through Binti, and my Kobo has 11% battery left. My eyes are getting tired, so I figure I’ll go to bed either when I finish the book, or when I have to p,ug in to recharge.

11:40 pm

I just finished Binti as my Kobo started complaining about low battery. That, plus the burning eyes, are my cue to go to bed. Ill set the alarm early enough to get up and read some more before time runs out at 8 am. I had that long break for the family outing, but still I’ve read 405 pages in the Readathon so far.

6 am

Time for the last push. I’m going to try to finish one last Tor.com novella, Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal. The length is one I should be able to finish in two hours.

7 am

One hour left to go, and I’m 62% through, so I will definitely finish this last novella. It’s an interesting little mystery story set in the future, one where everyone is connected to something like the internet, but there are (mostly) wild spaces. While the narrator is in danger, the world she lives in seems quite hopefull.

8 am (well not quite)

I finished Forest of Memory, and now I want to go to Audible and buy all the METAtropolis shared world anthologies that it’s a part of. I didn’t realize what it was a part of going into the novella.

Now I’m going to end off the 24 hour period with a little fan fiction reading, then go back to bed for a few hours.

I feel the Earth move under my feet…

35889227Everyone has their guilty pleasures. Romances, westerns, and the like. For me, it’s disaster novels. The type that get turned into cheesy movies, like Armageddon, San Andreas (which combined a movie I loved, a movie I liked, and a movie I hated. Seriously, I would have loved the movie if it was all about the scientist and the reporter, trying to warn people in time to save themselves, with a touch of the girl and the two brothers. Drop Dwayne Johnson’s plot out the window, please).

So based on that love, I had high hopes for Wave of Terror when I saw it on NetGalley. I’ve heard of the La Palma earthquake danger before going in, and the idea of terrorists trying to cause a tsunami-causing earthquake had a lot of potential.

But the characters, and the story were very disappointing. The astronomer who figures it out jumps to conclusions and runs to the CIA way too fast to be believable. And towards the end, she magically gains a lot of geology knowledge that made no sense. And the romantic interest/government agent was ridiculously fast to run out on his FBI job without permission to find her after reading her packet of information that everyone dismisses because they say she is an ‘astrologer’.

By the time I reached the 1/3 mark, I was skim reading, waiting for the disaster promised by the title/cover/description. By the time I reached the 2/3 mark, I realized that there was going to be no disaster (other than the book itself). Still, I was far enough that I felt committed to finishing the book.

In the end, I felt that the story idea had a lot of potential, but the characters killed it. And the cover, with the giant wave dwarfing the Statue of Liberty made promises that were never fulfilled. It left me disinclined to reading any of the other books by the author.

33100392For a disaster novel that follows through better on its promise, I would recommend Rogue Wave, by Boyd Morrison instead.

After that, to indulge my love of disaster stories, I switched over to reading The Great Quake: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet by Henry Fountain, about the 1964 Good Friday quake in Alaska that caused massive destruction, and brought the science world into (mostly) full acceptance of the idea of plate tectonics and continental drift.

Did you know that well into the twentieth century, the prevailing theory of earthquakes and mountain formation was that the Earth was cooling and as it did, the surface cracked and pushed up, forming mountains? It sounds crazy now, but at the end of the nineteenth century, people said the same thing about the idea that the solid surface of the planet was actual plates moving around.

The 1964 quake caused a tsunami that killed people as far away as California. Nearly all of Alaska’s infrastructure (roads and railways) were destroyed. The only reason that the death-toll was relatively low (just over 100) is because Alaska was so sparsely populated.

The book jumps around a fair bit, covering the people who originally pushed the idea of continental drift, the man who was part of the team surveying the damage caused by the quake and figuring out what happened. There’s a lot of Alaskan history, and the story of the small town that suffered the worst losses, mainly through the eyes of the young teacher in the one-room schoolhouse that was the only structure to survive the wave. The stories of the people who died and who survived were heartbreaking.

The story was fascinating, and the people who appear for only a few pages were better formed than the main characters in Wave of Terror, and not just because they are the stories of real people. If Jefferson had been able to put as much life into his characters, I would have forgiven the lack of actual wave.

End of winter poetry reading

20829968Last year I started actively reading poetry, in a way I haven’t since I was in my high school English class. I’d read a number of poetry book in the decades (oh dear lord, has it really been decades) since then, discovering Rumi and Mary Oliver, the last year and a bit has led me to other poets, some of which I have liked, and some did absolutely nothing for me (There’s a collection that has been on bestseller lists for a long time that I found mostly annoying).

BL Bruce’s award winning first collection, The Weight of Snow, was definitely a book I liked. The poems, for the most part, seem to occupy the border between wild lands and inhabited lands. It is very nature based, leaving an impression of winter along with late fall and early spring. You know, wet and muddy, and grey. Not all the poems fit into that season, so maybe I’m influenced by the title and the current season (in Ottawa, we are expecting snow and ice and rain this weekend, even though it is mid-April)

It also deals a lot with love, but similarly, it leaves a heavy impression of a love whose days are numbered. I don’t know what the author’s personal relationships were like, but the poems left me with a feel of two women living with the knowledge that despite their love, the relationship is crumbling around the edges.

The feeling I was left with at the end was a soft melancholy. Not the depressing type, but the melancholy that leaves you embracing flashes of blue sky because it is so intensely blue, and who knows what the sky will be like tomorrow.