Black Swan

Nina Sayers is a ballerina in the New York Ballet. She lives with her mother, and her whole live revolves around dancing. There is a new production starting and Nina is determined to get a starring role in Swan Lake. So she sets out to impress the producer/director, Thomas, who believes that she is technically perfect. And if he were just casting the White Swan he tells her that she would be perfect, but she doesn’t have the sex appeal to play the Black Swan. She is too controlled, he wants her to let go.

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Kraken

ISBN: 9780330531627 ; Bits I especially liked

The sea is full of saints.

Billy works in the Natural History Museum in London. The book opens with him running through his usual spiel on the exhibits of Darwin House, but he knows what everyone has come to see. The giant squid is the highlight of the tour. Trouble is, it seems to have gone missing! Which is impossible. I mean it is a giant squid in a giant tank, why on earth would anyone want to steal it. And how? But gone it is. And all of a sudden Billy finds himself in the middle of a London he knows nothing about. Where people with knacks might help him out, or quite possibly be about to bring about the end of the world. A world with Kraken Gods, and speaking tattoos, and gunfarmers, and invisible piggy spirity things.

I really loved this book.

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The cat who walked a thousand miles

Read it online at Tor.

A long time ago in Japan, when cats were new there, an earthquake shook Small Cat’s home, and her city caught fire. In escaping the fire she ran too far from her home and her fudoki. “The fudoki was the collection of stories about all the cats who had lived in a place. It described what made it a home, and what made the cats a family.” In fleeing the fire the Small Cat gets lost in the city but decides to follow the story of her aunts, The Cat Who Came From the North. And so she heads North. But she goes too far and soon is so far from home that she thinks she will never find her way to her fudoki again.

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Tamar

ISBN: 9781406303940

In the end, it was her grandfather, William Hyde, who gave the unborn child her name.

It is World War II and two Dutch men are in England learning everything they can about the Dutch resistance. Dart and Tamar will be parachuted into the Netherlands where they will be assigned roles in the resistance. Those aren’t their real names of course, they are the names of English rivers, designations that the British military have given them. Tamar has already been on assignment, this will be Dart’s first mission. Read more about Tamar

The Green Hornet

Britt Reid is a spoiled little rich boy. One day, after his father dies he wakes to find that his coffee has been badly made. In a fit of rage he demands to know why! Why isn’t his coffee its usual high standard. The maid, or house-keeper or whomever that he encounters tells him that he fired all his father’s employee and one of them was the man who made the coffee. So Britt goes looking for him, and rehires Kato as his coffee & mechanic, and soon the two become best of buds and decide that they should have a great old time by being super-heroes. Only instead of doing good deeds they do bad ones, just so people don’t think they are heroes and hold the city to ransom, you understand. Not because they want to do bad things.

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How many miles to Babylon?

ISBN: 9780141046969 ; Quotes

Because I am an officer and a gentleman they have given me my notebooks, pen, ink and paper.

Growing up Alec has always been isolated. His parents despise one another, he is one of their battlegrounds, and his mother refuses to send him to school. Instead he has tutors and lessons at home. But no friends, for he is one of the Anglo-Irish at a time when Home Rule was everywhere. But through his love of riding and horses he meets a local boy, Jerry. As they grow older however the barriers between them grow more evident. Jerry understands this more than Alec, but nevertheless they mostly remain friends until Alec’s mother forbids it. Jerry is working at this stage, and Alec is taking more of an interest in the running of the estate and, in some ways, bonding with his father. And then war comes.

Alex doesn’t really see any need to join up. But his mother thinks it would be a good idea. And in the end she gets her way. Alec meets up with Jerry and discovers that he too is signing up, although for more practical reasons, he needs the King’s Shilling.

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Writing Horses

ISBN: 9781611380309

All too often when writers tackle the arcana of the equine in their novels and stories, they miss the nuances of the terminology.

This is a short enough little book aimed at a very specific audience; those who will be writing books with horses in them, yet don’t know very much about horses. Now, I’m not a writer, and I know a fair amount about horses, but I still found it an enjoyable read. Tarr gives us the do and don’ts in a very entertaining light-hearted way.

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A vindication of the rights of woman

In the present state of society, it appears necessary to go back to first principles in search of the most simple truths, and to dispute with some prevailing prejudice every inch of ground.

eBook number 3420 ; Read for A Year of Feminist Classics ; Quotes.

This is one of the earliest books of feminist writing out there. In it Wollstonecraft argues in favour of the rights of women, in favour of educating women, in favour of treating men and women equally. But because it was written so long ago, 1792, a lot of what she has to say sounds very out-dated and obvious to modern readers. Or at least I hope it does. As such it was a good choice to start of the Year of Feminist Classics, as it does a great job at setting the scene. And of showing how far we have come. Although it could be argued that we have a lot further to go.

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The King’s Speech

The wireless changed a great many things. Before, all that was required of a monarch was that he look the part, and not fall off his horse. After the king would invade his people’s homes and have to court them with his speech. So King George V of Britain believes, and tells his son. “Bertie” may not be expected to take the throne, but as a member of the royal family he must do his part for duty and the country. And so he is given the job of delivering the closing speech of the Empire exhibit. His older brother, David[1] has performed admirably, as has the king. But Albert has a speech impediment, a stammer. Which of course leads to the feared “dead air”. He visits all sorts of doctors in an attempt to find someone who may be able to help, but it is only when his wife stumbles across Lionel Logue, an Australian actor that he begins to make some progress.

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Linknotes:

  1. the future Edward VIII

Tron: Legacy

As a person who has never seen Tron I may be the wrong person to review this film. But then again, I’m sure I’m not alone, so here goes :)

Some twenty years ago Sam Flynn’s father went to work and never came home. Since then his company has gone from strength to strength, sometimes at the expense of Kevin Flynn’s original ideals. But Sam doesn’t want to be CEO of a company, instead he doesn’t seem to work, drops out of college, and adopts a rescue dog. Oh, and plays tricks on his own company like releasing their products onto the internet for free. But one day a page comes from Flynn’s Arcade. But the phone there has been disconnected for years. Sam goes to investigate and discovers that his father has discovered how to transport himself onto “the grid” and has been trapped there ever since.

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Goodnight and joy be with you all

Who would have ever foreseen that 2011 would get here without so much as a whisper of a hover-car? Or even a holiday on the moon. But then again, we do have monile phones and the internet so I think we’re winning. Maybe…

Anyway, the start of one year means it is the end of another, and so to the traditional what I did enjoy last year list.

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