Three Good Things

I noticed that Liz over at Margot and Barbara is up to week eight with her Three Good Things posts. Crikey, how time flies. About time I did another post as my last one was… eight weeks ago…

Here then, are my three good things for this week.

music
'phones
I missed my train this morning by mere seconds and was left on the platform with fifteen minutes to kill until the next one was due. Luckily I had my large travel mug full of rather nice coffee and my iPod to keep me company.

A few years ago I set up a collection of songs on there which I jokingly called my ubermix – a hundred or so of my favourite tracks from across the breadth and depth of my music collection. Ubermix One has been joined by Ubermix Two and Three, each one running at around a hundred songs.

It’s a pretty eclectic selection, with everything from a bit of Bollywood, rock, jazz, country, anime soundtracks, instrumentals, musicals and even a spot of opera in there. Music to suit any mood, I can just fire up the playlist, stick it on shuffle and could be anywhere from Abba to Zoe Keating.

I need to give it a bit of a trim – over the course of compilation some tracks have cropped up on more than one ubermix and there are some tracks now which I’m less fond of than I was when I first added them. Ubermix Four is currently In Production. Watch this space.

books

I’ve read a lot of books this year so far. Mostly they’ve been pretty good, with Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (@Harkaway) and The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (@LaurenBeukes) being the stand-out examples. I’ve got a new one for the ‘book of the year’ shortlist – Jonathan Grimwood’s ‘The Last Banquet‘. It’s not often I get so lost in a book – this one has nearly made me miss my stop on the train. Twice. If that’s not praise enough, I don’t know what is. It’s the story of Jean-Marie d’Aumout, orphan, military cadet, aristocrat, gastronome extraordinaire.

movies
My ‘movies that other people said I should watch’ project is ongoing, though it’s struggled a little with availability of some of the more obscure films on the list. That said, I watched a couple of great films recently – End of Watch and Submarine.

I really enjoyed both, for different reasons. They’re both relatively short, feature great characters with undeniable chemistry and are well worth a watch.

So, what are your three good things this week?

Zoo City

An excellent review of Lauren Beukes‘ excellent novel Zoo City, one of my favourite books of recent years. Highly recommended. Don’t take my word for it, have a read of the review, go pick yourself up a copy and thank us later.
Oh, and while you’re at it, pre-order Lauren’s new book The Shining Girls too. It’s brilliant.

Pechorin's Journal

Zoo City, by Lauren Beukes

The Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction Literature is one of the very few literary prizes I pay any attention to. In part that’s because I don’t read enough science fiction to otherwise be on top of what’s coming out, but it’s also because it’s a well curated prize that really does tend to catch much of what’s most exciting in the field.

Lauren Beukes’ second novel, Zoo City, won the prize back in 2011. That caused some controversy, with many arguing that it wasn’t science fiction at all but rather a fantasy novel which shouldn’t even have been shortlisted (hardcore genre fans can get very bullish about defending genre boundaries). For me the better view is that the boundaries aren’t the point. The point is that the Clarke Award did its job, by finding a bloody good book and shouting to the world…

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books in 2013: progress report

A short catch-up of the plan to read the Great Unread Book Pile. I’m eight books into 2013, and there have been some cracking reads in there. I’ve still got to write up full reviews for each, but Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (@Harkaway) and The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (@Beukes) in particular were absolutely brilliant.

I’ve kind of wavered from the TBR pile a little – I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of The Shining Girls from the lovely Hannah and Kate at HarperCollins (@KillerReads) which promptly bustled all other books out of the way and was devoured over the course of a weekend. Glorious stuff, time travelling serial killers and a girl who didn’t die. It’s out soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

Angelmaker has also gone and won The Red Tentacle Award for best novel at The Kitschies. Congratulations to Nick on both the award, and his epic suit.

Similarly ARCs of The Teleportation Accident, London Falling and Fade to Black also appeared. The first was so-so, with some lovely characters (well, brilliantly described and written characters), but doing… well, nothing that I could work out. Meh.

London Falling, on the other hand, was superb. A darker, nastier take on the magical London scene, kind of a grittier Whispers of London. Can’t wait for the sequel.

I finished Fade to Black yesterday. It was pretty good – interesting characters doing interesting things in a world that I’d not come across before. Again, there’s a sequel on the way and I’m looking forward to it.

I’ve had a couple of other recommendations to investigate, but am (at the moment) being good and attacking the TBR pile once more.

Read so far in 2013:
The Right Way to Do Wrong, by Harry Houdini
The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes
The Teleportation Accident, by Ned Beauman
Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar, by David Millar
Railsea, by China Mieville
London Falling, by Paul Cornell
Angelmaker, by Nick Harkaway
Fade to Black (Rojan Dizon Novels), by Francis Knight
Currently reading:
From Russia with Love, by Ian Fleming (part of my eternally late BlogalongaBondathon)

 

So, dear reader. What books have you read and enjoyed lately?