February 17th, 2008

20111112, Marilee

Books and Sleep

I didn't sleep very well last night, I don't know why, but I didn't, so I was already short when I headed off to bookgroup. We had two new members, relatives of a librarian, and that was nice. They were all very comforting about Giorgio's death.

Afterwards we went to Tony's (wasn't even my idea!) and had so many we overfilled a big round table plus filled a booth next to it. I had the tomato and mushroom focaccia and ordered two batches of garlic bread for the table. I also ordered a cookie. Usually I'm not that fond of Italian desserts, but this was all crusted with almonds and I like almonds. It turned out to be a macaroon in flat cookie shape with almonds crusted on it. I'll have to try not to notice it every week.

I came home and fed the cats, then started online, but got sleepy about 8pm and eventually napped in the recliner until 1am. I knew it might be long, so I taped the news and watched the tape when I got back online. There was a drag race on a quarter-mile straight section of a main public road in Maryland. The participants had smoked their tires and a car that wasn't involved came through the smoke and hit the people standing on the road to watch the race. Eight were killed. The odd part about this is that the relatives of the killed and wounded are all blaming the uninvolved car driver. He wasn't the one running an illegal race with watchers standing in the road! The two drag racers drove off and haven't been found.

I'm not going to try LJ & Making Light tonight; I'll catch up tomorrow.
20111112, Marilee

Family Trade by Charles Stross

This was our bookgroup book for today and even though Charlie had warned me that it was just half a book -- Tor had published his one book in two, the second being Hidden Family -- and I had warned the bookgroup, people were really unhappy that the book doesn't have an ending. Three of the members had already started Hidden Family and one of the bookgroup members also acquired most of Charlie's book in the meantime. Most of us liked the half-story we had, but one of the guys kept insisting that Miriam could not possibly be that smart and know that much. I very carefully kept from saying that I would have, before the stroke.

The book starts with the protagonist, Miriam, and her assistant, Paulette, getting fired when they find a big business story for their industry paper. Drug laundering is involved and they quickly come to realize that the newspaper's owner is part of it. When Miriam visits her disabled mother to tell her, Iris gives her a box of her biological mother's belongings. Six-month-old Miriam had been found next to a dead woman's body and had been adopted, and she had avoided thinking about her biological parents most of her life and here was a shoebox full of stuff.

She went home and started through the stuff -- newspaper clippings and such -- and found a locket. She opened it, expecting pictures, but found an intricate knotwork. It grabbed her and made her feel awful and then she found herself in woods. Woods with machine-gun-armed horsemen within hearing. She tries the locket to get home, and does, but in a different place than she had been because she'd moved while in the woods.

Things happen where she is kidnapped to the other world and learns she's a high-ranked noble woman of a significant Clan. This is where she finds out that her mother had been traveling on the less-technological side of the rift when she was set upon and killed and transported herself and Miriam to our world at the last minute. (This is where I wondered if Miriam had read or watched anything in the last 10 years, since until she's told, she never guesses that her mother was from the other side.)

The other side is still at a medieval point, except for what the world-walkers of her Clan have brought in. It turns out they're buying all this stuff by carrying drugs across to the other side of the med continent using the rift as a transfer point. The drugs are brought to our world via the transfer, sent via a corrupted Fedex agent to California, where the Clan there takes them back to the other side. The interior of what would be the US is still wild and drugs wouldn't make it from one coast to the other, but the our-world Fedex solves all that.

Miriam has figured out that she can't get away from the Clan, so her businesswoman mind is trying to figure out how else to use the world-walking to make money. (I had an idea, but the folks who have gotten into the next book already said no.) She also wants to change things incrementally so there isn't the gap between nobility and peasants.

The book does an excellent job showing us how awful medieval life really was, and in one case, how surprising our world is to someone from the med side. There's a lot of intrigue and assassination -- both from unhappy Clan members who won't have their shares once Miriam is confirmed as her mother's heir and from the drug folks on our side -- and a romance. I had dreams of being confined every night I read this book, so clearly Miriam's problem got to me. I really liked this -- highly recommended -- and I'll start the next tonight.
20111112, Marilee

Sitting up Waaay Too Much

So, the SSA office one day and the bookgroup the next makes me unstable walking and in a fair amount of pain (the problem with sitting up straight for a while is that when they did the open kidney biopsy during the first renal failure, the muscles didn't heal properly, so the muscles under the scar hurt like crazy after sitting or standing a while). I think I'll be moving between the recliner and the computer today so sitting up here isn't so bad. I used to be able to use the sub-notebook in the recliner, but it has become too obsolete.

Otherwise, a normal quiet Sunday today. Shiva has been letting Spirit sit next to him, but she would still like someone to cuddle with. The IM vet's general vet asked me if I wanted a new cat yet and I said no, but I told him in a while I'd want a couple that were pair-bonded or littermates and were 1-3 years old. He was very happy I wanted older cats, but I explained that I'm just not mobile enough for kittens, and adult cats suit the household better. I'd been thinking of this for a while, but was sure I couldn't afford five cats. Now it would be four, which I've managed before, but not until I've paid off the vet bill. The general vet goes down to Charlottesville every other weekend to volunteer at a no-kill shelter, and if I took cats from there, he'd also give them a year of free vet work.