Stephanie Burgis
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Spirit of the Wild, Smoke Thief, Smoothies
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Mmm, I loved the Spirit of the Wild outdoor exhibit of wildlife photography. It's been in Leeds Millennium Square for a while, but Patrick and I only went to it last week. We went there one evening after he got off work, which was perfect - the square was quiet and dark, but the huge, beautiful pictures were floodlit with light, and it was an amazing experience. I went back this afternoon to buy a print, and now that I know they have a webshop, we may end up buying more. The pictures just look pretty in the small reproductions you can see on the web, but in person, full-size and full-color, they're just breathtaking.

Apart from that...hmm. It was a nice quiet weekend. I finished Chapter One of Court of Wolves on Saturday, and today I've written the first three pages of Chapter Two. I'm still at the point where I have to pause between each section to figure out who everybody is, what they want, what the heck should happen next, etcetera...beginnings are always much slower than the later periods, but it's a lovely feeling of infinite possibility.

And this was a major reading weekend. I had two Amazon orders arrive this weekend, which felt kinda like Christmas. I got (and read straight away) Lois McMaster Bujold's new fantasy, Beguilement: The Sharing Knife (Volume 1), which was, unsurprisingly, great. Also, on a whim, I'd ordered The Smoke Thief by Shana Abé, a historical fantasy/romance. (I can't quite tell which section of the bookstore it's shelved in in America; it certainly feels more like a romance than a fantasy, but it's published by the Bantam fantasy line, so who knows?) The prologue really turned me off, and Chapter One still left me feeling mehhh, but I had after all bought it, so I kept on reading...and from the very first paragraph of Chapter Two, I totally loved it. I feel a little iffy about recommending it here because it was so much a romance (really - this isn't a romantic fantasy, this is a romance that happens to have very cool fantasy elements in it) that anybody who doesn't like romances (or, worse, looks down on them) will undoubtedly hate this...but I love historical romances even though I'm really picky with them, and this one was the best historical romance novel that I've read in years - not only did it have the great, fun sexiness and humor of a lot of romances, but the writing itself (starting in Chapter Two) was just outstanding (especially for an 18th-century geek like me). It turned into totally compulsive reading, to the point that I (sadly for my coworkers!) skipped my shower this morning just to finish the novel before work, because I couldn't stand the idea of having to wait four more hours to read the ending!

So in other words, I'll be ordering her next book very soon...

And now I'm sipping a blueberry/banana/honey/muesli smoothie (surprisingly good despite the strangeness of the mushed muesli bits!) and trying to figure out whether to start the next scene of my novel or get to work on my thesis...hmm...

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