Saturday, May 30, 2009

Weekly Geeks

Check it out here:

Tis mine, so come and play, please? Attention = love, as we all know.

Um. On to the question. As I said, some comments in a previous post got me thinking about guilty pleasures. Mine at the time was American Idol, and is now, quite frankly, stalking Adam Lambert on the internetz. But that's not the only one. And it's also not important right now. Ahem.

Overriding that, or riding alongside it more accurately, is my fairly recent obsession with reality TV. Not all reality TV. I have never, for example, watched an episode of The Hills _ I truly, truly don't get that one.

But I do watch Survivor. And The Amazing Race. And Hell's Kitchen. And Top Model, Project Runway, Top Chef ... I could go on.

Why, you may ask. Well, for one thing, I love TV. I really, truly do. That shiny box in the corner is the soulmate of the tiny, dark, venal part of myself that celebrates when Bad Things happen to characters on TV shows. I can't help it. Most of the time, I'm a nice person, I think. I work hard, I'm a good Mum and try to be a good wife. But TV brings out the worst in me. And you know what? I like it.

Oh, and if you happen to watch reality TV as well, please, please ... no spoilers. We are literally a year behind with some shows here.

Happy Weekly Geeks, everyone. What scratches your dark side?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wednesday wants - yes, I know it's not Wednesday, but I'm sticking with it

And I only have two books on my radar at the moment, both the fault of other books bloggers.
The first I stumbled across on the blog of the Book Zombie herself, Joanne, here: When I saw that there was a prequel to Oryx and Crake, I literally had a fangirl moment and was all, like, no way!!!! I LOVE Oryx and Crake. And what this means, of course, is that I'll have to read it again before I get my mitts on The Year of the Flood.
The other one comes by way of Renay at
The book is this: and is apparently a lesbian retelling of Cinderella. It sounds fantastic. I'm also accidentally stalking Renay on Twitter. Sorry about that.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Reading Week

The weekly question posed here:
After HOW many weeks I finally finished both Slash and Brideshead Revisited at the weekend. They were both great books, but the reading of them seemed to take forever. I blame YouTube, and Google. I don't think we need to go any further than that, do we? I didn't think so. Oh, and work. Work's always good for blaming things on.
Reviews for both books can be found here: Warning, there's swearing in that post.
I haven't, however, taken a reading break, not really. Yesterday I started Pyramids, by Terry Pratchett. It's one of the library books that's been sitting on my spare bedside table, judging me for what feels like weeks. Come to think of it, it has been weeks. So I'm not very far through it, and it is funny, but so far I'm liking Wyrd Sisters, which is the Pratchett I read most recently before this one, more.
Also on the slate (finally) is Dandelion Summer by Ray Bradbury and The Virtu by Sarah Monette, which is the sequel to Melusine. Ultimately there are four books in the series; The Virtu is followed by The Mirador, and Corambis. I enjoyed Melusine, so of course I didn't read anything else by Sarah Monette for months.
It's how I roll.
Happy reading everyone. :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Music Munday

I stumbled across this last week at and I thought hey, cool, what a great idea. And then I got distracted by something shiny, or TV possibly, or by Patrick standing on the coffee table.

Anyways, I'm not really a muso, by any stretch of the imagination, but May is New Zealand Music Month: and I realise that May is nearly over, but I spaced on this last week, so I'm totally going to bombard you with links to Kiwi songs. Probably just links rather than videos, I never seem to have any luck with that.

Also one of the TV stations here had a massive countdown of the nation's favourite song this weekend, which also put me in mind.

So this is an eclectic collection; it's really just songs that I think inform my experience of listening to New Zealand music. Which, you know, everyone should ;)

First up, is Brother, by Smashproof, featuring Gin Wigmore

It's a cool track, I think, plus they broke a 23-year-old record by having the No 1 single in the country for the most consecutive weeks _ 11.

Next is definitely one from Back in the Day:

This is Poi E by the Patea Maori Club

Ah ... the 80s. ;)

This is by Hollie Smith, who sometimes sings with Fly My Pretties (which I'm mentioning because it's fun to write) and their info can be found here

However, this is Bathe in the River from the film No 2:

Here we have Steriogram, with Walkie Talkie Man, which was directed by Michael Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and used in an iPod ad:

Heh ... I'm having fun with this.

This is one of the most iconic Kiwi music tracks.

Not Given Lightly, by Chris Knox:

And this one, Why Does Love do This To Me by The Exponents (formerly known as the Dance Exponents in the 1980s) was a nightclub anthem when I was at uni:

If you've seen the film Knocked Up, then you'll have heard this track by Savage


Of course, no half-assed post on Kiwi music is complete without Split Enz:

Wandering Eye by Fat Freddy's Drop:

Stop the Music, from P Money; featuring Scribe, and PNC. Guesting on instruments a couple of members I THINK of metal band 8 Foot Sativa, and the guitarist from Elemenop. I've googled, but not come up with much info

And last, but not least, the No 1 most favourite song, according to the countdown, was Slice of Heaven by Dave Dobbyn and Herbs, from the soundtrack for the animated film A Dog's Tail, based on the comic strip Footrot Flats by Murray Ball

That's more than enough to get you started. I hope the links all work :)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Weekly Geeks

Description here:
Of course, it's not summer here, but most emphatically winter. And although our war rememberance dates are different, that doesn't really matter, does it, because when is it inappropriate to remember those who serve or who have served?
So happy Memorial Day weekend, America; drive safe and I hope it's all fine and sunny for you.
I don't really read war-themed books, and it's not my favourite movie genre either, however, I do have to mention Schindler's List, and The Pianist. I hadn't categorised them as "war movies" but saw them on a couple of other blogs, and of course, they are war movies. Moving, painful and incredibly sad war movies. The end of Schindler's List, where the survivors and ascendants come on screen still makes me cry.
Second question:
I have to admit, I don't read seasonally. Sometimes, a particularly fine and sunny day will lend itself to something lighter _ some Marian Keyes perhaps, or Agatha Christie. On the other hand, they're good books to read in the winter, too; to go somewhere lighter and more sunny even if it is just in your head.
Otherwise I base my reading on what my mood is at the time; or what I already have on the go.
Happy Weekly Geeks everyone; live long, and prosper :)

Short reviews; bad language; my friend on Twitter

Last one first. My friend and workmate, George, joined Twitter this week, here

I take full responsibility for it, and you should all go check her out. She's funny, politically incorrect and has an awesome cat. But don't tell her I told you.
On to the short reviews. I finally, finally!!!! finished Slash, and Brideshead Revisited. I wasn't doing much reading last week, what with the Idol result bringing me way down, man; but I fought my way through. Worringly, my fan-girl obsession with Adam Lambert has not abated. My inner 15-year-old is now ascendant. Sigh.
This time on to the short reviews, really.
First, Slash, which he co-wrote with Anthony Bozza. It's a real rock n roll ride, and there's no way of writing a review of this somehow, without saying fuck. However, unlike in real life at the moment, I'll try and limit the bad language.
Here's the thing. The book is really fucking cool. It just … is. It's this incredibly wild ride and slide into the world of rock n roll, and the heyday of Guns N Roses who were, as I remember (I was a teenager at the time) THE biggest rock band. So the stuff towards the end of the book, which isn't gone into heavily, about the legal wranglings and the fights and such, is a real shame. Not only is my inner 15-year-old ascendant at the moment, but my inner (okay, dormant) rock chick is also demanding to be heard now that I've finished the book. Unfortunately, my iPod doesn't run to rock much _ I have two Led Zeppelin songs (and one of those is the one Adam Lambert did on Idol) and some scattered Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Sigh.
Oh, right, the book. It's really well put together; cohesively written, and obviously very personal to Slash. If rock music is your thing, or autobiographies, or hell, just a really great story, then I can thoroughly recommend picking it up.
Switching gears, the other book I finally finished this weekend was Brideshead Revisited. And I no longer have the urge to swear, but put on a dress, sit up straight and have tea and cucumber sandwiches. It's a lovely read but it's starting to fade a little bit, already. Insubstantial, perhaps.
It's all about memory, and perception. Charles Ryder gets drawn in to the Flyte family, first by second son Sebastian, who has Demons on his back, then daughter Julia, who doesn't know what to do with her Demons.
It begins during World War 2, and Charles is in the British army. His company has just requisitioned (or whatever you call it) the stately manor of Brideshead, which leads him back over his time with the Flytes and the profound effect they had on his life. It's a stylish read, I think, but perhaps not as deep as I wanted it to be.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Reading Week

It's Monday. Which means it's time to answer the all-important question: What are you reading? As asked by
I had such good intentions. I came over all optimistic that I was going to finish both Slash and Brideshead Revisited. However, neither of those predictions came true, and I still have both books on the go. Added to that I have a pile of library books judging me in my room. I'm sure they're all great books and it's no reflection on them that I haven't been reading them at all.
I'm enjoying both of the books I am reading, despite the fact they are so very, very different. Slash's book is pretty much a wild sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll wild ride while Brideshead Revisited is … well, it's the other side of the duct tape. To bring my Idol fixation into it, because I can, Brideshead Revisited is Kris Allen, and Slash is Adam Lambert. Polar opposites, is what I'm trying to say, and they're weird books to be reading at the same time. Although, much like I've heard that both contestants are Very Nice Boys, they are both Very Good Books.
So no books finished last week; partly because of AI, partly because of those two days I was away. And .. oh, yeah. Patrick turned two on Friday, so we had a family party for him on Saturday. And if you have ever tried to read with a toddler in the house, you know what a dodgy proposition that is.
I'm still in denial that my baby is two. That it's been more than two years!!! since the doctor came into my hospital room, looked at our readouts, looked at me, and said “I'm not happy.” Patrick was in distress and that was that _ emergency caesaerian (which I still can't spell). I've never cared about that; I've just always been profoundly grateful that that doctor saved my baby's life. Even if I did keep calling him Dr Finklestein, because I forgot his name.
I'm terrible for wandering off the blogging track in my posts lately. Ah, what the hell. Where's the fun if you can't enjoy the journey?
Happy reading week, everyone.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Weekly Geeks

The photos are, from left, the signpost at Bluff, which is a very small coastal town just outside the city _ it's pretty much literally at the bottom of the South Island _ Invercargill from the air, and a random gratuitous shot of the street where my office is. :)
We're taking a literary tour this week, Geeks. Details here:
I live in a relatively small city _ Invercargill _ right at the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand. It's a pretty place to live overall; I was born and raised here, but a literary tour will take about two minutes.
The only author I can think of from here is Dan Davin: about whome I know almost nothing. It's a terrible thing to say, probably, but I'm not a great fan of New Zealand short stories. Novels, yes, but Kiwi short stories make me itchy for some reason. I have no idea why.
However, that's possibly another post some time. Or not.
Other than that … the closest literary figures to me geographically would have been Janet Frame who was born in Dunedin, a city about two and a half hours up the road, and where I went to university. I have read some of Janet Frame's novels, and she is Made of Awesome. Her last novel, Towards Another Summer, was published posthumously, and honestly contains some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read. It was almost painful to read, it was that good.
One of the things that's important to understand about where I live, is the sheer space that surrounds it. Invercargill sits on the edge of the South Island pretty much, at the bottom of a pretty large, flat farming province. In New Zealand terms, I live in the Deep South. So if you drive out of town (which takes about five minutes) you're immediately surrounded by nothing but sky, and fields. It's either isolating, or inspiring. Sometimes both, come to think of it.
I often think that if I do get off my lazy ass and start writing, it will be heavily informed by the landscape around me _ I believe it heavily influenced Janet Frame.
That was a bit of a digression, but I don't talk much about where I'm from on here, so what the hell. I'll ramble.
The other Kiwi literary great who lived sort-of in my neighbourhood was poet Hone Tuwhare , who lived in the small seaside resort of Kaka Point. I've talked about him here before, and put up a couple of his poems.
Dunedin is very much a university town, and runs at least one literary fellowship, but the older I get, the more I realise that while those three years I spent at uni there certainly informed my reading, they wouldn't really inform any writing I might do _ Dunedin is built up on hills, and winding streets, which is kind of the polar opposite of where I'm from. On the other hand, its mindset is a bit more open, and that can be a hard thing sometimes _ to realise just HOW provincial my hometown is.
Which is my way of saying: thank whoever is out there for the internets. And my fellow book bloggers. Without you guys … I hate to think.
That wandered a bit off-topic, didn't it?
Oh well. Happy Weekly Geeks
Warm fuzzies :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday wants

Wednesday Wants!!!
This is for Dewey's Books Challenge. You can read the details here:
Last year, based on Dewey's book coveting posts, I started my own Wednesday Wants posts, picking up on books I had seen here and there, that I wanted to read.
I haven't done one for aaaaaaaaaages, but now seems like a good time.
It's Wednesday, for one thing.
So what books are close to my heart at the moment, if not to my fingertips?
Hmmmmmmm ….

Thanks to Carl at and his Once Upon a Time challenge, I've been reading more fantasy lately, and wondering why I left so much of it behind me. Well, I sort of do (pale, mysoginistic and tired quest fantasies that became popular when I was a teen), but the genre has opened up so much, there truly is something for everyone.

My go-to for new stuff is still and there are a couple of books on the front page that look fairly outstanding:

Worst Nightmares by Shane Briant: looks good, and spooky.

AND! This is the one I'm most looking forward to getting my sticky fingers on:

BoneMan's Daughter by Ted Dekker:

I LOVED The Circle Trilogy, and House.

So, for 2009, my first Wednesday Wants.

Thanks Dewey :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Cross-posted here:

You know what's a bad idea? Reading Mr Gene Wolfe and Mr Neil Gaiman back-to-back. After finishing Soldier in the Mist, I went ahead and finished Smoke and Mirrors. I feel like I just took a masterclass in the art of writing _ by both of them.
This is one of those posts that makes perfect sense in my head but is going to come out all wrong.
The writing of both authors is distinct, their voices in the stories they tell impeccable, but reading them back-to-back was like eating fillet steak when you've been eating lettuce for a week. The reading part of my brain wants to say “stick a fork in me _ I'm done” and just read nonsense for the rest of the year.
This isn't really a review of Smoke and Mirrors is it? It's a fan-girl post _ a Wayne's World-meets-Alice-Cooper moment. I'm sorry. I can't help myself.
The more Gaiman I read, the more room he takes up in the fan-girl part of my heart. (And I have to say, i'ts getting crowded in there). Gene Wolfe is there too, but he's just kind of laughing at me. Like he's saying “yes, yes I am that awesome. And you didn't know” …. cue Vincent Price laugh from Thriller
Um. Smoke and Mirrors is a collection of short stories that precedes Fraglie Things.
While Fraglie Things contains my favourite Neil Gaiman story _ October in the Chair _ I think Smoke and Mirrors is a more cohesive collection. No, I don't know why. It just works a little bit better as a whole, somehow.
My favourite story in this collection was Murder Mysteries. I can't really put my finger on why _ I just loved the premise, and would gladly read a whole novel set in this particular universe. It could be that my Catholic upbringing means I'm comfortable with stories about angels. Or it could just be that it's a great story. Which it is. They're all fantastic, but Murder Mysteries stood out, for me.
And … okay this is a bit more shameful somehow than my other fan-girl admissions: I've never read H P Lovecraft. There's a huge gap in my reading knowledge. Our library has one (that's 1) copy of a collection of stories.

The Reading Week

It's that time of the week again: Monday.
The day in which asks the all-important question: What are you reading?
Well, internets, you'll be pleased to know I finally seem to have balanced my Idol obsession with reading _ I finished two books _ go me!
(BTW, Adam Lambert, still no call. I still love you in a slightly unstable fangirl kind of way, but dude ... that's cold.)
I finished Soldier in the Mist by Gene Wolfe and Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman. Then I wrote slightly incomprehensible reviews, which you can find (if you insist) by scrolling up ... and down.
I'm on a roll. Or, I would be, if I didn't have to get up at 5am tomorrow morning to fly to Wellington for a two-day work course. Sigh. Work will put me up for one night in a hotel, but not two. So instead of going up tonight, and proceeding to the training in an orderly fashion, I'm going up ridiculously early in the morning, and then going straight into the first day. Can I get a sarcastic, slowly fading yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay?
I shouldn't complain. I'm practically the only person in my department who hasn't been sent on this course. But man ....
I'm not taking my laptop with me (argh!!!!! no internets!!!) so I'll have to thank you all in advance for your witty and insightful compli-comments.
As for what I am reading now: still The Matriarch, because I keep forgetting to take a lunch break at work; I started Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, which is May's classic, and in a study in complete contrast, Slash's autobiography. I don't really have an inner rock chick _ more of an inner slighty to the left of middle chick, but I was a teenager in the 1980s and had Appetite for Destruction on cassette tape (remember those?).
So far so good.
Happy reading everyone. :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Weekly Geeks

We're talking bookmarks this week, Geeks. Description here: :)
I can't really say I have a collection. I keep coming across old ones that I don't remember buying, and I have more than one with cat-teeth marks. The nicest one I have is the one I got from Jessi at which you can see on this post:
It's the lovely green leather one. And … I can't find it :( I know it's here, and I'm hoping it's hiding in a book, but I'm gutted that I can't find it because it's the nicest one I have _ it's lovely and long, too.
Otherwise I have some battered veterans of many books, and failing that, scraps of paper, or envelopes. Sometimes I even go commando, and don't use a bookmark at all _which is a bad idea by the way _ and just vaguely try and remember the page number I was up to.
The weird thing is, with only having a motley crew like that, I love bookmarks. I look at them in bookshops all the time, but for some reason it never occurs to me to like, you know, BUY one!
Happy Weekly Geeks!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Solider in the Mist by Gene Wolfe - review

I've been pondering this while idly surfing. And I truly don't know what to say. It's all kinds of good, and awesome, but a little hard to describe, for some reason.
Latro is a Roman soldier in 479BC who has, because of a head injury, lost his short-term memory. Every day, he writes in a scroll, which has “read this every day” written on it so he knows that he has to read it to figure out what's been happening to him. Oh yeah _ and he can see the gods. Who, mostly _ not so nice.
The book is in the first person, which makes it rather episodic, but somehow in a GOOD way.
Latro ends up in some mighty strange places, without having a clue how he got there, and yet somehow Mr Wolfe (because Mr Wolfe is fun to say ... try it in a Horatio Crane voice) pulls these oh-so-disparate strands together into a cohesive whole. (I nearly typed hole. A cohesive hole).
What I can't get my head around, is how Mr Wolfe managed to write a book like this, in which the people around Latro pretty much have to tell him who he is, and who they are every chapter, and not make it repetitive.
It's … okay, words are actually failing me. Which, if you knew me, you'd know how rare that was.
But it's genius. Sheer genius. There's a sequel as well, but I need to take a break from the awesomeness. And then maybe dig out my brother's copy of Shadow of the Torturer that I somehow ended up with several years ago (heh).
Mr Wolfe: I bow to your awesomeness. And I'm also going to go and cry in the corner for a little bit.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Reading Week

It's Monday. Which means it's time for to ask: What are you reading?

In the interests of full disclosure ...

Truth be told, I haven't done a lot of reading this past week. I finished Soldier in the Mist by Gene Wolfe, which was fantastic, and there'll be a review coming.
Other than that, I pretty much have nothing. Here's why: American-frickin-Idol. I only picked up on watching it two seasons ago after workmates of mine told me how funny the audition process could be. And you know, I was mildly hooked and watched the entire season. Last year, a little bit more hooked. This year … okay, this year, as far as American Idol is concerned, I'm 15 years old and have posters on my bedroom wall. Of whom? Ah …. you'll know if you follow my Twitter, or read my blog regularly.
The upshot is, I've been spending unseemly amounts of time on YouTube, and the AI website, and not reading … quite as much. Ahem.
In my defence, I DID start Brideshead Revisited, which is May's classic. I'm actually doing worse with that challenge than last year, but that'll be our little secret, internets. I read the prologue, and after reading a page and a half about why falling out of love with the army is like falling out of love with your wife, I resisted the (very) strong urge to pitch it across the room. But I loved the Jeremy Irons series (the recent movie, not so much) and it's a relatively short book.
I do still have Smoke & Mirrors and The Matriarch on the go, although the latter is going to be a slow finish as I'm only reading it at work. Loving it though _ Mr Ihimaera is a prose-poet.

Also, if I keep channelling my inner 15 year old in this unseemly manner, I'm going to have to start reading Nabokov (I just had to check the spelling of his name), or Dickens. Just to get those particular brain cells back. At my age, I can't afford to lose them.
Damn you Adam Lambert!!!!!!
(I'm kidding. Call me.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Weekly Geeks

A guest-post from the always awesome Care at
The full explanation, as always, is here:
Answers in order:
1) Hmmm … I don't really have a review format. I tend to just go with whatever the book makes me feel when I've finished it _ I said that I wanted to keep The Graveyard Book as a pet, and carry it with me everywhere, which isn't really helpful.
But it's true!!!
2) I keep saying that I'd like to start up some kind of ratings system, but I don't know what. Every time I think about it, I draw a blank. I have vague notions of doing something related to cats, or even haiku, as the Twilight ones were so much fun, but that might be too much brain strain.
3) I really admire the way Joanne at structures her book reviews. They're thoughtful, insightful, and eye-catching, with the covers. :)
A past review … hang on …. mine are a bit all over the place. Some are properly structured and all that jazz and some are just my immediate reactions. I'll try and find a proper one …
Okay, I think this is my most coherent one:

Holy crap, it's May!

Um, I mean, my catch-up challenge is done. How'd you all do? I failed.
Well, I finished the Once Upon a Time challenge, and I read half of Smoke & Mirrors for the Dream King challenge, but nothing at all for Dewey's Books challenge, or the Art History challenge.
However, I think I might run the challenge again in August. April and August - nice symmetry, right? Also, the challenges I didn't catch up on this month will still be going. :)
I hope everyone else did better than me. Leave a link to your wrap-up post in the comments and I'll come by and say hi. :)