Monday, June 29, 2009

The reading week

It's Monday??? Can't be. Really??? Sigh. Time for that all-important question, asked here:
I finished The Strain, finally, and I kind of want to marry Guillermo del Toro's brain. It's sooo good. There'll be a review sometime this week.
Other than that; I've nearly finished Pawn of Prophecy, so that means Queen of Sorcery is next.
And that's all I have. I took all of my library books back and got new ones out, but they're all the way in the other room. There's a Terry Pratchett, a Charles de Lint (I think) and a Storm Constantine. Yep, just three, although the Storm Constantine one is an omnibus.

Having a fantasy moment, apparently. But given the authors, an awesome one.
Happy reading!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Weekly Geeks

Yay, trivia! I love trivia. Explanation here:
Okay; in honour of the fact I joined yet another challenge, here are five Gilbert (GLBT) questions. Totally random. And there's only five, because we're going out soon, and I want to get this posted ;)
1) Who wrote the short story Brokeback Mountain?
2) What is Oscar Wilde quoted as saying on his deathbed in Paris?
3) In the Vintner's Luck, a winemaker falls in love with …?
4) Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a supposed semi-autobiographical novel by …?
5) The movie My Beautiful Laundrette starred which future Oscar winner?
Leave your answers in the comments, and I'll make another post on Friday. Happy Weekly Geeks :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gilbert! Or, you had me at Oscar Wilde

Oh, Oscar Wilde … this is all your fault.
Here I go again. Amanda is hosting the Challenge That Dare Not Speak Its Name, and it's all about GLBT literature.
Read all about it here:
The idea is to read six books in six months that are either GLBT (I want to call it Gilbert. I feel like it should be a word on its own) or are written by Gilbert authors.
And I wasn't going to do this challenge, but then I bought The Angel's Cut by Elizabeth Knox.
Most of my books are re-reads and I need a recommendation for one more, because I only have five.
They are:
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson, which I haven't read for years and coincidentally have been meaning to re-read.
Pages for You by Syliva Brownrigg, which I've read a couple of times, and is one of my favourite books ever. It's just so …...... romantic.
The Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox. Because of this: “The terms of the pact are this: 'Xas shall go freely. God shall have his pains and Lucifer his pleasures'.” And because the last line of this book pretty much breaks my heart every time I read it. It's my second-favourite last line after Lord of the Rings.
The Angel's Cut by Elizabeth Knox, because it's the sequel to The Vintner's Luck.
The Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde because … it's Oscar Wilde.
I would have had Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List here, but I accidentally read it a few weeks ago.
So … any suggestions?

Monday, June 22, 2009

The reading week

The following takes place between midnight and 1am. And at where the question is asked: What are you reading?
I had a re-sort. I've retired Ray Bradbury, and a couple of other malingerers. I'm still reading Pawn of Prophecy (this is going to be the slowest re-read ever) and I'm nearly finished The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, but I'm a wuss, so can't read it during the week, because I can only read late at night during the week, so it's a weekend book. Also on the slate is The Owl Killers by .... Karen Maitland? and Star Trek Something by Somebody. Destiny Book One, maybe? It's got Picard et al in it.
I hope others are having a better reading week than me ...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Weekly Geeks and Once Upon a Time III is finished

Weekly Geeks seen here:
We're talking about reading challenges this week. I actually (accidentally) finished one this year. I finished Once Upon a Time by accident by virtue of reading the Mortal Instruments trilogy. Which didn't enrage me like Twilight did, but it made me sort of tired. However, it led to me finishing a challenge, so yay.
I don't know whether I'm going to answer this question right or not.
As for keeping me organised and goal-oriented ... uh .... no. I kind of have a hate/hate relationship with reading challenges. I join them, when they're all new, and shiny and I'm young and optimistic and full of hope, then the next thing I know, I'm a 50-year-old man in a convertible with an inappropriately young blonde. Weary, in other words.
And yet ... you know how there's one food that's totally bad for you but you just can't resist? For me, it's chocolate-covered pretzels. There's something about that sweet, salty goodness that turns me into Homer Simpson. Anyway. In terms of blogging, it's reading challenges.
I shouldn't do it, I know I shouldn't do it, but .... sigh. I still have the Dream King challenge, Dewey's Reading Challenge and the Art History Challenge, in terms of specifics. Then there's the 100+ Books challenge (SO not going to happen _ I'm not even to 50 for the year) and the Support Your Local Library Challenge. Oh, and my personal classics challenge, which is going so badly this year I might as well be reading cereal packets.
And then ... did you SEE the button for the Challenge That Dare Not Speak Its Name? Hosted here: I am so, so, so tempted. Partly because it gives me an excuse to read The Picture of Dorian Grey, which was one of last year's classics that I didn't get to, and partly because the Oscar Wilde button is so pretty. Shallow, I know.
The only reason I join reading challenges is because my hind-brain goes "Shiny!!!" and it all depends on whether I can talk it down or not.
"Dammit Jim, I'm a reading blogger, not a superhero!"
Happy Weekly Geeks everyone :)

Friday, June 19, 2009


Natasha at is hosting this weekend-long blogging party, which is all about catching up, tweaking, improving your blog, and generally having fun. I have no reviews to catch up on (not getting a lot of reading done at the moment) and every time I try to put new things on my blog ... well, let's just say things don't go well.

But I'm lurking on Twitter (hashtag #bloggiesta) and I might duck into and out of some of the mini-challenges. If I don't totally forget it's going on.

Fangirl ascendant

Which is now totally code for "I bought another book". Actually I dithered between "ascendant" and "rampant" but I stuck with ascendant, because it sounds better.
Anyway. Turns out, there's a sequel to one of my most favourite 2008 reads: The Vintner's Luck. It's called The Angel's Cut and I' think I've seen it before, but today was the first time I really had a good look at the cover.
And there, in the bookstore, another total fangirl moment. Luckily, it was a different bookstore than the del Toro moment. Also, luckily, it was payday because The Angel's Cut was $35.
It's weird. I'm hardly reading, but I've started buying books again. WHY can't I put my universe in the right order? Why????
Plus also, I don't have a fave 2009 read yet, which may be because I don't feel as though I'm reading as much. Seriously. The Vintner's Luck, and The Graveyard Book are so my favourites from last year that they're pretty much the only books I own that I will never lend anyone.
The Vintner's Luck has my second-favourite ever (after Lord of the Rings) closing line. It's gorgeous. And everyone should go read it. Like, you know, now.
(My fangirl is an 80s teenager. Sorry about that.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Weekly Geeks _ answering some questions and rambling

A digression before we start ... I'm supposed to be reading A Suitable Boy for June's classic. But ... um ... I''m not. Will pick up something classic-y next month. Also, that's my favourite photo of me and Patrick, dinner-lady arms, grey hair and weird ponytail aside. It makes me smile. :)

I'm doing the Weekly Geeks answering post now, because I'm liable to forget later in the week. I'm a space cadet at the moment _ work is so busy that I feel like I put my life and my family down somewhere last week and I've forgotten to go and pick them up from the bus station. Which is what happens when you say “yes, yes I can fill in for person-on-holiday and still do my regular job, of course I can” forgetting that I really am only one person.
Anyway. Enough of that nonsense.
Quite a few of you wanted to know more about The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.
Well ... I'm glad you asked that .... (although you all may not be _ my answer is kind of long, rambly and has the word "whore" in it).
I didn't know a lot about it myself, to be honest, but I loved Pan's Labyrinth so much, that my fangirl took over my brain (seriously, I need a fangirl intervention – it's getting ridiculous inside my head) and said to me, Homer Simpson talking to his brain-style:
“You must have book!! Guillermo del Toro. MUST HAVE”
“But - ''
“MUSSSSSSSTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!” Upon which my fangirl persona turned into Gollum. I may or may not have stroked the book in the store and called it my precioussssssss.
Anyway. I digress. The book starts with a prologue of a Romanian grandmother telling her young grandson a very spooky legend about a giant who ends up living as a recluse in a castle. Ten years later, in a World War 2 extermination camp, the young boy encounters an unspeakable evil.
Jump forward to the present day, and a plane full of people has landed at JFK. With everyone on board dead ….
I'm only about a quarter of the way in, but I'm already seriously spooked – in the best possible way. And it's going to take me a while to finish because I do most of my reading at night, and I can't read this at night. So it's a weekend book. I think the last weekend-only book I read was Twentieth Century Ghosts by Joe King. (I love your blog name, btw), asked if I'd seen a lot of del Toro's films. No, not really. Pretty much just Pan's Labyrinth, and Blade II. Certainly enough to make me a fangirl. My fangirl is basically a whore.
Jacqueline also asked if del Toro is a better writer than a film-maker. I can't compare, given that I haven't seen that much of his work, but I think he thinks in pictures. Scary-ass pictures saturated in blood, gore and set to an awesome soundtrack (which, in my head is God's Going to Cut You Down, by Johnny Cash for some reason. Oh - because that's my zombie film soundtrack.)
Speaking of tracks, let's get back on this one.
Nymeth also asked what my favourite thing about thie book was: My favourite thing about it so far, is everything. wants to know about the cross-genre aspect. I love vampires (well, not the sparkly vegetarian kind so much, because really ... wtf???) and I love a good crime novel, and it's a cross-over that's working well so far. Apparently Del Toro interviewed a bunch of writers and picked Hogan based on his procedural knowledge. Which makes me want to seek out Mr Hogan's other works. Plus, who doesn't like a good scare now and then (I'm looking at you Stephenie Meyer ... seriously NOTHING HAPPENS in Breaking Dawn.)
Uh ........ next?
I think that's all The Strain questions answered.
The lovely Louise at asked about Pyramids. It's part of Mr Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, which I only just started on last year and I'm slowly making my way through them for the first time. On one level, they're comic fantasy novels. On another level, they're unicorns and chocolate, and kittens, and rainy Sundays, and your favourite movie. Awesome, in other words. The first is The Colour of Magic. :) and Eva at both asked me about The Belgariad. I'm re-reading it because David Eddings died a couple of weeks ago, and it feels like a fitting tribute. Eva, I read it in high school, too, many, many times and at first I was kind of like ... I don't know if I'm enjoying this, but now I'm getting into the story more, and just having fun reading it. asked what I would recommend, of what I have read and reviewed, for a book club. Let's see .... if your book club doesn't mind YA, The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson; because it brings up all kinds of questions about being human and what humanity really means.
Q & A, by Vikras Swarup would be a good one. Then you could watch Slumdog Millionaire :) Oh ....... one of my absolute favourites is The Vintner's Luck, by Elizabeth Knox. Which is incredibly romantic, and sad, and all that jazz.
Gosh, that's a GOOD question!
Whew! Long post. If you made it all the way to the end, I salute you!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The reading week

How is it possible that it's Monday again already? I have done very, very little reading over the past week or so. I spent most of last week on the internet, or symbolically sobbing into my lost youth, as I turned 38 on Friday.


Anyway ... books. What are you reading on Mondays? is asked here:

I'm still working on Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings, and I started The Strain, bu Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan _ which I bought. I almost never buy books now; they're so expensive here. The trade paperback was $40, but so far, SO worth it.
Otherwise, Ray Bradbury is still hanging out on my bedside table going “..... uh ...... guys?” and I'm contemplating a Star Trek novel.
Uh ….... that's it. Happy reading everyone :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Weekly Geeks

Your explanation, Weekly Geeks is here:
Now, in order to have reviews to catch up on, I would have had to finish a book. However, before today, I hadn't even picked one up since … Tuesday?
Uhm … I'm still reading Pawn of Prophecy, and I have a feeling that my Belgariad re-read is going to take a while; but that's okay. Other than that, I picked up The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, and as much as I wanted to sit and finish it because it's shaping up to be made of awesome, and win, and all the rest, I had to, like, take care of Patrick and stuff.
So, as I don't have any outstanding reviews, feel free Geeks, to ask me questions about any of the books I have reviewed here. If you hit the review tag, you'll get most of them. Ask in the comments, I'll post answers in a blog post.
I've seen the June mini-challenge at and I actually completed Once Upon A Time III, so go me! I'm sadly and badly behind with the Dewey reading challenge, though, and I need to go and look at my list to see what's still on my list for that one.
So I'm in the same boat for Natasha's bloggiesta:
But I might crash the Twitter party, to cheer you all on.
Live long, and prosper, Weekly Geeks!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Avatar-cat Merlin, as a kitten.
I've been toying with ratings since I started blogging about books, but I couldn't come up with a system that I liked, or said "this sums it up nicely". Since I go for random most of the time, I present to you my very random ratings system:

10/10 Could not be improved on, even by angel dust and a basket of kittens
9/10 So good, you'd take it to meet your Mum
8/10 That movie that you've watched 100 times and you never get tired of
7/10 Someone else cooks dinner – yay!
6/10 Leaving work 30 minutes early
5/10 A very nice day
4/10 Why am I here?
3/10 Waking up and thinking it's Saturday on Monday
2/10 Stepping in the stuff the cat just threw up
1/10 Blind rage at the time stolen from my life

Monday, June 8, 2009

The reading week

It's Monday again .... really? Wow, that went fast. What are you reading is asked here:

I finished a couple of books this past week, Pyramids by Terry Pratchett and Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Short review of both below this post.

I'm embarking on a Belgariad re-read, in honour of David Eddings, who died last week. Other than that, I still sort of have Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury on the go.

Happy reading!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Really short reviews - apparently I''m swearing again - sorry

I actually finished a couple of books in a relatively short space of time; so here are a couple of short reviews before the reading/review ratio has a chance to get out of hand.

First up was Pyramids by Terry Pratchett, which was The Goods, but not quite as much The Goods as Wyrd Sisters, which I love like, well, like a sister. Anyway, Teppic has been training to be an assassin in Ankh-Morpork. Only, when his father, the king dies, Teppic finds himself inadequately prepared to take on the job. Weirdness abounds, and many, many funny moments. So I do love it, but like a slightly less close family member. A cousin, say.

Second was Naomi and Ely's No-Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Sundays are my stay-in-bed days while the husband takes care of Patrick. So I literally spent all morning in bed, just reading this. And I just ... I want to hang out with it for, like, ever. And I want someone to create a playlist for me and I want my own copy, because I had to get it out of the library. It's SO good. I loved all of the characters, even Naomi a little bit, even though I totally went to school with girls like her - pretty and entitled. On the plus side, it's nice to know that the lives of these people are just as fucked-up as everyone else's. And it's sad, and funny, and romantic and ... practically perfect.

Back to The Belgariad ...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Weekly Geeks

It's summertime Weekly Geeks … somewhere. Not here, obviously. Here it's been cold, and wet and cloudy and dark most of the time. Having said that … the sun is shining and the sky is blue today. Which is a nice change from yesterday, which was so cold, wet and miserable it was practically a cliché.
Our summer is December-February, so Christmas time falls smack in the middle of that. And I didn't think that pine trees, tinsel, fake snow and Santas in red suits were incongruous when I was a kid. Our Christmas traditions pretty much came with the British settlers, so that's what we're used to.
So turkey dinners are common; as are barbecues for some. Some head away – mostly to beaches and run-down cribs (or baches, if you live further North) – basically small, rundown houses. Although that's changed now and some “cribs” go for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The grand Kiwi summer holiday tradition is endless hot days near water, if possible. For me, as a kid, we spent most of our holidays in a tiny little spot called Garston, in a free, rundown farmhouse on the land of a farmer my Dad worked for after coming back from World War 2. He was the kindest, most generous man ever. I don't even know what we did, really. Picked peas, and mushrooms, and gooseberries. Hung out at the dried out creek bed.
On Saturday nights, when my parents would go to the pub, they'd take me sometimes, and the barman would make me Shirley Temples.
We'd travel up the road a bit some days to a rest stop at Lake Wakatipu, not far past Kingston. We had our favourite spot _ a large rock with a natural slide. Or we'd travel to Queenstown, at the head of the lake.
The lake's freezing, and the beach is pretty much rocks, and small stones. But it was our spot. We'd stick our Coke bottles in the shallows and just … I don't know how to describe it.
I'm the youngest by six years in my family, so I felt like an only child a lot of the time, even on holiday. I did have a holiday-friend _ the youngest son of the aforementioned farmer was a year older than me and we sort-of almost became real world friends until I totally lost contact, which I kind of regret.
The hottest month is always February, and I have never got used to that. I was always the kid my parents tried to make go outside on nice days. The heat down here where I live is usually a dry kind of heat, which I find easier to deal with than humidity _ it was one of my least favourite things about living in Auckland.
I've gone off-course, again, I think. But my Kiwi summer experience is fairly typical. Take one (1) rundown crib, add sunshine and water, sit back, relax, and enjoy.
That's a not-very-good pic of the spot at the top there. :)
Live long, and prosper Weekly Geeks. :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Thank you Mr Eddings

Fantasy novelist and creator of The Belgariad David Eddings died this week. There are quite a few tributes out there, but this one is my favourite:

As a teenager, apart from Lord of the Rings, the Belgariad was one of the first major fantasy series that I read, along with the first three Dragonlance novels. I still remember picking up Pawn of Prophecy for the first time in a bookstore. And Dragons of Autumn Twilight, come to think of it.

So. That picture above is of my (very) battered Belgariad, that I will be re-reading after many years. Tis my own tribute.
The books are so beaten down because they were passed around among my friends at high school. And yes, those books are held together with sellotape and good wishes. What can I say? I was 15.

Yeah, I was one of the weird, outsider kids, for whom I like to think these worlds were created.

Thank you, Mr Eddings. It'll be an honour to spend a few days in your world again.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Booking Through Thursday

It's been a while since I did one of these, but this one is a list, and I love me some lists :)

Here's the explanation from

“This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.”

1) The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien

2) Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

3) The Belgariad :( by David Eddings (Rest in peace)

4) Magician by Raymond E Feist

5) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

6) The Passion by Jeanette Winterson

7) A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

8) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

9) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

10) The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

11) The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

12) The Stand by Stephen King

13) On Writing by Stephen King

14) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

15) Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes

That was fun!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Reading Week

It's Monday, so it's time to answer the question again: what are you reading? Brought to you by

Sigh. The same two books I was reading last week – Pyramids by Terry Pratchett, and Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury.
But I can't blame Idol this time. No, the blame for this slow reading week lies squarely at the feet of Stargate: SG1. I rented Season 8 last Saturday and spent most of my free time over the next week (eight-day hires) watching the whole series, including about four episodes yesterday.
It's not my favourite Stargate series – it felt a little talky, but average Stargate is SO much better than a lot of stuff that's on TV now, that I'll take it. Although I kept wishing they'd update Daniel's glasses. Those roundy frames looked very out-of-date to me.
Um. Yeah.
Happy reading?