Saturday, May 31, 2008

Weekly Geeks 6

This week’s theme is simple: Catch Up On Reviews Week.
How to:
1. Catch up on your reviews as much as you can this week.
2. Towards the end of the week, write a wrap-up post about how that went for you. You could list all the books you reviewed, if you like, and if some of the posts are up already, you could link to them.
3. Come back and sign the Mister Linky at the bottom of the page with your end-of-the-week wrap-up post.
If you don’t review books in your blog, or if you’re all caught up on reviews, just choose something else you need to catch up on, anything at all, and you can still join in.
I don’t have a lot in the way of reviews to catch up on as I’ve been in a bit of a reading funk since I threw The Monsters of Templeton at my bookcase. I’ve read a couple of Agatha Christies in the past few weeks, and finally finished 1984 for my May classic. It’s a relatively short book, but took me longer than I expected to read it.

Otherwise, the only thing I really need to catch up on this week is blogging!

So I’ll post reviews of Murder on the Orient Express, Death in the Clouds and 1984 this week.

I have a rare Sunday off, so I’m determined to make the most of it _ by watching Star Trek, and dozing off on the couch with a book in my hands. :)
Happy Weekly Geeks!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

What is reading, anyway? Novels, comics, graphic novels, manga, e-books, audiobooks — which of these is reading these days? Are they all reading? Only some of them? What are your personal qualifications for something to be “reading” — why? If something isn’t reading, why not? Does it matter? Does it impact your desire to sample a source if you find out a premise you liked the sound of is in a format you don’t consider to be reading? Share your personal definition of reading, and how you came to have that stance.
(Two weeks late for Reading is Fundamental week, but, well…)
Bear with me. I’m all out of energy, so this may not make much sense.
At its most fundamental and basic level, reading is words on a page. Anything you’re casting your eyes over; you’re reading. You’re reading right now. :)
All of the forms above count as reading; even audiobooks. If that’s your only means of being able to access books, then you’re reading.
Book/newspaper/magazine/comic/graphic novel/audiobook in hand _ congratulations! You’re reading!
I don’t have a stance on it particularly. I’m not really given to analysing the things I like to do that closely. I enjoy them, they make me happy. That’s all I need to know. :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Reader adrift

I've been going through a non-finishing stage lately. I'm reading, but I'm not getting anything finished. And I threw The Monsters of Templeton at the wall today. I got halfway through it and it just ... stalled for me. I'm hoping to pick it up again, but I don't know.
Has anyone (if there's anyone out there) read it? What'd you think?

I'm beetling through 1984, although I've struck a bit where Winston is reading The Book _ the literary work of the revolutionaries and it's a little hard to read. There's an awful lot of it, too. Otherwise, I'm quite enjoying it. Mr Orwell certainly had some forward-thinking ideas, and even now, the novel hasn't dated.

I started The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, then joined the Southern Reading Challenge, and then I haven't picked the book up again. For nearly two weeks. The only book I have finished lately is Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie. Which I have read before, and I do remember the ending but it was still fun. I'm now reading Death in the Clouds and I'll probably finish that soon.

I go through these stages sometimes and I find, if nothing else, I always finish an Agatha Christie. I also have far too many books out of the library, so I need to go through those and decide what to read next.

Challenge-wise, I have Someplace to be Flying, Anansi Boys and The Once and Future King for the Once Upon a Time II challenge, and the latter for the Arthurian Challenge. I was reading The Monsters of Templeton for the Orbus Terrarum challenge, but .... and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter for the Southern reading challenge, but I'll just have to see how I go. I think though, if I'm stalled, it's time for some new books.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Weekly Geeks 5

Guten Tag, Weekly Geeks! This week’s theme was suggested by Renay. She says, “I thought it would be cool to ask people to talk about other forms of story-telling.”
This week’s theme is once again one you could approach several ways. You might want to tell about the forms of storytelling (aside from books) you love. Maybe you enjoy TV shows, movies, music, narrative poetry, or Renay’s favorite, fanfiction. You could give us an overview of a type of storytelling, such as listing your favorite movies. Or you might pick a more specific story, one particular favorite.
I can never pick just one … and I’m going to get rambly again, so bear with me. J
First, let me say, I love stories. Any stories, in any medium; be they books, movies, TV shows, songs, poetry … I love stories.

My Dad died suddenly two years ago. He was 83, but in good health. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t get more of his stories. For Patrick, my father is only ever going to be photographs. He’ll never hear him speak, or sing, or play the violin (Dad was a pretty good musician.) Stories about my father for Patrick (Dad’s namesake) will have to come from me, and I just hope I’m a good enough storyteller.

Every year, around Anzac Day (April 25) these two verses from the war poem, For the Fallen start haunting me:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Dad was in World War 2; somewhere in the South Pacific. He almost never talked about it and I had always hoped that one day I’d be in a position to talk to him about it, but of course, it never happened. So there’s one lost story. Sometimes, what you don’t know weighs more heavily than what you do.

I love poetry and the imagery contained. It’s so economical, and yet it conveys so much. I don’t read a lot of it, having just said that, but once I find something I really like; I tend to read it a little obsessively. “I’m Nobody” by Emily Dickinson is one of my favourites, but I know next to nothing about Dickinson herself. Likewise, the imagery conveyed in these lines by Robert Frost:

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
It just speaks of loneliness, and weariness to me.

Then, there’s The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, by T S Eliot:
My favourite line from that poem is the refrain, of sorts:
“In the room the women come and go,
Talking of Michelangelo”
Like J Alfred Prufrock is just … there; on the fringes, looking on. He’s a tentative, shy, diffident type I think _ at least, that’s how I read the poem. J

So. Um. H’m. I love poetry. I do have a half-assed English degree (in other words, I barely scraped through in my last year with a passing mark) and picked up some of it from there. But it’s the way poets arrange their words to tell their stories that really perks up the ears of my soul and gets them listening.

So I’m fascinated with song lyrics as well, sort of. It’s really just another form of poetry isn’t it? I’d say my musical taste doesn’t run much past the mill really, but so what? If I hear a song that has lyrics I can really mull over, or chew on, then that’s all I need to know.
Like A Stone, by Audioslave is like that:

I know next to nothing about the band, but I love that song – especially the chorus and the image it evokes of a kind of desperate, patient, waiting.

And Fall At Your Feet, by Crowded House. There’s something aching and delicate and wanting about that song; all at once.

Um. Right. That’s enough, I think.

Great question!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

It's that time of the week again ....
Books and films both tell stories, but what we want from a book can be different from what we want from a movie. Is this true for you? If so, what’s the difference between a book and a movie?

I want the same thing from both books and movies: a good story, well told, that doesn't treat me like an idiot. I want to be transported, to escape, to be inspired. Whether I'm holding a book in my hand, or sitting in the dark with the smell of popcorn, that's what I want. :)

Edited to add (because I may have misinterpreted the question); as for adaptations, I don't think about it most of the time. If I've read the book first, I compare the movie, but I try not to think "but they left that bit out!" and if I see the movie first, then read the book, I find the differences interesting. But I don't deliberately avoid adaptations. I love both mediums, so either way, I'm happy. :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Is there something missing from your life?

Do you feel the urge to sit down for the month of June, and bang out 50,000 words? Have you done the nano? - Do you miss the insanity?
Are you just itching for another writing challenge? Do you wish to tear your hair out over the insanity with other writers?

Then do I have something for you! is hosting a challenge for the merry month of June.
Details are here:
Log in, set a spell. Hug your Kiwis. Write a novel.
You know you want to ...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekly Geeks 4

This week’s theme: Choose a political or social issue that matters to you. Find several books addressing that issue; they don’t have to books you’ve read, just books you might like to read. Using images (of the book covers or whatever you feel illustrates your topic) present these books in your blog.

Okay, this one is a hard one for me. I’m a worrier. I worry about everything. I worry about biofuels, and running out of oil, and the price of rice, and the price of petrol, and climate change, and child abuse and animal abuse, and money and my job and … but that’s straying from the point of this week’s theme.

I looked at the list of social issues, and there’s certainly plenty on there to be worried about. Mostly I worry about what kind of world Patrick will be growing up in, and how we can best guide him in that world. I want him to be socially aware, and responsible and not to turn into a boy racer. For some reason, that’s my biggest fear; we have so many young men here who lose their lives, or badly injure themselves on the road.

Which ties back into oil supplies, and biofuels. I get that biofuels are important. But aren’t we cutting off our noses by destroying tracts of rainforest to grow them? And by growing them instead of food crops? What’s the point of being able to get wherever we want to go – if we can’t breathe, or we start running out of staples, like rice?

Okay. I’m supposed to find books to illustrate my point – if I have one!
I got a bit rambly there; let's start with a couple of parenting books:
There's quite a few on raising boys; this one from my part of the world has good reviews here. It's by Celia Lashlie:

There's the whole worrying thing, and I'm sure there are many, many, many books out there about that. I like this title, from Amazon:

This looked interesting, on the biofuels issue:

And I read this book many years ago, but I think it still has a lot of relevance today; by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwadine. I remember it as being funny, and wistful. I must see if our library still has it ...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What's one more challenge?

No, really. Oh, well _ I'm going to do it anyway, and it's only 3 books. I've been dithering for a while (as usual) and decided to just go for it (as usual).
It's the Southern Reading Challenge, hosted here:
My three books are:
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (which I accidentally started today)

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, and The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice. Which I have read before, many years ago, but it's my favourite of all her novels. Her later ones ... eh. But I love the first three books of the Vampire series, and that one most of all.
If anyone sees any spare time running around, or what might be left of my mind ... let me know, kay? Thanks. :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Booking Through Thursday and other stuff

First and foremost, my baby boy, Patrick turned 1 today.
This time last year, what had been a boringly boring pregnancy took a sudden turn. I was nine days overdue, and had been admitted to hospital to be induced. I assumed things would carry on the way they always had over the past nine months and nine days, but it wasn't to be.
I was being monitored, as was Patrick's heartbeat. And that's where things went south. His heartbeat started dropping, and it wouldn't steady. The specialist came in, took one look at the readings, looked at me, and said "I'm not happy." So I was whisked off to surgery for an emergency caesaerian (I still can't spell that word!)
So, sitting here tonight with my now-1-year-old tucked up in bed, I'm still profoundly grateful to that doctor. And wow, what a year it's been! Mostly fun, and exciting and good things; and being a Mum ... I can't even put that into words.
I DO know Patrick stops my heart. That's the only way I can describe it.

Right. On to BTT:
Following up last week’s question about reading writing/grammar guides, this week, we’re expanding the question….
Scenario: You’ve just bought some complicated gadget home . . . do you read the accompanying documentation? Or not?
Do you ever read manuals?
How-to books?
Self-help guides?
Anything at all?
Um - no, I don't. Not unless I need to do something like change the timer on the DVD player. I'm terrible. I have a husband who is very handy with gadgets and manuals and things, so I usually just let him go for it.
I'm not big on how-to books either. I do read the odd self-help book, but that's about it, really.
Very exciting stuff, I'm sure!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Read; reading

Time for an update to the "what I've read this year list:"

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Antony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz
Beowulf by Caitlin Kiernan
The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Storm Front: Book 1 of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist Wife by Irene Spencer
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
Blood is the New Black
Star Trek: Resistance
Star Trek: Q & A
CSI: Sin City
Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
Belladonna by Anne Bishop
This Charming Man by Marian Keyes
Duma Key by Stephen King
Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker
A Sandwich Short of a Picnic by Felicity Price
Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop
Queen of the Darkness by Anne Bishop
Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie

Not a bad list.
As for what I'm reading now ... No Country For Old Men, which I may not get finished as it's due back at the library, and 1984. I have four nights off (woo hoo!) so I'll probably pick up something else as well; maybe The Monsters of Templeton. :)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Weekly Geeks 3

This week’s theme comes from Samantha, who suggested that one week we all write about our fond memories of childhood books.

This one turned into a wee trip down memory lane for me:

I’ve been musing on this question for most of the day. Books from my childhood and adolescence swirled and eddied in my head; the first Golden Books that my older sister used to read to me at night; Enid Blyton Famous Five books, and Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which, to my everlasting regret I loaned someone and never got it back) and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator _ and others.

Reading A Study in Scarlet for the first time at about 12 or so; painstakingly, over a series of weeks. Reading The Hobbit for the first time; then going on to devour The Lord of the Rings at 14.
Picking up the first book of The Belgariad in the little bookshop that’s no longer there, and the first Dragonlance book – and discovering so many more worlds! Passing these _ and others _ around my friends at school, until the books were falling apart and are – even now – held together with little more than sellotape (hey, I was 14 or 15!) and memories.

When I was sick, the two books I always read were The Hobbit and The Wind in the Willows. I loved the illustrations in the copy of that book that I still have.

Going to the library – the poky old library, with the children’s section upstairs, and looking for my mother through the windows on the stairs on the way down, so I’d know where to go. Getting books out over and over again _ The Dark is Rising Sequence, and A Little Princess, in particular.
So many books, with so many associations.

But two of my most favourite childhood reading experiences are these:

I can’t remember how old I was; about 9, I think, and I was staying at my Nana’s because my parents were on holiday. They sent me a book _ a Famous Five novel, I think, and my Dad had written in the front that they thought I might enjoy it. I have no idea where that book is now.

But the one truly precious childhood memory this has raised for me is this:
Many, many, many years ago, my Dad (who passed on in 2006) used to make supper for my mother and I think me – just a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits, I think. And I used to sit on the kitchen stool and read out loud to him while he pottered about the kitchen.
I think one of the books we read was that Famous Five one (Five Run Away? – it had a green cover) and we also read a very abridged version of Helen Keller’s teacher.
And that is my most precious childhood reading memory.
Thanks for reminding me. :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Two more challenges

As I said, I'm far too busy for this sort of carry on. So, naturally, I've decided to join at least two more challenges; possibly three if I can't talk myself out of joining the Southern Reading Challenge here:

Anyway; the other two I have decided to poke a stick at are the Arthurian Challenge here: and I have more than 12 books, I think, but a few series, so here's my list:
The Once and Future King by T H White; crossed from Once Upon a Time II
The Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson
The Arthurian Trilogy, plus The Wicked Day by Mary Stewart
The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper
The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell
The Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead
Avalon High by Meg Cabot
-I probably won't get through all of these (no, really) but I'll give it a shot ...

The other is the Orbis Terrarum Challenge hosted here:
For some reason, it took mey days to come up with the nine books by nine authors from nine different countries; I have no idea why. Anyway. Here's what I have:
News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia)
Waiting by Ha Jin (Japan)
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff (US)
On, Off by Colleen McCullough (Australia)
Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (South Africa)
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella (Britain)
The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson (Jamaica)
Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (France)
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (Italy)

Absently absent

To your left, is Misty, my porno-wannabe cat. Resting comfortably on the Nine-Patch Something my mother made. For me, not for the cat ....
Anyway ... not a lot of blogging this week, but not a lot of reading either. I hit a bit of a wall after devouring book 2 and 3 of Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy.
I did start May's classic _ 1984 _ but it's so unremittingly bleak already that I ran away for a bit and I'm re-reading an Agatha Christie I haven't read in a while: Murder in Mesopotamia. I feel like I'm taking a little bit of a reading holiday with it, and I'm sure, once it's done, I'll be back to it.
The plan is to continue with 1984; start The Monsters of Templeton and maybe, finally, No Country For Old Men, but I'll have to see how my week goes. I have normal shifts tomorrow and Monday, then I'm jumping to days for Tuesday and Wednesday, to steer the community papers while their editor is on holiday. THEN, on Thursday, it's Patrick's birthday and I have four days off. So, probably by Saturday night (we're having a family party on Saturday afternoon) I'll be off twitching in a corner somewhere .... just leave the books where I can reach them ....

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Writing guides, grammar books, punctuation how-tos . . . do you read them? Not read them? How many writing books, grammar books, dictionaries–if any–do you have in your library?

Um ... I think there's a dictionary/thesaurus around here somewhere _ a small one. But, no, I don't read them. Haven't for quite some years. We have hefty Oxford dictionaries at work, for reference. Otherwise, I think my existence is largely dictionary-free. :)

Weekly Geeks 2

I've had a head cold most of the week, which has led to some very fuzzy thinking. Anyway. Here's the next part of Weekly Geeks #2:

Later in the week (by Thursday is easiest for me, but by Friday is also ok) write about your experience this week: did people take you up on your offer, did you find reviews you could give to other bloggers, did you enjoy the experience, do you think you want to keep this policy, etc.

I wish I had more time for this! It was quite fun, roaming around the blogs of others, and seeing what books we had in common. However, between the stupid cold, and work, and everything, it ended up, for me, becoming like homework on a Friday. Procrastinated about all weekend and then all crammed together on a Sunday night.

So I would have liked to have had the chance to enjoy it more. :)

So, in the spirit of the challenge; I'd like to continue. Leave a link in my comments here if you've reviewed something that I have, and I'll add it to the relevant post.
Once again, Weekly Geekers; live long, and prosper. :)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Weekly Geeks 2:

Details of this week's challenge can be read here:

So. Um. I'm not very good at the technical side of these things. I"m always mildly surprised that I manage to maintain a blog at all; I'm that technically challenged.

But I'm willing to give it a bash. The easiest thing for me would be if people left a link in the comments; or e-mailed me at and I'll add your links to the relevant posts. It sounds like fun .... :)

One of the other blogs I wandered into _ _ posted links to the books she's reviewed on her site, so I'm shamelessly stealing that idea _ I hope she doesn't mind!
Here are the books I've reviewed here so far:

And, as the man would have it _ live long, and prosper. :)

Heir to the Shadows: Review

Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop
Once Upon a Time II Challenge
Book two of the Black Jewels trilogy.
Spoilers, I guess, if you haven’t read the series.
At the end of book 1, Daemon and the High Lord, Saetan, were locked in a vicious battle to save the mind, body and soul of Witch – dream made flesh for the ruling Blood. There has not been Witch for thousands of years, so the coming of Jaenelle should be a joy to all the Blood.
However, after things go so badly wrong at the end of book 1, it takes a lot of time, care and attention to get Jaenelle to the point of being Witch.
There’s the Dark Council, striving against her; and her would-be Consort, Daemon is locked in the Twisted Kingdom, in madness.
I started and finished Heir to the Shadows on the same day _ I couldn’t put it down for love or money, it was that good and, I think, the best of the trilogy, even though I’m only halfway through Book 3 now.
Anne Bishop has a rare gift for storytelling that draws the reader into the world she creates and makes you feel as though _ if you just took one step sideways _ you too could be in the Shadow Realm.

Also reviewed here:

April's classic: Lolita

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

April’s classic novel. And a very interesting read.
I can’t say I “enjoyed” Lolita. I savoured the writing; I was seduced by the writing but at the same time … the content is so appalling!
I think the genius with Lolita is how Nabokov manages to seduce with his words, even though the storyline _ about a middle-aged pederast taking advantage of a pre-pubescent girl and going on the road trip from hell through a very seedy America _ is sickening, to say the least.

There are layers and layers and layers within Lolita; some of which you just don't want to peel back.
I feel as though I have a lot more in my head about Lolita, but none of it seems to be coming out right _ possibly because I have a head cold; or possibly because there’s not really much insight I can add to a book like this.
Let me just say: while I think it was one of my best reads of the year so far, I won’t be in any hurry to repeat the process.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Quick! It’s an emergency! You just got an urgent call about a family emergency and had to rush to the airport with barely time to grab your wallet and your passport. But now, you’re stuck at the airport with nothing to read. What do you do??
And, no, you did NOT have time to grab your bookbag, or the book next to your bed. You were . . . grocery shopping when you got the call and have nothing with you but your wallet and your passport (which you fortuitously brought with you in case they asked for ID in the ethnic food aisle). This is hypothetical, remember….
Oddly enough, I carry my passport in my bag. For no good reason.
Um _ if it were a big family crisis, I wouldn't be thinking about books. I'd be getting to the airport as fast as possible and ear-bashing ticket staff like the people on the Amazing Race until I got what I wanted.
However, if I was going to be stuck in the airport for a while, I'd probably people-watch, if it were a small airport, or search out the nearest airport bookstore, and buy a magazine, or something light to keep me occupied.
Or I'd compulsively shuffle through all the songs on my iPod while people-watching and flicking through a magazine.
But ... yeah. I wouldn't be thinking about books.