Monday, June 30, 2008


Well, I didn't finish June's classic. I got through The Sword in the Stone, but didn't manage to get any further. One day, maybe ...
July's classic is meant to be Hawaii by James Michener, but I forgot to get it out of the library in time. So now it's Space, by James Michener. Same author, different novel.
That's all.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summing up the readathon

I was cheerleading, and had a lot of fun. I managed to get to most blogs a couple of times; I hope that was enough. :)
Here are the post-event survey questions:
1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
Well, I didn't really spend hours cheerleading, so nothing was too daunting. :)

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
Un Lun Dun, by China Mieville; The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (short non-fiction) by Jean-Dominique Bauby; Momo by Michael Ende; Star Trek novelisations; The Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop; anything by James Patterson (short chapters)

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Nope, and I'm in awe of the organisers for doing such a great job.
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
Renay's feeds really helped; especially for someone as technologically challenged as me. :)
5. How many books did you read?
I was cheerleading, so none for the readathon. I started On, Off by Colleen McCullough for the Orbus Terrarum challenge though. :)

6. What were the names of the books you read?
N/A _ see above
7. Which book did you enjoy most?

8. Which did you enjoy least?

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
Just keep the enthusiasm going. Also, I had Renay's list open in two windows, and when I did my commenting-sprees, I started one from the top of the list and one from the bottom, so it went a bit quicker.

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I'd love to be a reader next time, but don't know if that will happen. I'd definitely cheerlead again.

Un Lun Dun: Review

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

Do you ever read a book that’s so awesomely awesome, that you want everyone else to read it and you keep bugging them until they do so you have someone to talk about it with?

That’s Un Lun Dun, for me. So far it’ll be in my Top I-haven’t-decided-how-many-yet for the year, it’s that good.

Deeba and Zanna, fairly normal teenage girls, find themselves crossing the Odd one day, into UnLondon, which is very nearly at war with the Smog. Zanna, it turns out, is the “Shwazzy” or Chosen one to save UnLondon from its fate. It’s in the book of prophecies and everything.
However, things don’t go exactly as planned. The girls are attacked, and Zanna ends up back in London with no memory of her time in UnLondon. For Deeba, though, it’s a different story, and it’s not long before she goes back, determined to help somehow.

Deeba’s not alone and soon UnLondoners are rallying.

There’s so much in Un Lun Dun, that it’s impossible to list it all. I wish I could, because then you’d (whoever you are) go and read the book. Anyway. It has binjas _ trash cans that, in UnLondon, have arms and legs; and yes, are basically ninjas. There are bus conductors, who also conduct electricity. The book with the prophecy talks _ although it has a bit of a crisis after its prophecy turns out to be wrong. Words can become real and … and .. and …. read the book.
Seriously. Or, in lolcat: srsly. kthxbai.


Okay. I've been scattering comments like a person at a lolly scramble. I know I've missed some, but it's getting a little late here, so I may not be able to give you all the individual attention you undoubtedly deserve. :) It'll finish at 4am Monday morning my time, at which time I expect to be sound asleep, dreaming of sugar plums ... wait, that's Christmas (what is a sugar plum?).

Anyway. Keep up the good work and all that jazz.

And here's Patrick; standing on his own (with a little help) for the very first time today. You can't tell from this photo (he automatically smiles when he sees the camera) but he was in a *bad* mood today! Happy reading! :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008


It started 4am my time, so I was sleeping. :)

But I'm off to do some cheerleading.

Goooooooooooooooooooo readers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Edited to add:
Okay, I think I've visited all the readers I can. I may or may not get back to it in time; my wonderful, gorgeous, beautiful 13-month-old son is being a bit of a stinker today; so I need to go put my Mummy hat on.

If I don't get back _ keep up the good work all you readathon readers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Clearing the decks

First, the Once Upon a Time II challenge. I’m not going to finish it; since it’s the 20th tomorrow and I still had three books to read! I am, however, going to read The Tempest, which I substituted for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as it’s winter here.
It was the first challenge I joined, and I learned that I need to be a tiny bit more organised with them. I’m still in with the Arthurian challenge, the Orbis Terrarum challenge and the Southern Reading challenge. So, you know, I’m not doing too badly.

I have three books on the go at the moment and I’m going to finish them before I start anything else; Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (Book 2 in the Dresden Files), The Once and Future King, and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

Weekly Geeks … I totally bailed on the scavenger hunt. I’ve only just surfaced to write these two blog posts; I just ran out of time for it. But I’m sure it was fun!

Three (short) reviews

Momo by Michael Ende
I read this years ago and for some reason it had been tickling my subconscious, so I read it again, and given that it had been many, many years, I could enjoy it as though I had never read it, if that makes sense.

Momo is an orphan who lives in the ruins of a large amphitheatre in an unnamed European city. She has many friends and enjoys her life there; and Momo has a special skill: she listens. Somehow, when Momo listens to you, things improve.

Then, the men in grey come, wanting to steal time and it’s up to Momo and her friends to stop them.

I remember enjoying Momo the first time I read it, however many years ago it was, and I enjoyed it again. Momo’s an endearing character and her friends are well-written. My favourite character is the tortoise Cassopeia, who can see an hour (or half an hour?) into the future and communicates by showing messages on her shell.

Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman
A very short prequel to the His Dark Materials trilogy, this novella details the meeting between Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnison.

There’s trouble a-brewing, as always, and Lee manages to get right into the middle of it, without even trying.

Althoug it’s a very short book, it’s also very detailed. I did get a little bored towards the end as one fight sequence seemed to drag on and on, but otherwise it’s a good read.

Odd Hours by Dean Koontz
The fourth in Koontz’s Odd Thomas series. I’ve mentioned this before, I’m sure, but it bears repeating. Odd Thomas is one of my favourite characters. He’s quirky and kind and eccentric and although he seems to be afraid a lot, he doesn’t let that stop him doing the right thing.

Having said all that, Odd Hours feels like a somewhat slight entry into the series. It doesn’t hold up as well as the first three, and so suffers somewhat. Odd’s doing his usual thing _ saving the world from the bad guys, but … there’s something missing somehow.

Odd’s been gone from his home town of Pico Mundo for a while and I keep hoping that the next Odd adventure will bring him home, because the first two books set there were definitely the strongest of the series.

I still love Odd Thomas though. Really and truly.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Weekly Geeks 7

The theme for the seventh edition of Weekly Geeks is a scavenger hunt. The rules are these:
A list of keywords _ posted by Weekly Geeks host _ for Geekers to find in other weekly geeks’ blogs. Your challenge is to find as many of the keywords as possible, in as many Weekly Geeks’ blogs as possible.
I think I did maybe one scavenger hunt as a child, but it's a foggy memory, so I don't think I'm going to be much competition. Also, my brain keeps telling me "but you don't have TIME for this" _ as I mooch at the computer doing online jigsaw puzzles ... ahem!
More later. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

A combo of two suggestions by: Heidi and by litlove
Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (ot, if you haven’t been, what do you think is the best way to choose) the next book and who would lead discussion?
Do you feel more or less likely to appreciate books if you are obliged to read them for book groups rather than choosing them of your own free will? Does knowing they are going to be read as part of a group affect the reading experience?
I've never been a book club member. I like the idea of them, but I'd rather have a one-on-one discussion with someone about a book we've both read; I love doing that and don't get to do it often enough. :)
If I were obliged to read books for a book group, I think I'd feel as though I were back at university with a set list, so yes, I think that would affect my experience. :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's my birthday, June's classic, bookbookbookbook

I'm 37. Today.

Right. June's classic is The Once and Future King by T H White. I'm still on The Sword in the Stone, and it's proving to be sort of slow going. I'm enjoying it, and parts of it remind me of Harry Potter (although I suppose that should be the other way around) but it's certainly taking a while to get through.

The Sword in the Stone is the set-up; young Wart is being raised as the son of Lord Ector, along with Ector's own son, Kay. The boys get a tutor in the shape of Merlyn and there seems to be a awful lot of changing Wart into things. Robin Hood's in this one as well, and a part of me just wants to sink into the story, while a part of me is thinking "come oooooooooon ....".

I got Odd Hours, the fourth Odd Thomas book by Dean Koontz out of the library today and I'm trying not to start it until Saturday, so I don't accidentally end up staying up until 3am. So far so good, and it gives me something to look forward to for the weekend. :)

I'm also reading Momo by Michael Ende and, because I felt like something a bit grown-up, I started Fool Moon by Jim Butcher, Book 2 of the Dresden Files.

That'll do for now.


I can't take part as a reader, and I won't be able to host any challenges, but I'll be one of the background support people that you never really see; cheering on the reading stars.

The key grip, or something. :)

Bookworms' Carnival

I rashly committed to a post for the Bookworms’ Carnival this week then realised that I had nothing in the archives that would suit, and no idea what to blog about.
But I said I’d do it, so bear with me … this is going to get rambly …

I’m 37 years old and I still believe in fairy tales.
It sounds like a funny thing, but it’s the truth. I’m coming out: I believe in fairy tales; in magic, in make-believe.
I want to go down the rabbit-hole, to Hogwarts, to Middle Earth, to … Once Upon a Time. Which should be a place, really, shouldn't it? Where all the best stories are and where you could meet your favourite characters?


I’m a grown-up, playing in the big kids’ playground; I’m married, I have a son and I work fulltime. So I’m fairly well-grounded in the real world. But … a part of me still lives in that land of signs and wonder, that you find as a child when you open that book that takes you out of yourself for the very first time and you realise how big the world truly is.

It might be Narnia; it might be Hogwarts; it might even be here, but a ''here'' you had never thought of until now.

I hope that sense of wonder never leaves me. Because that means I’m really a grown-up. And I don’t think that’s a fun world to live in, fulltime.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Weekly Geeks 7

Heh ... that's Patrick and Misty, watching a spot of TV tonight. There's something ... Geekish about it don't you think? That total absorption, lying on the floor to watch so you can be as close as possible to the action?

On to the Weekly Geek: Whew! Catch Up On Reviews Week was hard work, wasn’t it? It was for me, anyway. So how about something easy this week? Let’s have Photos Week.
1. Decide what to illustrate and start taking photos: Most of you are book bloggers, so you may want to post photos of your favorite reading spot, your TBR pile(s), your local book store, your favorite librarian, your child reading, etc.
You may want to post several photos of a certain topic (like all nine of your kids reading!) or a mixed bag of photos that are unrelated except that they’re bookish. Or you may want to post just one photo, it’s up to you. If you have a different type of blog, post photos of whatever you think is suitable.
2. Create a post of your photos.
3. Don’t forget! Also link in your post to another participant’s WG photo post. Weekly Geeks is a community thing, remember! If you’re one of the first finished, of course, you may have to add your link later. See if you can find someone you don’t normally read to link to.
4. Once your post is up, come back and leave a link to that specific post (not just your regular blog url) in the Mr Linky at the bottom of this post.

Note: On June 28th, there will be no regular Weekly Geeks because the
Read-a-thon will be held that day, and unfortunately, I’m not made out of magic, so I won’t be able to do both in the same day. I thought about trying, so that I could be sneaky and try to get the Read-a-thon participants interested in WG and the WG participants interested in the Read-a-thon, but I decided that was insane thinking and I should stop it right away. I also thought the people who already participate in both (who are also unfortunately not made out of magic) would send ninja assassins after me. If you want an activity you can consider your WG theme that Saturday, it’d be great if you’d go around and visit as many of the Readers as possible and encourage them.

Okay, first the Readathon. I can’t do it. I had that conversation in my head with my husband:
“Honey, will you take care of Patrick while I read all day on Saturday and blog about it?”
“ … ”
Yeah, there’s no way to sell that one. So I’ll be with the readers in spirit, and posting random comments hopefully, if I remember.

Anyway. Weekly Geeks 7. Post photos.
Right. I’m the worst photographer in the entire world. And I thought “what the heck am I going to take pictures of?” But then it came to me while I was watching Star Trek: Voyager this morning.
Cats. We have cats. Actually, we have 10 cats, and I won’t be posting pictures of them all. If you would like to see all of our cats, they’re in this post here:

The ones I’m posting photos of today are the ones that impact my reading time the most.
This is Piper (black and white) and Chloe on the couch; which is also where I do a lot of my reading.
They're lap cats. In fact, they think I'm furniture. So if I'm sitting on the couch reading, then I have at least one of them looking for a home. And it's tricky to read with a cat trying to settle on your lap. You can do it _ mostly _ once they are settled, but while they're still poking you into place ... no.
I read on the couch because I work 4-12 mostly, so I read after work, and the couch is the easiest (and warmest) place to do it.

This is the other place I read; bed. The cat who looks like she's been into the 'nip but was really just surprised by the flash is Scout:

I get up in the morning for our son, Patrick because my husband works worse hours than I do and often doesn't get home until well after 9 in the morning. So when Patrick goes back to bed, so do I. I read, I doze. Scout _ who has anxiety issues _ mostly lives in our bedroom so if I'm reading in bed, she's bugging me for pats. She'll hook my hand with her paw so she can headbutt it if she thinks I'm not paying her enough attention.

Next (if you've got this far) is Merlin:

He's not a lap cat as such, but for some reason if I'm in bed reading in the morning, he'll often come and sleep on my legs then. I'd love to know what he's thinking ....

Pictures of some of my bookcases:
We have built-in shelves in the living room. We rented this house sight unseen eight years ago when we moved from Auckland to here. How perfect is that???
Last, but not least; you should visit
She's got some funky photos up.
Happy Weekly Geeks _ live long and prosper, as the man says. :)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Weekly Geeks 6 Part 2

This may be a short post, for a change!
Uhm … I’m all caught up now, thanks to the Weekly Geeks. I finished … four? books. Yes. Four. Two Agatha Christies; 1984 and Certain Girls.
So I did them as three separate posts and they’re out there for all Weekly Geekers to see.
The hardest one to review was 1984; it’s just so well-written, and so full of ideas, and a terrifying vision of how the future could have been. The easiest were the Agatha Christies, just because I love her novels so much. And the most fun was Certain Girls; a sequel to Good in Bed. I enjoyed reading that one so much I’d be sitting at work itching to get home to it _ the best kind of book. :)
I hope all you other Weekly Geekers have had a great week. :)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Have your book-tastes changed over the years? More fiction? Less? Books that are darker and more serious? Lighter and more frivolous? Challenging? Easy? How-to books over novels? Mysteries over Romance?
I’ve been mulling this, as I read other entries, and as I wait for my second wind to kick in after work.
I don’t think my book tastes have changed so much over the years, as evolved. As I get older, and my circumstances, and sometimes my interests, change; so do my reading habits. I have my old favourites, my go-tos, that I go back to time and again when I need something familiar and comforting.
What I really look for now, is a great story that can hold my attention. This has made me both more picky and more prolific in my reading as I look for The One _ that story that keeps you reading until 3am, or when you’re drifting off on the couch on a drowsy afternoon, but you just can’t bear to put your book down. Or when you’re at work, and all you want to do is go home, and pick your book up again.
As for fiction/dark/series/light/frivolous/challenging/easy/how-to/mysteries … yes, please.
I left out romance, because it’s never been a genre I’m interested in. It was quite a revelation to me when I discovered I could read historical novels without all the hysterical bodice-ripping.
Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner: Review

A sequel to Weiner’s novel, Good in Bed. Cannie Shapiro is now married, and her daughter Joy is on the verge of being a teenager. After a disastrous brush with fame after the publication of her first novel, Cannie retreats to suburbia and writing science fiction under a pen name.

Cannie thinks things are ticking over just fine, but then her husband Peter, who is not Joy’s biological father, tells Cannie he wants them to have a baby by a surrogate and Joy starts acting, well, like a teenager.

The story is told by both Cannie and Joy in alternating chapters, and it just works. It’s funny and engaging and heartbreaking in fairly equal measure as Cannie tries to keep everything together and Joy finds out things about her mother that, quite frankly, she wishes she never knew.

I especially appreciated the way Weiner makes Joy sound and act like a typical teenager, without having her say “like” a thousand times.

It’s a great read; vivid, realistic and funny.

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is my go-to write when I’m having a bit of a reading slump. Usually once I’ve read two or three of her mysteries I’m good to go again.
Recently I read Murder on the Orient Express _ a classic Hercule Poirot and Death in the Clouds.

Death in the Clouds is also Poirot but I prefer Orient Express. There’s something romantic about a train stuck in the snow and a mystery to solve.

In Murder on the Orient Express, a very unpopular old man is stabbed to death. As the train is snowbound in the middle of nowhere, Poirot, who is travelling on the train, finds himself in the middle of the very strange case.

In Death in the Clouds, a very unpopular old woman _ a moneylender _ is murdered on a plane. Once again, Poirot, who was a passenger on the plane, finds himself in the middle of a puzzling mystery.

They’re both great stories and good mysteries, and Murder on the Orient Express, like The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, finds Dame Christie at her best.

1984 by George Orwell

My classic novel for May.
It’s a deceptively short novel, at less than 250 pages and it took me a lot longer to read than I would have expected. And it’s so bleak! I know that it’s not a particularly optimistic view of the future as Orwell envisioned it, but it’s much bleaker than I thought it was.

Not to say it was bad, in fact I enjoyed reading it very much. The subject matter was depressing, but the writing is so assured and the story so well-constructed that I didn’t mind the bleakness very much.

Winston Smith is one of thousands of Party workers, toiling away for the good of Big Brother. He works for the Ministry of Truth _ which means he doctors books and newspapers _ and he toils away, like everyone else. However, when he starts to question the Party and Big Brother, things start to happen. First good things, as he meets a girl and finds what he thinks is a safe house. Then very bad things, as they are both arrested by the Ministry of Love.

Orwell has packed so many ideas into 1984 about freedom, and politics and life that it’s impossible to detail them all. What impresses me so much, is that he’s done it in such a short book!
1984 will be on my re-read list for sure.