Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday Wants!!!!!!!

First on the list is this book of short stories: Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honour of Jack Vance. The list of names .... oh my ....
I've never read any of Jack Vance's novels but after seeing that collection, he's also on my Want!!!! list.
Also, trawling Amazon I came across Annie Leibovitz At Work, a volume of photographs, the stories behind them and reflections on her work. I'm not a photographer, and nor do I play on on television but I love LOOKING at great photography. So ... want!!!!
Hm ... I'm starting to think my Want!!! list needs a want list of its own.
Anyhoo, this isn't very long, because I've had a stupidly busy few days, beginning last Friday and not really letting up until yesterday. Today, however, was my day off and a friend of mine went trawling secondhand bookstores.
And here's what I got:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Probables vs Possibles

Here's my draft list for next year's classics challenge _ my own one, to read one classic novel a month:

The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Duma
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
The Woman in White by Wilke Collins
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
The Quiet American, or The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
Scented Gardens for the Blind by Janet Frame
Foundation by Isaac Asimov
House of the Spirits by Isabelle Allende


Dracula by Bram Stoker
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
It by Stephen King
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Under the Mountain by Maurice Gee
The Halfmen of O trilogy by Maurice Gee
Howard's End by E M Forster

The Reading Week

My reading is completely up the spout this week, because of Stephen King.
I got Just After Sunset from the library on Saturday and pretty much abandoned all my other reading plans.
Here's the thing, though: the stories are just ... okay. And yet, I can't stop reading it, because no matter what, Mr King knows how to tell a story. He's has definitely written better short story collections and I plan to go back, starting with Night Shift, and re-read them (oh, the things I do ...).
Anyway, I had planned to start Helen of Troy by Margaret George but Mr King put paid to that.
And I also have A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson on the boil but once again it's on the backburner.
I'm still picking away at Love in the Time of Cholera but I read before going to sleep and that book makes me sleeeeeeeeepy. Not because it's bad, it's not; it's lovely. It's just that's it's very languid and slow-moving _ in the best possible way.
I need to get Just After Sunset out of my system first, I think.

I finished Oxford Exit by Veronica Stallwood last week, which was okay. Not great, not bad, but okay. I kept getting confused about what the main character was actually doing, but it was well-written enough to finish.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weekly Geeks 26

It’s been awhile since we’ve done some serious WG bloghopping. So this week, let’s visit five other Weekly Geeks.
How to:
1. Using the
WeeklyGeeks category here in my blog, find 5 Weekly Geeks you don’t know. The easiest way is probably to look at the Mr Linkies in my weekly Saturday posts.
2. Visit each of your 5 new blogpals and snoop around their blogs to find at least one thing you have in common.
3. In your blog, write a post, linking to your 5 new blogpals, about what you have in common with them.
4. Come back and sign Mr Linky.
5. As you run across other Weekly Geek posts (or deliberately seek them out) if you see anyone mentioned who has something in common with you, pay them a visit.

Okay. Here we go :)

First up is Snooping around, I discovered that we have both read Heart-shaped Box by Joe Hill _ and totally loved it.

Second is Rhinoa at We have similar tastes in books, but that's not the only thing we have in common. We also both have cats called Merlin. :)

Third is in her header she describes herself as a bookeater, and I can relate to that. If I'm reading something that I just can't put down, I think of myself as inhaling it.

Fourth is Poking about in her blog, I noticed a post about the UK series Lost in Austen that she called an "I wantys". I can totally relate to that _ that Want! reaction. Plus, I want to see the series as well, but have no idea if/when it will ever show here.

Last, but certainly not least, is, who is planning to join the Read Your Own Books challenge for 2009. And despite swearing off reading challenges ... so am I. I have books upon books upon books so it would fit nicely.
Live long and prosper, Weekly Geeks!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday Wants!!!!!

ZOMG! Have you ever had this happen? You read a couple of books by an author that you really, really like, then totally forget all about it until you stumble across him being mentioned on another blog?

That happened to me!

I was reading Fantasy Book Critic, this post about a new release:, called Memoirs of a Master Forger by William Heaney. Only ... William Heaney is the narrator of the book, and the author is Graham Joyce, who writes short, punchy, spooky novels. I've read three _ Dreamside, Dark Sister and Requiem, which is just ... fantastic. (Note to self: re-read Requiem).

I clicked through to his blog, and he is really, really, really funny to read. So that's my No 1 Want! of the moment. Wait. No 2 want, after the Stephen King book.

Also on the list this week is Mistress of the Art of Death, a medieval mystery that I stumbled across on Lynda's Book Blog the course of the latest Weekly Geeks.

And last, but not least, once again from Fantasy Book Critic: The Drowned Life, a short story collection by Jeffrey Ford that sounds fascinating. I've never read any of his works but from the sounds of things, this is a pretty good place to start.

Too many wants spoil the reader, so I think that'll do for this week. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Book bloggers Christmas swap

Nymeth and Dewey are hosting a book bloggers' book swap and I think today is the last day for sign-ups. Nothing like leaving things until the last minute, right?

So I signed up today, mostly because I really love getting packages in the mail. I mean, no one writes letters anymore really, so the only mail we're getting is the kind with little windows (ugh). Plus also, I get to put a package together for someone else, which is almost as much fun. :)

Looking forward to it!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Six things meme

I've been tagged for this meme by Rachel at The idea is to write 6 random book-related things about myself and then tag six more people. But I'm going to throw it open to the floor: if you're reading my blog and you like the meme, feel free to pinch it. :)

1) I can't close a book on a page, or a chapter, ending in a 13. I always have to read past it.

2) My secret vice is true crime books. Every so often I go through a stage. Although, come to think of it, I haven't this year.

3) I've just realised that Neil Gaiman is my favourite author. After 30-something years of reading.

4) I originally started my blog last year to keep track of my own classics challenge (read 1 classics novel a month for 2008) and it's kind of ... expanded (in a good way).

5) Apart from my husband and son, the two truly great joys of my life are books and cats.
6) Our cat Scout, is named after Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. I haven't read it since I was about 15, but I loved that book.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The reading week

Heh ... multi-tasking last year, on the day the new Harry Potter book came out ... so leetle! (um ... the baby, obviously, not the book)
Anyhoo ... I've still got Love in the Time of Cholera on the go, and in retrospect, I really should have made that winter reading, because it's been very hot here the past few days and it's set on a hot, sticky, Carribean island. So I haven't picked it up for a while.
I've been reading Oxford Exit by Veronica Stallwood. Part of a series, apparently, featuring a historical romance writer, Kate Ivory, who gets tangled up in mysterious doings. In this one, someone's been stealing books from Oxford's venerable libraries, and a young woman has been murdered. The two are, obviously, connected.
Also, someone is handing in Creative Writing assignments that seem to detail the murder.
It's not bad, but I keep getting confused about what Kate's doing at the libraries. It's one of those things that, to me, sounds like it should be simple, but really isn't.
I don't have anything else in particular on the horizon. I'll have to shuffle through my library books.
Happy reading everyone. :)

Weekly Geek 25

With winter (or summer) holidays coming up, many of us have started thinking about gift giving. And, of course, many book bloggers prefer to give books. At Amazon, there are gift guides based on relationship or personality. Unfortunately, I don’t really find the gift suggestions for mom and wife very suited to me, and the personality guides are even worse. I may be interested in green living, but I’d be pretty disappointed to find an energy-saving lightbulb in my stocking.
So let’s make our own, a books-based Weekly Geeks Gift Giving Guide!
How to:
1. Think about the books that you and people in your life love. It’s best to use more obscure books, because we’ve all heard plenty about the more popular ones.
2. Come up with categories, based on relationship, personality, or whatever else you like. I think this is easier to do once you have your books in mind; you can then just assign categories to those books.
3. Post your own gift giving guide! Add short blurbs about the books, just enough so that your readers can determine if it’d be a good gift for people on their list. Don’t forget to come back and sign Mr Linky.
4. Visit other Weekly Geeks, and if you like their guides, maybe add links to the bottom of your own.

Um ... h'm. Apart from immediate family, we don't buy Christmas presents for anyone else, so I'm having trouble coming up with categories of people. And while I like to get books as presents, I don't very often, unless I've specifically asked for one. I'll give them _ if there's a book I know that Jeremy wants I'll buy it for him for Christmas _ and I know my mother and my sisters' tastes pretty well, although one of my sisters is married with kids, so we just buy presents for the kids, and bypass the grown-ups. I have a niece who is a real bookworm, so buying books for her is a no-brainer.
Um ... I just don't know.

Wow, that's wishy-washy, huh?

So, I've decided to go through my own archives, pick out some books and say why I think they'd make good presents. :)

Let's start with my bookworm niece. She's 13 and reads voraciously. So I'm probably going to get her Un Lun Dun by China Mieville for Christmas: it's a great read, has fantastic characters and a fast-paced story, and, best of all, a strong and smart female protagonist. Great stuff, I think, for any 13-year-old bookworm.

My mother and both my sisters are nurses (well, my mother is retired) and I know that my oldest sister would really enjoy The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby's account of life post-stroke with locked-in syndrome. It's not a clinical read by any stretch of the imagination, but I think anyone in the medical field would appreciate Bauby's perspective of being on the other side of the bedpan, so to speak.

My other sister is an avid reader of crime _ both fiction and non-fiction. Not the Agatha Christies that I have on my finished list, but I'm sure she'd enjoy Sail by James Patterson and Howard Roughan. It's fast-paced, has a pretty good story, and holds the attention. And, given that it's coming up to summer in this part of the world, perfect holiday reading.

My oldest brother is the one who introduced me to the Lord of the Rings. I read his copy over and over again when I was a teenager, until my mother finally got me my own for my birthday. So, for the avid Lord of the Rings (books and movies) fan, I don't think you can go past Alan Lee's Sketchbook. It's a hardback of sketches and notes from his work on all three films, and really is a beautiful book. (That's a cheat because it's not on this year's list, but I have been dipping into it on and off.)

I don't see a lot of my other brother (no particular reason, he lives with his family about 45mins away and they have three kids _ all teens, so a busy enough life!) And he's not really a big reader, so if I were to buy him a book (highly unlikely) I'd fall back on some kind of biography _ Buck Shelford's new one, perhaps.

My mother does a lot of patchwork and I've given her books on that topic in the past. If we're talking about books from my own list though, I think I'd have to go with Beach House by Jane Green. It's another one that's good for summer reading, and if you've got someone in your family who likes their books to be sweet, and not too demanding, then I'd go for Beach House. Or possibly Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, if I could find a nice copy _ Mum enjoys a good mystery and if you've got someone in your life who likes their mysteries seasoned with Gothic, you can't go past Rebecca.

What are we up to?
Right. My husband pretty much exclusively reads sci-fi and fantasy, so almost anything in that genre would be a goer.
He loved the Black Jewels Trilogy The Graveyard Book I made him read it), and Un Lun Dun, so any of those would suit. He's also been working his way through The Dresden Files and believes they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. One of his (and mine) favourite books is Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay, a standalone novel that is truly outstanding and one, I think, that any fan of the genre would enjoy.

Patrick ... ah, for the Kiwi kid there is only one choice: Hairy McLary, from Donaldson's Dairy, by Lynley Dodds, although Patrick's still at the book-tasting stage.
My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes by Eve Sutton, and illustrated by Lynley Dodd, is great too, and really fun to read out loud (''The cat from France, liked to sing and dance, but my cat likes to hide in boxes"). book for littlies, I think. :)
This year, though, I might branch out into a spot of Paddington Bear. I've got a book of classic Winnie the Pooh stories, and it seems like a natural progression.
Long enough, yes?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

This week's BTT question:
I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?
Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?
If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?

I don't buy books very often. We have a pretty good public library and I do book reviews for work, so I get a lot of my books from there.
If I do buy books, I try to go for specials, or secondhand ones, because books can be prohibitively expensive to buy here.
However, once in a while one slips past my radar and the conversation I have with myself looks something like this:
"Hey look! The new -- "
"But it's payday! I have monies!"
"You have bills! No!"
"It's the new Terry Pratchett one. And it's on special."
"N- wait ... Terry Pratchet?? That's different. On special you say? So we're saving monies?"
"Then what are we waiting for???"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Wants!!!!!!!!!

First on this Wednesday's Want!!!!! list is this anthology: Shine edited by Jetse de Vries. It's a futuristic anthology with an optimistic twist. From what I can gather from the website, it's still very much a work in progress but when it DOES come out? Want!!!!
I think it sounds fantastic.

Hmmm ... James Patterson has a new Alex Cross novel coming out, which would be a want! rather than a Want!!!!! I enjoy Patterson's novels but to be honest, sometimes Cross' complaining about his life gets a bit wearing. I'd get it out of the library, though.

I spotted these at and while I don't usually like sequels written by people other than the original authors, these sound good: Letters from Pemberley and More Letters from Pemberley by Jane Dawkins, which take the form of letters from Elizabeth to her sisters _ mostly Jane. It's a format that makes sense to me as sequels and I loved Pride and Prejudice. So let's call those Wants!!

There's a new Lincoln Rhyme novel by Jeffrey Deaver: The Broken Window and a new non-Rhyme novel by Deaver: The Bodies Left Behind. I love Deaver's ability to completely pull the wool over his readers' eyes and his really gusty twists. So both novels are Wants!!!!!!

That'll do for now. Mustn't overwhelm the Want!!! gene.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The reading week

On the go this week I have Love in the Time of Cholera and that's all for now, which is very unlike me.

I do, however, have some very interesting-sounding library books out at the moment, so it will be a matter of deciding which one sounds the most interesting, and also which batch is closest to being due back. So possibly on the agenda is Waifs and Strays by Charles de Lint, or The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson, or Oxford Exit by Veronica Stallwood.

As usual, so many books, so little time ...

It was payday on Friday and my day off, which led to Inappropriate Spending. I bought Finding Nemo on DVD (it was on special) and Dark Alchemy, a collection of YA short stories by the likes of Neil Gaiman and Garth Nix. Although I might give that one to my niece for Christmas, which means, actually, I SAVED money (yes, that's how my brain works).

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Weekly Geek 24

1. Choose a writer you like.
2. Using resources such as Wikipedia, the author’s website, whatever you can find, make a list of interesting facts about the author.
3. Post your fun facts list in your blog, maybe with a photo of the writer, a collage of his or her books, whatever you want.
4. Come sign the Mr Linky below with the url to your fun facts post.
5. As you run into (or deliberately seek out) other Weekly Geeks’ lists, add links to your post for authors you like or authors you think your readers are interested in.

Oh, so many authors! I was a-dithering over Stephen King, or Neil Gaiman, or Elizabeth Knox, or Agatha Christie or Dean Koontz or ... in order to make this easier on my tiny brain, I've decided to go with the author of the book I'm reading.

So. I'm reading Love in the Time of Cholera.
Therefore my author is Gabriel Garcia Marquez and here is what I have learned about him from Wikipedia:

1) His full name is Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez
2) He was born on March 6 1927, making him 81 years old
3) In 1982 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature
4) His best-known works are One Hundred Years of Solitude (which I've read three times) and Love in the Time of Cholera
5) He has also worked as a journalist and written other novels and short stories
6) He is a film critic and founded and served as executive director of the Film Institute of Havana, was the Head of the Latin American Film Foundation, and has written several screenplays
7) He is married with two sons
8) He published his first work in secondary school, in the school magazine, Juventud
9) In 1999 he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, which went into remission after a successful course of chemotherapy10) The first part of his projected three-part autobiography _ Living to Tell the Tale _ was published in 2003 and his last published work came out in 2004 _ Memories of my Melancholy Whores. He is, according to the article, working on a new book.

Blind Faith by Ben Elton

Hmmmmmmmm .... irony is crunchy and good with tomato sauce.

Blind Faith is set in a post oceans-rising world, where privacy has become a perversion and every aspect of people's lives is expected to be lived out in public _ on blogs, webcams and shouted as loudly as possible.

Elton is a viciously funny, cynical writer but there is a core of sadness that runs deep in Blind Faith: hardly any children survive. All that matters is the Faith and science _ including vaccinations _ has been outlawed and is pretty much punishable by death.

London is a wet, stinking crowded mire of a city with people living in ever-more crowded spaces as the waters fail to recede and nothing is really done to improve living conditions.

Trafford, however, is a rebel. He keeps secrets and fails to put his daughter's birthing video up on the web straight away, earning him the ire of his Confessor.

Blind Faith is a bit like 1984, only instead of Big Brother, everyone is watching, all the time. The cult of the personality has become so elevated here that Diana (I'm presuming the Princess of Wales one) is worshipped as a deity and a law is passed making everyone famous.

It's a less-than-subtle mockery of our own obsession with celebrity and our willingness to make the most ordinary person famous, just for being on television.

After a relatively minor act of rebellion _ Trafford secretly has his daughter Caitlin Happymeal (yes, really _ all of the names are like that) vaccinated, things begin to spiral very quickly out of control. Trafford meets others who worship Reason rather than themselves, he falls in love with someone other than his wife and when Caitlin Happymeal is revered as a miracle child for surviving a measles plague and a mumps plague, things really start to go mad.

Blind Faith is viciously funny, terribly sad and a very good read.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wednesday Wants!!!!!!!

I have no idea what's old or new out there; not really. So this is all about poking around and seeing books/book related products that make my greed-gene stand up and say want!!!

Okay. I want a Kindle. I feel as though I shouldn't, but I do. I want one to carry around with me, to read snippets on buses and in downtime at work. I want one to download books to so I can flip through them at odd moments. Would my Kindle replace my books? Oh, no. Nothing will replace my precious books (my preciousssss). My Kindle would be for travelling, not for at-home reading, where one of the best things ever is tucking up on the couch or in bed; turning pages. Can't do that with a Kindle, obviously.
But. Reading on buses and at break time at work?
Unfortunately, as I understand it, the technology, or software, or something isn't available outside the United States yet.
Still .... Want!!!!

I realise there are no books in this Want!!!!!!! post. But I've had another stupid week at work and haven't had the chance to trawl Amazon/blogs yet.

There will be books though. Oh yes. There will be books.

Weekly Geeks 23

Question Three comes from Dewey at who asks:

Which characters did you love best in The Graveyard Book, and why?
Hmmm ... I've been pondering this one and I know it's a cop-out to say "I loved them all" but I particularly enjoyed Silas and Miss Lupescu, I think. I liked their nobility and warmth towards Bod _ even Silas in his own particular way.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Weekly Geek question 2

For Kaimira Book 1, what made you read this book? How would you rate it? Do you recommend it?

It came in to work as a review copy and I think a workmate of mine and I who have similar reading tastes had been talking about a new book coming out, set in a village of hot-air balloons. So when it came in I took it to read. :)

I would rate it pretty highly, actually. It's got all the goods: good story, believable characters, a very bad villain, and of course, a village made up entirely of hot-air balloons. :) If you like YA fantasy/steam punk/distopia or just a very good read, then I'd definitely recommend it. :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The reading week

What's on the go for the first week in November? Well, my November classic, Love in the Time of Cholera, for a start. I have read it before, about 13 years ago, so it's a fairly distant memory. I would have done One Hundred Years of Solitude but I only read that (for the third time mind you) last year. I have very vivid memories of it because I was reading it in May, just after we brought Patrick home from the hospital. :)

So that, and then I have a novel about the Knights Templar that I'm also going to start this week ... I think it's called Knights of the Black and the Red but it's all the way in the bedroom ("We're knights of the Round Table ... we dance whenever we're able") ... sorry ... and um ... it's by Some Guy.

I think those two books will take me through to the end of the week all right. I have two late shifts this week (which means working 5-1 instead of 4-12) and they kind of knock me for a few days, because I end up staying up so late trying to wind down. So this week I"m going to try just coming home, going to bed and reading for a bit, so I'm not up so freaking late (I'm talking 3am ... bleh).

I've also started mentally compiling my classics list for 2009.
So far I have
-The Woman in White by Wilke Collins
-Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
-The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
-Something by Grahame Greene (I haven't decided which one yet)
and ... I know no Dickens this time, and no Brontes. But that's about as far as I've got.
All ideas gratefully received _ any genre. :)

Have a great week everyone. :)

Weeky Geeks 23 ...

... question the first (I hope) ...

I'm rewinding and replaying WG 12, where we asked each other questions about what we were reading.

I've most recently finished The Graveyard Book and The Sky Village.

My first question is about The Graveyard Book and comes from who asked me:

I've heard great things about The Graveyard Book and Neil Gaiman in general, but the idea of a boy raised in a graveyard by dead people just does not appeal. Should I read it anyway? How much of a creepiness factor is there?

Yes. Yes you should read it. Tomorrow. Absolutely.

Um ... ahem. Actually it's not that creepy, or I didn't think so. There are a couple of things that send shivers, like the chapter on the ghouls for example, and of course, the man Jack (every man Jack), but there has to be a villain and it's very well done here _ scary and creepy for sure but so well-written that you sort of ... forget to be scared.
But otherwise ... h'm. This is going to sound strange, but somehow Neil Gaiman manages to make the graveyard sound comforting. It's basically Bod's haven as he grows up and that's the sense I got from it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Weekly Geek 23

This week the Geekers are asked to re-visit a favourite previous Weekly Geek.
Scanning the archives at I found this one: for Weekly Geeks 12, that I had a lot of fun with first time around.

It's a timely one for me to repeat as well, as I've just finished two books this week and I'm going to do this instead of reviewing them.

1) is Kaimira Book 1: The Sky Village by Nigel and Monk Ashland, a YA novel set in a troubled post-war future. Mei and Rom live on opposite sides of the world but are able to communicate through The Tree Book. Mei is travelling with The Sky Village: a village of interconnected hot-air balloons, while Rom is battling to keep himself and his sister Riley safe in Las Vegas. The official website is here:
2) is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. There are many, many great reviews of this book out there, including Dewey's at and Nymeth's at so instead of adding my own, I'm opening the floor to questions. Suffice to say, I loved it and want to stroke it and pat it, and keep it as a pet and carry it with me everywhere. I'm pretty sure it's my favourite book of 2008.
So, there you go. Ask away Weekly Geeks (please? pretty please? _ remember: comments = love).