Friday, January 30, 2009

Weekly Geeks 4

#1. What are you passionate about besides reading and blogging? For example, are you crafty (knitting, woodworking, scrapbooking, model building)? Do you cook? Into gaming (computer or board)? Sports (player or spectator)? Photography? Maybe you like geocaching, rock climbing? Or love attending events like renaissance fairs, concerts? Music? Dancing? You get the idea.
Tell us why you're passionate about it. Post photos of what you've made or of yourself doing whatever it is you love doing.

Oh my. I'm a magpie. I pick up interests, and put them away again, neglected. I do, however, have a few that have stuck. Outside of reading, they are cross stitching, movies, jigsaw puzzles and word finds and crossword ... and I would have said TV but my column has just been canned by work, so not so much. Sigh. So not particularly exciting interests. I'd like to say something like Extreme Archaeology, but .... I'm doing a bit of cross stitching on and off, but I can't do it at all when Patrick is up so it's on a go-slow. Movies I love, although I don't talk about that here very much. I also love to do jigsaws, but I'm limited to doing them online at the moment, which is oddly addictive.

(Aside: Could I SOUND like a bigger nerd???)

#2. Get us involved. Link to tutorials, recipes, Youtube videos, websites, fan sites, etc, anything that will help us learn more about your interest or how to do your hobby. Maybe you'd like to link to another hobbyist whose work you admire or tell us about a book or magazine related to your interest.

Hmmmm .... oddly, maybe, I don't visit a lot of cross stitching blogs. But when I'm looking for charts to buy, here is where I go: and of course which has a pretty comprehensive crafts section.
I've never looked it up on YouTube, and I have no idea how to embed videos, if there are any, but googling it led me to this video: which is a step-by-step. I find it easy and relaxing, when I'm watching TV. I should do it more when I'm watching TV, but I've been very, very lazy.
This is what I'm working on right now:

It's Circe, by Jill Oxton, after a painting by John Waterhouse. This isn't my work, obviously ... for one thing, it's finished and mine's not. But that's approximately what it will look like, I hope.

I have many, many other works in progress, but I won't show them here, because they'd take over the whole post. Ahem.

As for the others ... for movie news and such, I mainly go here: and if I need to know when the movie I want to see is starting, then I go here: And I just bought a book called Stephen King at the Movies, which goes into the backstories of five film adaptations of his works. I'm sure I'll think of others, after I've put this up.
For online jigsaws I have three sites that I visit every day:, and, which also has links for word puzzles and suchlike.
Oh! And I love playing Free Rice :)
As for Extreme Archaeology ... I'm an armchair adventurer. So that's mostly through the History channel, on our satellite network:
#3. Visit other Weekly Geeks. Link in your post to other Geeks who've peaked your interest in their passion. Or maybe you might find a fellow afincionado among us, link to them. Back later in the week for this one, I think :)
Happy Weekly Geeks. Live long and prosper.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


The Guardian newspaper has just run a series of 1000 books you must read, divided into subjects. The lists begin here:

Below are the 124 science fiction/fantasy books and I blatantly stole the meme from Carl at

Play along, if you feel so inclined :)

Bold the ones you've read and I'm going to throw caution to the wind and italicise the ones I want to read :)

1. Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
2. Brian W Aldiss: Non-Stop (1958)
3. Isaac Asimov: Foundation (1951)
4. Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin (2000)
5. Paul Auster: In the Country of Last Things (1987)
6. Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory (1984)
7. Iain M Banks: Consider Phlebas (1987)
8. Clive Barker: Weaveworld (1987)
9. Nicola Barker: Darkmans (2007)
10. Stephen Baxter: The Time Ships (1995)
11. Greg Bear: Darwin’s Radio (1999)
12. Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination (1956)
13. Poppy Z Brite: Lost Souls (1992)
14. Algis Budrys: Rogue Moon (1960)
15. Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita (1966)
16. Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Coming Race (1871)
17. Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange (1960)
18. Anthony Burgess: The End of the World News (1982)
19. Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Princess of Mars (1912)
20. William Burroughs: Naked Lunch (1959)
21. Octavia Butler: Kindred (1979)
22. Samuel Butler: Erewhon (1872)
23. Italo Calvino: The Baron in the Trees (1957)
24. Ramsey Campbell: The Influence (1988)
25. Lewis Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
26. Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871)
27. Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (1984)
28. Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000)
29. Arthur C Clarke: Childhood’s End (1953)
30. GK Chesterton: The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
31. Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004)
32. Michael G Coney: Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975)
33. Douglas Coupland: Girlfriend in a Coma (1998)
34. Mark Danielewski: House of Leaves (2000)
35. Marie Darrieussecq: Pig Tales (1996)
36. Samuel R Delaney: The Einstein Intersection (1967)
37. Philip K Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
38. Philip K Dick: The Man in the High Castle (1962)
39. Umberto Eco: Foucault’s Pendulum (1988)
40. Michel Faber: Under the Skin (2000)
41. John Fowles: The Magus (1966)
42. Neil Gaiman: American Gods (2001)
43. Alan Garner: Red Shift (1973)
44. William Gibson: Neuromancer (1984)
45. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Herland (1915)
46. William Golding: Lord of the Flies (1954)
47. Joe Haldeman: The Forever War (1974)
48. M John Harrison: Light (2002)
49. Robert A Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
50. Frank Herbert: Dune (1965)
51. Hermann Hesse: The Glass Bead Game (1943)
52. Russell Hoban: Riddley Walker (1980)
53. James Hogg: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
54. Michel Houellebecq: Atomised (1998)
55. Aldous Huxley: Brave New World (1932)
56. Kazuo Ishiguro: The Unconsoled (1995)
57. Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
58. Henry James: The Turn of the Screw (1898)
59. PD James: The Children of Men (1992)
60. Richard Jefferies: After London; Or, Wild England (1885)
61. Gwyneth Jones: Bold as Love (2001)
62. Franz Kafka: The Trial (1925)
63. Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon (1966)
64. Stephen King: The Shining (1977)
65. Marghanita Laski: The Victorian Chaise-longue (1953)
66. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: Uncle Silas (1864)
67. Stanislaw Lem: Solaris (1961)
68. Doris Lessing: Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
69. David Lindsay: A Voyage to Arcturus (1920)
70. Ken MacLeod: The Night Sessions (2008)
71. Hilary Mantel: Beyond Black (2005)
72. Michael Marshall Smith: Only Forward (1994)
73. Richard Matheson: I Am Legend (1954)
74. Charles Maturin: Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
75. Patrick McCabe: The Butcher Boy (1992)
76. Cormac McCarthy: The Road (2006)
77. Jed Mercurio: Ascent (2007)
78. China Miéville: The Scar (2002)
79. Andrew Miller: Ingenious Pain (1997)
80. Walter M Miller Jr: A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960)
81. David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas (2004)
82. Michael Moorcock: Mother London (1988)
83. William Morris: News From Nowhere (1890)
84. Toni Morrison: Beloved (1987)
85. Haruki Murakami: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (1995)
86. Vladimir Nabokov: Ada or Ardor (1969)
87. Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003)
88. Larry Niven: Ringworld (1970)
89. Jeff Noon: Vurt (1993)
90. Flann O’Brien: The Third Policeman (1967)
91. Ben Okri: The Famished Road (1991)
92. Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club (1996)
93. Thomas Love Peacock: Nightmare Abbey (1818)
94. Mervyn Peake: Titus Groan (1946)
95. John Cowper Powys: A Glastonbury Romance (1932)
96. Christopher Priest: The Prestige (1995)
97. François Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532-34)
98. Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
99. Alastair Reynolds: Revelation Space (2000)
100. Kim Stanley Robinson: The Years of Rice and Salt (2002)
101. JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
102. Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses (1988)
103. Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry: The Little Prince (1943)
104. José Saramago: Blindness (1995)
105. Will Self: How the Dead Live (2000)
106. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (1818)
107. Dan Simmons: Hyperion (1989)
108. Olaf Stapledon: Star Maker (1937)
109. Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash (1992)
110. Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
111. Bram Stoker: Dracula (1897)
112. Rupert Thomson: The Insult (1996)
113. Mark Twain: A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court (1889)
114. Kurt Vonnegut: Sirens of Titan (1959)
115. Robert Walser: Institute Benjamenta (1909)
116. Sylvia Townsend Warner: Lolly Willowes (1926)
117. Sarah Waters: Affinity (1999)
118. HG Wells: The Time Machine (1895)
119. HG Wells: The War of the Worlds (1898)
120. TH White: The Sword in the Stone (1938)
121. Gene Wolfe: The Book of the New Sun (1980-83)
122. John Wyndham: Day of the Triffids (1951)
123. John Wyndham: The Midwich Cuckoos (1957)
124. Yevgeny Zamyatin: We (1924)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Weekly Geeks

The explanation for this week's Weekly Geeks is here:
I'm answering one, two and three; and will probably do number four later in the week if I remember.
Okay. So. How do I feel about classical literature?
Here's the thing. I feel the same way about everything that I read. I hope I'm going to get a well-told story that will take me out of myself for a bit.
Having said that, I do have my personal challenge to read one classic novel a month, which range from The Count of Monte Cristo (still kicking my ass) to Brideshead Revisited to A Wizard of Earthsea.
My definition of ''classic'' is very broad, and not one I've ever tried to quantify.
As for recommending classics to someone else ... one of my favourites from last year was A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. So that one.

I'll read at least one chapter of the Count of Monte Cristo this week, so that'll cover that.

Now. Cousin Myrtle. I"m going to assume that Cousin Myrtle and I are close. Because before we went into the bookstore I'd tell her to harden up, stop being a snob, and pick something because I'm not spending however-long-the-holiday-is listening to her complain about how she has nothing to read.

Hopefully I can get around the other Geeks and find yet more reading ideas. :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not the Count of Monte Cristo

Sigh. I did read a book in the past two days. It was not, however, the Count of Monte Cristo. We're stalled there, with the Count about to visit Albert Something in France.

What I did read was this:

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Nick and Norah meet one night at a music club, when Nick asks Norah to pretend to be his girlfriend _ temporarily _ when his ex-girlfriend walks into the club.

What follows for both Nick and Norah is an extraordinary, life-changing kind of a night as they start to maybe, probably, fall in love.

The Nick/Norah chapters are written by Levithan and Cohn respectively, in alternating first person points of view.

I loved it. I really did. There is a lot of swearing, I think, but I work at a newspaper, so I'm not the best judge of what constitutes a lot of swearing. The alternating chapters gives a good insight into what Nick and Norah are thinking, and that although for the most part they're on the same wavelength, that the same gulfs of communication can exist between the most in-tune people.

I'm probably above the legal age limit for knowing who most of the bands they reference are, but I recognised enough of them to be able to ask where the garden of my aunt is located.

It's a YA novel, but one for anyone who has had one of those epic nights that you never want to end. Or, you know, who just enjoys a good story.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Reading Week

Sigh. The Count of Monte Cristo is kicking my ass. I'm not even halfway through it and I keep finding other things to do.

If I had realised how long it was, I would have swapped it for a classic from later on in the year. Ah, well. As one of my workmates would say "take a teaspoon of cement and harden up"!

The thing is, The Count of Monte Cristo is really, really, really good. But if I want to get any OTHER reading done, it's going to have to intrude on February's book _ The Pillars of the Earth. Also a long one, but I have two weeks off at the end of February, so I might just read it then. H'm. That'd work, wouldn't it?

What else is on the menu? Nation, still. I read the prologue today and the first page ... do you ever get that feeling, when you pick up a book that you're just going to be yanked down the rabbit hole? Yeah. I have to be careful, I think, when I pick that one up, because I'm not going to want/be able to put it down. Just a feeling.

I have a bunch of library books as well. Some easy-reads: a couple of Monica Ferris Needlework mysteries, and some CSI novelisations, so I won't be too upset if I don't get to those before they're due back. One that I DO want to read, however, is Let the Right One In; a vampire novel set in ... Sweden. It's by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

But that'll have to wait for some spare daylight time.

I'm wussy that way. :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Weekly Geeks 2

For those who have been with the group, either from the start or joined within recent months, what does being a member mean to you? What do you enjoy about the group? What are some of your more memorable Weekly Geeks that we might could do again? What could be improved as we continue the legacy that Dewey gave us?

Hmm... I've missed maybe two Weekly Geeks since its inception but I don't know what to answer to what it means to me. For me, it's a fun thing to do once a week where I get to virtually hang out with lots of like-minded people :)
So that's the first two questions answered in one easy paragraph.
I really enjoyed the Weekly Geeks where we interviewed each other about what we were reading _ I'd be happy to see a repeat of that one.
Oh! And the quotes one, where we posted a quote a day on a specific subject. That was a lot of fun too.

I have no improvements for suggestions. You're all doing a great job at keeping Dewey's Weekly Geek legacy alive.

The Heretic Queen plus Dragonlance shortie

I had one of those "is it me?" moments with The Heretic Queen. I enjoyed Michelle Moran's first novel, Nefertiti, but wasn't in love with it. And I had a similar reaction to The Heretic Queen, the sequel.

The trouble is, most of the reviews I've read are pretty glowing and it makes me wonder why I had such an "eh" reaction. That maybe I'd missed some kind of secret awesomeness somewhere. It's possible.

Anyway. Historically speaking, Nefertari was the wife of Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great. He ruled ancient Egypt longer than just about anyone and instituted massive building programmes.

However, I'm getting off-track. I do find Ramesses' story fascinating but this is meant to be Nefertari's story. And it's fine as far as it goes. It's well-researched and gives fairly vivid descriptions of what life might have been like. But I can't get ahold of the characters. For such a vivid historical figure, Ramesses is reduced to little more than a king pawn between warring queens.

Warring queens that I felt were barely sketched in themselves. Nefertari is the narrator of the story, and although her historical origins are lost to time, in The Heretic Queen she is the niece of the notorious Nefertiti and carries that burden ... and carries it ... and .. have you ever wanted to say "oh, pull your socks up and stop whingeing!" to a ficitonal character? Yeah. I wanted to say that to Nefertari.

The half of the book she's not mooning after Ramesses, she's complaining about her personal history. Sigh. And in between times she's being manipulated like a pawn on a chessboard, which made me feel like I didn't really have a lot of insight into her character.

Having said all that, I read The Heretic Queen in two days. Moran's writing is very compelling and she really knows how to put a story together. I just wish there were a few more ingredients.

I also read Book Three of The Dark Disciple: Amber and Blood; a Dragonlance novel. There have been many, many, many Dragonlance offshoots. The Dark Disciple trilogy follows on from the War of Souls trilogy and picks up Mina's story. It seemed to take aaaaaaaaaaages for Amber and Blood to come out in paperback and I thought I was going to have to go back and re-read the first two books. But my retention was better than I thought :)
I did enjoy Amber and Blood. It wrapped things up nicely, had the required good guys/bad guys/angsts and hand-wringings you'd expect :) It was well-written, well-plotted and easy to read.
If you haven't read any Dragonlance novels, the first one is Dragons of Autumn Twilight. :)

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Bookshelf Meme

Darcie at has tagged me for the bookshelf meme so here goes :)

Tell me about the book that has been on your shelves the longest...

Hmmm ... that I have read, probably my very battered copy of The Wind in the Willows. That I haven't read ... I refuse to answer, on the grounds I may incriminate myself. As you can see, it's very well-travelled. I bought it when I was quite small, from a bookshop that is no longer there: Pickwick Papers. :)

Tell me about a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (i.e. a person, a place, a time, etc.)...

The Lord of the Rings. I remember being about 14-15 and just *devouring* it for the first time. Obviously not this particular copy. I had a lovely battered old paperback edition that I loaned to my brother in law _ and never saw again. As you can see, it took me a few years to replace it. This is the one on my bedside table _ the Eternal Re-read :)

Tell me about the most recent addition to your shelves...

The Stand, by Stephen King. I don't actually buy a lot of books and I bought this one just after Christmas :) _ one of the bookstores had 25% off fiction, and I'm weak-willed. It's my favourite Stephen King.

Tell me about a book that has been with you to the most places...
Once again, The Lord of the Rings. When I was a teenager _ before my mother bought me my own copy (see above) I used to steal my brother's copy and take it everywhere _ including school.

Tell me about a bonus book that doesn't fit any of the above questions...

This is a collection of Agatha Christie Omnibuses. There are 20, and I got 19 of them for $15 from a charity store. I'm quietly proud of that :)

1. Tag 3-5 people, so the fun keeps going! _ I've seen this meme around, so in order not to double up on anyone, if you're passing through, and you haven't done it, join in!!! :)

2. Leave a comment at the original post at so that Eva can collect everyone’s answers.
3. If you leave a comment and link back to Eva as the meme’s creator, she will enter you in a book giveaway contest! She has a whole shelf devoted to giveaway books that you’ll be able to choose from, or a bookmooch point if you prefer.
4. Remember that this is all about enjoying books as physical objects, so feel free to describe the exact book you’re talking about, down to that warping from being dropped in the bath water…
5. Make the meme more fun with visuals! Covers of the specific edition you’re talking about, photos of your bookshelves, etc.

The Reading Week

Merlin, hiding away in the slot that used to hold the scanner until Patrick got too interested in lifting the lid. So now it's just an empty space, when not occupied by lanky tabbies.

H'm. Still on The Count of Monte Cristo, obviously. And it's not going half as fast as it should be but never mind. I WILL prevail! Yes, I will.

Uhm ... what else. I read The Heretic Queen over Saturday and Sunday. And is it just me? Does anyone else read books that everyone else kind of drools over but you just think "well, it was all right" because that's how I felt about The Heretic Queen. Review coming, I suppose.

But next up is Amber and Blood: Book three of the Dark Disciple, one of the oh, so many Dragonlance offshoots. I haven't read them all (I'd never read anything else) but The Dark Disciple is sort of in a direct line from the original trilogies and I did enjoy the first two. Also, I waited for aaaaaaages for this one to come out. So I duly put a hold on it at the library, got it out when it came in _ and promptly forgot about it.
It was due back at the library on Saturday. It is however, a relatively short book and I'm pretty sure I can knock it over in a couple of days.

I still have Nation on my bedside table and I haven't even cracked it yet. Yes, I feel bad about that. Sigh.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Weekly Geeks

The Weekly Geeks are back. And, in the spirit of Dewey's passion for community building; this is the first one:

In the spirit of the amazing community building that Dewey was so good at, tell us about your favorite blogs, the ones you have bookmarked or subscribe to in your Google Reader, that you visit on a regular basis. Tell us what it is about these blogs that you love, that inspire or educate you or make you laugh. Be sure to link to them so we can find them too.

Oh gosh. I actually have quite a few book blogs that I read daily (as I'm sure we all do) and then I click through thier blog rolls ... and then their blog rolls ... you know how it goes :)

So, in order to keep this (relatively) short I'm going to name three blogs that I read every day and that I comment on on a regular basis :)

First up is American Bibliophile:

We have a lot in common; our children are similare ages and we have similar tastes (at least I think so) in books. The posts are generally short but also informative and fun to read _ not an easy thing to do. Also, nominated me for this award _ The Lemonade Stand award _ that I keep forgetting to mention here (sorry!) but it was greatly appreciated _ thank you :)

Next up is Joanne at who I actually "met" through one of Dewey's Weekly Geeks when we interviewed each other about the books we were reading. It was a great experience and now I read Joanne's blog every day.

She also very kindly gave me an award: the "Well Worth Watching" blog award, for which I say thank you very much :)

Last on my shortlist, but by no means least is Nymeth at who writes thoughtful reviews about the books and graphic novels that she reads. Mostly, though, I can picture myself hanging out with Nymeth and like, totally geeking out over Neil Gaiman.

There are others, many, many others, but because I'm a magpie-person, attracted to shiny things, I would be here all night making the Longes List in the World. So I went with the three who came to mind first.

But let's face it _ we're all made of awesome.

And Dewey was the most awesome of us all.

Live long, and prosper, Weekly Geeks.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Perfect ... on Paper: The Misadventures of Waverly Bryson by Maria Murnane

Waverly Bryson thinks her life is going pretty well. She has a great job, great friends and a nearly-perfect fiance. However, when her fiance Aaron calls off the wedding at the last minute, Waverley starts to realise that maybe her life isn't so perfect after all.

Perfect ... on Paper is fun, and funny. Waverly is extremely likable and very real; there were aspects of her that reminded me very much of people I know, so I felt like I was catching up with friends.

She makes very human mistakes and struggles with her life sometimes, her friends sometimes, and her job sometimes. And yet, for Waverly just like the rest of us, sometimes it all falls into place.

Especially when the gorgeous Jake shows up, although at first Waverly seems to just open her mouth to change her foot when she first meets him, which leads to some very funny exchanges.

The supporting characters are well-drawn, especially Waverly's best friends, and her father; I particularly liked the fact that, although they seemed to reach some kind of peace after not getting along, they didn't just automatically fall into each other's arms.

Perfect ... on Paper would be the perfect summer read.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett I actually read this one twice, because it's so short, and it became my first "official" finish of 2009. It's a little charmer of a book, about what might happen were the Queen to take up a hobby _ reading, for example, as she does when she encounters the mobile library van outside the palace kitchens.

Soon, unexpected accommodations are having to be made by her staff as she starts to lose interest in public life and become more and more absorbed in her reading. Bennett has a very deft touch, and manages to say an awful lot, not just about the Queen, but reading and readers in general, in a very small book _ it's only 124 pages but well worth your time (about an hour or so, give or take.)

Also reviewed here:

Short reviews

Short reviews

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

I have a friend who is not fond of short stories, because she feels cheated after reading them. I told her she should read this, because each story is complete in and of itself, and it's hard to imagine how or what to add to them to make them better.

Every time I finished a story, that one became my favourite. Until the next one.

Read it. You know you want to. :)

My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike by Joyce Carol Oates

Okay, just typing the title makes me tired. And to be honest, the book did, a little bit, too.
Loosely based on the JonBenet Ramsey case; My Sister, My Love is told from the point of view of the older brother of child skating star _ and murder victim _ Bliss Rampike.
Skyler is 19, very troubled, and trying to make sense of the world.

I liked parts of it, but more parts of it seemed to drag on ... and on and I got a bit fed up, quite frankly and had to keep putting it down.

Took me weeks to finish it!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Reading Week

Hmmm .... as of right now, apart from my seemingly eternal re-read of The Lord of the Rings, the only book I have on the go is The Count of Monte Christo _ aka: the longest book in the world. Damn thing is huge! And I'm only on page 85. I'm thinking I should go back to the library and see if they have a two-volume set rather than the single giant paperback I'm contending with.

I finished (finally) My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike by Joyce Carol Oates (review coming; probably) and I also read, last wee, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiria (review also probably coming) which I'm counting as my first '09 finish as I started it in the last days of '08. I'm not counting My Sister, My Love because I started in October, or something equally ridiculous.

Apart from The Count of Monte Christo, on my hopefully-to-read list for this week is The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran; a sequel to Nefertiti, which I had somewhat mixed feelings about at the time:

However, I love me some ancient Egypt, so The Heretic Queen it is. Plus, it's due back at the library soon. :)

I'm debating whether to go for another review book for work, or one from my own shelves, which would get me started on the Read Your Own Books challenge. I'm thinking the latter, and I'm thinking Nation by (now) Sir Terry Pratchett.

Technically speaking, challenge-wise I'm starting all right. Interpreter of Maladies and The Heretic Queen and, come to think of it, The Count of Monte Christo all count towards the Support Your Local Library and the 100+ reading challenges (she said optimistically) so I just need to throw in one for Read Your Own Books.

I'm trying to read books that I already have rather than going out and buying new ones but I can't dismiss that possibility entirely (can any of us really?).

On that philosophical note ... I have to go cook dinner. :)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Just Add Books: Yearender

The year that was. Sort of.

It's not really a best-of-2008 list, because I'm crap at those things. That and I'm completely useless at things like counting and maths. So no stats here.

I started this blog in December of 2007, intending to use it to track my progress on my own personal Classics reading challenge _ having no idea, at the time, that there were such things as reading challenges. I know differently now, of course.

So. How'd I do?

This is the list:

January: Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier: Loved loved loved it

Februray: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen: Quite liked it

March: The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens: Didn't finish it

April: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov: Loved it but felt bad for loving it

May: 1984 by George Orwell: Quite liked it

June: The Once and Future King by T H White: Didn't finish it

July: Hawaii by James Michener: Switched with Space, which I really enjoyed

August: The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: Didn't read it

September: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway: Loved loved loved it

October: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte: Didn't finish it

November: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Loved it but it took me aaaaages

December: Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein: Liked it

Okay. According to my calculations I read 69 books in 2008. I thought it was 70 but as I said before, I'm not really good with numbers. I'm not going to go into all of them because I'm inherently lazy.

Here, though, are my top 10, bug other people until they read them:

1): The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Hands down, my favourite read of the whole year. I wanted to stroke it and pet it and carry with me everywhere. It's just lovely.

2): The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby. An extraordinary memoir of the mind.

3): The Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox. Sigh ... *pause* sigh ...

4): American Gods by Neil Gaiman. You were expecting something else?

5): Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. Have you read it? Why not? You should read it!

6): A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. See above comments

7): Duma Key by Stephen King. Much as I was a bit eh about Just After Sunset, I did really enjoy Duma Key. Creepy and atmospheric

8): Up Till Now by William Shatner. Extremely funny and moving autobiography

9): The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. Again ... sigh ... *pause* ... sigh

10:) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Atmospheric and claustrophobic and fantastic.

In order, sort of.

Otherwise 2008 was a year of ... what. Well, Patrick turned 1. He's 19 months old and still not-quite walking on his own but that's fine, because he sure does get around! I lost co-workers in the great Fairfax redundancy thingy (what's the word I want? like apocalypse, but not apocalypse) and morale-wise, I don't think we've recovered yet.

I tried to go to as many movies as I could but sometimes, you know, that didn't pan out. I review movies sometimes for work. I even have my own media pass. I love my media pass. The last movie I saw at the movies in 2008 was Twilight. I thought it was all right. Solid rather than brilliant.

Other than that, I read a lot. Stitched some but only finished one very small thing. I started walking on and off and I'm hoping to make that more on than off this year.

Family wise things ticked over fairly well. Nothing outstanding happened, which is not a bad thing really.


More challenges? No way!


Hmmm ... the 90s called. They want their catchphrase back.
Is there something in the book-blogging water at the start of a new year that I'm unaware of that makes you run around and join lots and lots of reading challenges?

A Neil Gaiman challenge. Might as well just leave chocolate on my doorstep and run away laughing hysterically. Because I can't say no. Hosted by Jessi here:

I'm working on the acolyte level for now, so three works from three different categories. I already have Smoke and Mirrors (short stories) and Anansi Boys (novel) lined up; to that I'm going to add a re-read of The Graveyard Book (Young Adult _ honestly? when I read it, it was all I could do not to just turn to the beginning and start reading it all over again) and watch Coraline the movie when it comes out. :)

I'm seriously, seriously tempted by these challenges:

The Buy One Book and Read It hosted by My Friend Amy

The Baker Street challenge (oh, Sherlock Holmes, how I've missed you ...) _ I haven't read any Holmes for years even though I have the novels and a couple of short story collections um ... hosted here:

And last, but not least, the Agatha Christie challenge: I mean, I'll probably read at least a couple of her novels anyway ...

You know what it is? I have to stop visiting that lovely Novel Challenge blog which helpfully gathers all the reading challenges in one spot. Yeah. It's the blog's fault.

BUT ... I haven't signed up for the others apart from the Neil Gaiman one ... yet.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Echo ... echo ... I accidentally uploaded this to my non-books blog but I'm too superstitious to delete the post. So double your money ... double your fun :)

And ... how's that for appropro? Patrick's very first day (well, night - he was born by emergency cesaerian at 10.36pm but lets not quibble) out in the world. He wasn't born in January, but it's still rich with symbolism, and all that jazz.
I had an epiphany yesterday. I set the same goals/resolutions every year _ because I never follow through! It's always read more, lose weight, save money ... it's no coincidence that I'm still wearing fat-bastard clothes and periodically have to borrow money from my mother (a pensioner! what kind of a daughter am I? I mean, I paid her back, but that's not the point!). I think I may have read more, although I didn't really keep track until I started this blog on December 26 2007. Hey, I missed its birthday. I'm sorry, blog! I'll buy you something pretty. :)
The frustrating thing is that I DO want to lose weight, and save money. I'd love to not look like a wobbly pudding and not shuffle money around like a deck of cards. I'm just. I'm. I got nothing.
I think I'm good with the reading thing, but I'd like to start writing every day as well. Not blogging, although I'd like to be less sporadic here, too, but writing. Creating something that wasn't in the world before.
Oh, you want a list? Okaaaaaaaaaaaay ....
Lose weight. I need to lose a lot but let's start small. 5kg by the end of February do? Hey, gotta start somewhere, right? Walk every weekday. To work, on my day shift days and then around the streets here every other day.
Put credit card away. Pay down other credit card. Pay off and cut up store card. That's not even the worst of it. But it's three things I know I CAN do.
Read every day. I'm aiming for two books a week and 100 for the year. After making 70 this year ... you never know, right? :)
Get my scrapbook updated. I have a scrapbook, where I keep my TV columns and movie reviews. Old-fashioned and Luddite-ish it may be, but I'm determined to update it. I think I'm up to 2007, so I have some work to do.
Finish a cross stitch project that isn't for someone else. And not start any new ones.
Hmm ... it doesn't sound like an ambitious list, but it doesn't need to be, I guess.
Have a good one everybody :)