Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Your meme is here:

I'm having a re-read week this week, by the looks of things.

I'm reading American Gods – and I'm finally ¾ of the way through – still The Two Towers and now, thanks to a Twitter conversation – I've picked up the Belgariad again.

I started re-reading The Belgariad last year, when David Eddings died: and ... I got through Pawn of Prophecy – lol. I've read them so many times that I can easily pick up from book two and carry on from there, so that's what I'm doing. :-)

Last week I finished Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, and presumably reviews will be forthcoming.

So I'm spending this week with some old friends. Entirely by accident, but it's certainly not a bad thing. :-)

Happy reading!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert – possible spoilers

Madame Bovary was book one on my #diversityclassics reading list that I started last month. I was slightly intimidated, never having read Flaubert, but spending a few weekends at my mother's while she recovered from heart surgery, and not having access to the internet while I was there, was very conducive to reading.

I had very few distractions (apart from my mother of course) and finished the book over the course of two weekends.

Just sitting down and reading for several hours is, of course, a bit foreign to me now, so I savoured the experience, along with the book.

Madame Bovary is about the life of Emma Bovary in 19th century rural France.

Emma is a dreamer and a romantic, finding that real life is a harsh place to be, so she hides, in her affairs and her dreams and her shopping.

All of these things, ultimately, lead to Emma's downfall.

As does, it has to be said, being a young woman in rural 19th century France. Emma is passed with hardly a thought from her father to her husband, and instantly regrets her marriage.

She's an incurable romantic and seeks out affairs and material trappings to try and make her life seem a little less bleak.

For me, the overall tone of Madame Bovary is suffocating. Emma's life gets smaller, and smaller until the very end when she can't bear it any more, and I had to keep stopping to take little breaths as Flaubert wove a claustrophobic world around his central character.

I loved Madame Bovary, although the translation I have – by Geoffrey Wall for Penguin Classics – is a little bit choppy which could pull me out of the story a little but. But Emma as a character – as sad and doomed as she was – and the story itself are so strong that it wasn't long before I was drawn back in to Emma's tragic, suffocated life.

I think the biggest tragedy, for me, is that there really isn't another life for Emma. I kept trying to think – in my 21st century girl kind of way – that she had options, that she could have ... and that was always as far as I got.

Emma's options were truly limited. And yes, ultimately she was a victim of her own somewhat overwrought imagination, but even so it's hard not to feel sorry for her as she tries to fill her empty spaces with ridiculous affairs and purchase after purchase.

I found her husband and her lovers to be a little bit ... blurry? I couldn't quite get hold of them all that well as characters, which – if it was intentional – was very clever on Flaubert's part. It makes Emma's story and her struggles that much more painful to read, because she was so very front and centre.

The other character that did stand out was the chemist, with his strange ideas and his platitudes. He's unlikable, but certainly memorable, with his picky, pettifogging ways.

I'm not sure if I would ever re-read Madame Bovary – it's fairly draining, but I'm glad that I have read it now ... if that even makes sense.

Book two of the #diversityclassics challenge for October was supposed to be The Matriarch by Witi Ihimaera. But somehow I've let most of October slide without picking it up, so I'm moving straight on to November's book – In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

8/10 That movie that you've watched 100 times and you never get tired of

Monday, October 18, 2010

Short reviews

Very short reviews, but they're starting to pile up a little bit.

The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire by Storm Constantine

The last book of the Wraeththu trilogy is narrated by my overall favourite character, Cal. He's engaging, irreverent, self-absorbed and really, really funny. When the book opens, he's somewhat down on his luck, and working as a whore in the Wraeththu equivalent of a frontier town. It's not long before Cal is working out how to escape, and to move on.

Events are unrolling around him, and although fate has plans for Cal, he drags his steps and rebels every step of the way. For me, this was the best of the trilogy, but I'm biased because I love Cal so much. I do want to read the second Wraeththu trilogy now.

7/10 Someone else cooks dinner – yay!

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

In the near future, young gamers are used by big business to make them rich. The gamers take exception to this and start to unionise. There are a lot of narrative threads to keep track of here, and the plot can sometimes wear a little bit thin. It's also hard to keep track of when Doctorow stops periodically to give the reader history or object lessons, which threw me out of the story.

Overall, though, For the Win is an enjoyable, intersting read with a fascinating point of view.

6/10 Leaving work 30 minutes early

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

A group of Australian teenagers go bush for a few days of the summer holidays before school starts up again. When Ellie – the narrator of the novel – and her friends get back to town, they discover that something is very wrong and Australia has been invaded; forcing them into hiding.

I did enjoy Tomorrow ... but for such a short novel it took me forever to read and some of it read a little choppy, with short sentences and some of Ellie's thought-processes felt off to me. But overall a good read, and I'm looking forward to reading the second book. :-)

6/10 Leaving work 30 minutes early

The Insatiable Moon by Mike Riddell

This is a re-issue of a New Zealand novel. The film is coming out this month so I suspect the book has been re-issued to coincide with that.

Arthur is a psychiatric patient, living in a halfway house in Ponsonby, a fairly well-to-do Auckland suburb. He also thinks he's the second son of God and that the apocalypse is coming.

Margaret is a slightly discontented housewife who has a chance encounter with Arthur which changes her life.

The Insatiable Moon is a short novel, but it meditates on some profound themes – belief, love, connection and community being the strongest threads running throughout.

It's an easy novel to read, even with the deep themes and it does leave you with some interesting questions.

7/10 Someone else cooks dinner – yay!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Readathon - final meme

It's over until next year!

End of Event Meme:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Um. Sigh. Probably between 2am-3am my time, when I had to argue myself into bed - lol.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Uhm ... nothing specific. Short novels; YA; and short stories?

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

Nope :-)

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

Pretty much everything from what I could see in my sort of manic dipping in and out.

5. How many books did you read?!

See below ;)

6. What were the names of the books you read?

Uh ... one short story (Autopsy Room Four by Stephen King); 45 pages of The Passage by Justin Cronin and about 80 or so pages of Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

Hrm. Not having finished one ... at the moment I'm really liking Clockwork Angel. :)

8. Which did you enjoy least?

Uhm ... Lol, I don't think I read enough to compare ...

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

I was a cheerleader, and I got around most blogs in my "section" about twice, but I had a slightly hectic weekend. The cheerleaders were super-organised and it was a lot of fun :-) My advice? Have fun!

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again?

Very, very likely.

What role would you be likely to take next time?

I shall be a fail!reader and a fail!cheerleader again! *\O/*

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Readathon - mid-event meme

1. What are you reading right now?
Nothing right now, off to my mum's. But will be reading a bit of Clockwork Angel at work, and a bit more of The Passage after work

2. How many books have you read so far?
One short story and 45 pages of The Passage - lol

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
D: I'll be working D:

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
No. I should have asked for the day off work

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Yes. Family. Work. Stuff. Sigh.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
How many readers there are!

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Nope. Loving it!

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
Take the day off work - lol
9. Are you getting tired yet?
I'm almost always tired - lol

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
Have fun!!!!

Readathon mini-challenge

Hour three mini-challenge

"Dewey's readathon. Bringing us all together."

it's 3am. I'm for bed ...

Readathon mini-challenge

Hour two mini-challenge
What were some of your favorite children’s books when you were younger?
- The Hobbit; The Dark is Rising Sequence; A Little Princess
Do you have any new favorites now that you’re an adult?
- Harry Potter; The Graveyard Book
Have you included any children’s or YA titles in your Read-A-Thon stack this year?
- Not this year; no :-)

Readathon mini-challenge


3 facts about me … Uhm ... I'm a Gemini, although I'm not into astrology, I wear green cats-eye glasses and my favourite movie ever is All About Eve

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? Just two: The Passage, and Everything's Eventual

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? Not really. I have to work tomorrow, so I'm just going to fit in as much reading/cheerleading as I can around that :-)

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time? Have fun! Readathon is about fun, and coming together to celebrate books. However you do it; enjoy what you're doing!


For real this time - lol. And because I keep forgetting it, here's a link to the site:

There are over 420 readers this year, which is awesome and would have made Dewey very happy to see!

As for myself - I started in my time zone (New Zealand) about 5pm-ish. I'm a little way into The Passage by Justin Cronin, and I've read one short story from Everything's Eventual, by Stephen King.

I'm about to go and do a spot of cheerleading, then I'm off to bed for a while with my book.

Have a great readathon everyone!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010


And we're off! Or at least, I'm starting now. It's 5pm on Saturday, we're finally home after seeing my mother and running some errands, and Patrick is down for a power nap. Top left in that pic is The Passage, which won the vlog post vote by .5 of a point. So The Passage shall be my readathon read, interspersed with the odd short story from Everything's Eventual.

I'm going to take the chance now to make myself a cup of tea, grab a biscuit, snuggle under a blanket (it's cold and rainy today; perfect readathon weather) and get started.

I'm not going to finish The Passage. Nowhere near it probably, but I'm going to take a good smack at reading as much of it as I can.

Drop by; say hi! Check out my vlog here: (there's food porn in there, too) and let's get this party started, yes?


Readathon vlog

I had been planning to start at 11am tomorrow, my time, but that's not going to happen. I'm aiming for about 3-4pm. I'll put up my first post then.

Meanwhile, come and help me decide what to read ...

NB: I've decided to take Everything's Eventual out of the possibles post, because I'll probably dip into it anyway. But of the others, let me know what you think I should hunker down with. :-)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Readathon v reality

As some of you know, my mother had heart surgery some weeks ago. She's been back in hospital the past few days, with fluid on her lungs and a chest infection.

She's doing better now, and is coming home tomorrow, but needs someone to help her prepare her meals at the weekends, and this weekend that someone is me. :-)

So I'm still going to be doing readathon, because I really want to, but I have to scale back my usual grand plans - lol. I'm also working Sunday, which I don't usually, but I'm going to try and ninja-cheerlead a bit from there ;)

Anyway, this post ... really has no point - lol. I'm going to do a vlog tomorrow, because that's sort of my own personal readathon tradition, and what I'm going to do, readers, followers, lurkers ... is let you decide my readathon read for me.

I'm going to stick to one book, but I don't know which one yet. So the vlog will be my list of possibles and I'll choose the one that gets more than one vote.

A streamlined readathon, if you will. :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I actually finished two books last week: Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert, and The Insatiable Moon by Mike Riddell. I loved Madame Bovary, and quite enjoyed The Insatiable Moon. I keep promising reviews and not delivering, but Moon will go into my upcoming short reviews post, while Madame Bovary will get her very own post.

As for what I am reading ... I was going to start Moving Pictures, by Mr Sir Terry Pratchett, but realised I was under too much of a time constraint - it's due back at the library on Wednesday and I'm not reading fast enough at the moment to get it finished in time.

Which leaves me with: what am I going to read? I'm finally going to pick up The Two Towers again, and I feel bad for not having finished it yet, given that the LOTR readalong was in the early part of the year. But LOTR is a very old, and forgiving friend.

I'm also going to start Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare - that shall be my break time at work reading.

Happy reading! :-)

Weekly Geeks

I haven't done the Weekly Geeks - - for a while, but it's about Dewey's readathon (which is next weekend) and I was talking about it on twitter earlier today, so ... it's a sign?

So ... on to what the geeks want to know about my readathon "plans":

* if you are participating in the read-a-thon or not.
Yes, I am. Reading and cheerleading. I expect my usual epic fail at both \o/
* and if not, why not. (timing isn't right, you didn't know about it, life won't allow it, it's not your thing, etc.)
* if you are, do you have a strategy?
Well, I'd like to get a bit of reading done ... which isn't actually sarcasm. Usually I get about a book and a half read. So ... we'll see.
* do you have a stack of books prepared to read from?
Not yet but I will have soon!
* will you try to read as many books as you can or as many pages as you can?
* do you have special food and snacks planned?
* do you have a special spot all set up for reading?
* will you get your Saturday things done on Friday so you can read guilt free?
Hmmmm ... no Saturday stuff will need doing, I don't think. I need to make a trip to the supermarket; that's about it.
* if you have others living in your household, do you have to work around their schedules too?
Husband and a three year old so ... yes. I'm also planning on starting at 11am on Saturday morning my time (New Zealand) because I have to work at 2.30pm on Sunday, though I'm hoping to do a little bit of ninja cheerleading from work.