Saturday, June 30, 2007

June Reads

  1. Dreams Made Flesh - Anne Bishop (10/10)
    Anne Bishop continues to impress. This book contains four short stories from the past and future of the Black Jewels Realms and I love them all, but especially the ones about Lucivar and Marian and about Jaenelle and Daemon.
  2. Hunter Kiss - Marjorie M. Liu (8/10)
    Short story in "Wild Thing" anthology. I set out not wanting to like this - mostly because I can't afford to have another autobuy series. The budget just won't take it. The blurb - woman with living tattoos fights demons - and the fact it was writing present tense, which I don't really like, had me thinking I was probably safe. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Once again, Liu shows she can create a quite dark world and portray it in a compassionate and hopeful manner. The heroine, Maxine, is well drawn and likeable, the hero is pleasant with a suspicion of hidden depths and Maxine's "demons" are surprisingly compelling characters. I'm fairly sure I'll be reading the series after all.
  3. Games of Command - Linnea Sinclair (8/10)
    Another solid performance from Sinclair, but not my favourite of hers. I understand some part of this book was originally epublished, then it was edited and expanded for this edition. Unfortunately, I feel it suffers just a little as a result of this. Not much, but it means I didn't like "Games of Command" as much as her other books. There are two couples here and while Sinclair manages well sharing the spotlight, I think I would have preferred a slightly shorter book with one hero and heroine to cheer for. All the same, a most enjoyable read and I look forward to Sinclair's next outing with the fascinating title of "The Down Home Zombie Blues".
  4. Sky Coyote - Kage Baker (8/10)
    I read the first book in Kage Baker's Company series back in December last year. I enjoyed it, rating it 9/10, and arranged to borrow the next few in the series from a friend. Then I just failied to find time to read any of them. I finally picked up "Sky Coyote" this month and loved it. The first book set up the universe, this one started showing how tricksy and brilliantly clever it is. Suddenly, nothing is simple and I am totally hooked on the series. I'm reading my way through it and loving them all.
  5. Deadly Decisions - Kathy Reichs (7/10)
    Another good, solid entry in Reichs' series, atlhough bikers aren't my totally favourite subject.
  6. Mendoza in Hollywood - Kage Baker (9/10)
    And the good just keeps on going. I find it fascinating that Baker has set up this series with Mendoza as the pivot of the books and yet she isn't always the main character in a novel. She is in this one however, as we see her dealing with humanity again after centuries of blessed peace and solitude in the wilderness. Her life goes to hell in a handbasket from here as things get more complicated, more fascinating and more conspiracies rear their heads. Baker has a way of writing that makes all these things flow instead of backing up in one's brain and I'm left with a feeling of great satisfaction (and anticipation for the next volume) at the end of each book.
  7. Venetia - Georgette Heyer (9/10)
    I started this a while back when in a down moment as it has always been my favourite Georgette Heyer novel. I'm delighted to say that it still is as books don't always live up to our fond memories of them. Venetia and Damerel's autumn idyll, their bright wit and playfulness survive the years intact and I loved the book as much as ever.
  8. Black Projects, White Knights (9/10)
    As I said in my review of "Dreams Made Flesh", I'm not really much of a reader of short stories. However, I do enjoy them when they tell tales in a universe with which I am familiar. The author doesn't need to spend time on set up and being clever and can just get on with telling the tale. This is a most enjoyable collection of Company stories that I read through in three days - an indication of quality indeed for me. It fills in a lot of interesting bits and pieces and gives the whole universe Baker has created a deeper flavour.
  9. Faerie Wars - Herbie Brennan (6/10)
    This was this month's read for [FantasyFavorites]. Sadly, I was disappointed. All in all, I found it a big "meh" kind of book. It was a smooth and easy read - I read it in a couple of days easily - but it just didn't rise above the bunch in any way for me. It wasn't a bad book, it just didn't have anything that made it a particularly good book either.
  10. Relic - Douglas Preson & Lincoln Child (DNF - 5/10)
    I enjoyed about the first 2/3 of this, then it turned into "monster rampages" and I got bored. I read the end to check how it finished, felt cheated by the fact the "answer" to the mystery got turned around right at the end and was glad I stopped reading.
  11. The Graveyard Game - Kage Baker (9/10)
    More brilliance from Kage Baker. With this one, we finally leave our past and move into the author's imagined future. Because the story spans a couple of centuries, she is forced to use a narrator to fill us in on the changes over time. This probably shouldn't have worked, but it did, and with panache and style. As Joseph and Lewis try to find out what happened to Mendoza during and after the events of "Mendoza in Hollywood" we discover more about the Company, more about the cyborgs scattered through history and get provided with more and more questions about what is really going on. Rather than being annoying, it is all fascinating and my dedicated read of the series (Company book, other book, Company book etc) will continue. I couldn't wait for my friend to send me more books so I'm now making use of the library and have everything, including the last book that is published next week, on reserve.
  12. Megan's Mark - Lora Leigh (7/10)
    Another book in Leigh's Breeds series. A solid read, but nothing that pushes it up above the others in the series. My favourite remains "Elizabeth's Wolf" by a wide margin.

Dreams Made Flesh - Anne Bishop (10/10)

Title: Dreams Made Flesh
Author: Anne Bishop
Published: 2005
Grade: 10/10

Series: Realms of the Blood, Book 4

Why I Chose this Book:
Because I loved the "Blood" books and needed another fix

Set in the realm of The Black Jewels trilogy, this collection features four brand-new revelatory stories of Jaenelle and her kindred.

My Comments:
Anne Bishop continues to impress. This book contains four short stories from the past and future of the Black Jewels Realms and I love them all, but especially the ones about Lucivar and Marian and about Jaenelle and Daemon.

The first is a very short piece about how the golden spiders gained sentience and power.

The second tells the story of Lucivar and Marian's courtship. Here, Bishop shows she can take a standard romance outline and tell a magical tale. Many a romance author could read this to find out exactly how to write an alpa male and make a success of it. A brilliant success.

The third tells of a black moment in Saetan's life and explains why he never tried to keep Lucivar and Daemon when they were taken from them. We learn that he control of his power and temper was hard won and have part of the answer to the question of who would win if Saetan and Daemon ever faced off.

The fourth story takes up where "Queen of the Darkness" left off, telling the tale of how Jaenelle and Daemon reconnect as Jaenelle heals. As these two were my favourites in the main series, this was a total delight. Again, Bishop has taken a romance trope and shown how it should be done in this beautiful fantasy story.

Someone is trying to sew discord between Daemon and Jaenelle and they need all their combined strength as they combat this new enemy and come to terms with the changes in Jaenelle due to her actions in "Queen of the Darkness". As some who reads some romance (and reads about it more) this story is a triumph where the characters, facing misunderstanding and confusion sown by their enemy and their own actions, actually talk to each other and resolve the problem instead of letting it fester for hundreds of pages. Congratulations to Anne Bishop, Jaenelle and Daemon.

This story shows also shows us fundamental differences between Daemon and Jaenelle and how they compliment each other. Jaenelle does all the things she does because she loves and cares about the people around her. She stays in Challiot for Whilemena, she forms the Dark Court to save the Kindred, she does eveything she does to save the Blood. Daemon on the other hand, does the things he does solely for Jaenelle. She is his concern. His to protect and cherish. If he cares about others (and he doese) and what they think of him, it takes a distant backseat to what Jaenelle needs of and from him.

This story also provides the rest of what is needed to answer that question of a confrontation between Daemon and Saetan. Especially if it concerned Jaenelle, it would be Daemon. Saetan rightly fears his power and has a rigid control; Daemon will simply use his without any such consideration.

I have rapidly become and Anne Bishop fangirl and will happily shout her praises to the rooftops. I am not generally a short story reader, but I do love them when the further my knowledge and understanding of people and places I don't want to leave behind yet. That is exactly what "Dreams Made Flesh" does and it was a welcome addition to the tales of the Blood.

Wow! This is exciting!

Fixed Tree
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

Marcus' first autumn at Salamanca Road
You didn’t like the way the leaves had started to fall from the trees. So you took it upon yourself to fix it. With masking tape! I love the way your mind works. I can never guess what you are going to come up with next.

Word art from "Revisit" in the "Memories Are Made of This" collection by Tracy Ann Robinson; everything else is from "Crumples Spice" by Tracy Ann Robinson; font is Wiffles.

This layout got picked as the layout of the week over at the Tracy Ann Designs team blog. This is just so cool. I love the page myself, but to have other people like it too is exciting.

I just love Tracy Ann's designs. I think I'd happily own pretty much everything she's ever made if I could. She's right up there as one of my favourite designs - just edging out anyone else to be number one I think. So that makes this even more exciting.

I won a $10 gift certificate to her store, which I've spent already. (And yes, I did spend a few dollars extra, but only a few.)

Want to see what I bought?

Paper Frames 1

Fabricated Notes 1

Zany Basic Paper Pack 2

Artline 7 Flowers

Monday, June 25, 2007

Yipee! Hooray!

After my sad little post about being unable to stitch - and I really appreciated the support people offered - I found myself thinking about the whole issue.

I'd been trying to stitch out in the lounge, during the day, in the middle of everything else that needed doing, all the distractions and Hurricane Marcus.

So I tried something else.

When we first moved in here, I thought the little alcove in our bedroom would be a lovely stitching corner, but never had an opportunity to use it.

I've been trying to do a bit of stitching using a floor frame, in the bedroom. I do it in the evenings after Marcus has gone to bed and I have no TV going. Instead, I've been listening to audio books (or Doctor Who audio dramas as tonight) on my mp3 player and quietly stitching. I've also set myself a time limit so that I stop before I'm exhausted instead of just going and going until I can't do any more - and then pay for the overexertion later.

And it's working. I can't do it every night as I might be busy or not feel up to it, but I've done it three or four times now and the feeling of be stitching again is just wonderful. Of course, I'm now imagining how many things I might do when I should just be concentrating on enjoying the moment, but that can be my next step.

(Yes, I know I need to get my hair cut. I just haven't had an opportunity to do so.)

I've been working on Alpine Seasons and I've made some progress on part 9. I have a couple more layers of mountain to do in autumn and then I'll have made it back to winter, which is where I started, leaving me half a season to have the ring of moutains around the centre done. I'll post a picture once I'm at that point. Hopefully it will be this week.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tangled Webs by Anne Bishop (March 2008)

Don't get too excited, it doesn't come out until next March. But isn't the cover pretty. For readers of the series, that's Surreal on the cover. I don't know if she's how I imagined her or not, but I definitely like it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

First Egg Hunt

First Egg Hunt
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

Stamp sheet from "Covered Stamp Sheets" by Meredith Fenwick; stitched stem flowers from "Those Bloomin Flowers" by Christy Lyle; everything else from "Love Sprung" by Dani Mogstad and Traci Reed; font is FG Lova.

Another Easter LO done today at

Sad and Afraid

I find that, no matter how much I want to want to stitch, I actually don't want to.

If that makes sense...

I think of my lovely projects that have stopped dead and I really want to be working on it, but when I think about actually doing it, I just feel tired, my brain feels too slow and stupid, my arms feel leaden and it's all too hard.

Stitching has been an integral part of my life for over 20 years now. This is very sad. I'm very sad.

I try to tell myself that the urge and inspiration will come back. I just have to be patient. But I told myself that when I found myself unable to write, something I'd been doing for even longer than stitching. That still hasn't come back and we're talking years now.

I'm afraid I've lost something else I love. Really afraid.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Short Stories vs Full Novels

It's kind of strange that for someone with energy and sometimes concentration issues, I find short stories so hard to read.

But I do.

I'm on my next Company (Kage Baker) book as loaned to me by Alison. This one (Black Projects, White Knights) is a collection of short stories. They are all fascinating and I'm enjoying them as much as I have the novels.

But I find them harder to read. They've taken me a lot longer (which is okay really, especially since I don't have the next book after this yet anyway) to read than a novel generally does.

Why is it easier to read a 400-page novel that a 50-page short story?

I don't have the answer, but for me, it is.

The title says it all

Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

SketchPLATE09 by Antia Stergiou; background paper by Amanda Rockwell; other papers by Lisa Whitney.


Dave is rebuilding the computer that houses our webserver, which is why the images in my sidebar have all vanished. As soon as he has a quiet moment to tell me if I need to update or change anything, hopefully I'll be able to get them back.


Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

I just love the simplicity of this one. This is more my style. I'll just let my pictures talk to me in future and see what I end up with.

Star from "Wild Rumpus" by Andrea Burns; everything else from "Summer Lovin'" by Andrea Burns; fonts are FG Melodie and Century Schoolbook.

A quick thanks

I just wanted to add a quick thanks to the people who commented on Marcus being sick.

The croup didn't recur and his breathing and coughing steadily improved. He's got the actual cold now and is being pretty ratty with it, but it's normal winter stuff.

Thanks for taking the time to comment. It was appreciated. If you remain interested in the family's happenings, I tend to do family blogging on my livejournal and craft and reading stuff over here.

Looking back on a classic moment

Messy Eater
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

This photo has been sitting on my hard drive waiting to be scrapped pretty much since I started digiscrapping. Look at that face! How could I not make a page out of it.

Messy Eater
You didn’t exactly take to eating solids when we tried to introduce you to them. But boy, oh boy, you most definitely liked the idea of biscuits. Not only that, but the messier the biscuit in question, the more you liked it. Gingernuts were a great faourite and I’m sure it was as much about the mess as the taste.

[Note for Americans - biscuits = cookies in this case]

Journalling stamps from "Journaling Stamps" by Katie Pertiet; tag label from "Loosely Labeled" by Katie Pertiet; blue flower from "Summer Lovin" by Andrea Burns; everything else from "Wild Rumpus" by Andrea Burns; font is Blackjack.

Been on a scrapbooking kick

I've been on a bit of a scrapbooking kick the last couple of days.

I had something of a realisation while doing it. I love all the amazing, busy and detailed pages other people do, but they're not my own personal style. The more I try to copy it, the less happy I tend to be with the results.

I'm a simple scrapper and that's what I like the most.

So I'm going to give up on being trendy and do it my own way.

Six pages went up in my Flickr album and into my DST album today. I'm going to post my three favourites here in a moment.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sometimes book learning isn't enough

It's 1.30am here and we're just back from taking Marcus to the doctor after he woke up with horrible, laboured breathing.

It turned out he had croup.

Now I know the word. I know it because I read it in Anne of Green Gables when Diana's little sister had it, Anne nursed her through it and that made Mrs Barry accept Anne and let Anne and Diana become best friends.

Unfortunately, that didn't help me at all. I still didn't know what it was (it's when a virus for a head cold gets to the voice box), I couldn't remember what Anne's treatment was anyway (I'm going to have to look it up in the morning) and I realised that over 100 years later, it may or may not be relevant.

Since the doctor said the first things to try were cold air or hot, moist air, Anne might have saved the day if I'd know what was wrong and remembered what she did.

However, Marcus was worse than that and needed adrenaline through a nebuliser. Now that's something Anne wouldn't have had on hand in 189-whatever it was.

Still, now that all is well and he's almost asleep again beside me, it's kind of cool to have something affect us today that was there in a book I read as a kid that was written more than a century before Marcus was ever born.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cool new series

Okay, technically it's an old series that I'm now reading. So it's new to me.

As anyone who checks in on my blog has probably figured out, I'd love to write my own reviews of the books I read, but I rarely manage it. My CFS-fogged brain, while it can still read happily (thank goodness!), struggles to coherently come up with intelligent discussion of the book. And being tired, typing it all up while working hard for the words I want is often more than I feel like managing. I could be reading another book instead.

All the same, I thought I might try tossing out a few comments here and there on what I'm reading. I get great pleasure from reading such things from other people so maybe it will be useful to someone else. Even if it's not, it's nice to have a bit of a "squee" now and then.

Right now I'm caught up in Kage Bager's Company books.

They're great.

A friend told me about them long ago - she's a big fan and buys them all in hardcover as soon as they come out - and I was always intereted but, like everything else, didn't know where I was going to find the time to fit them into my life.

I read book one, In the Garden of Iden (I'd like you to my Library Thing page for it, but the site is down so this will take you to Fantastic Fiction instead, which is a brilliant site) probably last year, and was fascinated.

I borrowed the next few from Alison and onto the TBR shelf they went. I added book two, Sky Coyote to my personal TBR challenge to try to get myself to read it and did so last week. Now I'm beyond fascinated and into hooked. I've since also read book three, Mendoza in Hollywood, and I have the first book of short stories waiting for me.

At 100 pages into Mendoza in Hollywood, I phoned Alison to beg her to send me more books. I'm trying to read one Company book, one other book, one Company book etc as I think if I read them back to back, my brain might explode, and it's kind of fragile as it is. I know I miss stuff, and I certainly forget stuff, pretty quickly, but I try to accept that and enjoy the reading.

The basic storyline is as follows (and stolen from Wikipedia):

Dr. Zeus (or The Company) operates from the 24th century, using technologies of time travel and immortality to exploit the past for commercial gain. The immortality technology is limited to taking young children and turning them into cyborgs. The time travel technology only allows journeys into the past, and returns to the present. In addition, the technology is expensive and dangerous for normal humans to use.

History, or at least recorded history, cannot be changed. Dr. Zeus cannot save Lincoln, warn the Titanic, prevent the sack of Rome, or stop the burning of the Library at Alexandria. It can take valuable artifacts thought to be lost in these and other events, and 'rediscover' them in the future. However, even without the dangers of time travel, Dr. Zeus' employees hate the past. By their time, all stimulants and narcotics are illegal, vegetarianism is compulsory, and they are disease- and dirt-phobic. They find the past's inhabitants disgusting.

To carry out its mission, Dr. Zeus sends its employees far into human prehistory, where they take children from Neanderthal and modern human families and give them the immortality treatment. These individuals are then promised a bright future in the 24th century, in exchange for working for the Company till then. Their job is to Preserve cultural artifacts, valuable plants, and endangered species, hiding them in safe places till the Company can 'recover' them in the future. The cyborgs will get to the 24th century the old fashioned way, by living through the intervening millennia. Along the way they can create others to help them, using children who would otherwise die and not affect history. They are also provided with many recordings of future culture, entertainment, and a carefully edited view of history. Dr. Zeus alone knows everything that will happen up till the 24th century.

As the series progresses, it becomes apparent that the Dr. Zeus story is itself a fiction. How they came by their technology, and how long the Company has really existed, is an unfolding mystery. In addition, nobody, not even Dr. Zeus, knows what happens after the year 2355. Although communication between different times is possible, there is nothing from beyond a certain date in 2355. This is known as the Silence, and is a source of dread to both Company people and cyborgs.

The first book is really set up, introducing us to Mendoza and her tragic first love affair that will resonante through centuries, who if not the major character certainly seems to be a catalyst character from what I can tell so far, the Company and their goals and the general world. It is in Sky Coyote that the anomolies and mysteries of the Company start to show up and they are just as fascinating as the current-time action of the main characters. I need to know what is really going on and what happens to everyone. I really, really, really do.

Since I finished Mendoza in Hollywood last night, I'm up to my in between book now and I'm thinking I'll go back to Venetia and finish that. Then it's on to Black Projects, White Knights, which is a collection of short stories. Hopefully by the time I've finished that and read something else, there will have been a parcel arriving in our PO box.

I do have a variety of interesting sounding books to read for my two book lists I try to keep up with (maybe I'll pimp those in another post as this one is WAAAAY too long ready) so I'll need to fit them in too (the most immediate ones are Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan and The Bone Doll's Twin and Hidden Warrior by Lynn Flewelling). I should have enough to keep me going for a while.

Also convenient, the last book in the Company series comes out next month and Alison assures me she is getting it in hardcover and immediately. So when I get to that point, she'll have it all finished and I can happily read my way through to the end.

What fun!

Monday, June 11, 2007

June Personal TBR Challenge

Read at least one of the following:

  1. Games of Command - Linnea Sinclair
  2. Sky Coyote - Kage Baker
  3. Persuasion - Jane Austen
  4. finish Ship of Destiny - Robin Hobb
  5. Judas Unchained - Peter F. Hamilton

May Reads

We've been on holiday, so this is a little late, but here it is.

May 2007 Reading

  1. Claiming the Courtesan - Anna Campbell (8/10)
  2. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club - Dorothy L. Sayers (DNF)
  3. Bitten - Kelley Armstrong (8/10)
  4. Song of the Beast (8/10)
  5. Queen of the Darkness - Anne Bishop (10/10)
  6. Seraphs - Faith Hunter (9/10)
  7. The Secret Pearl - Mary Balogh (7/10)

  1. New author for me. I chose this book because of the controversy surrounding it - the hero abducts and rapes the heroine and then everything has to be mended. I was happy with it, but didn't fall into either the love it or the hate it camp. I thought the parts of the story were good, but the author didn't stitch them together too well. Vertiy when from justifiable hate to love without enough time for it and the end didn't face up to the problems ahead for the couple. The idea worked, but the pacing wasn't perfect. I'll read the author again.
  2. There is nothing at all wrong with this book. I've read it before and enjoyed it, but I just wasn't in the mood this time.
  3. New author for me. I'd tried to read this once before and didn't finish it, but once I got past the place where I stalled last time, I rolled on to the finish and liked it very much. I'll read the rest of the series as time and energy allow. Although I'm still not sure how much I actually like Elena.
  4. Another new author. I really liked this - and her use of the dragons was really clever. Aidan, the protagonist, was a great character, but I was never totally sold on the other major characters. I also felt she didn't use first person as well as it could be done because she kept switching around, at one point for a single, short chapter. But still a good story and I've already found another of her books for the TBR mountain. An excellent new author to discover.
  5. I raved about this here. I LOVED this book and now plan to go out and convert the unconverted to Anne Bishop and especially this series.
  6. Another excellent series - I would have given this 9.5 if I used halves in my ratings. Since I don't, it got a 9, but only because, as with the first book, I got a little confused about exactly what was going on in the climax. I can't decide if I love or hate Faith Hunter, as she told a great story, answered some of the questions she had previously raised - and then raised dozens more fascinating and tempting ones I don't have answers too. I want the next one NOW.
  7. This was recommended to me by a friend and while I liked it, I didn't love it as much as she does. It started off with a bang, then slowed down to a pace where I wanted to yell at the characters to "do something already!", but once it got going again it was nicely satisfying.