Saturday, May 31, 2008

Make that Five

Marcus has a mild ear infection so that while he's not sick, he's a bit out of sorts. Among other things it meant he fell asleep this afternoon. Dave and I were of two minds about letting him sleep or waking him up. In the end we let him sleep, hoping it wouldn't mean he's be awake half the night.

Unfortunately, he was.

I've just spent the last couple of hours lying on the floor of his room, reading a book from the light coming in the door from the hallway while waiting for him to go to sleep.

The only up side to this is that I finished the book before midnight (it was a YA, or possibly even a children's book so it had big print and less pages), taking my May total to five, which feels much, much better than four.

So my updated May reading list is:
  1. Judas Unchained - Peter F. Hamilton
    Commonwealth Saga, Book 2; SF; 8/10
  2. The Sharing Knife: Passage - Lois McMaster Bujold
    The Sharing Knife, Book 3; Fantasty; 9/10
  3. Fairest - Gail Carson Levine
    YA; 7/10
  4. The Lost Duke of Wyndham - Julia Quinn
    Two Dukes of Wyndham, Book 1; Historical Romance; 8/10
  5. Into the Wild - Sarah Beth Durst
    The Wild, Book 1; Childrens; 7/10
Books read so far in 2008 = 40
DNFs so far in 2008 = 5
10/10 reads so far in 2008 = 4
New reads so far in 2008 = 35
Rereads so far in 2008 = 5

I did it! (aka May reading)

Hooray! Go me!

I did it. I finished The Lost Duke of Wyndham. I really enjoyed it too. It was light and fun while still being a good, solid story. Just what I needed to break the reading drought. (Whether I can keep it up or not, remains to be seen.)

So that means I managed to read a grand total of four books in May. Which is really rather pathetic if you ask me. My mother would roll her eyes at that and say four is a lot, but it actually isn't for me.

On the up side, one of them was a doorstopper - or would have been if I was reading a paper book and not an ebook - so I'm going to give myself extra points for that. The rest of the up side is that I'm hoping a small total might give me the push I need to try to put up some reviews again. No promises, but I'll see what I can do.

In May, I read:
  1. Judas Unchained - Peter F. Hamilton
    Commonwealth Saga, Book 2; SF; 8/10
  2. The Sharing Knife: Passage - Lois McMaster Bujold
    The Sharing Knife, Book 3; Fantasty; 9/10
  3. Fairest - Gail Carson Levine
    YA; 7/10
  4. The Lost Duke of Wyndham - Julia Quinn
    Two Dukes of Wyndham, Book 1; Historical Romance; 8/10
Books read so far in 2008 = 39
DNFs so far in 2008 = 5
10/10 reads so far in 2008 = 4
New reads so far in 2008 = 34
Rereads so far in 2008 = 5

People are reading less?

It seems to be a recurring cry that people are reading less and less these days. All sorts of reasons are given, but I'm wondering if one of them is the very basic factor of cost.

I went into a bookstore for the first time in ages yesterday (since I read mostly American books I tend to shop online, at a specialty store or buy ebooks) and I was horrified at the prices. An average mass market paperback was okay (for New Zealand) at about $21, but as soon as the books got a bit thicker the prices were jumping up to $26 - $30. No wonder people are reading less if books are so expensive because that doesn't even take into account the trade paperbacks that so many books are relased as these days.

I hope there's a corresponding upsurge in library use or people aren't reading because it's too expensive which is really, really sad.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I find it so terribly frustrating when reading gets hard and instead of being able to fall into a book and devour it, I struggle along with a book I really want to read that should be easy but isn't.

That's what's happening at the moment. And as someone who usually tries to read a book at a time, I find myself with six books on the go, all laungishing on the shelf.

I realised today that each time I kind of staggered to a halt, saw how far the end was and started something else I imagined I'd finish quicker, while still wanting and planning to finish the one I'd put aside. All sub-consciously. Add tthe fo that the fact that I put a couple of them aside to read book group books (one of which I gave up on and one of which I decided to put aside today) didn't help.

So here I am, with a list of books where I want to read them all, but I look at them and can't face them right now.
  • The Spring of the Ram - Dorothy Dunnett
  • Prophecy - Elizabeth Haydon
  • The Vor Game - Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Majipoor Chronicles - Robert Silverberg
  • The Naming - Alison Croggon
  • Spirit Gate - Kate Elliott
Not to abandon a new habit, today I realised what the problem was and decided to start another book, but at least this time I picked one that hopefully I really will get finished. If I'm really lucky, I'll even finish it by the end of the month, bringing my reading total for May up to the grand total of four. Condsidering I was averaging around 10 or 11 a month last year, this is a good indication of how things have slipped.

I discovered Julia Quinn last year and she writes lovely, bright and often witty Regency-set romances that are a delight to read. This is her latest, The Lost Duke of Wyndham, and I decided to be a bad girl and buy it, download it and start reading it today. So far I'm enjoying myself and I'm hoping the change in diet will prove to be just what I need.

The cover for the sequel went up on Julia Quinn's website today and I must say that I like them both. It is nice to see actual faces on a romance cover for a change. Headless bodies have been the dominant style for quite a while now and I rather like to see complete people. Since I'm not a particularly visual person, I don't get a set idea in my head of what the characters look like, so I quite like it when the cover shows me. This one is out at the end of September.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

WG5: Other Forms of Storytelling

This week on the Weekly Geeks our mission is to talk about other forms of story telling. I have to say that books have always been and I suspect will always remain my preferred method of discovering a story, but that doesn't mean there aren't some good alternatives out there.

I do watch some TV, but with my health I find it a strangely difficult form to keep up with. All the same, I have some favourite shows both past and present. I like a long, detailed story with as much character and plot development as possible, which means that on one level, episodic shows with a strong story and character arc are perfect for me. Unfortunately, on a different level altogether that simply adds up to more time spent in front of the TV that I can justify since I have so little time in a day when I'm awake and functional anyway.

My favourite TV show of all time would be Babylon 5 (with Quantum Leap running equal but it is a story-a-week show and I'm talking about shows with a long term story here). I loved the way the story developed, as did the characters and settings and situations. I wish I had time to watch this regularly as I think it still leads the pack when it comes to showing how beautifully a story can be told using TV as a medium. Unfortunately it was stopped from being perfectly told by network decisions that lead J. Michael Straczynski to squashing up the end of the fourth season story, losing a lead actor for the fifth season and not having quite enough story for that same fifth season. As I understand it, if the fifth season had been confirmed before the end of the fourth, the civil war storyline would have crossed into the beginning of the fifth season (just as the Shadow War storyline crossed into the beginning of the fourth), we would still have had Ivanova for season five and there would have been less need for filler episodes.

In terms of current shows, I make a point of watching Doctor Who and I'm greatly enjoying the new series that is now in its fourth season with David Tennant as the tenth Doctor. This has both individual episodes and an over-reaching story arc and I just plain love the show. I'm a fan of the Doctor from way back (I started watching regularly with Tom Baker's Doctor, but do remember some Pertwee episodes as well) so it is great to see him on the TV screen again. Last week's episode was particularly appropriate for a blog post about books and storytelling as it featured Agatha Christie and was a lovely pastiche of Dame Agatha's books and story style (I believe the writer and producer essentially had a competition to see who could get the most Christie titles into the dialogue). Even if you're not a Who fan, if you're a Christie fan consider trying to catch a viewing of The Unicorn and the Wasp.

I also watch Bones for no more significant reason that I like it. I think it appeals to the scientist in me and is generally less gory than the CSI shows have become (not to mention that I absolutely cannot stand Horatio Caine on Miami).

But these days, my main form of storytelling entertainment aside for actual books is all audio. I spend a lot of time lying in bed at present and keeping my eyes open to watch TV or read a book (not to mention actually holding up a book) can be too much. So being able to lie down, close my eyes and listen to something saves me from total and absolute boredom (at least until I fall asleep which happens a lot more quickly and regularly than I like - sleeping during the day is such an absolute waste of time and I waste hours that way every day).

Staying with the Doctor Who theme, way back in 1999, when the show was still in limbo and possibly never going to return to the TV screen, a British company called Big Finish gained a licence from the BBC and began to produce audio plays featuring the fifth, sixth and seventh Doctors, all played by the original actors. Not too much later they were also joined by the eighth Doctor, Paul McGann, who was only seen on screen in the British/American telemovie so it was wonderful to see his character (which I just love, along with Paul McGann's voice) have a chance to live on in this medium.

Big Finish released their 107th monthly Doctor Who audio this month, so there is absolutely no way I have either the money or the time to keep up with them all, but I have the early McGann audios and have borrowed some others from friends, featuring a variety of Doctors. All the same, as I continue to listen, I suspect I'll choose to concentrate to the eighth Doctor (in the main monthly series and in his own series started more recently) as he's my favourite and I can't listen to them all. Big Finish also produce audio plays in a number of other media universes including The Tomorrow People (I loved that show as a kid), Sapphire and Steel, 2000AD and they're just starting up with Stargate (both SG1 and Atlantis) this year. Of course, once again the "I don't have enough money and I can't listen to them all" thing features in and I haven't tried any of these.

Something else I enjoy listening to, although it isn't quite so much storytelling as the audio plays, is podcasts. These are wonderful as they cover all sorts of topics and again, can be enjoyed while lying down with one's eyes closed. I listen to a range of subjects: Doctor Who again, science fiction/fantasy writing and publishing, astronony, the history of Rome, genre television, Celtic and Renaissance Faire music and the occasional short story. (If anyone thinks these sound interesting and would like some links, let me know and I'll put up a new post with those in it.)

And of course, how could I leave out audiobooks? Right at this moment, I can't focus on the words enough for audiobooks but I've spent many pleasant hours listening to them in the past and I know I will again. Thanks to my library and's subscription service which makes books affordable for me, I have access to a wide variety of authors and genres (although nothing is more frustrating than the "we cannot sell to your geographic location" message that comes up sometimes on Audible when I think I've found the perfect book to buy). My current book is Lois McMaster Bujold's The Vor Game and I'm stuck at about the three-quarter mark. That's okay though, I'll get back to it. And I know the story well so I'm not likely to forget anything important.

I do wish that some of the older books that I remember being available on cassette from the library were still around. I guess the tapes got old and stretched and since they aren't available for purchase now that means they're gone. I listened to Dorothy L. Sayers' Gaudy Night while travelling around the US about 10 years ago (all those tapes must have taken up a decent amount of my luggage space) and I can't find that anymore and I wish some of Mary Stewarts novels were available. I also remember Margery Allingham books on tape helping save my life and sanity when I was trying to cope with being put on prozac for depression. I had all the classic bad reactions and my brain was spinning so fast I needed something else to concentrate on so I didn't have to listen to what was going on in my own head. I know I listened to two or three Allingham books at the time. I don't remember much about them, but boy I appreciated them! (For the record, the prozac was quickly abandoned and I was put on something else that worked beautifully for many years.) Hopefully CDs will last longer than cassette tapes did and audio books will remain in libraries for many years to come for people like me to enjoy.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Book of Ink Circles Fishtail done

I was so tempted to leave this with just the knotwork done as it looked so pretty.

But at the same time, I wanted more colour and had decided I was going to stitch it as charted, so I kept on going.

I think I've also figured out what bothers me about the frogs in the next blog. They look like Cybermen. I've done a little bit on that square and I'll see if that opinion holds when it is done.

Monday, May 19, 2008

WG4: ME/CFS Awareness

This week’s theme: Choose a political or social issue that matters to you. Find several books addressing that issue; they don’t have to books you’ve read, just books you might like to read. Using images (of the book covers or whatever you feel illustrates your topic) present these books in your blog.
This isn't such a major issue as many people have chosen - things such as enviromental issues, equal rights, child abuse etc etc - but it very important to me, which is why I have chosen it.

I have ME (more commonly called CFS or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which is really an erroneous description as some of the following books will discuss). I've had it for nearly 18 years and as much as I try to refuse to let it, it controls a lot of my life. It's a little known and very misunderstood disease that has been ignored or willfully misunderstood by the medical profession for many years.

It is becoming more and more clear that it is indeed a physiological disease, with growing evidence of immune dysfunction, genetic markers and neurological issues, but its sufferers are often labelled as psychiatric patients, denied disability (when some sufferers are described as being in a similar condition to final-stage AIDs patients) and given little or no assistance.

As a small example, it's autumn here now and there is a big push to get people to have flu vaccines. In our medical system these are free to the elderly and people with chronic illnesses. I've been ill for 18 years with something that affects the immune system but I don't qualify and I have to pay.

Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox and on with the books.

The books I have chosen to spotlight all came from a Listmania list on that was put together by the woman who runs an excellent ME website - The Hummingbird's Guide to M.E.. I haven't read any of them myself, but after exploring her list I'm going to be checking out what might be in our local library. (I'm not overly hopeful about that, but I'll see what I can find.)

Osler's Web: Inside the Labyrinth of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Epidemic by Hillary Johnson
As I understand it, this is a big, solid book packed full of information but possibly not for the weak-hearted. It looks at the politics of CFS rather than the medical disease issues, but is all the more important because of that. It shows how this illness was deliberately named and characterised to belittle its patients and limit general research and understanding. It shows the current stigmatisation of CFS to have been deliberate rather than accidental and I understand some of the content is quite shocking in this regard. I'm not sure if I have the energy to try to read it or not, but I'm going to see if my library has it.

Stricken: Voices from the Hidden Epidemic of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by Peggy Munson
In the review on her Hummingbirds site, Jodi says this is probably the best book out there to give readers an idea of just how debilitating ME can be. It's a collection of essays, each telling the story of one sufferer, ranging from a journalist to a former marathon runner and a teenage girl to a cancer patient among others. It sounds like an amazing book and another one I'm going to look out for.

In the Shadow of Memory by Floyd Skloot
This is a book of 17 essays reflecting on the author's life. Several of them include details on living with ME-like symptoms, especially the cognitive ones. There are two further books of essays by the same author for anyone who likes this one.

The Clinical and Scientific Basis of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis-Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by Jay A. Goldstein and Byron D. Hyde
There's a book review with a number of quotes from this book on Jodi's Hummingbird site. It's worth taking a look at. She says that anyone who wants to buy just one book about ME should by this one. It looks at as many ME-related topics as one book can, including the history of the disease, issues of diagnosis and a wide range of the symptoms. This is another one I'm hoping will be in my local library.

If this is a topic that sounds of interest or any of the books catch your eye, do give them a go. Come and live in my world for a little while.

I will finish by saying that luckily for me, I do not have a severe case of ME. I would estimate that I quality as moderate. I need to sleep each day if at all possible - the reason Marcus goes to daycare four days a week - and I'm certainly not well enough for a job or even regular exercise, but I'm also not bedridden and don't need a wheelchair. I'm somewhere in the middle.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A (Temporary) New Me

I had my haircut yesterday. Normally, I have very curly, almost frizzy hair. But I suspect the hairdresser didn't have an appointment after mine, so she straightened my hair, pretty much just for the fun of it.

I think I like it, although I'm not sure I'd want to look like this all the time as it's not the me I'm used to. Although I did suddenly discover that I look a lot more like my cousin than I ever thought I did.

Marcus came home from daycare and took one look at me before saying, "You look different". He rather quickly decided he didn't like it - I think I didn't look like his mummy anymore, which must be rather disconcerting at four. So I had to promise I'd get my curls back.

When we all got up this morning and I still had straight hair, he was most unhappy. So I had to promise to go and wash my hair so that my curls would return. I have done so and I'm his curly-haired mummy again, which has made him happier.

All the same, it was fun to see what I would look like with straight hair.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Frame done on Book of Ink Circles

Go me!

I've got the frame finished on Book of Ink Circles.

I've now just got the two fill patterns that have been released to do and I can start to relax and do something else for a while. At least until the next fill pattern is released later this month, anyway.

Character Creations Update


14 May, 2008 - Bulletin Board, Gallery and Designer Update
We have a new bulletin board than also includes a gallery. Also an update from Kerry about recent lack of Character Creations activity.

I wanted to take a moment to let people know what has been happening with Character Creations, since if you're a regular visitor you're probably aware of a lack of updates in the last few months. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and this means that I'm always working around health issues. I also have a four year old son and sometimes his and our family needs use up my energy and leave little left for Character Creations.

I always fill orders and keep up with commission payments to my artists, but occasionally - as the last few months have shown - that means I may not be able to get any new designing done. I have decided to set myself a goal of one new design per month as an achievable target, and if it is a good month and I get more done, that's a bonus for everyone.

I am always here and will answer email as well - if you don't get an answer from me mail again as your message may have been eaten by my spam filters. I also hope the new bulletin board and gallery will help me stay in touch with you even when the designing slows down.

Yes, finally we have a bulletin board again. The link to it is back on the sidebar or you can jump to it directly at It will be a work in progress as we discover together how we best want to use it, so feel free to make suggestions for new forums or any other options you'd like us to investigate. This board software includes a gallery module that we've also set up. So now you have a place to share your pictures of your Character Creations projects.

Anyone who has registered for the Bulletin Board has the option to set up a user gallery and I hope you'll do that so we can see your stitching. You can read the board without registering, but you do have to register to post. Please come along and help us make ourselves a community.

I am planning for a May chart release shortly, so keep an eye out for that too. Unless I change my mind, it will be a lovely mermaid from Nicole Cadet.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

CFS Again - Guilt

After making my earlier post, I discovered that rachaelcreative is promoting Blog for ME/CFS Awareness Day and hosting a collection of links to people's posts for the day. It's been interesting to read what people have to say - or more accurately, skim what people have to say as I'm not comprehending fully today. It made me realise I have something more I want to say. Something that no-one else seems to have mentioned specifically but the feeling of it is there.

That something is guilt. More accurately, misplaced guilt.

You see, along with everything else, I feel guilty all the time.

I feel guilty that the house isn't tidy and the beds aren't made.
I feel guilty that I don't give my husband enough care and attention.
I feel guilty of the stresses I put on him because three of us have to live on his single income.
I feel guilty that I don't spend enough active time with my son.
I feel guilty that it is such a relief when he goes to daycare so I can go back to bed.
I feel guilty that I don't spend time with him painting and playing and reading books and all those things.
I feel guilty that I don't take him for walks and show him the world.
I feel guilty that I have to use (very expensive) petrol to go anywhere because I need to use the car.
I feel guilty that my husband does almost all the household chores when it should be my job.
I feel guilty that he has to feed the cat and the child and me as well.
I feel guilty when he comes home from work and my dirty dishes for the day are still on the bench.
I feel guilty when he takes our son out for a few hours on his own every weekend so I can have a sleep.
I feel guilty that I don't have a job.
I feel guilty that I don't go out with friends more.
I feel guilty that I don't keep up with Character Creations properly.
I feel guilty when I feel tired.
I feel guilty when the end of the day arrives and all I've done - again - is sleep.

You get the idea. Basically, I feel guilty because I'm sick. I didn't choose to be sick and I shouldn't feel guilty about it. But I do.

So along with all the physical and mental ME/CFS symptoms, I think guilt needs to be added to the list.

CFS Awareness Day

May 12 is ME/CFS/CFIDS Awareness Day.

I've had this horrible illness for nearly 18 years and while it changes on me all time, it has never got better. I struggle my way through each day but don't necessarily look sick, so that people tell me how well I look and I feel like I must agree and don't dare complain.

I have a document I wrote for my family way back in 1995 (with some short updates through the years) that you can read if you'd like to know a bit more about how living with CFS feels.

Going round my blogs today, I found a great post on Songs to a Midnight Sky. I asked if I could copy it here and got permission.

Do go and listen to Susan's song. Listen to the words and/or read the lyrics. She captures some of living with CFS beautifully.

I received the below email yesterday (printed in part below). The song is beautiful, as is the rest of her music. I highly recommend a visit to the link in the note below. Thank you again, Susan.

Today is CFIDS Awareness Day. Listen to her song. Google CFIDS.

Both my link and hers open in a new window.

Susan's note:

I've put up a song on my band's Myspace page related to living with undiagnosed CFIDS: (If it doesn't start playing immediately, click the "Everybody Knows About Me" link.)

My aim in writing "Everybody Knows About Me" was twofold. First, I wanted people with CFIDS or similar invisible illnesses to feel they weren't alone -- that not everyone believes it's just hypochondria or laziness. Second, I wanted to make nonsufferers understand why it's silly to believe that CFIDS/other invisible illnesses are just hypochondria or laziness.

If you like the song, please give the link to your readers. The most important thing that can happen for people with CFIDS is a cure, or at least more effective treatment. But since I'm not a doctor or a medical researcher, the best I can do is try to help create an environment where voters think it's a good idea to fund CFIDS research at a higher level than hay fever.

Thanks for listening. I hope you like the song.


Susan Wenger

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Weekly Geeks 3: Fond Memories of Childhood Books

This week's Weekly Geeks is to reflect of Fond Memories of Childhood Books. I was thinking about this in the shower this morning (I do all my best thinking in the shower) and found I could easily remember picture books and teenage books, but I had trouble with the ones in between. I don't know if that means the books themselves were less memorable or what, but there you have it.

At first, I actually couldn't think of anything at all and then the floodgates opened and there were more old favourites piling into my memory than I could possible discuss here. So I've picked a few that I remember as special.

One of my family's favourite picture books when I was a child was The House of Four Seasons by Roger Duvoisin.

As an aside, I had to ring up my mother to get the correct title and author as it's an old OOP book and I was remembering the name slightly wrong, so Google couldn't help me. Fortunately my mother works in childcare and has a house full of books including special shelves away from the living area that hold all our old favourites from when we were children and general purpose shelves in the living area with copies of many books mostly bought in garage sales for any visitor to read.

Anyway, a family buys a dilapidated old house in the country and then has to decide what colour to paint it. All of the children have different ideas, based around the seasons, and no-one can agree. In the end, the father makes a colour wheel and spins it so that the colours blend into white and everyone agrees to paint the house white. I remember having this book read to me and my siblings and how much we liked it (even if, or perhaps especially because, we wouldn't have been able to agree if it was us). I also remember us making colour wheels out of cardboard and elastic and getting close to spinning them fast enough for the colours to blend, but never quite enough.

Hmmm, after writing this, I think I'll also have to ring my mother back and ask her to loan us the book so I can read it to my son.

Another favourite, that was read to us each Easter was The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by DuBose Heyward. My mother would read this to us each Easter, and we thrilled to the story of the little rabbit with her 21 children who beat out all the snobbish rabbits to become an Easter Bunny. She carries on despite troubles and exhaustion to deliver all her eggs, especially one to a sick boy who lives far away on a mountain top. I'm carrying on the family tradition with this one. My little boy is now four and I found a copy (from the general purpose shelves at my mother's house) and read it to him this Easter. I hope he will ask for it each year as we did.

The third (and final, although I could go on all day I think) picture book that I'm going to pick to showcase is My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes by Eve Sutton and illustrated by Lynley Dodd. This is simple but fun; cats from all over the world are featured (my favourite is the cat from Norway who gets stuck in the doorway) but always we go back to "my" cat, who likes to hide in boxes. Marcus was given a copy of this one for Christmas several years back by a librarian friend who said, rightly, that every Kiwi kid should have a copy of it. We read it regularly and he joins in every second page with "But my cat likes to hid in boxes". Since his cat does indeed like to hide in boxes, it's a perfect bedtime story.

My brother, sister and I loved the book just as much as Marcus, although I have a feeling we were older than four when we first discovered it. [Excuse me while I check.] Yes, since the original publication date is 1978 when I would have been 9, I suspect the original copy belonged to my sister, who would have been three when it was published. Her big brother and sister loved it too anyway.

As for books when I started to read myself, as I said at the beginning, I don't remember a lot of specifics. I know I went through the "pony phase" and read a lot of horse books; classic authors of my mother's generation like the Pullein-Thompson sisters, Ruby Ferguson, Patricia Leitch (I still have most of her Jinny series) and others. I also "did" Trixie Beldon like many other girls my age at the time. I thought they were wonderful and gobbled them up at a great rate. We never had pocket money, so my parents must have bought a lot of pony books and Trixie books among others. I was a voracious reader and they never let me go hungry - I also had a library card early and I can still picture the junior library I haunted when I was young. It's is long gone now, replaced by a snazzy, new, "architectural" building on the other side of the city square where books are arranged in "zones" rather than by author and you can't find anything you're looking for. (Don't get me started on "zones" in libraries as I can rant about that for an extended period.)

I discovered and loved Madeleine L'Engle in that library. I remember reading a few of her Austins books that I think were probably a bit old for me at the time, but really, it was all about Meg Murray and the "Wrinkle" books. I loved them all, devouring the main three books and then happily finding Many Waters on the shelf and realising there was an extra book most people didn't seem to know about. The fifth book, An Acceptable Time was published later when I was buying books for myself and I still have that (and all the others in the series of course) in the library downstairs. Those books have been through a lot of houses with me and my constant fondness for the Rune of Saint Patrick is directly attributable to A Swiftly Tilting Planet I'm certain.

Looking back, these were probably some of my first "science fiction" reads, although I was always attracted to those kinds of books. I know I went through Andre Norton's children's books from the library as well and have fond but very vague memories of many of those. I remember H. M. Hoover's Children of Morrow and Treasures of Morrow fondly too. It was the early 80s at the time and I think there were quite a few post-apocalyptic type books around as the nuclear arms race heated up.

When I was around thirteen or so, I spent some days "helping" a friend in Melbourne (Australia) who was about to move to New Zealand with her packing. While we were doing this I discovered a series of paperback books (old late sixties/early seventies editions) in a school series I was to fall in love with. They had belonged to her now grown up daughters and this bibliophile was delighted to be given all the titles we found. This was Elinor Brent-Dyer's Chalet School series; 62 books in total, the first written in 1925 and the last in 1970. I still have the entire series downstairs and I continue to update it as a specialty publisher reprints the books progressively (the paperback editions were often heavily abridged so I replace them with the unabridged reprints as they come out). Part of the attraction is that they were written in the time they are set and contain now old-fashioned attitudes and points-of-view that I found fascinating even at thirteen, and are even more so now.

This is already way, way too long, so I shall draw this to a halt. But I can't stop without finishing up with a mention of Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master trilogy. These were my first "grown up" fantasy books, that I discovered when I ventured from the children's section to the YA section in the town library (such as it was, since YA wasn't the genre it is now when I was a YA). They will always hold a special place in my heart for that reason - and besides they are wonderful books that are as good today as they were the first time I pulled the first one from the shelf and decided to take it home despite the terribly plain and boring cover.

I guess any bibliophile who was fortunate enough to grow up in a house that fostered reading is going to have many fond memories of childhood books. These are some of mine and even if no-one else reads it - or makes it this far through such a long post - I've had a lovely time remembering some of my favourites.

Wind-Up Book Challenge

I actually try very hard to avoid book challenges as I alreaady get stressed enough about my TBR as it is. However, when I saw this one it was too good to leave alone.

Check out all the details here, but basically the idea is to pick books that were started before 1 May, 2008 and have had at least 50 pages read. Then aim to finish them between 15 May and 15 November, 2008.

I currently have three books mocking me from my Library Thing book list, all of which were started before 1 May, 2008. I admit that two were only started in April, but the third was started in October, 2007. That one is doing the mocking thing really, really loudly. So they will be my books for this challenge.
  • The Spring of the Ram - Dorothy Dunnett
  • Prophecy - Elizabeth Haydon
  • The Vor Game - Lois McMaster Bujold

More Donna Andrews news

Donna Andrews popped by my post about Cockatiels at Seven to say that:

"not only will Cockatiels at Seven be out in July, there will also be a second Meg book this year - Six Geese A-Slaying, a Christmas Meg adventure, will be out in late October or November."

Hooray, more Meg and Michael! I thought I should share the good news. I do love these books. They are silly and crazy in the best kind of way and Meg's family are always a riot. I don't think I'd want any real relatives like hers, but they are wonderful fun to read about.

Anyone who wants a funny, clever series of mysteries, give these ones a go. If you're amused by the titles, you'll like the books.

Meg Langslow Mysteries
  1. Murder with Peacocks
  2. Murder with Puffins
  3. Revenge of the Cast Iron Flamingos
  4. Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon
  5. We'll Always Have Parrots
  6. Owls Well that Ends Well
  7. No Nest for the Wicket
  8. The Penguin Who Knew Too Much
  9. Cockatiels at Seven
  10. Six Geese A-Slaying
(And while writing that list from memory, I only left one out - that has now been added in - which I think is pretty good.)

Personally, my favourites are Murder with Peacocks, Owls Well that Ends Well and The Penguin that Knew Too Much, although I like them all.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Worst Book Title Ever?

The Millionaire's Inexperienced Love-Slave


I always enjoy Donna Andrews' Meg Langslow books so it's nice to see there's a new one coming.

And another one...

...making today a good book day - even if I don't know how I would afford and/or manage to read them all.

Look, a third book in Diana Wynne Jones' Howl series and featuring both Sophie and Howl.

What else might I find?


Every so often I go through the "Coming Soon" pages on FantsticFiction, partly to see what's coming out in the next few months but mostly, I admit, to look for pretty covers.

I usually already know about the books coming up that I'm interested in, but every now and then I discover something unexpected.

This was one of those.

This is the latest is a YA series that is based on Arthurian myth, set about 500 years in the future after/during a nuclear winter when both Merlin and Arthur have returned, but as children.

I discovered the first two books years ago and really liked them, so I'm delighted to see that there is a third. Hmmm, but can I justify yet another hardcover. Probably not, but I am very tempted.

Book of Ink Circles Progress

I did manage to get a little done last night and it did help, so that was good. I'll try to do a bit more today.

Before I post my progress photos I need to say that I'm behind with putting up the pictures. All I did last night was the last of the gold in the bottom picture. Everything before that was already done but never posted.

Hopefully I'll get the frame finished soon and be able to do the two inside pieces that have been released.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I think my depression is rearing its ugly little head again. I don't know why, but I've had a medication change lately (had to add in blood pressure pills) and autumn is here now meaning it's SAD time of year, so either of those could be a factor.

I hope it's something fixable because in the midst of depression is a horrible place to be and I really, really don't want to go there again.

I'm going to try to get myself to do a bit on Book of Ink Circles tonight as stitching is usually soothing and I'm filling in the yellow lines at the moment, so it isn't exactly rocket science.

Cross your fingers for me please that things go up from here and not futher down. I really don't want to go down.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Weekly Geeks P.S.

Since I'm slow, I'm still adding new blogs to Google Reader from the first week's challenge. I'm finding all sorts of interesting things. (It's no wonder my reading has slowed down so much since I spend so much time keeping up with blogs now.)

If you like audio books, take a look at Seth's Free Listens where he reviews a wide variety of audiobooks that can be found for free around the web.

If you like paranormal, try Literary Escapism which is cheerful, friendly and right up to date.

Weekly Geeks - Week 2

Dewey's suggestion for week 2 is to commit to including links to other reviews of the same book in your book reviews.

Although I'm struggling with the whole reading and reviewing thing at present, I think this is a great idea. So I'm willing to go with it. In future, when I post a review (sorry, at the moment I have no idea when that will be) I'll add a request on the bottom that anyone with a matching review leave a link in the comments. I'll then edit my review post to add any links I get sent. I think this should be a great way for potential readers to get a more rounded idea of a book, since no two people look at the same book the same way.

Pizza for lunch... Or not.

Dave and I decided to heat up a frozen pizza this morning for a quick and easy lunch.

So I go to take a bite and something in my brain insists, "That's not right."

I look again.

There's the bolt of a screw in my slice of pizza.

So much for that lunch plan.