Thursday, November 27, 2008

12.2% Completed

Today I finished the first strip across "Defender of the Kingdom" and I'm feeling very pleased with myself about it.

I worked out that with this (which has taken me a couple of years at least) I have the design 12.2% completed. So there's still quite a lot to go. :-)

I made 2008 the year of smaller projects, and I'm very glad I did that. It worked out really well. But I'm ready to go on with my big projects now, so until I feel I need a change, my plan is to work on Defender of the Kingdom, Dawn Star and Second Chances.

So on to Dawn Star next and I hope to finish the current page I'm on before going on to the next choice.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I guess I'd better include a page of the happy couple too, hadn't I? This photo is one of the ones taken by the professional photographer and I think it's lovely.

Background paper from "Crazy Love" by Dani Mogstad; alpha is "Doodled Paper Alpha" by Kate Hadfield.

Langs Beach

On the way home from the wedding, we stopped for a walk along the beach. It wasn't the warmest of days, but it was a lovely stop before we got on with the serious business of driving home.

Background paper from "Sea Oh Sea" by Jofia Devoe; boat, shell and tag from "Candy Beach" by Jofia Devoe; frames from "Blessings" by Tracy Ann Robinson; alpha is "Gralpha 1" by Birgit; font is Chiquita Banana.

Mummy and Marcus

These photos were taken our friends' wedding back in June. I haven't been in a scrapping mood for ages, but I desperately needed to do something different last night and so I've been doing some scrapbooking.

Background paper from "Project 26: Lamington" by Tracy Ann Robinson; everything else from "In My Mommy's Dream" by Jofia Devoe; font is Cathie's Hand.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Romance Reading Challenge


I've found another reading challenge for 2009 to join.  This one, as the graphic and title show, is to read some romance novels.  As I've got a number of paranormal romance series I now read, I think this should be a pretty easy one, especially since it's for a minimum of five books.

The rules:
1) Now, "Romance" isn't limited to steamy Harlequin novels. There is a huge selection of books in this category such as contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance to name a few. As long as the story has romantic love between the two main characters your selection will fit this challenge. The novels do not need to have a happy ending either, there can also be unrequited love.
2) Choose at least 5 novels read them between Jan 1st though Dec 31st 2009. You can change your choices at any time. Crossovers between other challenges are fine.
3) Read them at your own pace in 2009 then go here and post the link to your review(s).

I will be listing my books read over on my Lists and Such blog as usual, but I will also have a specific post for this challenge over there and a single list of my 2009 romance book reads. [list]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Support Your Local Library Challenge


Here's another challenge hosted by J. Kaye that I can't resist joining.  I do use the library regularly, but I also tend to buy books as that lets me read them whenever I'm ready, rather than having to fit my read into the borrowing time.

I'm only going to commit myself to TWELVE books as I don't want to increase my stress levels too much.  If I read more, that's great.

The Support Your Local Library Challenge is being hosted at J. Kaye's Book Blog.

Here are the guidelines:
What better way to pay homage than by having a reading challenge in 2009? Since we are all different, there will be three sizes of challenges.

** The first is to read 12 books from your local library in 2009.
** The second is to read 25 books from your local library in 2009.
** The third is to read 50 books from your local library in 2009.

You decide which one of the three challenges is best for you.

1) You can join anytime as long as you don’t start reading your books prior to 2009.
2) This challenge is for 2009 only. The last day to have all your books read is December 31, 2009.
3) You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2009.
4) Our goal is to read 12, 25, or 50 books checkout from our local library in 2009. Please decide which when you sign up and don’t change it.
5) These can be audios, downloads, children’s, YA. As long as it’s a book, format and target age group does not matter.

I will be listing my books read over on my Lists and Such blog as usual, but I will also have a specific post for this challenge over there and a single list of my 2009 library book reads. [list]

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

2009 100+ Reading Challenge


Okay, this is a challenge I'm ready to face-down, take-on and take-down.  Or whatever.

Each year, I set myself an unofficial goal of reading at least 100 books.  (Although in my heart of hearts, I always hope to read 120, giving an average of 10 a month.)

So for 2009 I'm going to make that official and join J. Kaye's 100+ Reading Challenge.

The 100+ Reading Challenge is being hosted at J. Kaye's Book Blog for 2009.

Here are the guidelines:
1) You can join anytime as long as you don’t start reading your books prior to 2009.
2) This challenge is for 2009 only. The last day to have all your books read is December 31, 2009.
3) You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2009.
4) All books count: children’s, YA, adults, fiction, non-fiction, how-tos, etc.

I will be listing my books read over on my Lists and Such blog as usual, but I will also have a specific post for this challenge over there and a single list of my 2009 reads. [list]

2008 Challenges Update

As much as I enjoy reading about the many and varied book challenges around the blogsphere, I tend to avoid joining them.  My reason for this is simple - if I put too much pressure on myself about my reading it stops being fun and I get all stressed about it.  Since I tend to find my TBR stress enough, I try not to make it worse.

So I only joined two challenges in 2008 and had a 50% success rate.

The challenge was to read a minimum of three books featuring dragons.  I managed five and enjoyed myself reading books on what is a favourite topic anyway. [list] [wrap up]

Here the challenge was to finish three books that were already on-going unfinished reads.  Sadly, of the three I only managed to complete one and as the end date is the 15th November (ie 4 days away) I know I won't be getting either of the other two finished in time.  I still hope to complete them at some point, but I didn't make it in the time frame of the challenge. [list]

I'm already tempted by some of the 2009 challenges appearing, but so far plan to go with just two that I'm pretty confident I can manage to complete.  We'll see if anything else wins me over.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blogger's Secret Santa

Dewey (she of the wonderful Weekly Geeks in which I haven't participated lately) is running a Secret Santa swap for bloggers.

You can find all the details on her blog here.

Essentially, you sign up for the swap with your postage details and little bit of information to help your Secret Santa. (You need to sign up by 18th November.)

From Dewey's blog:
What you have to do next is send that person a little something - it can be a book, a journal or bookmark, a box of holiday cookies, a mixed CD, whatever you can think of. It doesn’t have to be anything pricey, of course. Second hand books are perfectly acceptable, as are homemade gifts.

A different person will be assigned as your Secret Santa, and you’ll only find out who they are when you get their package in the mail.

Something to keep in mind: Because there are book bloggers from all over the world, this is going to be an international swap. I understand that not everyone can afford to send a package overseas, though, so if that’s the case with you, please don’t feel that you can’t sign up. Just include a note saying so in your e-mail, and we’ll make sure you get a blogger who’s near you.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Foundation - Mercedes Lackey

Sorry, Ms Lackey, but you've done it all before. And really, I just don't care. I tried, but I don't.

Mercedes Lackey
Collegium Chronicles, Book 1

October Reading

  1. Acheron - Sherrilyn Kenyon
    Dark-Hunters, Book 21; Paranormal Romance; 10/10
    What can I say? These books are my guilty pleasure. I love the series and like many other fans, I had been waiting for Ash's book for, like, forever. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the first half of the book, which chronicled Ash's past. We already knew it was bad; and yes, it was bad. But it was written with enough distance not to totally gross the reader out, but with enough closeness to make the reader care. It was well done by Kenyon and an important tale to tell, but I admit that I'm much more likely to reread the second, modern-day, half of the book than the first. I loved that. I loved Ash's heroine (and while probably anyone who cares knows who she is by now, I'm still not going to give it away). She was wonderful and an ideal foil for Ash. The scene with her and Ash when Ash gets drunk (on Sprite of all things) is just priceless. While serious things happen, there's also a lovely sense of fun in this part of the story - and Ash deserves that after all that has happened to him. This was an interesting turning point in the overall story arc and it'll be interesting to see what happens next, especially since the next "hero" is one of the bad guys. Yes, I am most definitely still a fan.
  2. Mr Cavendish, I Presume - Julia Quinn
    Two Dukes of Wyndham, Book 2; Historical Romance; 9/10
    I thoroughly enjoyed the first book of this pair, and wasn't sure how this one would go. Would it fail because it was retelling the same story? I know that proved true for some readers, but I really liked it, even a little more than the first book. Thomas proved to be a great character and Quinn did a good job of telling either the other side of an already written scene or by expanding in this book areas she didn't cover in the first one. These books certainly aren't rocket science, but they are a delightful, fun read and the multiple viewpoints thing usually tends to work for me.
  3. The Empress of Mars - Kage Baker
    Short story in The Company universe; SF; 9/10
    This was a fill-in story to Baker's Company series, showing the creation of the situation on Mars that is seen in The Life of the World to Come (at least, I think it's that book). It was a short, neatly told tale with a pleasant cast of characters (at least some of which I'm pretty sure were cyborgs doing their part to set things up as required). I enjoyed it a lot and I'm glad I got hold of it and got to fill in that bit of Company history. I think I heard somewhere that Baker is expanding it into a full novel and I'll be interested in that too, when it comes out.
  4. Sugar Daddy - Lisa Kleypas
    Contemporary/Romance; 6/10
    I found this a strange book. It was compelling enough that I wanted to get to the end - although I did start skimming after a while - but it really wasn't my cup of tea. I don't read a lot of contemporaries and I'm not exactly sure why except that they simply aren't my thing. That was exactly the case with Sugar Daddy for me, but don't take my rating as an indication this is a bad book. It isn't. If it sounds interesting to you, give it a try.
  5. Sea Swept - Nora Roberts
    Chesapeake Bay, Book 1; Contemporary Romance; Audiobook; 8/10
    This has always been my favourite of Nora Roberts' Chesapeake Bay books and I was delighted to see unabridged versions of the series turn up on Audible. This one went straight onto my PDA and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. I don't get a lot of time each day to listen (usually before I go to sleep, so I end up driting off while still listening). That made the story rather more disjointed than when I read the book straight through, which is the main reason for the lower rating than the book itself has always garnered. But I enjoyed listening to this very much and I'm now happily working my way through Rising Tides, the next one in the series.
  6. Wanderlust - Ann Aguirre
    Sirantha Jax, Book 2; SF; 8/10
    Jax, now jobless, broke and not a little infamous, finds herself agreeing to be an ambassador to Vel's people. Of course, for Jax nothing is ever simple and she finds herself up against mercenaries, flesh-eating aliens, old friends and enemies and organised crime. Not to mention the fact that her relationship with March is struggling. Well, no-one ever said life was easy. Another fast-paced, action adventure written in first person, present tense from Ann Aguirre. I enjoyed Jax's latest adventures, although the ambassador thing is a bit of a misdirection as she doesn't actually make it to Vel's planet until the end of the book. I guess that part of the job will be chronicled in the next book. While I preferred Grimspace, this was still a very good read and I'm looking forward to Ms Aguirre's next release.
  7. Tracking - David R. Palmer
    SF; serialised in Analog Science Fiction and Fact; 8/10
    A friend introduced me to David R. Palmer's classic novel, Emergence many years ago and I reread it a few months ago in anticipation of this serialised novella in Analog Science Fiction and Fact. This isn't nearly as strong a story as Emergence (but considering all that happened in that book, a novella wasn't really going to come close). All the same, it was great to see Candy again and go with her on a single-handed quest to rescue her father who it appears may have survived Armageddon after all. The story is left open for a sequel and I'll look forward to reading that.
  8. Fantasy Lover - Sherrilyn Kenyon
    Dark-Hunters, Book 1; Paranormal Romance; DNF
    After reading and loving Acheron, I thought I wanted to go back to the beginning of the Dark-Hunter series. However, when I went to read the first book I found I just wasn't in the mood after all. Maybe another time.
  9. Father Mine - J. R. Ward
    Black Dagger Brotherhood short story; Paranormal; 8/10
    This short story about Zsadist and Bella's continuing relationship was released in the Insider's Guide to the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Not wanting to buy the volume, I expected to read this story when a friend borrowed the book from the library. Then the story was released on its own as an ebook. I went shopping pretty much immediately. This was a lovely little addition to the story of two characters we already know well. Bella and Zsadist's daughter, Nalla, has just been born and Zsadist is struggling to connect with her while making peace with his past. At the same time, Bella is struggling with his distance and neither knows how to reconnect with the other. Not a complicated story, this is a very nice short read as we see the two of them finding a new way forward in this new family they have made.
  10. The Bell at Sealey Head - Patricia A. McKillip
    Fantasy; 10/10
    I've always loved Patricia McKillip, but the last of her books I tried to read, Od Magic turned into a DNF as I struggled to put the many, many plot threads together. I heard McKillip reading the first chapter of this, her latest release, on a podcast and was very taken with the story and the style. I tossed up over buying it at hardcover price, but when Fictionwise had it at a 50% rebate I threw caution to the winds and bought it. I'm so glad I did. I loved this one. It is in McKillip's trademark lyrical style without being so obscure as to frustrate the reader. The characters and their interactions are a delight and the setting is easy to imagine (which is saying something for a non-visual reader like me). Kinuko Craft's cover is as beautiful as ever and very evocative of the story. This will be joining the ranks of my favourite McKillip books and it encouraged me at add a couple more I've never read to the TBR.
  11. The City of Ember - Jeanne duPrau
    The Books of Ember, Book 1; YA SF; 8/10
    I first heard about this book when the trailers started appearing for the film that is due to begin screening any day now. The trailers looked interesting and comment on the books was also good so I decided to try it for myself. This is a very solid, well done YA novel that tells a fascinating story. While the main characters, teenagers Lina and Doon are well realised, it is the city of Ember itself, built underground and rapidly running out of everything that is the star. It is atmospherically written and easy to imagine. The shortage of everything was well described, so that a precious piece of drawing paper is actually the back of a tin can label and everything must be reused and reused until it can't be used any more. Lina and Doon's quest to find the way out of Ember to a new beginning parallels the collapse of the city itself and they slowly find the answer not only to the "Instructions for Egress" but to the hows and whys of Ember's construction as well. The journal they find of the woman who was one of the first settlers is a touching document that also helps the final pieces of the overall story fall into place. I hear the movie is essentially true to the book and I'm looking forward to seeing it. I also have the sequel, The People of Sparks sitting on the PDA waiting for me to find the moment to read it.
  12. Polaris - Jack McDevitt
    Alex Benedict, Book 2; SF Mystery; 7/10
    This was a solid mystery and I enjoyed my read. I did guess at least part of the answer well before the characters but needed to be told the "how" of the solution. The first story was told by Alex, while in this one Chase is the narrator. I found that I preferred Alex's character and voice and while this wasn't a bad book I liked the first one, A Talent for War, much better. All the same, I do like the SF mysteries and will probably continue with the series, just from the library in future.
  13. The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper
    The Dark is Rising, Book 2; YA Fantasy; Audiobook; 9/10
    It was great to listen to this. It's a long time since I last read the book and I was surprised at just how much of it I had forgotten (like most of it). The winter atmosphere is suitably cold and creepy and the language is a delight. This is a great mixing of myth, legend and new tale all making for a wonderful story. I'm collecting up the rest of the series and anticipating listening my way through the rest of Susan Cooper's classic tale. This deserves the acclaim it has won and I highly recommend it to adults and children alike.
  14. Prophecy: Child of Earth - Elizabeth Haydon
    Symphony of Ages, Book 2; Fantsy; DNF
    This isn't a DNF because it is a bad book, but because it has been sitting on the shelf with a bookmark a couple of chapters in for months. I got scared off by the length of it when I saw it was 700 pages long. So I decided to call it a DNF and start over from the beginning when I pick it up again.
  15. The Curse of the Pharaohs - Elizabeth Peters
    Amelia Peabody, Book 2; Historical Mystery; 8/10
    Many people, including good friends I trust, have often told me how wonderful the Amelia Peabody mysteries are. I bought the first three many years ago now and, as does happen with me, ended up putting them on the shelf and not getting around the reading them. I read the first one, Crocodile on the Sandbank a few years ago and again, the next ones languished on the shelf. I tried listening to this one several times but obviously never at the right time as I kept falling asleep in the first chapter. While on holiday, I suddenly got the urge to try again. I managed to stay awake longer this time and soon got hooked. Once I was home again (fortunately only 36 hours later) I pulled to book off the shelf and got on with some serious reading as the audiobook was going too slowly for me. I enjoyed this second outing with Amelia and Emerson and have put the third on the TBR shelf. I don't intend to let years go by without continuing the series this time.
  16. The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
    Fiction; 10/10
    I had seen good things around the blogsphere about this novella about the Queen discovering the pleasures of reading. It seemed at bit rude to me, to assume the Queen didn't read and, in all honesty, this put me off. But while on holiday a friend recommended it, so I got it from the library when I got home. I see my misapprehension now; there was never any indication that the Queen didn't read at all, just that she had never before discovered that passion that makes one a reader as opposed to someone who reads. Watching her fit this new passion into her busy life was wonderful - as someone who carries a book with me wherever I go and pulls it out at a moment's notice, I could relate to the Queen surreptitiously reading a book on her lap while waving to her subjects out the carriage window. This is a book about finding yourself - and shows that it doesn't matter what age you are or who you are, it is never too late. I often found myself laughing out loud. I loved this little novella (it's only 124 pages) and hope others will do so as well. If you're a reader yourself, you'll find aspects of yourself in here as well as a lovely little story. I'm now tracking down a copy to add to my own collection.
September reading:
Books read this month = 14
DNFs this month = 2
10/10 reads this month = 3
New reads this month = 12
Rereads this month = 2