Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April 2009 Reading

Once again, I find myself unable to write reviews. All the same, I had an interesting reading month. Several romances when I didn’t feel like reading anything challenging (I chose non-challenging romances deliberately) and some fantasy for the Once Upon a Time III reading challenge. Nothing blew me away in April, but nothing was really awful either.

Of my seven reading challenges, I have two fully completed and two partially completed (I’ve read 12 library books, which is the level of challenge I committed to, but I’ll see if I can hit the next level which is 25 and I’ve completed 5 fantasy books for Once Upon a Time III but still have A Midsummer Night’s Dream to watch).

Cumulative totals for the year so far are over on Lists and Such.

  1. Alphabet of Thorn – Patricia A. McKillip
    Fantasy; eBook; 9/10
  2. The Forest of Hands and Teeth – Carrie Ryan
    YA Fantasy; Library Book; 5/10
  3. Born in Fire – Nora Roberts
    Concannon Sisters, Book 1; Romance; eBook; 8/10
  4. Smooth Talking Stranger – Lisa Kleypas
    Contemporary Romance; Library Book; 8/10
  5. The Night Bird – Catherine Asaro
    The Lost Continent, Book 5; Fantasy; 9/10
  6. Do Polar Bears Get Lonely? – New Scientist
    Non-Fiction; 9/10
  7. Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches Guide to Romance Novels – Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan
    Non-Fiction; eBook; 8/10
  8. Silver on the Tree – Susan Cooper
    The Dark is Rising, Book 4; Children’s Fantasy; Audiobook; Reread; 7/10
  9. Born in Ice – Nora Roberts
    Concannon Sisters, Book 2; Romance; eBook; 8/10
  10. Megan’s Mark – Lora Leigh
    Breeds, Book 7; Paranormal Romance; Reread; eBook; 7/10
  11. Giants of the Frost – Kim Wilkins
    Fantasy; eBook; 7/10

Best book of the month = Alphabet of Thorn
Worst book of the month = In the Forest of Hands and Teeth
Disappointment of the month = Giants of the Frost

April Reading:
Books read this month = 11
DNFs this month = 0
10/10 reads this month = 0
New reads this month = 9
Rereads this month = 2
% paper books : % eBooks = 40 : 60

April Challenges Progress:
100+ Reading Challenge = 11
Support Your Local Library Challenge = 2 (Stage 1 Completed 3-04-09)
Romance Reading Challenge = 5 (Challenge Completed 25-02-09)
YA Reading Challenge = 1
eBook Reading Challenge = 6 (Challenge Completed 24-02-09)
Patricia A. McKillip Reading Challenge = 1
Once Upon a Time III Challenge = 5 (Books Completed 22-4-09)

April Non-Challenges Progress:
SF/Fantasy books read = 5
Audiobooks listened to = 1

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Well, so far, so good. I was feeling very dry eyed and light headed this morning. It’s still there tonight, but a little less I think. I’ve found that if I take things quietly it’s much better, but if I do lots and move around a lot, it gets worse. That seems to me to be a good excuse for going easy.

Another Marcus story…

We went to the doctor on Tuesday for me to talk about a bunch of things. One of these was to get a prescription for a course of B12 injections which should help my energy levels (and I think they have as I’m not as totally trashed as I could be). Once I’d done all that, I needed to get the nurse to give me the injection. So Marcus was playing with the toys in the waiting room again while I waited for my turn. She came to get me and I said something to Marcus like, “I’ll be back soon,” and went with the nurse, leaving him to play.

A little later I’m sitting in the nurses’ room (partially undressed so she can reach my upper arm) when the door opens and there is the receptionist with Marcus. He can’t have heard what I said and thought I’d gone without him.

I spoke to the receptionist later and she said he’s come up to her and said very seriously, “Excuse me, can I tell you something?”

“Of course,” she agreed.

“My name is Marcus,” he confided, “And I can’t find my mummy.”

She said he was so polite and serious about it, all when he thought he’d lost his mother.

Sometimes, my son is just so adorable.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Feeling Nervous

I took a half dose of my antidepressant this morning as the beginning of an attempt to come off it. Whether or not I’ll be able to come of the stupid things altogether, or whether I’ll need a new one remains to be seen. My doctor and I will work that out as time goes on.

I’ve been unhappy about some stuff in my life for a while – basically all my creativity seems to be abandoning me, from my creative writing (just gone with everything untouched for about two years) to my stitching (just don’t feel like doing it) and even my reading (getting harder and harder), along with some other stuff that doesn’t need to be mentioned in a public place.

I recently went to see a CFS specialist (something I meant to blog about but never did – maybe one day) and something she said made me wonder if these things related to the antidepressant rather than it being a case of “just me” as I had been assuming.

All the same, trying to go off an antidepressant is always rather scary as you never know if the depression will come back or what the withdrawal will be like. And the withdrawal from this one (Effexor) is supposed to be especially nasty.

So all in all, I’m feeling pretty nervous about it all. A few good thoughts would be appreciated and we’ll see how it goes as the days go on.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I’m trying to get into the habit of using Twitter. I feel kind of silly, as I don’t really see that people would be interested in my boring life. All the same, I’m going to try, so if anyone wants to follow me, my username is – surprise, surprise – rocalisa.

P.S. If you’re on Twitter too, please do leave your username in the comments so I can follow you.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Out of the mouths…

Classic Marcus moment.

Since we’re getting ready to pack for our Easter holiday, I told Marcus he needed to think about what toys, books and movies he wants to take with him.

“Okay,” he told me. “I just have to change my normal brain for my toys-books-movies brain.” A moment’s pause. “Super Bear [his imaginary friend] helps me do it.”

“Oh,” I said. “Is Super Bear a brain surgeon?”

“Super Bear’s dog is a brain surgeon,” he told me seriously.

I almost collapsed laughing.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Progress on Once Upon a Time III

out3banner6200 Since I’m not currently doing book reviews (a disappointing but necessary situation at present), I thought I’d do a quick follow up on my current progress on the Once Upon a Time III challenge. Since the start of the challenge on 21st March, I’ve read three books that fit the categories and I started on my fourth today.

ordinary princess The Ordinary Princess – M. M. Kaye

If I remember correctly, I got this book from on2 of the school book clubs, way back when I was about 12 or so. I loved it immediately. The story of Amethyst (commonly known as Amy), a seventh princess who gets given the gift of ordinariness by one of her fairy godmothers at her christening, is a delightful story. It’s just a short, little children’s book, that even has written inside the back page, in my 12-year old writing: My verdict – Supa. Why I decided to misspell “super” remains a mystery to this day, but the verdict remains the same. The Ordinary Princess is written with an almost sly wit as it makes fun of the usual fairy tale fare full of beautiful princesses, handsome princes and other archetypes. The king wanders around insisting inviting fairies is a RASH idea (often in capitals), while the queen tries in vain to remove her youngest daughter’s freckles and Amy decides to run away when the king considers hiring a dragon to lay waste to the countryside in the hope some rash young prince will slay it and be forced to marry plain Princess Amy. It’s a truly lovely story and it doesn’t matter in the least that it’s theoretically a children’s book; it’s a delight to all ages. My verdict this time around (and, okay I’ll admit it, 28 years later) is 10/10.

McKillip, Patricia A. - Alphabet of Thorn Alphabet of Thorn – Patricia A. McKillip

I went on a McKillip spending spree last year and bought most of her recent books that I hadn’t read (it helped that Lenneth over on LJ started up a Patricia A. McKillip challenge that I quickly joined). Alphabet of Thorn was one of these. It started out in what is typical McKillip style at present, with a varied collection of characters all apparently doing their own thing. The reader has to have faith that all the separate lines of the tale will come together in the end – and McKillip always comes through. The translator Nepenthe (a orphan so named because the librarians were up to N for names when she was found) finds herself obsessed with deciphering a book written in an alphabet of thorns. Slowly, she uncovers a tale of a mighty emperor 3000 years ago and his quest to conquer the world. At the same time, the new young queen of the kingdom finds her throne at risk, a young mage caught up in family politics meets Nepethene and the aged mage, Vevay, tries to counsel a queen she doesn’t really understand. All of these strands finish up making a beautiful story that enchants the reader. I did guess the general solution to one the the book’s mysteries fairly early on, but it didn’t matter in the least. The how of getting to the end and the beautiful, lyrical language McKillip uses to tell her tale are what the book (and indeed, all McKillip’s books) is all about. I really enjoyed the tale and I’m glad I’m having a year reading McKillip. My rating for this book is 9/10.

Ryan, Carrie - The Forest of Hands and Teeth The Forest of Hands and Teeth – Carrie Ryan

There’s been a lot of comment on this book on a number of the blogs I read and that comment has been all positive. So I feel I bit like Scrooge crying “Humbug” to say that the book didn’t work for me. This is a zombie book that doesn’t mention the word “zombie” and while that isn’t generally my reading (or viewing) preference, I have to say that that part of the book was very well done. Mary lives in a village ringed by fences where the “Unconsecrated” live outside in the forest and a forever trying to find a way through to the living on the other side. Mary is something of a misfit, not satisfied with the live she is expected to lead, either as a member of the Sisterhood that is the authority in the village, or as a wife and mother. Her own mother told her tales of the ocean and while no-one else really believes in it, Mary is haunted by the stories and wants to find the ocean. When the fences are breached, she and several others find themselves caught of fenced paths, trying to find their way to some kind of safety. I read on bottle_of_shine’s LJ that this book is an excellent zombie metaphor. Well, I readily admit that I wasn’t reading for metaphor but for story. And as a story, it failed for me. Mary is self-absorbed and annoying as she drags everyone else along on her obsession towards the ocean. She wails about her life and obsesses about her own feelings to a point I found it annoying. Since the book is told from her point of view, not identifying with her in any way wasn’t helpful. It was also frustrating that the author drops clues about the cause of the “Return” (such as Mary finding old newspaper clippings in an attic) but then chooses not to tell us what happened. Now, I can accept that in real life – often we don’t learn the answers we’d like to learn – but in a book where there is setup about the mystery of what happened to humanity, it’s annoying not to get the reward at the end. (And I admit, part of what I like about post-apocalyptic fiction is finding about about the apocalypse through the characters history and discovery.) So sadly, this wasn’t a great read for me – although I do love the cover – and I’m glad I borrowed it from the library rather than buying it. My rating is 5/10.

Marchetta, Melina - Finnikin of the Rock I’ve also had one DNF since I started the challenge. This was Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, which I received as part of the Christmas Blog Swap exchange. I was very excited about reading this as it sounded like it could be a lovely book (and the pretty cover didn’t hurt). Sadly, by about a third of the way through I was finding myself very ambivalent about reading it and wasn’t sure why. I finally figured out that I didn’t like any of the characters – of the two main protagonists, one was a whinger and the other was manipulating everyone (sometimes into very nasty situations) for her own ends. I just didn’t want to continue on the journey with them. I’m pretty sure I guessed what a big reveal was going to be, but I don’t really even care to know if I was right or not. I guess I should take a look at the back to see.

Asaro, Catherine - The Night Bird Right now, I’ve just started The Night Bird by Catherine Asaro, which has been sitting on the TBR shelf since it came out in July last year, so I’m delighted to have something push me to read it. While I prefer Asaro’s SF series to this fantasy one, I do enjoy the stories all the same and while I’ve only read two pages so far, I’m looking forward to the read.

Beautiful new pattern

It was a good mail day today. I got a second hand copy of Dorothy Dunnett’s To Lie with Lions from Trade Me (now I only need to find the last book, Gemini, to have the whole Niccolo series) and an envelope from Colours Down Under in Australia. Inside was this beautiful pattern:

dragonflyquakerJeannie-Maree (aka Fudgey) sent me a gift certificate for my birthday and as soon as I saw this one on the front page of the site, I loved it. I spent at least another half an hour checking out other things in case I saw something I wanted more, but I think I knew all along that this is what I would be buying. Wonderfully helpful lady that she is, Jeannie-Maree is now converting the DMC colours it uses to Vicki Clayton’s beautiful silks for me.

I have to finish Second Chances at the very least before starting, so it won’t be worked on immediately, but I love it and I’m so glad to have it in the drawer waiting for me to get to it.

Thank you ever so much, Jeannie-Maree.

Our new toy

Lookie what we got:

newtvLast week, Dave got a small bonus from his company to say “thank you for not leaving us”. After a little thought, we decided that we would use it to replace our ailing-but-not-dead-yet television, since the chances were that when it did die, we wouldn’t have any spare cash to replace it on the spot.

After looking around, we bought a 42” plasma, and I must say that I’m impressed with it. I didn’t realise how much I was missing while watching TV on the older, smaller one. I know my vision is poor without my glasses, but obviously it just generally not great with them as well.

Suddenly, I’m interested in watching TV again, which I haven’t been for ages. After Marcus tried it out with WALL-E (as shown above), I sat down and watched Mama Mia, which I’ve been planning to watch for ages. It was silly but great fun and the bigger screen definitely made a difference.

Oh no. Books, stitching and now TV as well. Where will I find the time?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

March Reading

I’ve posted my March reading list and cumulative reading totals over on Lists and Such.

Sadly, I didn’t get everything I read reviewed in March, but since I’ve been firmly told to reduce all stress possible as part of managing my CFS, I decided to post the list regardless. Otherwise I’d be stressing about getting caught up with the reviews, which is exactly not the point. If I get them done (and I’d especially like to do reviews for Lear’s Daughters and The Ordinary Princess) then I’ll add in the links later.

I read 10 books in March (and considering Lear’s Daughters was 750 pages, I’m very happy with that) and had one DNF. That was Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, which I received for the Bloggers Christmas exchange swap. I read about a third of it and couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so ambivalent about it, until I realised none of the characters were likeable and I wasn’t interested in continuing with them. It was a disappointment as it looked like such a good book.

A read a lot of library books this month, swinging my paper : ebook ratio back towards paper books. We’ll see what effect my April reading has on it.

I’m still on track with all my challenges, with two finished out of seven and I’m still feeling confident I should finish them in plenty of time. All the same, in the name of reducing stress as ordered, I’m just going to read what I feel like and what I can manage and we’ll see what happens.

My total number of books read so far for the year is 33, with 27 of those being new reads and 6 being rereads. I now have 3 books rated 10/10, all read this month, of which one was a new read (Lear’s Daughters) and two were rereads (The Grey King and The Ordinary Princess).