Sunday, November 21, 2010

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Guardian of the DeadGuardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars (10/10)
Read: 17-11-10 to 21-11-10

Oh, I really liked this. I've had it sitting on my TBR shelf for months, and now I wish I'd started it sooner.

It was great to find a New Zealand book with both a wonderfully accessible heroine and Maori myth that wove so seamlessly into a contemporary narrative. I also thought that Healy did a wonderful job in explaining the mythology (most of which I knew at least to some small degree) to the reader without belabouring the point for those who already knew what she was talking about.

I haven't read much in the way of modern versions of my own homeland's mythology that isn't either historical or a retelling. I thought this was beautifully done and it's so great to have a wonderful New Zealand book to share with friends both locally and overseas. I have a good gift on my hands here.

I loved Ellie. She was wonderfully easy to like I think as much for her flaws as for her strengths. She's complex and very relatable and I would love to see her in another book one day. Kevin and Mark were also great characters, if less rounded than Ellie and I'd love to learn more about them too.

I'm not going to say much about the ending, because I don't want to spoil it, but I thought it was just perfect, which surprised me a little, as it wasn't at all what you might expect. In fact, it was the end that pushed my rating up from a 9 to a 10, because it just rounded off this wonderful, unique, unexpected book perfectly.

I'll be keeping my eyes of for Karen Healey's next book, also set in New Zealand and called The Shattering which is due for publication in September 2011.

Go out and find a copy of Guardian of the Dead and read it. I loved it and I hope you will too.

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Laura Hillenbrand on Today Show

Laura Hillenbrand is the author of the best-selling book, Seabiscuit, which I finished reading last week. She has now released a new book called Unbroken, that I have on reserve from the library and I’m looking forward to reading.

While I am attracted to both books because of their subject and because they are so well written, it is also because Laura Hillenbrand has severe CFS. She’s been ill for the better part of 25 years, much of that time spent in bed. Despite that, she’s written one best seller and it’s looking like this new book may well be one as well.

While I don’t know her and she’s never heard of me and never will, I respect her so much, to have achieved what she has. My writing, while probably never of publishable standard anyway, just faded away on me, dried up and vanished completely. I miss it, but there’s just nothing there in my head any more for me to work with.

Hillenbrand has managed not only to do the hard, physical and mental work of writing two books – she’s done all the research and work involved in preparing to write them as well (check out the enormous number of research books on her shelves in the video below). I couldn’t take in that information and collate it into anything coherent any more, let alone then write it all up so beautifully (and I’m not as sick as she is).

I’m very impressed (and I admit, a little jealous) and I wish Hillenbrand all the very best, both with her health and her career. It’s so good to see someone with this awful illness doing so well.

The video below is from NBC’s Today Show and talks mostly about the book, but also a little about the illness. It’s so nice to see something in the media that acknowledges how serious it is without being disbelieving, disrespectful or mocking.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

Seabiscuit: An American LegendSeabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars (8/10)
Read: 16-9-10 to 14-11-10

A friend lent me this book, and while I've been reading it very slowly, I've also been thoroughly enjoying it.

Hillenbrand made her subject come alive and I found myself cheering for this ungainly little racehorse too - and racing is not something that interests me at all.

So don't let a lack of interest in horse racing keep you from a great book filled with wonderful characters.

I was also interested to read the book knowing Hillenbrand suffers from severe CFS. I am so impressed that she managed to write this while often house-bound. In the interview at the back, she mentions sometimes needing to just close her eyes and write with her eyes closed. While I don't suffer the awful vertigo she does, I could totally relate to that.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Indulgence in Death by J. D. Robb

Indulgence in Death (In Death, #31) Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
Eve and Roarke, Book 38
My rating: 4 of 5 stars (8/10)
Read: 8-11-10 to 9-11-10

I really enjoyed this one. I always enjoy a new book about Eve and Roarke and this one didn't let me down. It has an interesting - if particularly twisted - mystery and Eve faces it in her usual fashion.

I've heard some people complain that they don't enjoy the interactions between Eve and Roarke as much now their marriage is settling down (they celebrate their 2nd wedding anniversary in this book). I'm quite the opposite. Books are so often about people getting together and the drama and conflict involved in that (there's got to be drama and conflict for a story after all). I'm loving seeing the developing, calming relationship that is growing between two such tempestuous people. To have a good marriage - and Eve and Roarke certainly do - they can't stay in conflict. So the conflict is coming from outside now and it is their solid relationship that stands against it.

This very fact was used to great effect in this book, and how Eve exploited someone's outside view of their marriage compared to the reality of it made for a satisfying conclusion to the mystery.

Although, that said, if I have any particular issue with Nora Roberts' books, it is that I often feel they sometimes end about a chapter too soon. If the main issue of the book is resolved, she often stops it at that point. While I don't want the end of a book to meander on, I'd like a little more finish than she sometimes gives me, and I feel this book suffered from that.

I can't really go into more details without spoilers, which I don't want to do, but I felt it wouldn't have hurt to see at least one more police interview at the end, and maybe finish on the up note of a planned barbeque with friends that was constanly mentioned throughout the book but forgotten right at the end.

It's a minor complaint, but has left me feeling a little disappointed at the end, after having had a great adventure.

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

This is cool too

But go and watch in on You Tube itself as my blog template doesn’t show the full width of the clip and you need to see it all.

This is delightful

This is the most delightful, gorgeous thing to watch. Look at the happiness and joy on that little boy’s face.

Everyone else looks and sounds pretty happy too.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

My October Reading

I got more read than I expected this month, so I’m pleased with that. I’m still loving The Wars of Light and Shadow and they are still taking up most of my reading time (and a lot of my available energy).

  1. Son of the Shadows – Juliet Marillier (608pp)
    Sevenwaters, Book 2; Fantasy; 9/10
  2. Whisper of SinNalini Singh (unknown)
    Psy-Changeling, Book 8.5; Short Story; Paranormal Romance; 8/10
  3. Here, There Be Monsters – Meljean Brook (unknown)
    The Iron Seas, Book 0.5; Short Story; Steampunk Romance; 8/10
  4. Anatomy of an EpidemicRobert Whitaker (416pp)
    Non-Fiction; Library Book; 6/10
  5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot (369pp)
    Non-Fiction; Library Book; 10/10
  6. Warhost of VastmarkJanny Wurts (576pp)
    Wars of Light and Shadow, Book 3; Fantasy; 10/10
  7. Tea with the Black Dragon – R. A. MacAvoy (176pp)
    Fantasy; eBook; Reread; 7/10
  8. Cryoburn – Lois McMaster Bujold (345pp)
    Vorkosigan, Book 14; SF; 10/10
  9. How to Fossilise Your Hamster – Mick O’Hare (256pp)
    Non-Fiction; Library Book; DNF
  10. Ten Things I Love About You – Julia Quinn (377pp)
    Bevelstokes, Book 3; Romance; eBook; 7/10

Best book of the month = Warhost of Vastmark (Cryoburn was a very close second)
Biggest disappointment of the month = Tea With the Black Dragon (because it wasn’t as good as I remember, not because it was bad)

October Reading:
Books read this month = 7
Short Stories read this month = 2
Total reads this month = 9

10/10 reads this month = 2
DNFs this month = 1
New reads this month = 8
Rereads this month = 1
paper books : eBooks = 5 : 4 = 56 % : 44 %

Pages read this month = 2867

October Challenges Progress:
Flashback Reading Challenge = 1
Big Book Challenge = 1

October List Progress:
eBooks read = 4
SFF books read = 6
Library Books read = 2
Audiobooks listened to = 0