Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Did I really do that?

Yes, I did. I started a new blog over at WordPress. I had a few reasons and the easy way to explain them is to copy here the first post from over there.

It’s called Too Many Books and I hope to do better at keeping it up than I’m doing over here, mostly because I’m not planning to try to do complicated things like reviews, but simply to post the odd book thing (including pictures of Marcus I admit) when I think of it.

Please do come over if it sounds interesting.

(There’s going to be a stitching one too, again where I can just toss something up, but that’s only a template right now. All the same, you’re welcome to follow it if you wish. It’s called Sometimes Stitching.)

GOOD GRIEF, ANOTHER BLOG (from Too Many Books)

Why do I do this to myself? Here I am, starting another blog…

The thing is that at present I can’t manage to provide the kind of depth of content I’d prefer for Saving My Sanity… (darned Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you know), but I don’t want to retool the blog in case things change and I can go back to it. Also, I’ve been using WordPress to work on a fan “site” for Catherine Asaro (called Prism, but not yet publically online as I still have plenty of content to add) and I find it’s easier to use to quickly toss out a post than Blogger.

So here we go, another blog.

The key phrase above is “toss out a post”. That’s what I want to be able to do. A quote, a thought, a pretty cover, an upcoming release, anything book related like that. Short, quick stuff rather than trying to do in depth reviews or analysis (although if I am so inspired, I’ll “toss” one of those up here as well).

Secondly, I have several authors where I dream of slowly reading my way through their series and/or standalone books, often in an order of my own devising rather than ones readily available on other sites. This will also be a place to store those orders and my progress through the books.

Lastly (for now), some older favourite series/authors are beginning to be reprinted in lovely, matching editions (and in hardcover or trade which I prefer these days) where I drool over them and dream about buying them if I had the money. My books were often either purchased as they came out, or bought later and mostly second hand. Both those things tend to mean my collections are in multiple formats and with differing cover art. And in the case of those second hand purchases, old, ratty and sometimes musty and falling apart. The very thought of a lovely new set of books, all matching size and matching covers makes me happy. So I’ll also be using this blog to imagine my own dream library.

That’s the plan. Will it eventuate? I don’t know. I hope so, but the dreaded fatigue monster always remains on the horizon and I remain at its mercy. We’ll see. I shall continue to hope and dream – and read of course.

Please do come over and try Too Many Books.

Just for fun

I saw this over on Geek Art Gallery today.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie WarWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can't believe I'm reading a zombie book. It's all Calico Reaction's fault.

Wow, I really don't know what to say about this book.

It's a good book, but it's so different from what I usually read that I feel like I don't have any context for commenting on it.

I'll say up front that I am not a zombie person. They just don't appeal to me. So you won't get me to watch zombie movies (although I have seen 28 Days or whatever the first one was called) and you generally won't get me to read zombie books.

The two I have tried (and liked) were this one and Mira Grant's Feed. And both, I have felt count as zombie books for people who don't like zombies. In both, the focus is not on blood, guts and gore and killing as many zombies as you can, but one what effect a zombie plague has on people and society and how people adapt and change to meet this new challenge. They are about science and psychology more than gore. This is something I find I do like.

In World War Z, this is in fact quite a bit of zombie killing, but by structuring the narrative as Brooks has done - make it a transcription of first hand reports after the fact - adds a distance that allows me to take on the facts without having to be traumatized by the gory details. The book almost reads as non-fiction (which I assume was the author's intention) but with a touch of the personal.

I really enjoy the scientific puzzle of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic books and this book gave me that. I never did find out what caused the virus, but I got to see how it developed, how it was dealt with and even a touch of the effect it has had on people a decade later.

That really did work for me.

I can't say that I "loved" this book in a "rave and squee about it" kind of way, but I certainly didn't dislike it either. That implies my reaction of sort of "meh" but it wasn't that either. This was a very satisfying book for me, even if I'm usually a character reader and this book was lacking in characterisation.

As I said at the beginning, it's a very different style of book from my usual as I find it hard to vocalise my reaction.

Satisfying sounds like damning it with faint praise, which isn't what I mean to do at all. I recommend the book, and while I can easily describe its basic ideas and conceits, I don't know how to describe my reaction to it. So go and try it for yourself. I do think it's worth it.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Winter is Coming

And no, I’m not talking about A Game of Thrones. I may be the only person on the internet to use that title and not be talking about George R. R. Martin and HBO.

Winter really is coming here. We’ve hit the middle of autumn and the temperature seriously dropped yesterday. Enough that we pulled out all the heaters and searched for our slippers.

Cally, being a cat, thought this was brilliant of course and it didn’t take long before she was happily sprawled in front of the heater, claiming the warmest spot in the house.

Heater + cat = winter on the way.


I don’t think she’s really sticking her tongue out at me, but it sure does look that way.

Family Photos #7 - Change


The theme for FP#7 was CHANGE, as chosen by Dave.

Since he picked it, we’ll start with him. I suspect he was inspired by the change of seasons (it’s autumn here now, and cold enough that yesterday we turned the heater on for the first time). Certainly, that’s what he chose to photograph with this beauty.


Marcus wasn’t quite sure about the idea of change until he found 10 cents in the car on Sunday and his Grandad Ross gave him an Australian 10-cent coin to go with the New Zealand one. I don’t remember the details exactly, but we were talking one day in the supermarket and a lady gave him some Japanese small change she had in her purse after getting back to New Zealand the day before. So here we have New Zealand, Australian and Japanese change. (Marcus hasn’t quite grasped the idea of close ups and focusing the camera yet.)


Pam got in quickly with her photo, which wasn’t anything I had thought of when I considered the idea of change. But as she pointed out, a generation ago you wouldn’t have found a pizza oven in a friends’ garden where you could sit in the sun and cook your lunch. Times change.


When I told Sally the theme, her reaction was, “that’s easy”. She moved house at the weekend, so it’s all about change for her right now. Here are a lot of boxes and a cat who probably isn’t so keen on the whole idea of change right now.


As for me, the theme turned out to be pretty easy for me too. It was my birthday at the end of March and while I’m not going to tell you what number changed to the next one, I had a lovely day. Family and friends got together to buy me a Kindle which I absolutely love and I was well looked after all round. (The very cool card Sally sent me is sadly missing from the photo as I hadn’t checked the letterbox when I took this.)


And this week you get a bonus, lucky viewers. Marcus has developed a fascination with Doctor Who (that isn’t quite matched by his ability to sit down and actually watch it) and having a mother who is a fan and gets given Doctor Who-style presents means there are several TARDISes (TARDIi?) around the place. He recently lined them all up and took a photo. The TARDIS is meant to be all about change, so I’m including his picture just for fun. (Although I’m rather embarrassed to discover there were five!)


After talking to Mum, who has just been down to Christchurch, I chose the next theme and it is MUNTED (if you scroll down the page linked you’ll come to the specific Christchurch definition).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Twilight’s Dawn by Anne Bishop

Twilight's Dawn (The Black Jewels, #9)Twilight's Dawn by Anne Bishop
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Read 13-4-11 to 16-4-11

Just so you know, there are no spoilers here - although that does make this a post about feelings rather that details. I figured vagueness was better than spoilers.

This was wonderful. All of it, including the last story. In fact, especially the last story, which I thought was perfect.

This book is not an ending; it's stories of resolution, again including and especially the last one. It lets me breathe easy for all the characters and look forward to learning more about them and their lives should Ms Bishop share them with me (and she has plenty of scope to do so - again, this book is not an ending). I hope she does; I love these people and their world. But if she doesn't (please, please do), then I know everyone has finished with their hearts at peace.

I didn't read any of the reviews that came out about it because I didn't want to be spoiled, but I understood some people weren't happy (or had issues, as I said I didn't read them) with what Ms Bishop did here (that last story again) and/or felt this was the end.

I chose to trust the author; she hasn't let me down yet. And once again she didn't here. She was true to her world, true to her characters, true to their stories and the rules she had set up. To me, this was a wonderful collection of stories about easing hearts and loving family and I loved it. Especially that last story; it built from everything that had gone before and for me, it was perfect.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sign some equations

I found this in my Google Reader Feeds tonight. Apparently it came from here.

After having a mental confusion moment today and confusing the equations for the area of a circle and the volume of a sphere (at least when the numbers came out I realised they couldn’t be right), this seemed to appear at a perfect time.



Friday, April 01, 2011

Family Photos #6 - Warmth


Once again I am late. I shall endeavour to improve.

The theme for FP#6 was WARMTH, as chosen by Sally.

Marcus had a few choices, including Mummy sleeping with her socks on (okay, pretending to sleep for the photo, but it’s true I can’t get to sleep if my feet are cold) and Marcus himself tucked up in bed with Boris the white tiger (taken by me). In the end though, he chose a picture of his very favourite, woolly red socks, which were bought a couple of years ago for Red Socks Day and have remained favourites ever since.


Pam provided a lovely, late summer picture that I’m guessing is from her garden.


Sally sent us this darling bunny. If you live in Wellington, he’s looking for a new home and can be found at the Wellington SPCA.


I admit that I’m the one who actually took Dave’s photo, but it was at his request and you’ll see, when you take a look, why he couldn’t do it himself. Cally considers him to be her rightful sleeping place at night – I took this when I woke up at 1am to take a trip to the bathroom.


I thought about this one quite a lot. I have a picture of Cally curled up behind the TV having a sleep, but I decided this one of our Galileo thermometer showing it to be a balmy 24C in late March.


Dave has chosen the next theme and it is CHANGE.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Family Photos – Week Five = Rest and Relaxation


Sorry this is so late. It took everyone, including me, a while to get our photos taken and then I got a head cold when I was just getting organised to put up the post.

Given the fact we all have busy lives, we’ve decided to make this a fortnightly challenge rather than a weekly one. That gives everyone a bit more time to find a good photo.

The theme for Week 4 was REST AND RELAXATION.

Marcus had an excellent idea and set up a photo-shoot for his favourite bedtime friend, Brown Bear Barney.


Pam sent us a photo of Grandad Len taking a moment for a bit of R&R. You can see who influenced me to be a reader, which Dave and I then passed on to Marcus.


Sally’s photo shows one of her workmates getting in a nap on the job.


Dave pointed out that he seems to get very little time for any rest or relaxation, but that if he did, this is what he’d choose to do with it.


As for me, I couldn’t resist this picture of Marcus sleeping. He has always slept in some very strange positions or with an interesting array of friends. (I have sneaked into his room and snapped a photo many times and fortunately he never responds to the flash at all and keeps right on sleeping.)


Sally chose the next theme and it is WARMTH.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

DarkShip Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt

DarkShip ThievesDarkShip Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars (8/10)
Read: 3-3-11 to 8-3-11

This book ended up being a bit up and down, but overall I really liked it.

It stared off well, then seemed to slow a bit (although not in a bad way) when Athena got to Eden. At that point, I could see it turning into SF Romance, and while I don't mind that at all, it wasn't exactly what I had been expecting.

But I was wrong. While the romance is there, it's nicely done and not dwelled upon on its own account too much. Instead, the SF plot begins to build up, tying in a lot of threads that I had thought were only background world-building, into a generally satisfying whole.

I did especially enjoy the parts back on Earth where Thena began to put all the pieces together and work out what was really going on. I did think she was a little slow on the uptake, as I'd worked out the basics (although I admit, not the specifics) back when she was on Eden, but I can also kind of see how they were pieces her back brain probably didn't want to put together, so I'll forgive it.

However, after all that excellent third quarter or more, it all seemed to resolve very easily and suddenly. I was reading the ebook and keeping a mild eye on my progress through the book. I had seen that part three started at something like chapter 46, with another 6 or 7 chapters to go to get to the end. That meant I was very surprised to find I was at over 90% of the book when I was still in the early 40s, chapter wise and in the middle of the action on Earth. I was wondering how Ms Hoyt was going to tie everything up and get them rescued and home again in the short space left.

Very quickly, turned out to be the answer. Suddenly escape becomes easy, the villain is dealt with with surprising speed (and really, very little action on the part of the main protagonists) and they're off home, to end on an ironic note, rather than a satisfying one.

Yes, finishing with the same officious controller was clever, but I wanted to see the family's reaction to having them back, and Doc Bartholomeu's response to all they had learned. Not to mention, whatever the heck is happening back on Earth and where the other Mules might have gone.

If this is the beginning of a series, hopefully I'll still learn those things, but for a standalone, the ending didn't work for me.

All the same, I really enjoyed myself reading this one. I loved the world Ms Hoyt created (and in a way, I'm not sure why) and the characters (well, I had a love/hate relationship with Thena, but I loved Kit and I want to see how they both live beyond the parental legacies they were given). I'll happily read more books by her, but next time, I really would like a more satisfying ending please.

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Family Photos – Week 4=Signs


Firstly, please welcome my sister, Sally, who is joining the fun. Thanks for playing, Sally.

The theme for Week 4 was SIGNS.

Marcus has his own special hideaway in the storage space under the house, which was made to be his “office” because Daddy had an office and he wanted one too. This space now has a sign on the door. Not only did Marcus photograph a sign, he made it first too.


This sign is located at the entrance to Dave’s work (although facing towards the people coming out, not the ones coming in). He did once tell me the story of why it looks like it does, but I’m afraid I don’t remember it. If you want to know, you’ll have to ask him.


Pam sent along this one. She tells me Marcus should remember it as when they walked along this bit of shared pathway together Marcus was sure it meant the man had fallen off his bike.


Sally has been kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park this week (which sound like a fabulous way to have a holiday, but rather too strenuous for me), so what could be more appropriate than this sign.


As for me, I’ve been dropping Marcus off at the school turning circle for a couple of weeks now, but last week was the first time I picked him up there after school as well. He’s feeling very grown up and independent doing it, and it makes things so much easier for me too. I thought such a big step forward deserved to be commemorated with a photo.


So there you are, five very different “signs” photos. Thanks again to Sally for joining us. Dave has chosen the theme for week 5 and it is REST AND RELAXATION. There should be lots of possibilities for that one.

The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous UtopiaThe Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. Le Guin

I'm going to have to call this one a DNF.

I managed the first four chapters and found it both interesting and compelling while at the same time vaguely unappealing.

I read the first four chapters, and found the exploration of the societies interesting, but just couldn't manage reading it at the moment.

I'll be leaving it on my reader and I hope to get back to it at some point.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight Riot (Peter Grant, #1)Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

My rating: 3½ of 5 stars (7/10)
Read: 14-2-11 to 23-2-11

This is just a really fun book. It's rather clever, the premise is good and its a rollicking good adventure. It's not great literature, but it's well worth going along for the ride.

The prose isn't perfect - I do wish Mr Aaronovitch had used a few more semicolons and a few less commas for one thing - but it's easily readible and the narrator's voice is good. Peter is snarky and a bit rude and a lot of fun to hang around with.

Aaronovitch, Ben - Peter Grant 01 - Rivers of LondonIf the blurb sounds like something you might enjoy, go on, give it a go.

This book was published in the UK with a much nicer title and cover. There it’s Rivers of London and the cover is much cooler in my opinion. Why do publishers do this? It just adds confusion. So depending on where you live, you might need to look for that title.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yes, I’m fine

Just a quick note to let friends who don’t know which part of New Zealand I live in that my family and I are fine. We’re at the other end of the country from Christchurch where the earthquake was.

The news is just heart-breaking as are the pictures on the TV. My parents’ families are from the area and I spent a lot of my holidays there as a child, so seeing places I’ve been in rubble is horrible.

So far, I’ve heard from/about good friends and family who are okay. There are others we’re waiting to hear from. The whole country is being asked not to use the phone service to leave it available where it is needed so we’re using twitter/email etc to make contact.

It’s just unreal.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Family Photos–Week 3 = Green


I’m the culprit that made things late this week. I found a lovely photo I wanted to use, but I had to ask permission to post it first. Happily, the lovely Melanie has given me the go ahead. You’ll see why I needed to ask her when you get down to my entry.

The theme for Week 2 was GREEN.

Marcus went to a birthday party for a school friend at a local ten pin bowling alley. They all turned out to be far more interested in the games than the bowling and they ended up playing the machines instead. Marcus (with a bit of help from Dad) managed to win a build-it kit for a dinosaur skeleton. Together, he and I did achieve something that looks a bit like a triceratops, but since the foam is a bit soft, we had to work on getting him to stand up without falling apart altogether.


Dave, in a fit of either genius or madness decided to zoom in (literally I suspect; I’m jealous of the macro lens he has for his camera) for his computer, or possibly the computer dock. He didn’t give me the specifics.


Pam tells me she had so many ideas for green that it was hard to make a decision. But this friendly monster did the trick. I’m impressed she had her camera with her when stumbling on this guy. And she assures me he didn’t chase her after she’d taken her shot.


And here’s my photo. Since this lovely young man isn’t my own child, you’ll understand that I needed to get permission from his mum before I put up his picture. He’s the younger brother of a girl who was in Marcus’ class last year. He and his two other brothers (who together make a set of triplets) will be starting school later this year. They were enjoying the annual school picnic that was held on Friday night. I didn’t go there planning to take his picture, but he’s such a gorgeous kid and he was beautifully dressed all in green so how could I possibly resist.


So there you are, four very different “green” photos. Pam has chosen the theme for week 4 and it is SIGNS. That one could be interesting.

We’ll also hoping my sister may be able to join in. I haven’t heard back from her yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Delay with this week’s family photos

Sorry, but there’s going to be a delay posting this week’s photos. I needed to ask permission to publish my photo of choice and I’m just waiting to hear back.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

FledglingFledgling by Octavia E. Butler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars (10/10)
Read: 18-2-11 to 20-2-11
For: Calico Reaction Book Club 2011

Not a review, just a little rave.

I really loved this. It just worked for me on some many levels. It wasn’t that I was crowing about it constantly as I read, but it was just so satisfying that I kept on reading and reading until I was finished. This is a vampire book, there’s talk about feeling filled and sated in it. That’s how I felt when I got to the end.

It's my first Octavia Butler book, and I find myself glad of that, since it means there's more for me to read. At the same time, it's terribly sad to know there will be no more books from her. I would so have loved to find out what things were like for Shori and her family a few years from now. The book is absolutely complete on its own, but it would be so interesting to get to revisit later when Shori has had a chance to rebuild herself and her family.

I guess that's the sign of a good book - that I so want to know how things work out for the characters, even when it’s already a satisfying and neatly finished story.

I got this one from the library and I think I'm going to have to track down my own copy, because I think I'll want to reread this.

Many thanks to Sharra at Calico Reaction for introducing me to an author I always knew was considered to be great, but whose work I had never tried for myself.

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I will try to remember to come back and leave a link to the Book Club discussion when it starts, as there will be lots of detailed discussion of the book. Like I said at the beginning, this is a rave rather than a review.

Link to Fledgling on Calico's Book Club

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Elfland by Freda Warrington

ElflandElfland by Freda Warrington
My rating: 3½ of 5 stars
Read: 11-2-11 to 18-2-11

I liked this book, but it just didn't work for me as a whole.

I found the pace to be near glacial, which slowed my reading terribly. It wasn't that nothing was happening, but that the things that were happening didn't appear to heading in any particular direction. In the end, it got there, but boy did it take a long time.

Calico Reaction suggested that it read like a family saga, and I think there's a lot to that. You can have a great book about family without it turning into a 'family saga' but this one did the latter. But at the same time it was trying to be a grand fantasy and sadly it kind of missed the mark on blending the two together. It did pieces of each beautifully, but putting them together didn't quite gel.

But I can see all the things I should have loved but only appreciated. So I wonder if the problem lies with me rather than the book, and other people may simply love it. I certainly hope so as there's some very nice stuff in there.

I liked the use of the piece of story at the beginning that turns out to belong further into the book. However, that first part was just a bit too obscure about where it fitted so that when we got to that point later, I was having to flip back to the front to be sure I'd got it right. I feel it should have been clearer than that. If we had been let in on the fact it was Rosie's wedding day it would have all made much more sense and let me feel I'm now slipped into the story proper.

And that's part of the overall problem. The narrative wandered so much that we never could really be sure if we in the main plot of the book or not. Or when the action that back cover blurb had promised us would finally show up. Personally, that drives me crazy. I like my book to be going somewhere. I don't mind if it twists and turns and turns my senses upside down along the way (all the better really) but I like it to have some kind of narrative drive, and it just felt like this book didn't.

As for the characters, I really did like them. I liked Rose and I liked Sam and Lucas. Matt and Jon Made me struggle a bit harder, but even they grew on me. And I would have loved to see more interaction directly between Auberon and Jessica. But they too failed to blend quite properly into the family saga/fantasy novel. It was like they weren't quite sure which set of lines they were supposed to be following.

And yet, the most annoying thing is that the pieces were all there for me. Pieces I like. This book should have worked for me and I'm terribly disappointed that it didn't.

Since I got sick, I judge things on a cost/benefit ratio. While I got some good stuff out of this book, I had to work way too hard and way to long for it to be fully worth it for me. If I get the benefit, that kind of cost is worth paying, but I just didn't get enough back this time.

But I still feel like I should have done. It should have worked. I can imagine myself remembering bits of pieces of this book in the future and thinking it was the book I wanted it to be rather than the book it actually was; I can see myself wanting to reread it to recapture those glorious pieces and being disappointed all over again that what I find is how they didn't produce the right fantastic reality for me.

Don't let all this put you off though. This is me. This is the pieces not mixing for me (and I'm sorry I've gone on this long and still been so vague about my problems with the book). I know lots of people loved it. I hope you'll be one of them.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Family Photos – Week 2 = Car


Dave came in on the wire, taking his photo about 7.30 on Sunday night, but everyone has managed to produce a photo.

The theme for Week 2 was CAR.

Marcus took a picture of Dave changing the temporary tyre back to the repaired one after my car got a flat when I was taking Marcus to school on Monday.


Dave took a picture from the driver’s seat while popping out to the supermarket tonight.


Pam took a picture of this once handsome 1958 Jaguar, which is now showing a bit of wear and tear.


I took a picture of one of the occupants of Marcus’ sandpit. This was a present for his birthday two weeks ago, so it is still a new favourite.


I’ve chosen the theme for Week 3 and it is GREEN.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Family Photos – Week 1 = Cat


My parents gave Marcus a camera for his birthday. So far he’s alternated between taking lots of photos and forgetting about it completely. So to keep his interest up, we’ve set up a challenge. Each week we’re going to pick a topic or theme and everyone (so far that’s me, Marcus, Dave and my mother) has to take a photo based on that. On Mondays, I’ll put them up here on my blog.

The theme for Week 1 was CAT.

Marcus took a picture of our cat, Cally.


Dave took a picture from Marcus’ pre-school dictionary.


Pam (aka Mum or Granny Pam) took a picture of her cat, Mac.


Kerry (ie me) took a picture of her appliqued bag.


Marcus has chosen the theme for Week 2 and it is CAR.