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.