Saturday, 31 October 2015

Sunday post - 12

The Sunday Post is a chance to catch up - with other bloggers' weeks, and to catch other bloggers up on your own week before and also ahead. Hosted here:

I actually managed to blog last week. I'm still mildly shocked but I did it! I did a post of short book reviews here: and a review of the movie Crimson Peak, which is here:

I also finished another book - The Rules by Stacey Kade, which is the first book in her Project Paper Dolls series. I enjoyed it well enough, and there should be a review coming this week (fingers crossed).

I'm halfway through, now, Welcome to Night Vale, the novel based on the podcast. I love the podcast and the book is shaping up to be my 2015 equal-favourite along with Station Eleven. I think listening to the podcast definitely helps with reading the book of Night Vale because it is steeped in weirdness. Also, Cecil Baldwin - the voice of Night Vale - has recorded the audiobook, if audiobooks are your thing.

What else. Last week was pretty quiet around here these parts. I stayed home a lot and watched a fair bit of TV and finished my first Dragon Age: Inquisition playthrough. It was nice, but it's starting to be time to put on my big girl socks and like ... look for work.

Anyway. I did buy books last week, because somehow I keep forgetting that I'm not buying books at the moment. They were the three for $15 sort out of the remainder bin, but. Still. No more books. (Including ebooks. For some reason in my head, ebooks aren't included in the ban. But yes. Yes they are.)

I had a makeover at the local Revlon counter on Friday because I'd bought some makeup there before and accidentally said yes instead of no to the makeover thing, but it was fine. The woman was lovely and it was actually kind of relaxing. I also went up to my old office to say goodbye to a former workmate who is also moving on - to a new job in his case.

I went to my friend's on Saturday night for our weekly stitch and watch, and made a bit of progress on my Grey Wardens pattern. I hadn't picked it up for a few days and it was nice to get back into it.


First on the to-do list for this week, is to study the road code and go and get my learner's licence, and then driving lessons. It's very easy for me to be complacent and stare into the void for far too long because it's cosy and I think the void is actually a nice place, but - no offence void - it's not exactly productive.

So, hopefully, by the end of this week I will be in possession of a learner's permit, and also  have booked some driving lessons.

I'm also going to venture back into baking this week, and I'm going to give the chocolate chippie biscuits another go, and hopefully make a lemon loaf, as we accidentally have too many lemons at the moment.

I'm also also nano-ing this year, hopefully I can actually write something instead of just signing up and forgetting like I usually do.

What are you up to this week?

Friday, 30 October 2015

Crimson Peak - review

Oh, Guillermo del Toro. I do love you. I do. You gave the world Pan’s Labyrinth and also the phrase “drift compatible” which is such a great phrase.

But now, I believe, you have done the world the greatest service of all - Tom Hiddleston in period costume, being Awfully English about Everything.

Oh sorry - uhm. Crimson Peak is a kind of gothic horror/romance with Deep Dark Family Secrets (including incest and murder), a - literally - crumbling family estate and Mia Wasikowska as the appropriately blonde and wan heroine.

For me, the story was a bit muddled and rushed, though Mr Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain as brother and sister did their part, alternately languidly and ferociously chewing any scenery that got in their way.

It’s not my favourite del Toro film (see: Pacific Rim) and it’s a little bit forgettable, but the ticket price is worth it because - and it bears repeating - Tom Hiddleston in period costume.

I’d pay to watch that for two hours alone.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Short reviews

Dragon Age: Asunder by David Gaider.

This one takes place between the end of Dragon Age 2 and the beginning of Inquisition. Someone is killing mages at the White Spire in Val Royeaux, and the mages - bending and nearly breaking under increasing pressure from the templars - are ready to start a revolution.

Rhys - a spirit mage - finds himself under scrutiny for the murders, and goes on a journey to the far reaches of Thedas to prove his innocence.

Meanwhile, the White Spire has its own ghost that so far, only Rhys can see.

I actually enjoyed Asunder a lot. It filled in the backstory for one of the companions in Inquisition (Cole) and also a lot of the details of the ongoing mage-templar conflict. It’s readable and fast-paced, and fills in a lot of questions about the game itself.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

I really, really loved the premise for this one. The library of Alexandria was never destroyed - but knowledge and books are something that are doled out very carefully. The Great Library controls all knowledge and in a world where owning books is forbidden, is the one power that no one can gainsay.

Jess Brightwell comes from a family of book smugglers. When he’s granted a place at the Great Library for study, he finds out exactly what it controls - and how.

There are very cool steampunk elements to it, and also bits and pieces of ephemera that describe different things - for example one of them describes how Guttenberg’s press was never allowed to see the light of day, which all add to the overall richness of the book.

I read this in a couple of sittings, I think, and really enjoyed all of it. Jess himself was well-rounded and fun to read, the central romance wasn’t cheesy and frustrating, and the supporting players were also really well rounded. I’m excited for book 2.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

In Fangirl, Rowell created Cather, a writer of fan-fiction who’s favourite series is about a young mage called Simon Snow. Now, Simon Snow and his adversarial room-mate Baz, have their own story told in Carry On.

I enjoyed Fangirl but Carry On. My gosh. Carry On is just a basket of kittens, honestly. It’s so cute that I kind of want to bare my teeth at it and hiss a little bit. It’s Simon and Baz’s last year at school, as Simon’s supposed destiny as the Chosen One who will fight the Humdrum is about to come to a head … (I just made a DUN DUN DUN noise in my head).

Carry On is feather-light, kitten-cute and so much fun to read, I almost wish there was a whole series.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Sunday post - 11

 The Sunday Post is a chance to catch up with our lives - our own and those of other bloggers. Books, life, cats .... the important things. :)

Hosted here:

I didn't intend to miss another one - I'm trying not to be a sporadic blogger, but that seems to be what is happening. Must Try Harder.

What I've mostly been doing lately - as is evidenced by the picture to your left - is buying books. That's not even all the books I've bought lately. I imposed a buying ban - and bought four more books. To be FAIR, one of them was the Night Vale novel, which I would have bought anyway because, you know ... Night Vale. But look, look at the pretties :D

So. Many. Pretties. Not pictured, are Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell, which I purchased as an ebook, and Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine, which I finished reading last week, and really enjoyed.

Also not pictured, my bookcases, groaning under the weight of centuries.

I decided, randomly, that I couldn't buy any more books until I'd caught up with my goodreads challenge. As of now, I'm 10 books behind. I also ignored it to buy Night Vale and three other books but ... eh, technicalities.

NOW, however, I can't buy any more books until I'm caught up, or until December 31 - whichever comes first.

I'm still jobless and drifting a little bit. We're still okay for money, and I'm kind of enjoying being at home, as temporary as it has to be. It's nice.

I drop spawn off at school, and then either hitch a ride home with hubby - he's a grocery assistant/shelf-stacker and finishes about 9am - or I wander into town for a bit for a browse. On Mondays I have coffee/brunch/lunch with a friend that I actually reconnected with at my work farewell. She works for the same company I worked for, but we'd lost touch as she started working from home. She has Mondays off and suggested we start meeting for coffee. It's nice to be able to do something like that.

I've been watching a fair bit of TV, catching up with my shows (heh, I sound like Peg Bundy), doing a bit of stitching (see above picture) and just ... well, okay. Drifting. But I'm not unhappy about it.

I got the first two rows on my Grey Wardens pattern done, now I'm on to the second phrase, which is "In peace, vigilance." So that's this week's project. I also need to study the road code so I can finally go and get my licence. (I know. You don't have to tell me. I know.) And last week - for the first time in probably about 20 years - I did some baking. It didn't come out perfect - the chocolate chippie biscuits are really hard, and need a bit less cooking, and there's too much butter in the afghans. But OTHER THAN THAT - I made a huge mess and spilt cocoa on the floor. The afghans tasted nice, though.

What else. I've been playing a fair bit of Dragon Age: Inquistion as well. I treated myself to the GOTY edition with the DLCs and I'm working through those.

I'm determined to blog this week. De.Ter.Mined.

I'll likely do a short reviews post for the last three books I read: Dragon Age: Asunder by David Gaider, Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine and Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell.

I also saw Crimson Peak the Friday before last, and I'm planning to write a review of that as well.

Most recently, here, I reviewed Dawn, by Octavia E. Butler for A More Diverse Universe:

At the moment, I'm halfway through The Rules by  Stacey Kade, book one in the Project Paper Dolls series, about a girl who was created with both human and alien DNA. I read about two-thirds of it in a couple of sittings - it's easy to engage with and the story is interesting, so I have that on the go.

Welcome to Night Vale, the novel, is up next. I've also been flirting with Salem's Lot by Stephen King for the #SalemAlong but as much as I love Stephen King, I'm not feeling this one at the moment, so it's on the perilous shelf.

So more reading, more stitching, maybe some writing - I've signed up for  nano this year and I'm determined to do it - some gaming, spawn, TV, cats ... I mean, there are worse things.

How's your week looking?

Monday, 12 October 2015

Dawn by Octavia E. Butler - review

Once again, I nearly ran out of time for A More Diverse Universe. My time management is exceptional, especially since I finished work.

I had planned on reading three books, including a book of poetry by Hone Tuwhare, but the end of the fortnight is approaching, and Salem's Lot is calling to me.


I did manage to read Dawn, by Octavia E. Butler, book one in the Lilith's Brood saga. I bought it on iBooks because my library - which is usually great - has exactly 0 books by Ms Butler.

Dawn begins with Lilith being Awakened - over and over again. She has no idea where she is, or what is going on. She knows that the Earth is by and large destroyed, but beyond that, nothing.

Finally, one of the times she's Awakened, she finds out where she is, and who's been watching her, and for quite a while, Lilith struggles with that knowledge.

The Oankali are an alien race, who have brought the remainder of humanity on board their ship to rescue them. However, the Oankali want something in return - they call it a trade. But is the price of the trade too high?

I have to say, I love sci-fi like this. It's high-concept, it has aliens, and it has a woman at the centre of it who is deeply flawed, very human and struggles with all of the demands the Oankali - and the coming Awakened humans - place on her.

Dawn is a deeply satisfying read and although I did find myself getting impatient with the way some of the humans acted, I thought their actions and reactions fit with the wider arc of the story.

The Oankali - who have three genders, male, female and ooloi, were fascinating. Completely alien in their appearance and in their reactions and it added a rich layer to the overall narrative.

I'm already eyeing book 2 on iBooks.


Saturday, 10 October 2015

Sunday post - 10

The Sunday Post is a chance to catch up with the blogosphere, as well as people's lives and to bring the blogosphere up to date with your own.

Hosted here:

I missed another Sunday last week, but the school holidays took a lot more out of me than I expected. Being home the whole time was certainly ... an experience. Spawn is pretty good at entertaining himself but he's also LOUD and has taken up rather a lot of space in my head these past two weeks.

Not a bad thing, but it has left very little room for my own things and thoughts.

Back to school tomorrow though and as much as I'd step in front of a train for him, I'm relieved!

I haven't been doing much this past week really. A little bit of stitching, which has been nice, and I'm making pretty good progress on the Grey Wardens pattern.

I read Dawn by Octavia E. Butler for A More Diverse Universe, and I'm hoping to put a review up for that tomorrow.

Possibly optimistically, I also listed The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and the collected works of Hone Tuwhare for the challenge, but I'm not sure if I'll get to them or not - the #SalemAlong has begun and I need to catch up on that also.

Having said that though, I might try and get through Hone Tuwhare's book - he was a poet, so it's really a collection of poetry. I'll see how I go.

I did finally manage to blog last week, and wrote rather rushed reviews for The Namesake:  and also Mad Max Fury Road:

There was no movie watched on Friday night as I ended up playing Inquisition instead. The peace and quite of a sleeping household cannot be underestimated - lol.

Hopefully - in addition to the review for Dawn, I'll also update my progress on the Grey Wardens pattern - I'm really happy with how it's coming out. Optimistically, there'll also be a review of the Hone Tuwhare book.

We shall see.

How's your week looking?

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Namesake - review

I finished this before A More Diverse Universe started, so it's just a standalone review, though it'd be a great read for the challenge :)

Gogol Ganguli has spent much of his life struggling with his unusual name.

Named after the Russian author by his father, Gogol has to find a way to be at peace with it as he grows up.

The Namesake is about many things, the importance of names is just one of them. Gogol ends up with his name because of a lost letter between Bangladesh and America, and has to shoulder what he sees - at times - as an unfair burden.

The Namesake is also about Gogol's parents, Ashima and Ashoke, who start a new life in America after an arranged marriage. Navigating a whole new country while holding on to their own traditions becomes a delicate balancing act for them both.

When Gogol turns 18, he officially sheds the name, becoming Nikhil instead. As he goes through college and growing into his 20s and 30s, Nikhil distances himself more  and more from his parents and his Bengali heritage. It takes his father suddenly dying for Nikhil to reconnect with his mother and his sister in a meaningful way.

The Namesake is a beautiful novel. It's a meditation on the connections we make with family, friends and the world around us, and how a simple thing like a name can affect all of those connections.

Lahiri writes about Ashoke and Ashima and their culture with great affection and you can feel the warmth of it coming off the pagees.

Good stuff.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Mad Max Fury Road review

I have seen, I think, one of the Mel Gibson Mad Max movies. The one with Tina Turner in it. I remember it being vaguely batshit, but not much else.

In this incarnation, it’s gone full batshit. And I mean that in a good way.

Tom Hardy takes up the Mad Max mantle this time around, surviving in a post-apocalyptic world where the worst of men control all of the world’s remaining resources - mostly gas, and water.

One of those men is about to send out his favourite Imperator - Furiosa - in search of gas - when Max stumbles over her, and her very illegal cargo - young women that the bad man back at the compound treated as little better than breeding cattle.

Oh, this was great. I loved it. I really, really loved it. It was crazy insane, and the crazy never let up, but it was so great.

Tom Hardy says about three words in the whole movie, and the rest of the time  he looks a bit like a confused golden retriever, but that’s okay because Furiosa knows exactly what she’s doing the whole time.

It’s set in post-apocalypse outback Australia, as were the originals but I’m pretty sure any and all similarities end there.

I just. Look, my favourite terrible, bad, great movie most recently is Jupiter Ascending. Mad Max Fury Road does have the distinction of making slightly more sense than that clusterfuck (that AWESOME clusterfuck) but Mad Max also has a guy strapped to the front of a giant truck playing an electric guitar.


Ride eternal, shiny and chrome.

Monday, 5 October 2015

A More Diverse Universe, and #SalemAlong

With no apparent infrastructure to my days, time slips away on me, and two things almost escaped me entirely:

A More Diverse Universe hosted here: and, of course, the Salem Readalong hosted by Care, Trish and Melissa. Here's Care's post:

However, I have managed to pull myself out of the trenches long enough to sort out some books for the former, and assure myself that yes, I do own Salem's Lot.

I actually finished The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri on Saturday, which would have been a perfect #diversiverse read. However, I cast about, and found a short story called Bloodchild by Octavia E Butler on my iBooks. I read it yesterday, and went poking about. Unfortunately, my library has exactly zero books by Ms Butler, so I went back to iBooks. I had to break my own self-imposed $10 ebook limit, but I purchased Dawn, the first book of the Xenogenesis trilogy. I started it today, and so far so good.

Also on the #diversiverse list is another book by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland. And also, I'm hoping to dig into a poetry collection by Hone Tuwhare - possibly No Ordinary Sun, which I have a feeling I own. Otherwise, it will be off to the library for that one.

So #diversiverse is:
Dawn by Octavia E. Butler
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Poetry (probably No Ordinary Sun) by Hone Tuwhare.

Salem's Lot I will likely dig into over the weekend, or next week, when spawn is back at school and I can put the book in the freezer if I need to. :)