Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Review - The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Full disclosure: I almost didn't finish this one.

There's a very intense scene involving dogs, a lion and a half-zombie dude that made me go "hmmmm .... maybe not" but then I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I put on my weird book diving gear and fell off the side of the boat. (That's a terrible metaphor.)

The Library at Mount Char is. It's weird. There's no getting around that one. It's a weird book. Good weird, mostly though also there are parts that I would categorise as awful weird as well.

Father - the ..... head librarian? is missing, and none of his charges know where he's gone, or what's happened to him. Also, they can't get back into the library, and things are Bad.

Carolyn - who's catalogue is languages - has a plan. But she either needs the other librarians to work with her, or she needs to get them out of her way ...

In a way, The Library at Mount Char feels like a book that has ideas that are bigger than the story it's telling. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, but there are a LOT of ideas in this book.

It's about the apocalypse in a way, but also not. It's about Carolyn coming to terms with her fate in a way, but also not, and it's about Steve the half-zombie in a way as well.

It's really hard to categorise, and I kind of dig that about it but at the same time, it's probably the most unsettling book I've read since Silence of the Lambs. In a different way, but still. Unsettling.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Sunday post 36, It's Monday, what are you reading? 24

The Sunday Post - a chance for a chat and a catch-up - is hosted by Kimba over here:
http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ and It's Monday! What are you reading? is now hosted by Kathryn, right here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

I've decided that the 31 days of blogging thing isn't really working for me at the moment. The topics I found are a bit meh, and so I want to wait until I've created my own list, and then try again.

This past week has mostly been work, spawn, family  ... you know the drill. I started watching Grace & Frankie on Netflix and ended up basically mainlining the first two series. It stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin  as the respective title characters. They're 70, and are obviously looking forward to the next phase of their lives. Unfortunately their husbands  - who have worked together for years - have been more than business partners, and now that same-sex marriage is legal, they want to make it official.

The series is about the fall-out from that revelation and honestly, it's so great to see older women playing fully-rounded characters. Check it out if you like funny things. :) Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston play the husbands (well, ex-husbands) but the show completely belongs to Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.

The other exciting (ha!) thing that happened last week was our Sky TV decoder finally handed in its dinner pail, respected by all. What this means, is we had to get a Sky TV technician in to replace the hard drive. What it ALSO means is I lost all of the shows I had recorded and hadn't got around to watching yet. I only had three episodes of The Walking Dead to go!

Ultimately it is only TV, though I'm a fair bit gutted about my shows,  I'll box on. I need to make a list somewhere, see if any of them show up on Netflix, or On Demand. I think some of them do.

I finished The Library at Mount Char yesterday, and I'm hoping to write a review this week. It was a good read, but a very strange one. I also picked up The Bazaar of Bad Dreams again today because I'm not sure what I want to pick up next. Possibly The Crow Girl, since I have started it.


What about you?

How's your week?

What are you reading?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

31 Days of blogging days 10 and 11

I went searching for different topics rather than the original list I had chosen, and came across this: http://30daychallengearchive.tumblr.com/post/99654289893/alyssiarose-im-taking-part-in-this-blog

Obviously it's not October, and I chose to focus - for this post - on what I'm grateful for.

I'm about to go and start dinner, so the first thing I'm going to mention is crispy chicken skin. Om nom nommmmm.

Rainy nights where I have nothing better to do than browse Netflix.


Kittens (see also: cats)

A healthy spawn

Musical soundtracks (I recently discovered Hamilton)

I know there's more, but that's not a bad start.

Given this is supposed to be catching up on two days of posts, let me see what else that list has ...

H'm. Nothing is catching my eye right now, so let's pretend the photo of Sophie up there counts as ... something, shall we?

Excellent. :D

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

31 days of blogging, days 8 and 9; Short reviews

I've decided to keep blogging every day if I can, but sort of abandon the list that I originally chose. I  might poke around some other lists, and see if I can find topics that strike my fancy.

For today, I'm finally doing another short reviews post as the read books vs unwritten reviews is starting to tip over a bit.

Starting with the Tigers and Devils trilogy by Sean Kennedy. This isn't a spoiler as such but in the third book, there is maybe my favourite quote: "There are some people that are in your life forever, and there is nothing you can do about it no matter how much you try to cut them out." ah, Simon. I love Simon. He's so grumpy and cynical. Anyway.

In book one, grumpy Simon meets Declan, an in-the-closet NRL player. They get together, Declan is perfect, Simon is well, Simon and all is well. UNTIL Declan is outed against his will, then everything goes down the drain. Given that it's a trilogy, obviously things start to look up a bit.

I loved this series a lot. Simon is great, he has hilarious friends, and Declan is damn near the perfect man. There's not a lot of hey-hey but that's fine because  each book focuses on Simon and Declan's relationship and whatever crisis rears its ugly head. (Forced outing in book one; sleazy ex in book two; runaway teen in book three), and I was invested in Simon and Declan and all of the other relationships as well.

Book three does end with what might be considered a cliffhanger. And although the series is sort of centred around sportsball, you don't need to know much (or anything) about the NRL to enjoy the books.

Next up is Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop, one of her The Others series of novels. I'm co-reading this series with a friend of mine and we're kind of bipping along with it and catching up when it occurs to one of us - lol. Vision in Silver is a solid addition to the series, though I felt like I was waiting for something to happen for most of it.

The Big Bad is off-screen for a lot of this book which, for me, doesn't add a lot to the tension but I like the way Meg and Simon's relationship is developing - slow and steady.

Now for Wacky Wednesday by J A Rock  - a fun take on the body swap trope. Boyfriends Jayk and Amon have been at odds lately, and after one particularly brutal argument, wake up in each other's bodies.

But how will they go, living each other's lives for a day? Will it offer the insight they need to reconcile?

This was a fast read, and pretty heavy on the hey-hey (kinky hey-hey at that) but as Homer Simpson says, there's nothing wrong with a little hey-hey.

Lord of the Shadows, by Jennifer Fallon is up next. Yes, I finished a series! I mean, if you count Captive Prince, All for the Game and Tigerland, I've now finished four series in this Year of the Series,so go me?

This was a pretty satisfying end to the trilogy. There's magic, and a dollop of ancient science, mystery, romance, court intrigue, drama, tragedy ... basically this series has everything ever that a good, solid fantasy trilogy (ALL HAIL THE TRILOGY WHY DOESN'T ANYONE WRITE TRILOGIES ANY MORE) needs.

It's also a lot of fun to read. Dirk Provin has been marked as a traitor, and he needs to find a way to defeat his enemies before they all close in on him ...

Last, but not least, is Apple Polisher, by Heidi Belleau, book one in the *ahem* Rear Entrance Video trilogy. Buttoned-down Christian is doing his best to become a trainee teacher, but with new room-mates - including the verrrrry distracting Max - a very sick Auntie, and a very sick Auntie's porno store on the verge of closing - Christian finds himself juggling far more balls *ahem* than he had anticipated.

He just wants a quiet life, but with all the aforementioned, a blackmailing workmate and a picky professor, it's just a matter of time before something gives out ...

Apple Polisher is an easy read, and all of the characters were very likeable, although a couple of times I did have the feeling of WELL THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY. All in all a good read, though.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Sunday post; It's Monday; 31 days of blogging day 7

The Sunday Post - a chance to chat and catch up - is hosted by Kimba here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ and It's Monday! What are you reading? is now over at Kathryn's: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Well, I've made it to day seven of the 31-day blogging challenge I set myself, using a list that I found on the world wide webz. It's an interesting exercise but it feels like I'm not putting a great deal of thought and effort in and the posts feel throwaway. I'll persist (hopefully) and see how I go.

I might put together my own list of subjects and then take the 30-day blogging thing out for another spin later in the year. Hmmmm ...

Otherwise it's been much the same around here. Work and stuff.

I started The Crow Girl, which the boys got me for my birthday, but it's rather large and heavy-going so I'm slipping it in here and there among other books. I read Apple Polisher by Heidi Belleau yesterday and today which was a nice, light read. And I also started The Library at Mount Char, which is not what I expected at all, but is very good. Creepy, and a bit gory, but also very good.

I've been doing a bit of stitching as well, and I'm on track *fingers crossed* to finish my Grey Wardens motto chart this year. My stitching goals for this year - if I can call them goals - are to finish that, and Circe, finally. If I remember this week, I'll try and do a post about both charts.

I still need to do a short reviews post and the list for that keeps getting longer, so I really do need to do that this  week, among bumbling along with the 31-day challenge.

How about you?

How's your week?

What are you reading?

31 days of blogging - days five and six

I missed yesterday because I turned my computer off out of habit and went and watched a movie.

Yesterday's topic was 10 songs I'm loving right now.

Hmmm ... I've been listening to musicals a bit lately. I finally listened to Hamilton so let's start there ...

1) Alexander Hamilton
2) One Night in Bangkok
3) Ghost Town
4) Youth
5) I Can't Feel My Face
6) Cake By The Ocean (I know. It's growing on me.)
7) Rock the Casbah
8) The Western Approach
9) Leliana's Song
10) Empress of Fire

Today's topic is the five senses right now:

1) Taste - garlic bread. We had Pizza Hut for tea, and I can still taste the garlic bread.
2) Smell - nothing in particular right now.
3) Sight - computer screen
4) Touch - computer keyboard ;)
6) Sound - cars going by on the road outside - a sound that invariably makes me sleepy.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

31 days of blogging - day 4

Day four's question is: What is your biggest fear?

My biggest phobia is worms - to the point where I had to ask someone else to lay out a page about a worm farm once. I lock down and go into fight or flight. It's irrational but there it is.

My biggest fear? Something happening to spawn.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

31 days of blogging - day 3

Day 3 is your favourite quote.

I have two.

The first is from Groucho Marx: "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."

The second is from Oscar Wilde: "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

31 days of blogging - day 2

Day 2's topic is 20 facts about yourself.

Here goes.

1) I'm the youngest of five children
2) I've been married once before
3) I live in the same city I was born and raised in
4) I have a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature
5) I am extremely short-sighted
6) I only learned to ride a bike when I was 17
7) The only overseas place I've ever been to is Melbourne
8) I've met three famous people in my life - Neil Gaiman, Adam Lambert and Witi Ihimaera
9) Both of my parents have passed on
10) I started playing video games in 2014, at the tender age of 43. Now I can't imagine NOT playing
11) The only video games I've played are the Dragon Age franchise
12) My favourite movie of all time is All About Eve
13) My favourite book is a dead-heat between The Lord of the Rings and Station Eleven
14) My favourite colour is red
15) I love wet, windy and cold weather - especially when I'm lying in bed and I can listen to it
16) I had a cat called Scout, who was named for Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird
17) My son is named after my Dad
18) I love scarves, but I buy them and then never wear them
19) My dream destination is Paris
20) I love reality TV (some. As I said to a friend when she asked if I was going to watch Married at First Sight, I said "I have standards. Low standards, but still.)


Monday, 13 June 2016

30 days of blogging - let's dance

Oops, I mean a 31 day blogging challenge! I googled, and chose this list: http://boyboyandme.blogspot.co.nz/2012/04/31-day-blog-challenge-whos-with-me.html so let's crack on with day one, and see if I can blog every day for 31 days ...

Day 1: A recent picture, and introduce yourself.

I have to admit, I'm not fond of pictures of myself - all I ever see are the seven chins, and dinner lady arms. Having said that, I don't hate my smile in pictures with spawn. So here is a pic of me and spawn:

The other part of today's challenge is to introduce myself. For some reason, the Pina Colada song is playing in my head ...

Um. I'm 45, as of Sunday, and have one husband, one son, and 9.5 cats. Currently I'm working as an advertising features writer on a temporary contract, which runs out at the end of July.

I like books, movies, TV, Dragon Age, cats, cross-stitch and some iPad games.

And with that .... let the blogging shenanigans begin? I guess?

Tomorrow's topic is 20 facts about me. I'll need to put my thinking beanie on for that one.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Sunday post 34; It's Monday, What are you reading? 22

The Sunday post, hosted by Kimba here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ is a chance for a chat and a catch-up with what's been happening around the blogosphere and the self-explanatory It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted here, by Kathryn: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Argh. Something something good intentions.

Part of the trouble is I haven't really been doing anything out of the ordinary, and so the last thing I want to do is write a bunch of blog posts that say the same thing over and over. And I'm chronically lazy.

I'm also working from home at the moment, which I'm liking more than I thought I would, but it means I have to work a bit harder to set up the necessary boundaries. I'm thinking of doing a 30-day blogging challenge - just taking up one of the many lists out there and see how I do. Minimum I'd like to get back to blogging three days a week, including this meme. We'll see.

I turned 45 today and had a pleasant day at home with the boys, reading, playing Inquisition and just hanging out. J cooked - roast chicken and a pav for dessert per my request - and it was really nice. The boys gave me a couple of books (Stephen King's latest, End of Watch, and The Crow Girl) and J gave me a super cute necklace with (of course) kittens on it.

As for what I'm reading - I started Salt to the Sea, but I'm not sure I'm in the right frame of mind for it. So I've also started The Crow Girl which is good but also long but also relentlessly depressing. However, I'll persist with that one for now.

Minimum this week I'd like to do a short reviews post, and ... something else. Maximum effect of course, is if I actually take up the 30-day challenge. We'll see.

How are you?

How was your week?

What are you reading?

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

My seven sanity-savers

So, a while back, Trish at http://www.lovelaughterinsanity.com/ did this post about creating her happy list - things in her life that, well, make her happy.

The idea came from this post on another website: http://modernmrsdarcy.com/things-saving-my-life-right-now/ and so I thought “hey, that’s a good idea for a post!” And then immediately couldn’t think of anything that was currently saving my life/sanity/my skin cells ….

However, I am Making an Effort to blog more outside of the weekly meme so. Here goes?

1) Big Finish: https://www.bigfinish.com/ essentially radio plays and audiobooks. I came across them originally because of Alex Vlahos, who played Mordred in the last season of Merlin. (He’s in Versailles now, playing the king’s brother). He performs as Dorian Gray in The Confessions of Dorian Gray - a what-if scenario that posits Oscar Wilde had based his famous character on a real person. There’s four seasons so far, and the fifth - and final - is due out in October. I’m working from home at the moment, and silence is a bit too much, but if I’m watching something, I get distracted. Big Finish audiobooks/plays are ideal workmates. Oooh, also, there’s a three-episode series with David Tennant and Catherine Tate as Dr Who/Donna. (See also: audible.com)

   2) On a similar theme … Welcome to Night Vale, and Alice Isn’t Dead. Both podcasts. Night Vale has been described as Twin Peaks meets Stephen King, which is not a bad description. Website here: http://www.welcometonightvale.com/ The podcast is free. Alice Isn’t Dead is more recent, and is created by one of Night Vale’s writers - Joseph Fink. It’s performed by Jasika Nicole, who also voices Dana on Night Vale. The narrator (Nicole)  is driving a big rig (I think that’s right) across  America, searching for Alice, her missing wife. It’s seven episodes in so far, and it’s ...creepy. Really good though.

3) The #30for30crafting hashtag on Instagram. Created by crafting geek, here’s the original post explaining the idea: https://thecraftinggeek.com/2014/07/23/hey-listen/ I have ……………. Many cross-stitch projects, but that’s not what this post is about *ahem*. Generally speaking, I do a couple of hours stitching a week at my friend’s house on a Saturday night. So I decided to take up the #30for30crafting challenge, and I’m glad I did. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s just so. Nice. I do it after spawn’s gone to bed - throw in an episode of something - usually The Walking Dead at the moment (I’m behind on every single TV programme I follow ever) and stitch. I don’t do more than 30 minutes because I have to factor in packing it up and putting it away, and also work the next day. My friend describes it as a meditation, and I have to say, she’s right.

4) My iPad. I don’t care. I love it. I love my iPad. It has all of my lovely things on it, like my favourite games, and social media, and ebooks. I browse through iBooks sometimes, looking for something new to read, or I can play my favourite games (right now, it’s Whiteout, by the makers of Lifeline, and Farmville: Harvestswap. And Two Dots) while I’m watching TV. It’s a familiar weight in my hands, and I love the fact that I can be connected with people all over the world at just the touch of a screen.

5) Dragon Age. I’ve talked about these games before (a lot) and I’m not sure I can convey the feeling they give me - escape, excitement, dread, even, when I launch one of them, and watch as the title screen loads and the music starts playing. As much as I love many, many escapist things - reality TV (up to a point. As I said to someone when they asked if I’d watch Married at First Sight “I have standards. They’re low [see: The Bachelor NZ], but I have them); books, movies …  but there’s something truly escapist about disappearing into Thedas and saving the world - either as a Warden, a Hawke or the Inquisitor.

6) archiveofourown.org - sometimes you just want to read fic about your OTP. Or well-plotted long fic. Or smut. Or - you get the idea. It’s my go-to place every morning after I’ve scrolled twitter and facebook, and there’s almost always something to lose myself in.

7) Pinterest. I started collecting quotes to put in my diary every day, and for a start I was laboriously googling them and it was taking bloody ages. Then I realised I could create a board on Pinterest for such a thing, and it changed my life. (Not my whole life. Sunday nights, which is when I do the diary thing. Took WAY less time.) Also on Pinterest I discovered the best chicken marinade ever which is literally just barbecue sauce and honey. About half a cup of the first, couple tablespoons of the second (to taste, is what I’m saying), bung it over some chicken, marinate for at least 30 minutes, and honestly nommmm nom nom. If I’m feeling energetic, and I’ve cut my chicken vaguely lengthwise, I’ll then crumb them in - PANKO. PANKO CRUMBS CHANGED MY LIFE BUT I DON’T WANT TO DO MORE THAN SEVEN THINGS. - crumb them in panko and bake them in the oven. So. Good.

I’m sure there’s others I haven’t thought of. But there you have it. My seven sanity-savers. (Try saying that five times fast …)