28 February 2009

Decisions, Decisions...

I am in something of a dilemma. I finished reading Touch the Dark (Karen Chance) last night and went to pick up the next library book by my bed, which is Melusine (Sarah Monette) [YEAH!]. And then I hesitated. My 'reading order' rule is to read the next book due back at the library (I borrow the majority of my books from the library and I borrow them in the order I placed the hold). The first exception to this rule is when I have borrowed a library book that has holds placed on it (i.e. other people want to borrow it). So, if possible (due dates permitting), I usually read the book with the holds first, so I can return for the next person to read. The second exception is when I end up reading one book after another in the same sub-genre. I've learnt that is a recipe for disaster, so I occasionally bump books down or up the list (or borrow another book entirely) to keep some variety. Oh, and when I buy a 'keeper' book (e.g. Nalini Singh), it invariably goes straight to the top of the queue no questions asked *grin* I have rather a lot of exceptions, don't I?

The next book due back to the library is Melusine. But...it's 477 pages long (small print). The book after Melusine is Into the Shadow (Christina Dodd), which is only 365 pages (larger print). So I'm dithering over whether to pick up Melusine, which I've been looking forward to reading ever since I heard about it but which I know won't be an easy or fast read, or Into the Shadow, which I'm anticipating will be relatively light. Then we have to throw into the mix the second Cassandra Palmer book Claimed by Shadow (Karen Chance) as Touch the Dark finished on something of a cliff-hanger so I requested the second from the library yesterday...and since it was listed as 'Available' I couldn't freeze the hold *excuses excuses*... So it is now winging its way to me...

So what do I read? Melusine or Into the Shadow or Claimed by Shadow? How do you decide what book to read next? Do you have rules or do you just wing it?

Updated to add: With the nightmare that is dial-up I got bored waiting for pages to load and started reading the first few pages of Melusine. I love the following:

I met Ginevra Thompson in the ordinary way of doing business. She was looking for a cat burglar. I was looking for a client.

I have to take my aunt to visit my father now so there will be no deciding on which book to read (or any reading for that matter) until I get back...

Updated (again) to add: I think (after a very long morning) that I will go with Melusine. I feel like something....dark ;)

24 February 2009

Icon

I've been mulling over what to use for my profile icon. I would like to have one but I'm not sure what the rules are, or if there are indeed rules covering what can and cannot be used. For example, can I use a book cover, or a photo? And if so do I need to seek permission from someone? Or do I have to draw something...anything? (YIKES!) Perhaps there is there a particular website that I can visit to source a suitable icon? (I'm so showing my newbie stripes, aren't I :) Any advice gratefully received!

23 February 2009

Idiota!

I have Foot IN Mouth disease...I always seem to come out with the wrong thing at the wrong time. Today, however, I had the opposite problem. I kept quiet when I should have spoken up.

I went to see the family lawyer, and while there he congratulated me on my pregnancy. I'm not pregnant! I suppose I was wearing a peasant top, which could be considered maternity wear at a stretch, but I don't think I look pregnant. I'm not skinny but... And my response to this statement? Unfortunately, I froze! I had the same comment made to me late last year and when I explained I wasn't pregnant I spent the next 10-15 minutes drowning in apologies and getting progressing redder and redder. So, today I said nothing; just nodded. And the lawyer spent the next 20 minutes mentioning it. I wanted to crawl under the chair and hide...I still do :(

Now I don't know what to do. Do I ring, explain the situation and apologise? Or do I say nothing?

Updated to change the title, since 'OOPS!' didn't quite seem to cover it :)

Updated (again) to inform you that I contacted the lawyer and explained everything and apologised. All is good...PHEW!

21 February 2009

So You Think You Can Dance?

Yes...no...well, sort of. No, I'm not talking about the TV reality show but about me: I like to dance. I've been dancing on and off since I could walk - I have a small scar above my upper lip to prove it (which one day you may see if I am every brave enough to post a photo). The incident occurred because I happened (as you do) to be dancing on a coffee table. However, said coffee table couldn't handle my dance interpretation of Wired for Sound (Cliff Richard)...or at least I think that is what I was dancing too at the time). I should point out that I wasn't very old at the time of said incident in case you take umbrage at my musical taste *grin*

When I was young, ballet was the only activity I wanted to do, but unfortunately classes were too expensive. My mother was able to approach the local ballet school about lessons shortly after I turned 10 years old; however, the teacher informed her that I was too old to start ballet. So, I learnt jazz ballet/modern dance instead throughout my teens and twenties, with gaps of various lengths because of university/college and my OE to the UK.

For the last 3 years I have been learning jazz ballet (Jazz Addict syllabus) at a local dance school. I'm currently working towards my Advanced I dance exam in late June/early July. This week was my second week back to class and, like each year before it, has proved without a shadow of a doubt that I can't dance. Each year the exam syllabus seems exponentially harder that the year before. Sometimes I honestly thing I am mad to put myself through this, especially considering that the average age of the rest of my class is approximately 16 years....and I'm old enough to be their mother...
I did find the courage to ask my dance teacher on Thursday if she thought I could handle the Advanced I exam, and she thinks I can. I just need to be fitter (by a country mile) than I am now plus I need to strengthen my wrists as at the moment they are incredibly weak (from the tendonitis) and that placed severe limitations on me in the floorwork exercise (among others).

So, am I completely mad to be dancing at my age? What activities do you enjoy that you occasionally think you are mad for continuing?

20 February 2009

Learning

The majority of you will have no doubt heard the phrase 'Never too old to learn'. Learning may occur consciously or without conscious awareness; sometimes you can learn something in an instant...at other times something can all but stare you in the face before you acknowledge it. The proverbial elephant in the room.

I learnt something yesterday. I learnt that I am afraid. Maybe terrified or perhaps even petrified would be a better word now that I consider my response. Which brings me to another quote (from the movie Strictly Ballroom):

A life lived in fear is a life half-lived
My fear is holding me back from taking control of my own life. It's the flight, fight, fright response - and my fear has kept me frozen, going through the motions of my current existence. I've ceded control to others...and they have taken it. I still feel like taking that first step (regardless of direction) will send me hurtling off a cliff without rope or a parachute. And then there is the thought that if I don't move the predator won't see me... but I already know that is a fallacy, I've just been failing to acknowledge it. However, as someone wise said to me yesterday: 'You're not jumping off the cliff, you're walking down the path.' And they have a point. I need to stop freezing, stop ceding control to others and..take that first step. And being me, I'm going to plan the first step VERY carefully, cover all eventualities. But what I can't do it let the planning prevent me from actual action...

Big words. Now I just have to find the courage to act on them...

15 February 2009

Mélusine (Sarah Monette)

The lovely The Book Smugglers will shortly be reviewing a book called Mélusine by Sarah Monette:
Mélusine - a city of secrets and lies, pleasure and pain, magic and corruption - and destinies lost and found. Felix Harrowgate is a dashing, highly respected wizard. But his aristocratic peers don't know his dark past - how his abusive former master enslaved him, body and soul, and trained him to pass as a nobleman. Within the walls of the Mirador - Mélusine's citadel of power and wizardry - Felix believed he was safe. He was wrong. Now, the horrors of his previous life have found him and threaten to destroy all he has since become. Mildmay the Fox is used to being hunted. Raised as a kept-thief and trained as an assassin, he escaped his Keeper long ago and lives on his own as a cat burglar. But now he has been caught by a mysterious foreign wizard using a powerful calling charm. And yet the wizard was looking not for Mildmay - but for Felix Harrowgate. Thrown together by fate, the broken wizard Felix and the wanted killer Mildmay journey far from Mélusine through lands thick with strange magics and terrible demons of darkness. But it is the shocking secret from their pasts, linking them inexorably together, that will either save them, or destroy them.'
I had not heard heard anything about this book until last week and I'm completely flummoxed as to why not...it sounds...fascinating! I haven't felt so excited about a book that I knew next to nothing about in....ages. My library has an available copy (I *heart* my library) but I am (im)patiently going to wait to read The Book Smugglers review first...

What book lately has grabbed your attention before you've even picked it up?

Avoidance

One of the reasons behind my decision to go 'walkabout' was to learn to express myself. And while I have been holding to the letter of the law, I haven't been holding to the spirit. I find self-expression incredibly difficult; if I expose a layer of myself to another then I make myself vulnerable...

I finished reading The Defiant Hero this morning and I thought it was an incredible book - the emotional intensity of Meg & John's relationship and of Eve's story, was breathtaking! It wasn't an easy read and I realised yesterday afternoon the reason why - the book made me feel too much. (And the jury is still out on whether that is a good thing.) Any book that hits such a nerve with me isn't an easy read, but definitely well worth the journey. And while immediately upon finishing such a book and shortly thereafter life is a little flat, is it also the better for it. There have been a number of books over the past few years that have evoked the same intensity. I thought I would attempt to discuss each one in turn over the forthcoming weeks as a way for me to hold to the spirit behind my walkabout...

The books are:

- Blue-Eyed Devil (Lisa Kleypas)
- Mine to Possess (Nalini Singh)
- Blackmailed Into Marriage (Lucy Monroe)

Broadly, the first deals with narcissism, the second with self-esteem and trust and the third with sexual dysfunction disorders. Apologies - not 'cheer germ' topics by any stretch of the imagination. All three books discusses issues close to my heart, and all three made me realise I wasn't....wrong (as in broken) so to speak. To the authors of these books I say thank you - for writing a book that deals with issues often ignored or overlooked. I'm not a heroine in a romance novel and I don't believe my hero will come sweeping in to rescue me..but then the heroes in these books didn't rescue their heroines. Instead, they supported them and allowed them the space and time to overcome the obstacles and issue before them. I only hope I can be as strong as those heroines. And while my journey won't be easy or short, at least I am making it, not avoiding it.

So, which books have you read that speak to you? They may not necessarily be one of your favourite books, as they won't be easy to read, but they will be the books that made you reflect on who you are...or the way you see yourself.

13 February 2009

Dilemma

The third and fourth books of Christina Dodds' Darkness Chosen series have reached the top on my TBR list. I enjoyed the first book (Scent of Darkness), the second (Touch of Darkness) less so. My dilemma is this: I'm not really sure how enraptured I am by the premise of the third book (Into the Shadow); however, I definitely want to read the fourth book (Into the Flame). So, for any of you out there who have read the series - should I perserve and read the third book or should I skip it and go straight to 'GO' (I mean Into the Flame)?

11 February 2009

What Did I Buy?

After dithering most of the month of January over what to spend my Amazon giftcards on, I finally placed on order last Sunday. I actually ended up with three giftcards to spend as some very lovely friends of mine gave me one for my birthday). So, what did I buy?

- Male of the Species (Kate Steele) [A new author but the premise sounded...interesting]

- The Assignment (Evangeline Anderson) [I read a review on this and have had it on my TBR list ever since]

- Wicked Gentlemen (Ginn Hale) [After enjoying it so much I felt it was a 'keeper'. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel!]

- With Caution (Josh Lanyon) [Yes, proof that I do read (and act on) the comments you make]

- Without Reservations (Josh Lanyon)

Two other books were also ordered on the same day, although from different sites:
- Rough Canvas (Joey W Hill) [This arrived yesterday but I am going to (im)patiently wait until the weekend to read it]

- To Comfort and to Joy (Jessica Bird)

Hmmmm. One of these books is not like the others. Any guesses? *grin*

09 February 2009

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

No, I don't have a military buzz cut - that was last year *grin* I did, however, visit my hairdresser on the weekend and our conversation turned to hair length (probably because I was dithering over whether to grow out my hair for my dance exam in July). Over the course of the conversation, my hairdresser mentioned a friend that has been considering whether to cut her hair; however said friend's husband doesn't want her too. He likes her hair long. I was a little confused about what the actual issue was, but my hairdresser pointed out that such a decision requires compromise from both the husband and the wife: it's not an individual's decision when you're not an individual.

This didn't take me by surprise as I have a friend who won't cut her hair to any great extent because her husband prefers it long. The consensus seems to be that men prefer women with long hair, which has got me to thinking: is a woman's attractiveness dictated by the length of her hair? And what about those of us whose hair won't grow past a certain length or whose face shape doesn't suit long hair? Does that make us less attractive than women with long hair? (I know, it seems like a silly question but I'm curious as to what you think. Personally, I think you should wear your hair 1) how you like and 2) as it suits you.)

And before you ask, my hair is still short. I decided that I was not in the right frame of mind to cope with uneven hair for the next few months!

04 February 2009

I've Been Tagged!

I've been tagged by the wonderful Ana & Thea (The Book Smugglers). The task: to create a list of my top ten all-time favorite television couples, tag five other bloggers, and pass it on. So, on to my top ten *drum roll please*

10. Kara Thrace 'Starbuck' and Samuel T Anders from Battlestar Galactica

9. Sydney Bristow and Julian Sark from Alias (I know, the majority of people wanted Sydney with Michael Vaughn, but..what can I say, I like Julian Sark :)

8. Neela Rasgotra and Ray Barnett from ER (*SIGH*)

7. Daniel & Vala from Stargate SG-1

6. Josh & Donna from The West Wing

5. Samantha Stewart and Andrew Foyle from Foyle's War (I think the series was screened on BBC America for those of you who reside in the United States)

4. Temperance Brennan 'Bones' & Seeley Booth from Bones (Need I say more?)

3. Susan Ivanova & Marcus Cole from Babylon 5 (Does anyone else apart from me feel that they were cheated?

2. Samantha Carter & Martouf from Stargate SG-1 (What can I say? It should have been! Although after watching Season 8 & 9 I have to say I am quite partial to Sam & Ba'al...)

1. Jarod and Miss Parker from The Pretender (Don't even get me started on why this series should have been CONCLUDED!)

And who have I tagged?
- Bridget Locke from Ready, Writing, and Life...Oh My!
- Kerry from Saving My Sanity
- Katiebabs from Babbling About Books,and More!
- Nalini Singh
- Starfire from Songs and Spinnings

orannia

Updated to add: Daniel & Vala (How could I have forgotten to include them?)

03 February 2009

Demon Angel (Meljean Brook)

Where to start? Firstly, did the book work for me? I can answer that with a resounding yes. I loved the slow plot development; there was no real information dump, which can sometimes bog me down, but instead small snippets of information that got me thinking (a lot). This tied in with the almost political-like subterfuge between all of the characters, even those on the same side. It felt like all of the characters were playing a high-stake game of cards and keeping said cards close at hand.

I also loved the slow (over centuries) development of the love/hate relationship between Hugh and Lilith. The heroine (Lilith) was sympathetic, in spite of the fact that she was a demon. She was both true and yet not to her nature. And I liked that my sympathy for her (not that she would have wanted it) was also slow to develop; we didn't discover the reasons behind why she became a demon or her bargain with Lucifer until near the end of the book. I hate being force-fed a character and why I should like her so I'm very grateful that the author didn't do that.

I loved the use of pop culture:
"Do you have your weapon"
"Next to me."
"If anyone but me knocks on the door, use it." Pausing, she reconsidered. After their confrontation in the park, Hugh might seek out the vampire.
"Unless it is He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named."
"Voldemort?"
She envisioned his smirk, and wondered how he'd managed to make it through two centuries on a steady diet of pop culture and little else.
"The other one."
And slang:
Sir Pup waited for her; the odor ofthe park and Hugh lingered on his fur. He glared at her with four eyes, but refused to look at her at all from his middle head. She grinned.
"I meant police officers. You didn't really think he might be harassed by pigs?"

And can I just say I fell completely in love with Sir Pup and spent most of the book on tenterhooks in case something happened to him. Does he re-appear in later books? I hope so! I'm also wondering if the author has a cat as Emilia felt very real.
 
I did get a little lost at times with the dialogue - I just didn't reach the conclusions that the characters did (about each other and what was occurring) as quickly as they did. That is not a criticism of the author, but one of me. My brain is in slow mode. I think (I hope) that as I continue (because I am planning to read the sequel) that I will grow a little faster at understanding the various nuances, for there are many.
And a special thank you to Katiebabs for suggesting Demon Angel to me in the first place!
 
Grade: 4/5
 
Updated to add: If anyone can explain to me how to keep my hard returns in my post I would be very grateful!

01 February 2009

Books 2009: January Update

Total to date: 7 books

The 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge total to date: 5 books

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2008) can be found at Library Thing.

Favourite books of the month?

* Knave's Wager (Loretta Chase)

* Wicked Gentlemen (Ginn Hale)

Currently reading: Beauty and the Black Sheep (Jessica Bird)

And the book I'm most looking forward too next month is:

* Bone Crossed (Patricia Briggs) [Initially I wrote Hunting Ground...I think that might be a LITTLE optimistic timing wise *grin*]

Updated to add: I finished reading Demon Angel (Meljean Brook) last night. The review will be forthcoming...