30 December 2011

Books 2011: November Update

Note: I know it's weird to post this so late in the month, but...I'm nothing if not pedantic *grin*

Total to date: 109 books (14 books this month: m/m [13 books]; urban fantasy [one book])

The 2011 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: 26 books (one book this month) COMPLETE!

The M/M Romance Challenge 2011 total to date: 82 books (13 books this month)

The 2011 Big Book Challenge: COMPLETE!

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2010) can be found at GoodReads.

Favourite books of the month?

* Crown Jewel (Megan Derr)

* Faith, Love and Devotion trilogy (Tere Michaels)

* Renovations 1-6 (Anah Crow)

Currently reading:

* Divide & Conquer (Madeline Urban & Abigail Roux)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading this month:

* Light Me Up (James Buchanan)

* Prisoner (Megan Derr)

* Strange Fortune (Josh Lanyon)

So, what did you read last month (if you can remember back that far)?

23 December 2011

Christmas Songs...

....always come out of the woodwork at this time of year. This is one of my favourite Christmas songs. It also doubles as a spot the 80s star competition - the trick is to do so with your eyes closed - and a flashback of some scary 80s fashions!



So, what's your favourite Christmas song?

13 December 2011

Around

I am. Around that is. But between a medication issue with a family member (which has stretched out for months) and what feels like an explosion of Christmas mayhem - is it just me or does every December seem to be more hectic that the previous one? - I'm only just treading water. Something had to give and that was my time online :( You're not forgotten - I miss you all and I hope to be back online soon. Maybe this weekend *fingers crossed* Until then... *hugs*

27 November 2011

Smile

Note: This will probably date me no end, but...I think it's worth it.

There are just some songs that make me smile, tap my feet and want to dance around the room like a...cat on a hot tin roof *grin* This is one of those songs!

26 November 2011

Accommodate

According to the Oxford English Dictionary:

Accommodate • verb [with object] 1 (of a building or other area) provide lodging or sufficient space for:the cottages accommodate up to six people. 2 fit in with the wishes or needs of:any language must accommodate new concepts. [no object] (accommodate to) adapt to: making users accommodate to the realities of today’s marketplace.

I get that I'm not an easy person to be friends with. I really do. Eccentric isn't the word I would use to describe me. Annoying would be a better choice. So would difficult and inflexible. I don't...react logically to just about anything. I don't react the way most people do to just about anything. I get that my friends have to...accommodate me. What I don't get is why. TBH I don't believe I'm worth that accommodation.

It was brought home to me today in no uncertain terms (by a family member) that I'm selfish and inflexible. That I always seem to make something big out of something little. That I don't appreciate the sacrifices others make. (And...said family member has a point.) So this is me saying I'm really grateful that, knowing all this, my friends put up with me anyway. I don't ever want to take them for granted.

24 November 2011

Need To Read

I always joke with people about my need to read. Reading is a form of escape; it allows me to...slow down (inside) and focus on something (positive) rather than letting my anxieties run rampant. It allows me to be...somewhere else (not here)...to imagine a place where I belong. Where I'm wanted.

So, what happens when you can't read? When you can't hold your book (as I found out to my misfortune last month). How does one adapt? What does one do? When I couldn't hold print books I turned to eBooks, mostly because I don't hold my iPhone (because if I held it that would strain my wrists...sensing a pattern?) but instead rest it on the nearest surface - the table, the bedclothes, etc. That said, the physiotherapist did comment that I should try and read less anyway (for my neck) [he was commenting on the fact that I always turned up for appointments with big (fantasy) books]. 'Have book, will travel'. That's me! Even thought I have now been given the go-ahead to read print books again I am still limited as to where - no holding print books in bed for example (but I can read them if they are resting on a table). For some reason I didn't turn to audio books. TBH, I'm not quite sure how I would take to them. Hmmm. Maybe I should try one? *grin*

I also turned to DVDs (because I could watch a DVD and ice my wrists at the same time). I've been winnowing my way through Supernatural. You know you're watching too much Supernatural when you start dreaming you're you...and you're one of the characters (Dean for those who know the series) [he's the one on the right in the image] and you're trying to convince another character (Dean's brother Sam) [he's on the left] to cast a spell to stop the Apocalypse...but Sam's more interested in umm...other stuff. WTF? (Plus, I thought I was a Dean gal!) Let's just say that I was looking at my subconscious rather weirdly this morning :)

So, how much do you need to read? And...if you can't read, what do you do?

21 November 2011

It...

...may have come to your attention that I have changed my avatar (on Blogger and GoodReads) over the last few days...to this.

The model in the picture is Andrej Pejic - isn't he gorgeous? In a recent interview, Andrej Pejic was asked the following by ABC Nightline's Juju Chang:
Chang: When you see yourself in the mirror, do you think of yourself more as a man or as a woman?
Pejic: I like to keep my options open.
Chang: What does that mean?
Pejic: I see myself.
'I see myself'. And that segues nicely to the new addition to the blog:



Embrace the Rainbow is a challenge laid down by the lovely Kris from Kris 'n' Good Books, Aleksandr Voinov, Amara Devonte:
A challenge to help us increase awareness, acceptance and support for the trans*, intersex, intergender and questioning people in the m/m romance and broader community.
If I've learnt one thing over the past few weeks, it is that people don't fit into boxes (no matter how much easier I find that). See, I like boundaries. If I can identify something, and by extension extrapolate where the boundaries are, I won't go over them...won't get into trouble - I feel safer. But you can't always do that. People are...fluid. In so many ways. And more than wanting to find those boundaries I don't ever want my views (in any way, shape or form) to adversely affect anyone. People are people, and that's how I see them. And that's why I've decided to embrace the rainbow :)

18 November 2011

Books 2011: October Update

Note: I know it's weird to post this so late in the month, but...I'm nothing if not pedantic *grin*

Total to date: 95 books (10 books this month: fantasy [one book]; m/m [nine books])

The 2011 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: 25 books (one book this month)

The M/M Romance Challenge 2011 total to date: 69 books (nine books this month)

The 2011 Big Book Challenge: COMPLETE!

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2010) can be found at GoodReads.

Favourite books of the month?

* Fish & Chips (Madeline Urban & Abigail Roux)

* Talker's Graduation (Amy Lane)

* The Bastard Prince (Megan Derr)

* Zero at the Bone (Jane Seville)

Currently reading:

* Unperfect Souls (Mark Del Franco)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading this month:

* Cast in Ruin (Michelle Sagara)

* Divide & Conquer (Madeline Urban)

So, what did you read last month (if you can remember back that far)?

13 November 2011

I Got Swag!

One has to squee at times like this. See, I stopped in at my Post Box earlier this week and what did I find but a package from the lovely beyond compare Kris from kris' korner and Kris 'n' Good Books! And this package contained...swag! *cue much screaming and happy dancing*

I've no idea why the photos are on their sides...GRRRR! Anyway...one of the many interesting things that caught my eye is the following:

Isn't it pretty? And yes that is a red velvet cupcake. (I tried one this weekend and YUM!) Thank you SO much Kris! *hugs*

So, how do you feel about swag?

07 November 2011

Money Money Money

One of the books I was reading over the weekend had a 'trust fund baby' character. Characters with 'money money money' (as I like to call them) seem to pop up with frequent abandon in romance novels (mass generalization I know). It's as though part of the all-encompassing HEA is not only love, but being comfortably well off while in love. Because, after all, who wants to read about characters struggling to rub two dimes together, especially in the current economic climate? Right? Wrong. At least in my case.

A lack of money is one of the many reasons why I love Amy Lane's Talker series. The two main characters in this series are students (which I think says it all). They have to decide between light and heat - they can't afford both - and they all but live off noodles. And through all this (and everything else Amy Lane puts them through) [that wasn't a dig at the wonderful Amy Lane, honest *grin*] their love shines through. It...sustains them when times are tough. And that's why I read romance. Not to see characters fall in love through rose-coloured glasses, but to see them fight for that love through both good times and bad.

So, how much realism do you like in your books?

05 November 2011

When...

...you've had one of those days and you feel like you're at the end of your tether (about to be set adrift on the departing tide) and books aren't helping (I know that might sound like sacriledge, but sometimes they don't)...sometimes music does.

I love this song.



What have you been listening to of late?

31 October 2011

Books 2011: September Update

Note: I know it's weird to post this now, but...I'm nothing if not pedantic *grin*

Total to date: 85 books (eight books this month: fantasy [one book]; m/m [five books]; urban fantasty [one book]; young adult [one book])

The 2011 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: 24 books (three books this month)

The M/M Romance Challenge 2011 total to date: 60 books (five books this month)

The 2011 Big Book Challenge: COMPLETE!

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2010) can be found at GoodReads.

Favourite books of the month?

* Gathering Storm (Lyn Gala)

Currently reading:

* Faith & Fidelity (Tere Michaels)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading this month:

* Divide & Conquer (Madeline Urban)

So, what did you read last month (if you can remember back that far)?

26 October 2011

Two Steps Forward...

...and one step back. At least that is how it feels ATM (in relation to my wrists). I think they are improving and then I aggravate them and slide all the way back to the beginning :( It's...aggravating! I miss being online. I miss you all. And...I worry. That I'll be...forgotten.

I've made an appointment to see the physiotherapist on Friday. Fingers crossed I can start strengthening my wrists at some point in the near future and perhaps...perhaps...go online in the evenings. Even for 30 minutes (or 15 [like tonight]). (How desperate hopeful do I sound?) On the plus side (I always try and look for a silver lining), I have been catching up on TV series, specifically Supernatural. Last month I was at the beginning of Season 2. Now I'm almost halfway through Season 4! *shocked* I've also discovered Falling Skies. Hmmm. It's Dr Carter (ER) [disguising himself as a military history professor], with a gun (battling aliens), looking all sexy with his stubble (bet you thought I'd never say that Mandi *grin*) and looking after his three boys. So, smart? *check* Protective? *check* Sexy? (Need I even answer that question?) *check* And a family man? *check* *swoon*

So, what have you been up to lately and who has set you to swooning?

04 October 2011

Offline

In case you are wondering where I have been for the last few days, I managed to strain the tendons in my wrists (tendonitis) last Friday :( So, no online time for me - I'll see how my wrists feel this weekend. Just wanted you to know I haven't forgotten you all :)

orannia

PS A belated Happy Birthday to the lovely Christine from The Happily Ever After!

30 September 2011

Learning

Late last week I read a fantastic review of Amy Lane's Clear Water by the lovely Tracy from Tracy's Place. And Tracy's review (and the ensuing discussion) got me to thinking about insta love. (Yes, again!) I guess you could say that I have (to put it mildly) a bee in my bonnet about insta love. When I originally posted my thoughts about Clear Water I made the following comment:
If I had to put my finger on one thing I didn't like (and FYI this hasn't influenced the grade because it is a 'me' thing and not a 'book' thing) it was the speed with which Patrick and Whiskey fell in love. I'm not such a fan of the insta love trope any more, although to be fair this occurred over 6 weeks rather than days (or hours :)
But why is it that I have a problem with insta love versus the slow cooker variety? (I know, terrible analogy :) After a lot of thought I think it is because, with insta love, I don't believe enough time has passed for there to be a solid foundation of trust between the characters. The shorter the time period the less time they have to be sure of each other's intentions (and no, I have no idea how much time is 'enough') and...I need to be sure. I need proof. Why? In Clear Water, Whiskey didn't in any way, shape or form seek to hurt and/or manipulate Patrick. (Unlike Patrick's ex-boyfriend.) So why couldn't I take Whiskey's words and deeds at face value and believe the love he expressed for Patrick regardless of the time frame? Because I don't trust the character I most identify with (in Clear Water that would be Patrick) to know instinctively that this love is...'legit'. I don't trust me to know. I don't trust me because I have no confidence...in myself. No foundation of belief. Which, according to the unnamed expert, comes back to the positive mirroring one receives (or in my case did not) as a child.

So, where does this leave me? Working towards developing my confidence? Having faith in my own abilities and...trusting myself? Yes to all of the above.

28 September 2011

Golden Oldie

There are some books that you just can't forget...

In the late 1980s I discovered (via the library :) a science-fiction series called The Paratwa by Christopher Hinz. Ring any bells? The basic premise is as follows:
Two hundred years after a nuclear apocalypse forced humanity to flee earth, humans still remember the most feared warriors of that planet - the Paratwa, genetically modified killers who occupy two bodies controlled by one vicious mind.
I've been dithering for, well, years about re-reading this series, even though I've read very little science-fiction of late. And, at long last, after much internal nagging, I've given in and bought it from The Book Depository (unfortunately, it is no longer in my library system).

Aside: Has anyone watched The Book Depository Live? It's...scarily addictive!

Oh, and while I was at The Book Depository a yaoi manga novel (Sleeping with Money) just happened to fall into my basket. I have no idea how!

So, what series just won't let go of you, no matter how hard you fight it?

Edited to add: The Paratwa is now available in eBook format at Fictionwise! I still wanted print versions though :)

23 September 2011

Speaking

I love books that speak to me. Books that reach out and...teach me something about myself that I didn't know.

I'm currently reading ZA Maxfield's St Nacho's. And I'm loving it. And then, right out of nowhere, I read this:
It probably wasn't until that moment that I realized my development had been arrested at about fifteen, when I'd started drinking and partying with my friends, and that everything that was happening to me now was, essentially, happening to that kid. No wonder I didn't know how to do this stuff. I hadn't been in the game. I'd been lying on the sidelines, in a stupor composed of alcohol and vanity. Stupidity and ignorance and false bravado.
(And by 'stuff' Cooper is referring to kissing.)

That paragraph struck me because, like Cooper, I've not been in the game. If ever. My emotional development is...stunted to say the least. (I could use other words I guess, but stunted seems the most...apt :) Alcohol didn't do this to me. I did this to me. And now I have to learn how to undo it. *looks down* I'm working on it.

So, has a book ever 'spoken' to you?

21 September 2011

Things That Go Bump

I'm a scaredy cat. No two ways about it. As I mentioned in Random Facts, the first (and to date only) time I watched Alien was while hiding under a blanket with my feet off the floor (because as everyone knows Aliens [and all scary monsters] lurk under couches...and beds [not so sure about closets myself, but I've heard anecdotal evidence that they do]) and my bear (Ted E. Bear) [yes, bear, not beer] close at hand. Initially I wasn't quite sure if Ted was there as protection or a sacrifice (that statement no doubt breaks a multitude of bear ownership laws), but after a lot of thought I am sad to say that if an Alien had made an appearance I would have probably used Ted as a decoy and made a run for it!

On the weekend my best friend (the lovely Starfire from Songs and Spinnings) and I went to see Priest (3D). I must confess to not being as blown away by the 3D aspects as I was when I watched Avatar...probably because I was waiting for the vampires to appear in 3D. They didn't :( That didn't stop me from having my feet off the floor though. No sirree! And making squeaking noises when vampires jumped in from nowhere. I did mention I was a scaredy cat, yes? As for the plot of Priest, well...it had enough holes to drive a Hummer through (although the gratuitous shot of Paul Bettany's chiseled torso almost made up for it :) At the beginning of the movie Starfire leaned over and asked me (rhetorically) why it was that the humans hadn't completely annihilated the vampires, but instead put them in reservations... If they had done the former there would, of course, have been no movie. But, maybe humanity was demonstrating its.....humanity. Yeah, fat chance! And then the Church stridently denies that vampires are a threat...and I leaned over to Starfire and asked (rhetorically) why the Church would deny the threat, when the existence of said threat would mean more power to the Church. And I could go on. It was a 'leave one's brain at the door' movie. And Karl Urban makes a great bad guy. I just think he makes a better Bones *grin*

So...what things that go bump in the night (whether in a move or a book) would you sacrifice your 'bear' for?

18 September 2011

Why Romance?

Caveat: This post is not a meant to be a pity post. Nor a whiny one. So if I gave that impression I apologise, as it was not my intent. It's just a ramble through the inner workings of my very warped thought processes.

Last weekend I read Amy Lane's Clear Water. And it was lovely. But...it did have one trope that I'm not so fond of...insta love. Now, to be fair, the love between Patrick & Whiskey wasn't instant per say, but...it was fast. About six weeks fast. And it got me to thinking...and that thinking led to a feeling: I'm not sure if I believe in love any more. I mean, I believe in it for other people. But...I'm not sure if I believe in it for me. I don't even know if it is something I'm capable of...will ever be capable of. I did, once. I even believed in soul mates *ducks* But...somewhere along the way I stopped believing. I don't know when.

And all of this got me to wondering - if I don't believe in love, why do I read romance novels? Why read about the HEA of various characters if I don't believe it exists? (Now, don't get me wrong, I don't believe in perfect love. That's only ever in fairy tales. Love is...a journey. And just like any journey it will have its rocky patches and steep climbs...and it's falls. But the views? I've heard [I've never been in love so it's all hearsay, although IMHO Your Honour the witnesses are reliable :)] they are...breathtaking! Am I a masochist? Am I hoping to be persuaded otherwise?

So, I'm hoping you can help me out. Why do you read romance novels?

16 September 2011

Stupid

Do you ever feel stupid while reading a book? The reason why I ask is because I am currently reading Kat Richardson's Labyrinth. I love this series because, for an urban fantasy heroine, Harper is sensible. I know I sound like I'm damming with faint praise, but...I like sensible heroines. The thing is, sometimes I look up from the page and realize I have absolutely no idea what the last page was describing. I'm sure it all makes logical sense to someone, just...not for me. The thing is, I make me feel stupid. The book is inanimate :)

And that leads me on to the time it takes to read a book when you're not sure what is going on. Forever. And in the interim the TBR pile gets bigger and bigger and bigger (until it was big enough for them all to fit inside) [And now I'm paraphrasing Bad Jelly The Witch!]. Anyway, earlier this week I entered a contest at Stumbling Around Chaos for a Heidi Cullinan book. And when the lovely Chris emailed me to confirm I was indeed entered I realized I hadn't actually read the first book - The Seventh Veil - even though I was oh so excited about it when it was first released. And why haven't I read it...and numerous other books? IDK. I'm slow? I commented to Chris that I was so behind it was discouraging. Her response?
Oh, that just means you have lots of good stuff to look forward to.:)
I like that better than the slow theory :)

And just to lighten the mood leading into the weekend, I followed this home today. Imagine it blown up...on the back of the bus. Probably not the best choice for ensuring drivers concentrate on...say...driving, but a good cookie choice :) Oh, and the man in question is Daniel Carter, one of the All Blacks (New Zealand rugby team).

12 September 2011

Spring

I know that for most of you autumn has arrived, but here in the Land of the Long White Cloud it is spring! Finally! (It's been a long, cold winter....and it isn't leaving without a final goodbye! [It's currently raining!]) And because it is spring the blossom is beginning to appear...and I thought I would share it!


Found on: My plum tree!

I adore spring. The days get longer...and warmer. The bees are about (there is nothing like a happy bee drowning in blossom nectar) and the smell of freshly cut grass lingers. There is...promise in the air :)

So, whatever the season approaching, what do you like (or dislike) most about it?

10 September 2011

World In Union

Last night was the opening ceremony (and first match) of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, which is actually the world's third biggest sporting event after the Olympics and the Football World Cup :) This, the eighth Rugby World Cup, is being held here, in New Zealand.

The winners are awarded the William Webb Ellis Cup. William Webb Ellis was the Rugby School pupil who – according to popular myth – invented the game by picking up the ball during a game akin to one of the many codes of medieval football.

Now I know you're probably all thinking that rugby is one weird game....played by (compared with football) few countries. But...you may would be surprised which nations are competing, including Australia, England, South Africa, France, Canada and the United States. (And New Zealand of course - rugby is our national game and the country has wholeheartedly embraced the World Cup....in a very enthusiastic way - there are flags everywhere!)

One of the opening events was a concert by Neil and Tim Finn, two stalwarts of the New Zealand music industry. So...I thought you might like a listen - enjoy!



Edited to add: The post refers to the theme song of the Rugby World Cup, sung most recently by New Zealander Hayley Westenra...

07 September 2011

Butterflies

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Butterfly • noun 1 any of numerous slender-bodied diurnal lepidopteran insects including one superfamily (Papilionoidea) with broad often brightly colored wings and usually another superfamily comprising the skippers. 2 something that resembles or suggests a butterfly; especially: a person chiefly occupied with the pursuit of pleasure. 3 a swimming stroke executed in a prone position by moving both arms in a circular motion while kicking both legs up and down. 4 plural: a feeling of hollowness or queasiness caused especially by emotional or nervous tension or anxious anticipation. 5 a defensive move by a goalie in ice hockey executed by dropping to the knees while spreading the lower legs outward.

I has had them this week. (The fourth definition in case you were wondering.) Lots of them. Whirling around inside. Why? Well...I was worried how a certain family member would respond to a text I sent. Yeah. A text. And what scandalous and insulting things did I include in this text? I requested the removal of certain items that I have been storing for this family member...for almost 3 years. Items I've been asking him to remove for...about a year. So, did I set an impossible deadline for the removal of these items? Well...how does early December sound to you?

It's been 2 days since the text was sent. I've had a response...on an entirely different matter. The request and the deadline have been - to all intents and purposes - ignored. I'm not sure what is worse. Ignoring the deadline completely (which is so far the case) or ringing me and telling me it's not going to happen.

See, such situations are where the 'child' appears. The child remembers how an older family member reacted when something didn't go exactly how he wanted it too. He got angry. (Think temper tantrum. The whole nine yards.) I..remember that. I...lived that. I know this family member does the same thing (perhaps because he learnt by example) and I...hunch...waiting for the blow. IDK. I want to believe I can back myself. Stand firm if this family member gets angry at my 'presumption'. Because that's what it feels like. I don't feel like I'm standing on firm ground though. It feels like quicksand. I keep checking the phone...the phone I've unplugged. *hangs head*

When explaining how I felt to a friend earlier this week they asked me what was the worst that could happen. This family member can rant, yes? And...looking at it logically, that doesn't seem like much. Seems survivable, right? Yes, but...no. The thought of facing that...rage? Terrifying. The thing is, in the grand scheme of things it's probably not that scary. There are far more scary situations that people face every day. Maybe I'm just a coward...

As the days tick over and the likelihood of contact diminishes...so too do the number of butterflies. But they never fade entirely.

So, if you don't mind me asking, what gives you butterflies?

03 September 2011

Books 2011: August Update

Total to date: 77 books (nine books this month: fantasy [one book]; historical romance [one book]; m/m [five books]; paranormal romance [one book]; urban fantasty [one book])

The 2011 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: 21 books (four books this month)

The M/M Romance Challenge 2011 total to date: 55 books (five books this month)

The 2011 Big Book Challenge: COMPLETE!

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2010) can be found at GoodReads.

Favourite books of the month?

* Concubine (Jill Knowles)

* Shadows Return (Lynn Flewelling)

* Sticks & Stones (Madeline Urban)

Currently reading:

* Darkest Mercy (Melissa Marr)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading this month:

* Fish & Chips (Madeline Urban)

So, what did you read last month?

31 August 2011

The Other Guy

Just in case the title of this post is sending you on a wild goose (thought) chase in a particular direction, this is not a post about infidelity. It's a post about 'the other guy'. Glad that cleared things up *grin*

See, I'm currently reading The White Road (Lynn Flewelling). *thinks* Yes I'm invested in the two main characters and what happens to them, but...it's another character, a secondary character, that has me biting my lip and..wishing (fervently)..for his safety and, ultimately, his contentment. (He's been through so much I'm not if he can be truly happy, but if he could be I would like him to be.) If something happens to him (something bad in other words) there will be letters (to the author). Oh will there be letters! Because...sometimes I just need to believe in happily ever afters. Does that make sense?

So, have you ever invested in 'the other guy' more than the main character(s)?

29 August 2011

Priest

Yes, we here at the bottom of the world may be ahead when it comes to greeting the new day, but invariably (unless the director is a New Zealander [yes, Peter Jackson, I'm looking at you]) we are behind when it comes to movie releases. So, Priest only opened here last Thursday, but...oh does it look like my kind of mindlessness! Have all but begged (OK, maybe there was some begging involved :) my best friend to see it with me - thank you oh lovely Starfire! I think we may just have to go the 3D route...



So, what movie last took you to the theatre and/or what do you have your eye on?

27 August 2011

It's...

...socks. Yes, the mysterious parcel that caused me to devolve into a puddle of panic (I had some very 'out there' ideas as to the contents of the parcel, all of which I am too embarrassed to confess) was...socks. These socks to be precise!



And what's even more ironic? They aren't for me! They were sent by a distant family member for another family member. *heads desk*

On a completely different note, my thoughts are with everyone in the path of Hurricane Irene.

25 August 2011

Out There...

I know I've asked some really 'out there' questions here at Walkabout, but...I think this one will take the cake...and the table said cake is sitting on :)

So...do you ever feel you're letting a book down? That's you're not reading it fast enough, in the right way, and 'getting it' like you should? Not quite sure who sets that 'should' level, but...do you?

Edited to add: You know things aren't too good when you receive a card from the postman (or postwoman [should that be postperson?]) informing you that you have a parcel to collect (a parcel too big for your letterbox) and you immediately panic, thinking of all the (horrible) things it could be (and the amount of time it will take you to go and pick said parcel up - because of course it's not waiting to be collected at my local post office). A few hours on the other side, I'm ignoring the large elephant in the room!

22 August 2011

The Big Chill

It's been cold here of late. Very cold. (And by that I mean overnight temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius [~35 degrees Fahrenheit], which probably doesn't sound cold to most of you, but it is for Auckland, which has a temperate [oceanic] climate.) So cold that I've been shutting off part of the house (the part with my computer) and curling up in front of the fire.

This...hiding (for want of a better word) has been in response to a number of things: movements on the privacy issue I eluded to in the post entitled Learning By Degrees (I'm not over it, not by a long shot, and it's colouring so much); interactions with family (what a surprise); and work. I hate feeling out of control. So overwhelmed by life... I was thinking the best analogy was that of an out of control bus, but...it's more like constant noise. When all I want is just some quiet so my brain can stop...whirring. I'm sorry I've been...absent. I have missed you all, but I just needed to...sit. Not sure how much sitting I'll need - this morning has left me all wound up so tight I can hardly breathe - but I will try to be online a little more often :)

On a completely different note, tomorrow night I am going to learn how to graft fruit trees. Yes, you heard it hear first!

So, what weird and wacky things have you learnt to do?

15 August 2011

I Want To Know What Love Is



I'm sorry Mariah, but you didn't do this song justice IMHO. Foreigner's version (the original version) gives me goosebumps!

So, what song gives you goosebumps?

12 August 2011

Confrontation

I don't deal well with confrontation. I literally do all I can to avoid it and, when that fails, I revert to the tried and true method of compromise. That I know. From my perspective, people fall into two categories - safe and unsafe. (And by safe I mean likely to act rationally/unlikely to turn on me simply because I am in the way of whatever it is they want.) It's a very black and white way of looking at things...a child's way. An adult has the ability (whether they use it is a subject for another post) to see the shades of grey within a confrontation, to understand that people are human and that they make mistakes. A child simply breathes the fear...of making a mistake, of being...noticed. The panic is...stifling.

I'm coming to realize that...parts of me, the real me, are still that child. That frightened child. Especially when confronted.My sole aim becomes to evade notice, to survive the encounter - it's a prey response...a child's response. And when the confrontation is over I pick it apart, trying to work out what it was that I said or did (or didn't do or didn't say) to cause the confrontation. Because I blame me.

Knowing this is one thing, applying it...a whole different kettle of fish.

10 August 2011

On The Ledge

Warning: This post may cause some readers to experience homicidal tendencies.

You're probably wondering why the title. Well...I think certain people, after reading this post, may want me on a ledge...so they can push me off! Kidding...mostly :) There are few unwritten rules when it comes to reading, but...reading in order is, for a number of people, a given. If you decide to read a series you start at the beginning and you read the books in order. And I just broke that rule.

I have been attempting, in my own way, to catch up on a number of series. The series on the chopping block (so to speak) has been Lisa Kleypas' The Hathaways. I adored the first (Mine till Midnight) and second (Seduce Me at Sunrise) books and enjoyed the third book (Tempt Me at Twilight). Then I borrowed (from the library) the fourth book (Married by Morning) and...paused. The characters didn't appeal in any of the previous books and they still didn't appeal. So...I read the bits I wanted to read (any scene with the hero from Mine till Midnight in it :) and then put it down and picked up the fifth book (Love in the Afternoon), which I'm reading...out of order *gasp*

So, here I am, on the ledge... They (whoever they are) say that curiosity killed the cat, but I have to ask: are you an order rule follower...or breaker?

07 August 2011

Foundation

At the end of last month I received some rather unexpected news. Change and I do not go hand in hand. We have to be...forced upon each other. Why? *deep breath* I fear change. I prefer stability to uncertainty. (Understatement of the century.) Have I mentioned I'm a control freak? In fact, I would go so far as to say that I need security and stability in order to function. *thinks* I guess that explains why I find trust so difficult. Handing over that security to someone else...being that vulnerable? *shakes head* I can't do that. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to do that.

During times of uncertainty, one invariably looks first to oneself and then to one's friends and family for support...and potentially for reassurance that one can survive the storm. One's foundation of self reinforces that belief. But...when I look down at my foundation I see ...nothing. *thinks* In the city where I live there is a tower. A tower with viewing platforms of glass. (Obviously very thick glass.) My foundation is like that glass floor - an illusion. All I see is emptiness. So without knowing within oneself that one can survive the storm, what does one do? Seek reassurance from outside. And that's exactly what I have been doing - endlessly. (And no doubt incredibly annoyingly :)

I mentioned this need (for want of a better word) to the unnamed expert when I saw her last week. And I used the analogy of the glass floor of the tower. My foundation of self is...an illusion. Most of the time I can pretend, but when I need to know it is there, when I need to see it, it's not. All I see is the emptiness preceding an endless fall. So I don't look down. I seek reassurance outside of myself...because from where I sit everyone knows more than me. They hold the power... It's a child's response. As a child we seek reassurance from those around us, because we are still developing our sense of self. Our knowledge of what we are and are not capable of. What we learn with each challenge we face and the consistent reassurance we receive from those around us allows us to build that foundation. But building a solid foundation without those building blocks is...well nigh impossible. And without that solid foundation we are left doubting ourselves. And when uncertainty arises, as it invariably does, we seek reassurance. And that, I realized, is the problem. I don't believe in that foundation of self. I don't believe in...me. So...I guess I have to learn *grin*

So, I'm curious, what (large or small) have you learned about yourself lately?

Edited to add: I was hoping to be online over the weekend, but somehow the weekend just got away from me. Fingers crossed for lots of stalking visiting tomorrow :)

02 August 2011

Books 2011: July Update

Total to date: 68 books (14 books this month: historical romance [one book]; m/m [12 books]; paranormal romance [one book])

The 2011 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: 17 books (two books this month)

The M/M Romance Challenge 2011 total to date: 50 books (12 books this month)

The 2011 Big Book Challenge: The Archer's Heart (Astrid Amara) [COMPLETE!]

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2010) can be found at GoodReads.

Favourite books of the month?

* The Archer's Heart (Astrid Amara)

* Living Promises (Amy Lane)

Currently reading:

* Play of Passion (Nalini Singh)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading this month:

* The Rifter Part VI (Ginn Hale)

* Spin Out (James Buchanan)

So, what did you read last month?

31 July 2011

Thinking

I have a number of posts rattling around inside my head ATM, but...I need to work out exactly what I want to write - it has been one of those weeks!

In the interim, I thought you might like a bit of a walk down memory lane. While I was out and about yesterday the theme song from Beverly Hills Cop 1 - The Heat Is On - came on the radio. That led me to rattling around by boxes (the vast majority of my belongings are still in boxes for reasons unknown) until I pulled out my Eighties Complete CDs. Unfortunately, The Heat Is One wasn't listed, but this beauty was:



Let's just say that my new toy has had some musical additions to assist me in pounding the pavement *grin*

So, what blast from the past has hit you lately?

28 July 2011

Just One Word

I'm curious - when you decide to read a book, what do you base your decision on? The summary? The cover art? The rating? The reviews? All of the above?And...are there certain words in the summary that tip the balance either for or against? For example, I have an historical romance on my library hold list. I hope to read it at some point next month. It's the first in a series of books by the author - I have read one series by this author and the first book of another series (I then didn't go any further). So, being a 'completist) [read OCD] and realizing the second book had been published, I went to read the summary. And there I read the word 'beautiful'. Just one word to describe the heroine. And that one word has decided me against the book. (I'm sure you all know my views on heroines, so I won't bore you by getting on my soapbox.) But...that one word would decide me against a book... I guess I'm feeling overly judgemental and not in a good way (if one can be overly judgemental in a good way?) and that has rather horrified me. Am I the only one who does this?

Edited to add: I've amended the Settings, so hopefully those of you who have had issues in the past posting comments here won't have them any more :)

26 July 2011

Just Add Noodles

Caveat: I don't mean any disrespect to authors or readers, so I apologise in advance if I cause offence - it is not my intention to do so.

Whether reading m/f or m/m (or any variation thereof), the trope of instant love or 'insta-love' invariably makes an appearance. I'm not sure exactly how one would define insta-love, but I suppose one could view it as the 'just add noodles' of the romance novel *grin*

At the end of last week I finished reading a paranormal romance that used just this trope. TBH I'm not a fan of it - the trope that is, not the book :) I like any relationship between characters to develop slowly, so I can see the...why of their relationship (if that makes sense). I discussed my thoughts with the lovely Kerry from Too Many Books and loved her response so much I asked her if I could post it here - thank you Kerry!
I think that part of the problem is fitting the actual plot and the romance into the same time frame. Often the first needs to happen rather quickly, the latter more slowly. So one gets slowed down and the other gets sped up so they both end at the same time.
Now, to be fair, as much as I love that explanation, it isn't always the case. So it is then up to the author to convince the reader (and I need a lot of convincing) that there is more to the relationship that just...noodles :)

So, what are your thoughts on insta-love?

24 July 2011

Almost Heaven

Now, normally, I'm not a huge fan of remakes, particularly musical remakes...and that goes triple for a U2 song. Up until Adam Lambert sang One (on American Idol) I hadn't heard a U2 remake I could tolerate. (And yes that includes the Glee version of One.) But, when checking Jared Leto's Twitter (as I am wont to do) I discovered that 30 Seconds to Mars had covered Where The Streets Have No Name for MTV Unplugged. And my heart almost stopped. One of my favourite bands covering a song by my other favourite band. And the result? Blew. My. Mind. See for yourself:


Found on: Where The Streets Have No Name (30 Seconds To Mars) [U2 cover] from Grazzia on Vimeo.

Now I just have to cross my fingers in the hope that I can see 30 Seconds to Mars and U2 (together) live. That would be heaven.

So, what's your favourite (musical) cover?

21 July 2011

Books One Loves To Rant About

On the way back from the Nalini Singh 'meet and greet' last week, the lovely Kerry from Too Many Books and I fell into discussing the BDB (Black Dagger Brotherhood for those of you who have been living under a rock [or who don't read paranormal romance] and thus have not heard of this series :) The next book to be released (on 27 March 2012) is Lover Reborn.

Lover Reborn appeared on my library's catalogue last week so I promptly placed a hold. When Kerry asked me why (I had placed the hold) I said I wanted to know what would happen (overall) in the series...and then I realized the other reason why I want to read it. You see, for the last few releases I've read the book and then jumped online and ranted...here, here, here, here and here. (OK, that is an awful lot of ranting *blushes*) And it struck me then...I quite like ranting about this series. It's...fun. And this has kind of me worried. Is ranting about a book....wrong? Am I being disrespectful? Am I the only person who does this? (Although thinking about the number of people who rant about the Anita Blake series, perhaps not.) Should one just chose not to read the book...or to read the book and not comment? Thoughts?

BTW, has anyone see the cover? I've heard rumours...

19 July 2011

Yakuza Pride (HJ Brues)

Warning: the discussion of certain topics in this review may be upsetting - I apologise.

I have to admit to being at a complete loss as to how to rate Yakuza Pride (HJ Brues)... In fact, I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to think of this book. I feel the positives outweigh the negatives, but the negatives will be, for some, deal breakers. Where to start? I loved the setting. I very rarely read books set outside of North America, and to read a book set in Japan was refreshing to say the least as I know next to nothing about Japan and less that nothing about its culture and society. Luckily, the author avoided the pitfall of dumping information on both Japanese caste and manners, but instead embedded it seamlessly. The characters themselves are also interesting, and not just the primary characters - there were definitely secondary characters who had page space and who used it to present themselves in a three-dimensional way. I liked how...human they were, with all the foibles humanity brings. On the other hand, the two main characters kind of remind me of the characters in a yaoi manga. I'm not sure exactly why. Perhaps because they fall into some clearly defined roles (in some respects). What I found interesting is how the author portrayed Kenneth (or Kenshin-san as he is known for most of the book). It's like the author wrote him as a foreigner (and thus less 'acceptable' to the Japanese), but gave him many qualities that the Japanese would admire - his fluency with the language and his understanding of Japanese culture and customs, his mastery of kendo, and his strength and honour. Both Kenshin-san and Shigure-san (the other primary character) represent one of the themes of the book, that nationality and/or caste is a label, and that it is who the person is that reflects their honour and their worth.

Anyway, I digress... This book feels like a book of many parts. And not in a beginning and an end kind of way, but more in an intimacy and action kind of way. Unfortunately, I felt both the intimacy and the action were...stretched (as in too long and too detailed), often too far. Which meant the pacing was...uneven. Plus, at least initially, the author had a tendency to use very long (80-90 words long) sentences during the sex scenes. And this led me (invariably) to re-writing the sentences (in my head) to add in a full-stop (or two). Not good. Especially considering the scene. So, I began to look forward to the sex scenes (not that there were many, but they were...out in the open on occasion) finishing and..the plot moving forward. And then we hit the middle of the book and where the suspense plot kicked in. One of the characters is kidnapped. Yes, huge spoiler, but I wanted to mention it because of what happens during the kidnapping. Torture. And it is described. In detail. And it's not easy to read. And there are escape attempts, more than one, which fail, until you are about to give up hope entirely, and then...success! Did I mention that things felt stretched? And that fact that Shigure spent a lot of time not working out who the villian was, when I (of all people) did, meant I thought less of him. At one point I was hoping that I had got it wrong, but I didn't.

And then I got to the scene I STILL can't get my head around. I'm not sure about the exact time line (as in how soon post-rescue this sex scene occurred, but bandages were present so I'm guessing a day or two?) Remember me mentioning the torture? Well, the result of that torture (physically) was wounds, burns and tears.... And then this happened:
Shigure's mouth followed the same path down that his hands had taken on their way up, his tongue probing mercilessly into and around the open cuts, Ken squirming wildly under the torture, noises pouring out of him without control.
Yes, you read that right. INTO the open cuts! No. Just, no. The human mouth has millions of bacteria in it, bacteria that would probably love to make a home in a warm, nutrient-rich environment. But wait, it gets worse. There is a rimming scene.That in and of itself isn't the problem. The problem is that there are tears in that area, which led me straight back to the pain and risk-of-infection issues. All of this to someone who has just been tortured? And then to go from rimming straight to another area, which has burns. *heads desk* I mean, maybe it's me, but...the whole scene didn't work because I spent the whole time thinking about the pain and the risk of infection. I can understand why the author included a sex scene at this particular point in the story. My issue is with what the scene consisted of.

So, you're no doubt asking yourself why I rated this book three and three-quarter stars. I think the author has a lot of talent.I think the book is for the most part well written, with an interesting setting and premise. I think if the stretching of both scenes and sentences was...lessened, it would help immensely. And maybe my issues with that one particular sex scene is just a me thing as I haven't seen any one else mention it. But I do think that anyone that reads it should be warned that it is, in a number of places, very disturbing. The cover is, however, gorgeous!

17 July 2011

Here's Looking At You

I meant to post this last night, but the temperature (or lack thereof) got the better of me :) Normally when I mention my lovely friend Kerry it is in association with her (original) blog Saving My Sanity. But, Kerry has started a new blog! It's called Too Many Books - something I think we can all relate to! And as to what this new blog is about? Well, I think part of Kerry's first post said it beautifully:
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.

*drools over dream library*

*coughs*

And since I've been talking about new blogs, I wanted to mention Meoskop's It's My Genre, Baby. IIRC, I think I met Meoskop over a Dear Author review. Something in her comment sparked my interest, so me being me I wembled over to her blog. And I'm so glad I did! Meoskop reviews...all sorts of books, across a number of genres, including contemporary romance, historial romance, paranormal romance, not to mention autobiographies and...eBook readers! And there was a post about the BBC History Magazine the other week. *drools over BBC History Magazine* Apart from being very amuzing, Meoskop's posts invariably make me look at things from a different angle.

So, what new blogs have you discovered lately?

13 July 2011

Nalini Singh

Warning: Parts of this post may contain information that certain individuals (looking at no one in particular *cough* KatiBabs *cough*) may find...disturbing (as in result in a spontaneous case of self-combustion). It may also contain spoiler information!

Last night the lovely Kerry from Too Many Books - Too Hard to Choose and I were very lucky to attend a 'meet and greet' with the exceptionally lovely and uber talented Nalini Singh!

Now, before I dive into all the juicy gossip, I just wanted to say that Nalini is an amazing speaker. Vivacious, engaging and warm. It was also fascinating to note the demographics in the room - also many and varied. Nalini's books are loved across a spectrum :) Now, on to what Nalini said:

* There is likely to be another three or four Psy-Changeling books before the story arc is complete. That's not to say there won't be further books, but they will be tangential to the story arc. Maybe one about the Falcons? *crossing fingers for an Adam book*

* Kit's story won't be one of those three or four books - Nalini reckons he's still a bit young yet :)

* Nalini is currently working on the 11th Psy-Changeling book. It has no title as yet, but will be about Riaz (one of the SnowDancer Lieutenants) and Adria (Indigo's aunt). And both the Arrows and Kaleb *waits for screaming* will play a role!

* There will be further books about Elena & Raphael

* The Guild Hunter series is likely to be smaller than the Psy-Changeling series as the books will be limited to the core characters

I hope I got that all right Nalini? Did I miss anything?

And on the way home, driving over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, lightning lit up the sky right in front of me. It was....WOW! And then I got stopped by the police and breathalyzed :) So, all in all a very exciting evening!

Edited to add: Please make sure to read the first comment, because there are quite a few (juicy) titbits I missed, but that Kerry didn't :)

06 July 2011

Time Out

I've been rather...absent from the blogosphere of late. I'm sorry. I'm just all...sixes and sevens ATM. Anxious about...anything and everything, including keeping up with everyone's blogs (and my own). I know I don't have too, but...I want too, and the pressure is driving me crazy. That and it's been very cold here over the last couple of weeks and...where my computer is situated is in the opposite direction to that in which the heat from my fire travels. (So, it's cold in front of the 'puter ATM.) And I can hear all those people who suggested that I purchase a laptop (which could be easily re-situated to the kitchen table) instead of a desktop saying (silently, because they are, after all, lovely people :) 'I told you so'. I hear you *grin*

I'm hoping a few days 'away' will have me back and bouncing, and I look forward to catching up with you all at that point. But, until then, I thought you all might like another (yes, another) photo of Jared, bought to you via the lovely Kris from Kris 'n' Good Books. Thank you sweetie for enabling my obsession...ahhh...addiction....ahh...thing *grin*

03 July 2011

Books 2011: June Update

Total to date: 54 books (five books this month: fantasy [two books]; historical suspense [one book]; m/m [two books])

The 2011 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: 15 books (three books this month)

The M/M Romance Challenge 2011 total to date: 38 books (two books this month)

The 2011 Big Book Challenge: The Archer's Heart (Astrid Amara) [In progress!]

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2010) can be found at GoodReads.

Favourite books of the month?

* Cut & Run (Madeline Urban & Abigail Roux)

* City of Night (Michelle Sagara)

Currently reading:

* The Archer's Heart (Astrid Amara)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading this month:

* Living Promises (Amy Lane)

* The Holy Road (Ginn Hale) [The Rifter Part V]

So, what did you read last month?

30 June 2011

Author Fan Letter Blog Crawl 2011


Found at: three am

For the second year in a row, the very talented Kassa from three am has organized the Author Fan Letter Blog Crawl. I was so honoured to be asked to participate again this year and have been discovering some fantastic authors through all the wonderful letters I've read to date!

Yesterday, we discovered Lauren Dane thanks to the lovely Bridget Locke from Reading, Writing, and Life...Oh My! (Why I haven't read any of Lauren Dane's books before now I don't know, but that is so going to change!) Today, it's my turn. Welcome to the 30 June stop in the Author Fan Letter Blog Crawl 2011... And don't forget to visit the lovely Nicola O. from Alpha Heroes tomorrow for her author letter!

Dear Amy Lane,

When Kassa first contacted me about the Author Fan Letter Blog Crawl 2011 my mind leapt straight to you. No doubt, no hesitation, just certainty. And while I could wax lyrical (for hours) about your wonderful characterisation and the fact that you are so the queen of angst (and thus one invariably requires a box of tissues when reading any of your books), I think I will focus on just one thing.

Your books, at their heart, are about love and family. About trust and faith. About opening your heart to the possibility that somewhere...you belong. So, while Keeping Promise Rock (the first of your books I ever read) was a love story between Deacon & Crick (oh how I love thee), it was, for me, a revelation. Until I read it my view on family was...bleak (to say the least). I never thought that one could have a family not of blood but of choice. A family in which everyone is accepted for who they are, in which unconditional love and support is a constant not a fantasy. And a family in which one's soul is not smothered and strangled into silence.

You have given me hope that such families can be...and that no matter what everyone deserves one. Everyone. And for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

orannia x

PS In just over one week the third book in the Promises series - Living Promises - is to be released. More time with the family I have grown to wish was my own. I can't wait!

27 June 2011

Trust

Sometimes, when I'm conversing with the unnamed expert, I say things and then only afterwards realize what I have said. What left my mouth last week was that I don't trust anyone. That in and of itself is no surprise. What was the surprise was what came straight after it. I don't trust anyone because...I keep waiting for them to walk away. I keep waiting for the moment when...the other person realizes that they are getting far less out of the relationship than I am and...that I'm not worth their time. And once they realize all that, they'll...walk away.

Now, to put this in context, I was talking to the unnamed expert about a specific person. The unnamed expert's response to my comment was that this person wouldn't walk away. And I went to say 'I know', because of all the people I know this person is the last one that would walk away. I may even have said 'I know' until I realized that I didn't....know. And I don't...know. This doubt, this lack of trust..is constant. I can't seem to not doubt in a relationship. I can't seem to trust.

The why of this lack of trust I'm still working my way through, but I guess in the grand scheme of things it doesn't truly matter. It just is. Trust is the basis of all relationships - between parent and child, between siblings, between friends and...between lovers. And while all of these relationships are important, it is between the last that my gaze lingers, because it is between the last that trust is required in so many ways. Putting all else aside, trust is required, on some level, for true intimacy. Yes, one can have sex without trust, but I don't think one can love without trust. Not truly. I know I can't. And so many of the issues I have when it comes to intimacy comes down to trust.

And all of this has got me to thinking about the various romance novels I read, whether m/f or m/m. I love the slowly developing relationships because it is in them that I can see the underlying trust - that I believe is required for intimacy - develop. Thus, I find insta-love, or those relationships in which love cures all, to be...not wrong but...built on false pretenses (if that makes sense).

So, I'm curious, when it comes to romance, where do you place trust?

23 June 2011

Meet & Greet

I have news! I am...finally...going to meet one of my favourite authors! Yes, the wonderful, amazingly talented, Nalini Singh is having a 'meet & greet' here in Auckland (at one of the local libraries) and my lovely friend Kerry (from Saving My Sanity) and I are going to meet her! I think Kerry has meet Nalini before, but I haven't and I'm very excited. I'm also rather nervous...so any advice you could give me on meeting a favourite author (and how not to act like a gushing stalker) would be very gratefully received!

And on a completely different note - Top Chef All Stars (Season 8) is currently playing here. And earlier this week Episode 10 - the cookie episode - was screened. I've haven't laughed so much in ages, particularly when Cookie Monster decided the tablecloth looked appetizing, so I thought you might like to watch a bit. I grew up watching Sesame Street...and watching this episode brought back so many great memories. I went into work the next day and my work colleagues and I were talking - and laughing - about it at morning tea. Cookie Monster was always one of my favourite characters...so was Oscar.



So, did you ever watch Sesame Street and, if so, who was(were) your favourite character(s)?

19 June 2011

Cars

So, I was blog hopping earlier today, and went via Tam's Reads - all the best for the release of Winterlude Tam! - and noticed (and read) a post entitled Finally Friday.

In it, Tam mentioned her kidlet's written driving test. And that got me to reminiscing about when I learnt to drive. I remember my actual (practical) driving test. It was Christmas Eve...last test of the day. The driving examiner (is that their correct title?) wanted to set me at ease (I was petrified of failing and then having to tell my father), so kept telling me to drive over roundabouts or to skid round them. (It didn't help...and no I didn't - go over them or skid round them.) And then he got me to stop....for ice cream! (It was a hot Christmas Eve.) With the stop, we took twice as long as we were meant to! And then when we got back and he asked me if I thought I had passed I said 'No'. And he's like 'Sorry to disappoint you....(my heart almost stopped)...but you did'. PHEW!
Upon receiving my restricted licence (meaning I could drive myself only or drive others if one of them had a full licence) I had to take my father out and about (as his illness was preventing him from driving safely...not that that actually stopped him from driving for quite a while longer). I was so petrified about what he might say that I said I would only drive him if he didn't say anything to me at all (apart from directions). So he grabbed a pen and some paper...and had written a swear word before I'd even turned the key! Luckily, he didn't teach me to drive. For that I will always be grateful. A friend of family at the time was a driving instructor, and lessons with her were augmented with lessons with my paternal grandfather (who also taught my mother to drive - my father did start teaching her to drive, but he had to patience [no surprise]).

Once I became confident (with driving) my father used to ask me to drive him somewhere and then a few months later make me drive back - alone - with no map. Luckily, I've always been good at remembering where I've been :)

So, any stories on learning to drive you would like to share? No scaring Tam though!

16 June 2011

Under Pressure

With a title like that I should have included a photo of Queen, yes?

Do you ever feel...under pressure to read a book? Under pressure because someone is waiting for you to read it? And not because they will be borrowing said book after you (either directly or indirectly) but because they want to discuss it? But what if you aren't in the right frame of mind for that particular book ATM? What do you do?

14 June 2011

Equilibrium (Meredith Shayne)

Equilibrium is the debut novel of my lovely and very talented friend Meredith Shayne!


Found on: Dreamspinner Press
Welcome to Burreela, New South Wales. Population: more animals than humans. Although most (human) occupants are trying to get out of Burreela, the tiny town is the perfect place for veterinarian Michael Stone to break out of the bad habits that almost cost him the most meaningful part of his life: his profession. Michael is struggling to regain his balance after hard personal losses and two years of promiscuity and drug abuse. He’s not prepared to meet Ryan Mitchell, a nice guy who won’t take no for an answer, whose patient pursuit leaves Michael less and less inclined to keep refusing. But Michael’s bad habits aren’t that far behind him. Can Michael hold himself together enough to be the man Ryan needs, or will he lose his equilibrium while trying to be man enough to hold on to the one he loves?
Publication date is 24 June 2011! So...10 days! I'm very excited - I've had a sneak peak...friends in high places and all that *grin*

11 June 2011

Signs And Symptoms

I was having a chat with a friend earlier this week about a particular book. This friend has just started the book, as have I (which probably lets the cat out of the bag as to the name of said book). I quite like reading a book in tandem because then I have someone to discuss the WTF moments with, particularly if the book is either completely gripping or driving you at the wall :) Anyway, we were discussing when one should admit that a book is either not holding one's interest or...is not the right book for one's frame of mind at that particular point. This friend has decided to see whether she has progressed from the page she is currently on by the end of the weekend. I think that still being on the same page, and an early one at that, after a predefined period is definitely a sign that the book is not the right one. And that got me to thinking about other signs... Reading avoidance is a good one for me. Or dreaming about other books and planning when to read them (although I do that a fair bit anyway :)

So, what sign(s) tell you that it's not the right book? Or do the signs change depending on the book?

08 June 2011

Seeking...

...songs. Well, TBH there are lots of things I'm seeking *grin* but ATM it's songs. Songs for the new toy to be precise! To date, I have the following songs on my 'running' playlist:

* Don't Lose My Number (Phil Collins)

* From Yesterday (30 Seconds To Mars)

* Jai Ho (The Pussycat Dolls)

* Kings and Queens (30 Seconds To Mars)

* Loser Like Me (Glee)

* Pour Some Sugar On Me (Def Leppard)

* Whataya Want From Me (Adam Lambert)

Yes, I know. Completely eclectic, although I'm still not quite sure whether the last song - Whataya Want From Me - works on not. And yes they are all what I classify as 'sing' songs.

So, what am I missing? What song gets your heart pounding and your feet tapping and is the perfect song to add to my playlist?

06 June 2011

Another New Toy

I was slightly naughty this weekend...I splurged! I don't splurge all that often; it's just not really in my nature. (I like to analyse things to the nth degree and then make a decision. Plus, splurging on me always leaves me feeling slightly....guilty. Like I shouldn't.) But...since the death of my iPod Mini (remember those?) shortly after I moved back to NZ from the UK I've been without music while exercising. Yes, technically I could have used my iPhone, but it's not really the easiest device to walk/run (or in my case alternate walking with very small bouts of jogging :) with. Being that it is a long weekend here (to celebrate the Queen's Birthday [which BTW is actually not today]) there are a few sales on. And it just so happens that a certain store had the following device for sale....so I bought one of these.

Yes, I am now the proud owner of an iPod Shuffle. A blue one! I was a little concerned about how it and my iPhone would work together (as in on one computer), but...so far so good. And...I tried it this morning (the iPod Shuffle). O. M. G. The songs were so clear. Crystal clear. ATM I've only got songs I thought I might like to run to on it - I've since taken a few off - and it was brilliant. And then this song came on and I felt like I could run for ever...



I almost want to go for another walk just to try it again!

So, what was the latest gadget/toy you bought? And...how are you finding it? It is all that it said on the packaging?

02 June 2011

Books 2011: May Update

Total to date: 49 books (nine books this month: fantasy [two books]; historical suspense [one book]; m/m [four books]; romantic suspense [one book]; young adult [one book])

The 2011 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: 12 books (five books this month)

The M/M Romance Challenge 2011 total to date: 36 books (four books this month)

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2010) can be found at GoodReads.

Favourite books of the month? (Quite a few actually!)

* Cold Magic (Kate Elliot)

* The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (NK Jemisin)

* Snowball in Hell (Josh Lanyon)

Currently reading:

* City of Night (Michelle Sagara)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading this month:

* Cut & Run (Madeline Urban & Abigail Roux)

* Witches' Blood (Ginn Hale) [The Rifter Part IV]

So, what did you read last month?

31 May 2011

The Thin Red Line

So...if you managed to wade your way through the entirety of Down The Rabbit Hole then you have probably worked out that I am the teeniest bit...obsessed sounds like such a harsh word, so something a bit less than that...with Jared Leto and 30 Seconds To Mars. In the best possible way of course *grin* And as you do when you...fall down the rabbit hole, you Google! And in doing so it struck me as to just how much information is actually out 'there'...

When I was a teenager - OK, so I was not a normal teenager and didn't have the walls of my bedroom covered with posters of Duran Duran for example (like my cousin) [and by walls I mean walls, as in all of them] - there were posters and cassette tapes (remember those, or am I just showing my age?) and...that was about it. Oh, and the odd music video show (here it was Ready to Roll). Now though, there is the Internet, which means the music videos and interviews are online and readily available. And then there is Facebook and Twitter and Blogger and LiveJournal and WordPress etc. and...it's like a stalker's paradise! And yes a celebrity, such as a rock star, will court his or her public. In a way, it is part of the...job description - to be available to the adoring masses. But the problem is that somewhere along the way we have become an 'I want more and I want it now' society. It's like (please forgive me Charles Dickens) Oliver Twist on LSD. We're voracious. And with so much information online where do we draw a line? The line where a person's (celebrity or other)...public face ends and their privacy starts? And how can one enforce that when they are surrounded by people who want to know more and by others who want to share more because it will enhance the bottom line?

I guess what I'm trying to say is...I feel slightly uncomfortable with what is available at my fingertips. Yes I want to know more, whether it be about a particular celebrity - be still my beating heart - or someone who I have grown to know online, but...I don't want to ever forget that the person I am interested in learning more about is just that...a person. And just like I have days when all the endless pressure and constant requests becomes too much and I just want some space, I figure so do they. I just hope that in all of my correspondence I remember where that line is.

Thoughts?

27 May 2011

Down The Rabbit Hole

My brain works in kind of a weird way. I...flit (for want of a better word) from one subject to another, the links often tenuous (but making complete sense to me). So, while I may start talking about subject A, my brain will then flit from B through D and then I'll start talking about E. Now, I know the links between A and E, and those people who have got used to my way of thinking can follow the pattern (thank you all), but occasionally even I end up in weird places. For example...

Last night I was blog hopping (as you do). One blog I visited (I'm not sure if they would like to be linked to me or not...or if they care either way, but for the interim I'll leave them their anonymity) had posted YouTube videos of the US band 30 Seconds To Mars. 'That name rings a bell' I thought, so I scanned down the list of videos until I reached the last, entitled 'From Yesterday'. And that also rang a bell, as did the frozen video image. So, I watched it. And the reason why it rang a bell is because I had caught part of the shortened music video last year on TV and thought 'Ohhhhh!' (because this song so gives me goose bumps!) So, for your viewing pleasure...and please make a note of checking out the video at 7.45 minutes for some 'extra' eye candy *grin*



Oh, and I've requested the CD the above song was released on from the library (for research purposes - I'm thorough :)

From Yesterday reminds me of a song by another band, Finnish this time, that I discovered while living in the UK. Called The Rasmus. And this is that song:



And yes, those are feathers in the lead singer's hair.

Anyway, back to 30 Seconds From Mars...and the lead singer. Wikipedia is deadly dangerous when one falls down the rabbit hole of...teenage (because I can't really apply anything adult to this :) obsession. Jared Leto isn't just a singer/songwriter. He's also an actor. So I went looking to see what he had been in...I did mention I was thorough *grin* And, it turns out he's been in quite a bit, including Alexander. (Yes, that movie with the Irish-sounding Macedonians and Angelina Jolie [sorry Starfire, still not a fan]). And he plays Hephaestion, who according to Wikipedia was beloved of Alexander. And if you can remember the image from 7.45 minutes into the music video, my first thought was...I could so see him in a m/m romance. And then Alexander fell into my lap...well, not exactly. It *blushes* has been requested from the library...along with A Beautiful Lie (so I can listen to From Yesterday and all the other songs and decide whether to purchase it).

And then I realized. I started in Ancient China and (via...Victorian England?) ended up in Ancient Greece. Quite a trip down the rabbit hole if you ask me *grin* And all of this has reminded me that I never started posting my travel posts. So I will be rectifying that next month. You have been warned *grin*

So, where has following things led you of late?

25 May 2011

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm....

And when I say 'hmmmm' I am referring to both the good and...the not so good *grin*

In the good column:

* Jazz (apple). A combination between Braeburn and Royal Gala apples. YUM!

* The cover of Cast in Ruin (Michelle Sagara). (I was going to upload the cover, but attempting to do so kept crashing this post so I gave up.) Is it late September yet?

In the not so good column:

* PMT. Need I say more?

* Incomplete bank call centre training. Honestly, if the forms that have been linked to my account for the last 3 1/2 years are still linked to my account (according to my local branch manager), then perhaps the reason why you can't seen them is because you do not know how to look for them...so perhaps you should be trained how to do so rather than just saying that you can't do what I ask, even though I know you can because your colleague (who could see said forms) had no problem doing so LAST WEEK! (Of note, I am frustrated about the lack of training, not about said call centre staff member...well, three of them to be precise.)

* People who drive in the fog with no lights on. Ditto those who do not indicate. I mean...seriously? I must have missed the pre-birth queue that gave me psychic powers to know exactly where your car is at any given moment and exactly what you are planning to do with it!

So, what has made you go 'hmmmm' lately?

Oh, and I couldn't resist!

20 May 2011

Trumpeting

I don't really know how else to describe it. I'm currently reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (NK Jemisin) and it has...completely blown me away (to put it mildly). I just want to keep raving to all and sundry (you're the all BTW, not the sundry *grin*) about how brilliant it is. As to why it is so brilliant...I'm not quite sure *blushes* I love the fact that it is written in the first person, but it's more like the narrator is sitting in front of me chatting. And then there is the scheming and politics. It both does and it doesn't remind me of Sarah Monette's Doctrine of Labyrinth. (Has anyone else read both series? Would you agree/disagree?)

And all of this trumpeting has me thinking about other books that have just swept me off my feet. (Yes, it would be nice if a male did that, but I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth *grin*) The aforementioned Sarah Monette's Doctrine of Labyrinths is one. Carol Berg's Flesh & Spirit and Breath & Bone (The Lighthouse Duology) is another. And before you start thinking that they all have one thing in common (genre), I would like to throw (with love) Amy Lane's Keeping Promise Rock into the mix!

And while part of me wants to include in my raving 'Read it, read it, read it!', the rest of me is cognizant that people's tastes...differ, and what works for one may not work for another. But...I still want to pull out the trumpet *grin*

So, what was the last book you felt like trumpeting to the world?

16 May 2011

From The Middle

The middle of where I'm not exactly sure...

So, the healthy eating plan hasn't been that...healthy of late. And when I say 'of late' I mean the last 12 months. I saw the nutritionist today and I'm ~7.5 kg (~17 lb) off my target goal weight of 57.5 kg (126.5 lb). Yes, that is a backwards step of ~7.5 kg from this time last year :( In an effort to be proactive, I attempted to go back on the healthy eating plan today (before seeing the nutritionist). And this lasted all of a few hours. Oh, I stuck to the food side (mostly). But it's my nemesis - Coca Cola - that dragged me off into the woods and...ravished me. As I mentioned in One Day At A Time, Coca Cola is the highlight of my day. *shakes head* It's not good when the highlight of one's day is a soft drink. So, I have some homework - to discover what makes me feel good and do more of that. And I have no idea where to start. So, if you don't mind me asking...what makes you feel good? (FYI - the nutritionist and I agreed on one can of Coca Cola a day, starting tomorrow, and lots of walking. *crossing fingers*)

ATM I'm currently plodding along reading Radiant Shadows (Melissa Marr). And plodding is how it feels. (It's so a me thing.) Unlike Ink Exchange (the second book in the series) and even Wicked Lovely (the first book), I'm just not very engaged with most of the characters. I just keep wanting to flick until my favourite characters come back on the page. Am I the only person who wants to follow certain characters exclusively?

I'm about to start working my way through my grandmothers' (maternal and paternal) and my mother's recipe books, selecting those recipes I would like to keep before handing the books over to a family member. One recipe I will definitely make sure to copy is my paternal grandmother's liqueur ice-cream. I'm not sure if one can be drunk in charge of a bowl of ice-cream, but I wouldn't put anything past this ice-cream *grin* So, I'm curious, do you have/use any family members' recipes?

14 May 2011

The Great Race

Do you ever feel like you have been mysteriously entered into a race when you pick up a book? Where the object is to read the book as fast as possible and then move on to the next without stopping to...savour the moment? I realized this week that I may have bought into this concept without realizing it.

I think it harks back to reading The War of Light and Shadow (Janny Wurts), the fantasy series I have been reading (three chapters per week) for the last few months. I was so focused on keeping up that I felt into a pattern, a pattern where keeping up was the most important thing. And how did I realise this? Whenever I pick a book up I always check how many pages there are...and when I reach a certain page I calculate how many more pages I have to read. And then there is the continually revising estimate of how many pages I can read in one day. Me? OCD? What gave you that idea? It doesn't help that I put myself under pressure with my library hold list. Note the I in that sentence, because all this is on me. I'm not sure quite how to fix it, so any suggestions welcome *grin*

And because 'The Great Race' reminds me of the movie of the same name I give you the pie scene! (Mainly because I couldn't find the 'I am an emancipated woman' scene.)

10 May 2011

Upstairs Downstairs

I'm currently watching the first episode of Downton Abbey. I love period dramas! My work colleagues and I were discussing our love of period dramas last week...and what we learnt from them. For example, one colleague has recently watched North & South with the rather attractive Richard Armitage.

*attempts not to get distracted*

And all of this led us to ponder over where linen came from.

And it got me to thinking about why I like period dramas. I like the scheming for one. Manners and societal standing were everything, so while everyone was unfailingly polite on the outside, underneath the surface schemes and manoeuvring were afoot! I like the idea of going to a ball...as long as one could dance and wasn't a wallflower. Which leads me to Nine Rule To Break When Romancing A Rake, because IIRC one of the things on Lady Calpurnia's list was to dance every dance at a ball. I like that idea (but then I love to dance). And I quite like the idea of dressing up for a ball (although the jury is still out on stays). And...the romance!

So, I'm curious - regardless of whether you read m/f or m/m (or both), what is it that you like (or don't like) about period dramas?

Edited to add: Great minds obviously think alike! At the lovely and very talented KatieBab's Babbling About Books, and More is a guest post by Vanessa Kelly on why we love historical romances.

08 May 2011

Blank

Do you ever have days when you avoid going online? When you just can't face all the....(for want of a better word) noise? When you just want to shut out everything and curl up with a good book (or an old [or new] favourite TV series or movie) and just...vegetate?

That's what I've felt like this weekend. I guess I could call it apathy, but I just feel...blank. So, I curled up with Cold Magic and I've been watching Friday Night Lights - Taylor Kitsch is just....well, you be the judge.

So, apologies for me for...not being around, for not visiting. Hopefully I'll be back 'bright-eyed and bushy tailed' from tomorrow.

04 May 2011

C Is For...

Cake!

Why am I thinking about cake? Well...I should lay blame squarely where it is due - at the feet of Chris and Kris! (And what lovely feet they are *grin*) If they hadn't shamelessly displayed photos of said pictured monstrosity (and yes Kris I know you haven't done it recently, but I can still picture those photos from your trip last year) I wouldn't be so obsessed with trying it!

C is also for challenge! OK, please bear with me. (Famous last words - you so know I'm taking you all on a mad-dash hike through the weird connections in my brain, right?) See, last night I was watching Undercover Boss (yes, it screens here and I like to have the TV on while I'm wandering around the Internet, which is how I ended up watching it), specifically, the Mack trucks episode. And watching all those trucks got me to thinking about trucks (as you do)...which led me to Heidi Cullinan's Special Delivery, which I read at the end of last year.

Earlier this year I used the word (un)comfortable to describe how Special Delivery left me feeling. What I realized last night was that I also should have used the word challenged. Because that's exactly what it did. It challenged me - challenged my convictions, challenged how I view relationships and...expanded my view. I'm not saying what works for Sam works for me, but...I never would have believed a few years ago that I would ever read (and enjoy...definitely enjoy *evil grin*) m/m romance, so...who knows? And now more than ever I want to read Double-Blind and challenge myself anew...

I don't think one can read such books all the time, but...I'm curious - what book has challenged you recently?

01 May 2011

Books 2011: April Update

Total to date: 40 books (10 books this month: fantasy [two books]; m/m [seven books]; paranormal romance [one book])

The 2011 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: seven books (three books this month)

The M/M Romance Challenge 2011 total to date: 32 books (seven books this month) [Yes, I've been on a m/m blitz the last month...and I've loved every minute!]

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2010) can be found at GoodReads.

Favourite books of the month?

* Finding Zach (Rowan Speedwell)

* Shades of Gray (Brooke McKinley)

Currently reading:

* Snowball in Hell (Josh Lanyon)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading this month:

* Cold Magic (Kate Elliot)

* Black Blades (Ginn Hale) [The Rifter Part III]

So, what did you read last month?