30 December 2012

The 2013 Big Book Challenge

Edited to add: Link Title means your username :)

Tis the season for Book Challenges! And since it's the season I thought I would...play *grin* So, I hereby bring you: The Big Book Challenge (yes, again). And when I say big I mean really big, because in this challenge, size really does matter. You see, even after reading a number of 'big' books last year, I still panic when I see them... They are so big I'm afraid they will eat my alive! *hides under bed* So, this challenge it to help me tackle those big books that scare me.













The challenge rules are simple:

1) Read a big book, and by a big book I mean a book with more than 400 pages, before the end of 2013.

2) The book can be in any format as long as its length is equivalent to more than 400 pages in print (hardback, trade paperback or mass market paperback) format.

3) The big book can be from any fiction genre (e.g. fantasy, romance, science fiction). It can even be non-fiction.

4) A review is not required (although I'm going to attempt a post detailing my thoughts on the book, or the reasons why I didn't finish it *grin*).

5) No penalties if the book isn't read by the end of 2013 (because this is meant to be fun and I'm sure we'll put enough pressure on ourselves without this challenge being the last straw).

6) The book can be changed at any time! (Flexibility is important IMO :)

7) You can join at any time throughout the year!

Please sign-up below and let me know in the comments what big book you have been avoiding! For me, it's a re-read: Sarah Monette's Corambis! (And for those observant among you, yes, this was my 2012 Big Book Challenge book...which I never got too!)

This challenge was inspired by the lovely Heidenkind from Truth, Beauty, Freedom & Books and a discussion I had at some point....somewhere ...back in 2009.

25 December 2012

Books 2012: November Update

Total: 90 books (eight books in November: m/m [eight books])

The 2012 M/M Romance Challenge total: 80 books (eight books in November)

The 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge total: seven books

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

Favourite books in November? (November was a good month!)

* Cost of Repairs (AM Arthur)

* Gilliflowers (Gillibran Brown)

* Power Exchange (AJ Rose)

Currently re-reading: Falls Chance Ranch (Rolf & Ranger) [I can't get enough of the ranch, especially ATM]

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading in 2013?

* Bad Attitude (KA Mitchell)

* Dirty Laundry (Heidi Cullinan)

* Laying Ghosts (James Buchanan) [So excited!!!]

* Not So Innocent (Dani Alexander)

* The Boy with the Painful Tattoo (Josh Lanyon)

* And more Sterek fanfic!

Books 2012: October Update

Total: 82 books (five books in October: m/m [five books])

The 2012 M/M Romance Challenge total: 72 books (five books in October)

The 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge total: seven books

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

Favourite book in October? (Yes, I am that far behind in my posts!)

*  Tigerland (Sean Kennedy) [What can one say about Simon & Declan apart from more please?]

Currently re-reading: Falls Chance Ranch (Rolf & Ranger) [I'm on holiday*grin*]

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading in 2013?

More Sterek fanfiction! *blushes* Me = obsessed! But I figured you knew that already :) Also (I'm going to drip-feed them as there are a few and I have a few updates to catch up on *blushes):
* The Boy with the Painful Tattoo (Josh Lanyon)

Books 2012: September Update

Total: 77 books (eight books in September: m/m [seven books]; nonfiction [one book])

The 2012 M/M Romance Challenge total: 67 books (five books in September)

The 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge total: seven books

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

Favourite book in September? (Yes, I am that far behind in my posts!)

* Frat Boy and Toppy (Anne Tenino)

Currently re-reading: Falls Chance Ranch (Rolf & Ranger) [I'm on holiday*grin*]

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading in 2013?

More Sterek fanfiction! *blushes* Me = obsessed! But I figured you knew that already :) Also (I'm going to drip-feed them as there are a few and I have a few updates to catch up on *blushes):
 
* Not So Innocent (Dani Alexander)

13 October 2012

The Good Fight (Andrew Grey)

I just finished reading Andrew Grey's The Good Fight and rated it three and a half stars on GoodReads. I know such a rating probably seems harsh, but I am really on the fence with this book. The premise was both fascinating and heart-breaking - to prevent children from being with their family simply for monetary gain is abhorrent. So John's struggle to gain custody of his niece and nephew had me glued to the page. I also loved the insight into the bonds of family. What didn't work for me so much was John and Jerry's relationship. It just felt...two-dimensional. Because the book is written in the first person from Jerry's POV I never got to experience what John was thinking and/or feeling. But to honest I felt like I very rarely got to experience what Jerry was thinking or feeling. There was no 'why'. Both men got to 'I love you' within 4 months. Getting to 'I love you' (and moving in together with children in tow) is a pet peeve of mine, as I prefer a more slowly developing relationship, so I try not to hold it against a book when it makes an appearance. As I tried to do with this book. But to do that I needed to know why Jerry was in love with John. And I definitely needed John to articulate verbally (since we didn't have his POV) why he loved Jerry. I needed to be told...but I wasn't. Which is frustrating, because the rest of the book was filled with telling me everything about what was going on. It felt like a step-by-step guide to their live rather than a living, breathing, organic showing of their life. Which is what I need from a book. I need to be involved, invested. And I wasn't. Not in John and Jerry's relationship anyway.

Another small frustration was Jerry's past relationship/brush with the mob. At one point in the story he wakes up from a nightmare with the name of his ex-lover (who was in the Mob) - Carlos - on his lips. And then the next day feels like he was being watched. For a minute I thought the author was going to bring back Carlos for a suspense subplot and was all but screaming 'No' at the book. The author didn't, for which I was very glad, but...why throw those red herrings in there when they didn't lead anywhere? Which leads me to another small frustration. Jerry hires both John and another man, Bryce, when he expands his small business. Both are gay. Then at the end of the book the social worker was gay. And although at one point Jerry worried about holding hands with John in public, he came out to both John and Bryce without even thinking about it. It just felt...slightly contradictory.

So, you're probably wondering why, with all my issues, I rated the book as I did. It read well. It had a fascinating and heart-breaking premise that was well executed by the author. I just don't think the author's writing style works for me, but that is down to me - I need to be far more in the characters' heads and have a clear understanding of their motivations.

So, what have you read recently where the author's writing style just didn't work for you?

02 October 2012

Books 2012: August Update

Total: 69 books (eight books in August: historical suspense [one book]; m/m [five books]; urban fantasy [two books])

The 2012 M/M Romance Challenge total: 59 books (five books in August)

The 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge total: six books

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

Favourite book in August? (Yes, I am that far behind in my posts!)

* Calling the Show (JA Rock)

Currently reading: Pretty much any Sterek fanfiction I can lay my hands on *grin*

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading next?

Um...I'm not sure if I've looked at much beyond Sterek! *blushes* Me = obsessed! But I figured you knew that alread :)

So, what did you read...um *blushes*...recently?

22 September 2012

Obsession

I should probably be posting the video of Icehouse's My Obsession, but...I'm trying not to be too predictable. Ahhh, who am I kidding, I am so predictable!

Yes, I am still alive. More about that later, but I wanted to introduce you to my latest obsession:

Teen Wolf

My best friend lent me Season 1. I'm hooked. Particularly on two of the characters, who are being shipped to within an inch of their characters' lives online ATM. Yes, Sterek (as in Stiles & Derek). And so I give you Exhibit A:



I rest my case *evil grin*

So in the interests of preserving what is left of my sanity I will be purchasing Season 1 for myself - 'cause I can't hang on to my best friend's forever - and pre-ordering Season 2. Thank you Amazon! And then trying to work out how I can persuade MTV that little old New Zealand really, really, really needs to see Season 3.

So, what is your current obsession?

19 August 2012

Goosebumps

I love this song by Australian singer Missy Higgins - the chorus gives me goosebumps! I was hoping to embed it in this post, but there is obviously a user to keyboard issue so I apologise for just the link :)

So, what song lately has given you goosebumps?

16 August 2012

Post-Olymp​ic Blues

Hands up who has them?

*raises hand*

*raises other hand*

I’ve spent the past 2 weeks watching the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Literally. No fitting events in around work – yes, I am one of those people who schedules their annual leave around the Olympics *grin* I’ve watched the diving, the gymnastics and the swimming (my favourite events). I’ve caught (not literally :) some of the archery (which I discovered quite by accident while watching the 2008 Summer Olympic Games), a fair chunk of the athletics, the equestrian, the rowing (which I must confess we rock at!) [sorry, but a shout-out to New Zealand regarding our rowing prowess (and I don’t think I’m amiss at using that particular word :) was definitely on the cards] and…oh…just about everything in between. Well, not everything obviously. But a LOT! And of course the opening and closing ceremonies, which I thought were brilliant. Great Britain should take a huge bow! I’ve cheered for New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain…the runner in the men’s marathon who ran as an independent...pretty much everyone!

And now it’s over and done with. And life seems curiously empty without multi-sport events :)However, all is not lost. The 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2014 Commonwealth Games are…just around the corner :)

So, did you watch the Summer Olympics while it was on and, if so, what are your thoughts?

09 August 2012

Minefield

I've come to the conclusion that discussing the supposedly relaxing hobby that is reading online has become something of a minefield of late.

There is the minefield that is online copyright. Once upon a time I would probably have included a minefield-like image somewhere in this post for your delectation, but I honestly don't even want to go there until I get my head around the do's and don'ts...

And then there is the minefield of online behaviour... Do I ignore author online behaviour entirely? Decide that there is a line and if an author crosses said line then their books are no longer included on my TBR list? And where is that line? It is too aggressive marketing? Is it aggressively defending one's book from reviewers? (Is it naive of an author to think that everyone who reads their book will be happy with it?) And the opposite side of that coin is reader/reviewer behaviour...where is our line? Should we not rate a book without explaining our rating? And what should go into a review? Do we only talk about the book? All of which leads to the discussion at GoodReads on the GoodReads Review and Author Guidelines. And what exactly is a 'quality' review?

For me, I try and explain in my reviews (if one can call them that) what did and/or didn't work for me. But sometimes I just don't have the time and there is no review. (I'm wondering if maybe in those cases I shouldn't rate a book at all?) The bottom line is I try not to say anything that I wouldn't say in person... As for authors and other reviewers, I don't like attacks. But then that's coming from someone who doesn't like confrontation full stop.

It all makes my head hurt. Is anyone else confused working out what's what and where the line is, or it is just me?

03 August 2012

Books 2012: July Update

Total: 61 books (four books in June: m/m [four books])

The 2012 M/M Romance Challenge total: 54 books (four books in June)

The The 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge total: 4 books

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

Favourite book in June?

* Silver Bullet (Rolf & Ranger) [Note: this book is still incomplete, but I just had to read it anyway - I have no willpower when it comes to this series]

Currently (re-)reading:

* Criss Cross (Jordan Castillo Price)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading in August?
 
* Home Work (Kaje Harper)
 
* Stars & Stripes (Abigail Roux)
 
* Tigers & Devils (Sean Kennedy)
 
So, what did you read last month?

31 July 2012

Equality

Last week, Member of Parliament (MP) Louisa Wall's bill to legislate for marriage equality in New Zealand was drawn from the ballot. The day before this occurred I had informed a family member that if he ever saw me on the evening news, it would most likely be as part of a march in support of marriage equality. Which pretty much explains where I stand on the issue *grin*

I know not everyone in New Zealand is a proponent of marriage equality. And their reasons are many and varied. I just happen to disagree with them. And to that end I have emailed my view to my MP in the hope he will do what I consider to be fair and right for all. Because passing this Bill into law won't take away anything from anyone, but instead give the right to marry to a group of people who should have it.

22 July 2012

Books 2012: June Update

Total: 57 books (three books in June: m/m [three books])

The 2012 M/M Romance Challenge total: 50 books (three books in June)

The The 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge total: 4 books

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

Favourite books in June? Well, I only read one series...and loved all three books, so June was definitely the Falls Chance Rance month:

* Falls Chance Ranch (Rolf & Ranger)

*  Three Traders (Rolf & Ranger)

* Mustang Hill  (Rolf & Ranger) [What can I say? I'm still on a domestic discipline genre glom]

Currently reading:

* Evenfall (Sonny Nothing)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading in July...TBC? I'm drawing a complete blank and instead hanging out for August and the (re-)release of:

* Stars & Stripes (Abigail Roux)

* Tigers & Devils (Sean Kennedy)

I'm not going to ask you what you read in June, because, like me, you probably can't remember (which is why I'm grateful for GoodReads!). So, what did you just finish reading?

15 July 2012

Hunting The Snark

According to the Oxford English Dictionary:

Snark  • noun An imaginary animal (used typically with reference to a task or goal that is elusive or impossible to achieve): pinning down the middle classes is like the hunting of the snark. Origin: 1876: nonsense word coined by Lewis Carroll in The Hunting of the Snark.

However, just to confuse matters, for the duration of this post, the above definition bears no relation to my utilization of the word :)

Earlier this month I picked up JR Ward's Lover Reborn from the library. And looked at it. And looked at it. And then looked at it some more. Finally I picked it up, only to read the first page, mutter 'I can't do this' and put it down. Up until Lover Reborn, I've read all the books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series in spite of my growing dissatisfaction with the author's writing style. TBH I was really only reading Lover Reborn for two reasons: 1) for any scenes with Qhuinn and/or Blay (as a set up to Lover At Last) because they are my two favourite characters; and 2) because I wanted to snark about all the things in the series that drive me nuts (e.g. the obvious product placement and the inability of the characters to use actual words when speaking [because they would much rather use slang, and who just doesn't love reading about pieholes?]). So to all intents and purposes I was going snark hunting! Although, let's be honest, I couldn't pick an easier hunting target because the slang and product placement are not hard to find in this series. And no, it's not a good idea to pick up a book when you know it's going to annoy you and you're going to rant about it. It's not fair to the author. But I liked ranting about it. Yes, past tense. Because the thought of wading through 572 pages, even snark hunting, didn't fill me with joy. And I had just discovered the Falls Chance Ranch series and...so (desperately) wanted to go read that. So in the end I just leafed through the book and read the Qhuay scenes, although it took me a further 2 weeks to do that. I know, a pitiful Team Qhuay supporter I am! Yes I want to read Lover At Last. In fact, I just placed a library hold on it, but I'm...worried about whether I will start and/or finish it.

So, have you reached a point in a series where you just can't go on, even though you liked the premise, the initial books and still like the characters?

03 July 2012

Dabbling

According to the Oxford English Dictionary:

Dabble • verb 1 [with object] immerse (one’s hands or feet) partially in water and move them around gently: they dabbled their feet in the rock pools; [no object] (of a duck or other waterbird) move the bill around in shallow water while feeding: teal dabble in the shallows. 2 [no object] take part in an activity in a casual or superficial way: he dabbled in left-wing politics. Origin:mid 16th century: from obsolete Dutch dabbelen, or a frequentative of the verb dab.

If you're thinking 'Huh?', fear not! There is method to my madness. (Isn't there always? No, don't answer that :) I was finally getting around to some blog hopping tonight and happened upon the lovely Kassa from three am's review of The Saturnalia Effect. As I pointed out in my comment on Kassa's blog, to date I've only read one prison story - Scarlet Blackwell's And So Is Love (which BTW is amazing, but a very hard book to read emotionally [like all of Scarlet Blackwell's books]) so I was edging towards adding The Saturnalia Effect to my TBR list (it sounded like another emotionally hard read, which is right up my alley :) when I read the words 'supernatural element'. And everything stopped!

See, when it comes to supernatural elements I prefer books that either go there completely or don't... Kind of an either or rather than both. I'm just...not that into dabblers. It's like my brain either needs to be fully in logical mode or fully in imaginative mode. I kind of end up split if the book dabbles. Saying that, the Falls Chance Ranch series that I'm currently reading devouring (because let's call a spade a spade, shall we?) is a very obvious exception to that rule *blush* I've been racking my brains as to why the Falls Chance Ranch's supernatural elements don't bother me, and can only conclude that it's down to the strength of the writing...the authors have very cleverly presented both logical and illogical ('There are more things on heaven and earth...' *sharp look* Where did that come from?) arguments and left the reader to decide for themselves...

I guess what I'm saying is that while I try to avoid dabblers, I can be persuaded otherwise.

So, do you dabble?

30 June 2012

Books 2012: May Update

Total: 54 books (13 books in May: m/m [13 books])

The 2012 M/M Romance Challenge total: 47 books (13 books in April)

The The 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge total: 4 books

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

Favourite books in May? (There were a few)

* Armed & Dangerous (Abigail Roux) [Ty & Zane? *swoon*]

* Dr Fell series (Syd McGinley) [May was also Syd McGinley month *grin*]

* The Gillibran Brown series (Gillibran Brown) [What can I say? I'm on a domestic discipline genre glom]

Currently reading:

* Silver Bullet (Rolf & Ranger) [I *heart this series*]

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading in June:

* Reality Check [An online domestic discipline series]

I'm not going to ask you what you read in May, because, like me, you probably can't remember. So, what did you just finish reading?

17 June 2012

Falls Chance Ranch

Note: this 'review' contains spoilers.

I'm not the world's best reviewer by any means. I ramble, I get sidetracked and I have pet peeves that can taint my response to a book. Plot? Well...kind of. I'm a character-based reader; if the characters hold my interest (in other words, if I can identify with them) then I happily give the author(s) a lot of leeway when it comes to plot. TBH I prefer a story that is solely based on the characters, no pesky suspense plots with a serial killer entering stage right with frequent abandon to distract me from what's truly important - the characters. And that's one of the (many) things I loved about Rolf & Ranger's Falls Chance Ranch. It was all about the characters. At its heart, it was Dale's story, Dale's...journey. I would say Dale's journey back to himself, except he had never really learnt who he was. Dale was...in his own words...a fake. A perfectionist obsessed with trying to stave off the discovery that he was always one step away from failure. And being obsessed with always presenting a competent front, he internalized his emotions...because emotions meant a loss of control. But you can't bottle up your emotions indefinitely. Something has to give...as it did for Dale. Which led his employer to taking extreme measures...sending Dale to Falls Chance Ranch...and to Flynn, Jasper, Paul and Riley.

This book is unusual for a number of reasons:

1) It's written by two authors, something I'm not completely familiar with (the Cut & Run series being a recent exception).

2) It doesn't have the aforementioned suspense plot - it's a character-based book.

3) If you want a fast read, this book isn't for you. It's pacing is...slow and steady, not to mention it is approximately 205,000 words long. The pace works perfectly in that it matches not only Dale's journey (no easy fixes), but the pace of life on the ranch, which follows the seasons.

4) It is available online. Yes there are editing issues and occasionally the POV was confusing, but I was so engrossed that while I noted them in passing I just moved on - the characters and story had me so gripped. Yes, I know, shocking for me! I honestly can't understand why this book isn't published -  I would more than happily pay for it!

5) It encompasses domestic discipline. How I ended up reading this subgenre is definitely a topic for another day. I know the discipline aspect won't be for some, but the wonderful thing about this book is how seamlessly the authors have integrated it into the story. It doesn't feel...out of place, or heavy handed (sorry, I couldn't resist), but instead something that works within the context of the book. The reader experiences Dale's initial reaction to the discipline and his gradual and growing understanding of his...instinctive and unconditional surrender to it. The boundaries imposed on Dale by Flynn, Jasper and Paul, initially with respect to his role as their client and then, as the relationships between all five characters develop, as a member of their unusual family, don't chafe, but instead provide Dale with a sense of calm...of belonging and of safety. And the authors express that so well.

6) And that brings me to the character of Dale. While I...need to be able to relate to a character (or characters) in a book to be touched on a emotional level, it is really hard to read a book when you can see so much of yourself in a character. Meeting Dale felt like looking in a mirror. His obsessive perfectionism, his fear of failure, his hypervigilance, his bouts of dissociation, his avoidance of touch and his...lack of understanding at the easy affection the other characters shared...with each other and him. So I loved that there was no quick fix for Dale. So many books have lost me with their miraculous fixes in the dying pages. But given the way the authors had obviously researched perfectionism, I had faith that they wouldn't fix Dale. And they didn't. Because there is no quick fix. Dale still has such a long journey. But he has Flynn, Jasper, Paul and Riley with him on that journey. Which brings me to:

7) This book hints at a polyamorous relationship between the characters. I say hints because there is no sex in this book. And not really a HEA...because the relationships the characters have with each other are not fixed entities. But it all works within the context of the book. Which is incredibly unhelpful, but the truth from where I sit :)

As is always the way, finishing a book that has touched me so much on so many levels fills me with despondency. Which is why I was so thrilled to find that there is four books in this series (and I believe some short stories). If you'd like to try the first chapter, you can find it here.

10 June 2012

AWOL...Again

This blog post has totally morphed...they do that, don't they? It was going to be about my very poor blogging of late. And it is. Kind of. But I realized while typing that my potential solution (scheduling a set amount of blogging time every second night) is yet another way of breaking my day down into set periods of time. I'm obsessed about getting things done. So I schedule everything. For instance, when I woke up this morning I lay in bed working out the order in which I would complete various chores today. Today is Sunday!

Where has all this introspection come from? I'm currently reading (and raving about if you follow me on GoodReads) Rolf & Ranger's Falls Chance Ranch. More about the book itself in another post (because to write about the book I need to explain the subgenre it falls into, and how I feel about it, which will lead me to a series I glomed with abandon last month [in other words a whole other post]), but one of the characters... Let's just say that this character and I share many character traits, one of which is obsessing. Another is perfectionism. Reading about his struggles to find a healthy balance has made me look at myself a little more closely. If I'm doing then I'm not thinking, so the more I do the less I have to think. About anything and everything. But living that way is not sustainable and it's not healthy, just like Dale found. So...something to talk about with the unnamed expert this week.

None of which really explains my lack of blogging. I could blame it on my low iron levels - and the ensuing lethargy and poor concentration and memory - but those are back to normal (and yes I'm keeping an eye on them). I could blame it on the weather - if I heat the 'office', where my computer resides, I don't heat the bedroom end of the house. So on cold nights I have fallen into the habit of not turning the computer on. And then there is my blogging obsession. Have I checked everyone's blogs? Have I commented? Sometimes the thought of turning the computer on fills me with dread as I don't ever seem to be able to catch up with all the new blog posts. Moderation I hear you ask? Something else I need to talk to the unnamed expert about :)

So, in the interim, this is me promising to try and blog more, visit more. Because I want to. I miss you all and love knowing what you're up to. But I think I need to learn how to be realistic about blogging. How to find a happy medium.

So, how do you balance RL and blogging? Or don't you?

31 May 2012

Books 2012: April Update

Total: 41 books (14 books in April: historical romance [1 book]; m/m [11 books]; paranormal romance [1 book]; romantic suspense [1 book])

The 2012 M/M Romance Challenge total: 34 books (11 books in April)

The The 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge total: 4 books (3 books in April)

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

Favourite books in April? (There were a few)

* Dr Fell series (Syd McGinley) [What can I say? April was Syd McGinley month *grin*]

* The Only Gold (Tamara Allen)

Currently reading:

* Diversion (Eden Winters)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading in June:

* Lover Reborn (JR Ward) [GO TEAM QHUAY! (And Sax :)]

* Between Sinners and Saints (Marie Sexton)

So, what did you read last month?

16 May 2012

For You

I know how hard you find it sometimes to put one foot in front of the other, to stand tall in the driving wind. This is for you.

08 May 2012

Yikes!

I was planning on writing my Books 2012: May Update tonight, but Blogger seems to have completely changed while I have been offline - I have no idea where anything is! For example, what happened to the spell check? So...just so this post is slightly longer than two sentences, I can confirm that I am alive and feeling...better. Thank you for all your comments - they were very much appreciated! It is winter here, so I have been lighting the fire - there is nothing like lazing in front of a roaring fire with a good book! And I have discovered the most amazing series, which I will wax lyrical about...on the weekend *grin* Hopefully, I'll be back to lurking on your blogs in no time - I've missed you all! So, what have you been up to lately?

20 April 2012

To The Moon And Back

I am in transit. I think. I'm not quite sure. It's been a long week. It's been a long month. ATM my hindbrain seems to be the one in control. Logic...it didn't make the trip. Stress can do that supposedly. What is frustrating is I can't work out what exactly I'm stressed about. On the bright side, I have taken next week as annual leave. And I have spoken to the unnamed expert and we have devised a relaxation plan...because relaxation and I (to stick with the same analogy) are never on the same flight. And I need to relax. I need to destress. Because I'm literally surviving on fumes. And this is why I have been AWOL of late. Everything I touch I seem to screw up in some way, shape or form. I'm like a mouse on a treadmill. But I want to get off.

15 April 2012

The Point...

So I just watched the following on TV. I spent the whole advert wondering what the point was. Then I realized it didn't matter. So, for your delectation:



Thoughts?

05 April 2012

How Many Miles to Coventry?

How many miles to Coventry?
Three score miles and ten.
Can I get there by candle-light?
Yes, and back again.
I believe the nursery rhyme originally began with 'How many miles to Babylon?', but I read the above version in Jilly Cooper's Riders and ever since it has stuck. And since Coventry is probably where a large number of you may want to send me after reading this post...it seemed apt :) You see, I have just finished reading Treachery in Death, the 32th book in the Eve Dallas series by JD Robb. And...I've totally fallen out of love with Roarke...and I've almost fallen out of love with Eve.

Let's start with Roarke. In Treachery in Death he empties a safe, the contents of which were part of an investigation. Was he tapped as an 'expert consultant, civilian' for this task as in previous books? With accompanying forms, etc.? No. Was there a police officer with him to preserve the chain of evidence? That would also be a no. I mean, seriously? When did all of those things stop becoming important? The other thing that drives me up the wall about Roarke is how perfect he is. He's just that little bit smarter at 'geek stuff' than Feeney and McNab, that little bit more knowledgeable about criminals and business and...just about everything. And let's not forget that he's a lot richer than everyone else. Actually, we (and the secondary characters) aren't allowed to forget that because it's always brought to our attention in various ways!

And that brings me to Eve. Every case seems to become massively personal to Eve in some way, shape or form. She so reminds me of CSI Miami's Horatio Caine for just that reason. I get that certain cases will trigger memories. But every one? And...she's always getting injured...and denying her need for medical attendance. I'm also very over the obvious and laboured explanations by various characters. About the importance of bringing a particular villain to justice, of seeking closure for a particular victim. Yes, I get that such things are important. But I don't need them spelled out for me in such a manner that I'm being hit over the head with the information.

*light bulb moment* The books are beginning to feel formulaic. There are certain things that you just know will happen...and they do.

And if you're wondering why I'm still reading it's because I love the secondary characters and I enjoy the suspense aspect. And the books themselves are well written and easy to read.

So, have you read this series and are you itching to send me to Coventry for this post? And/or is there are series that you've read which has frustrated you?

03 April 2012

Books 2012: March Update

Total: 27 books (seven books this month: m/m [five books]; urban fantasy [two books])

The 2012 M/M Romance Challenge total: 23 books (five 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? (There were a few)

* Shattered Glass (Dani Alexander)

* WMSmoker Seeks Seclusion (Pirate Grrl)

Currently reading:

* Treachery in Death (JD Robb)

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

* Lover Reborn (JR Ward) [GO TEAM QHUAY! (And Sax :)]

So, what did you read last month?

31 March 2012

Law & Order

So...I've been called up. For jury service that is, not military service *grin* (Which is probably a good thing because somehow I don't think drill sergeants and I would get along :) I have been called up for jury service once before, although I never saw the inside of a courtroom. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it this time. On the one hand I would like to see the inside of a New Zealand courtroom...preferably as a juror rather than as a defendant or as a victim. On the other hand it's a lot of responsibility, being a juror.

So, have you ever been called up for jury service?

Edited to add: For those of you who are curious, according to Wikipedia, there will be no white wigs :(

28 March 2012

Inadequacy Central

Or Why I Don't Like Special Characters!

You may (or not :) have noticed that I have been reading far less paranormal romance and urban fantasy books than I used too. This is because of the rise of the 'special character'. And by 'special character' I mean those characters that have everything going for them and more. Those characters that everything revolves around. They are popular: most readers like them, most authors write them. I loathe them. Why? It's simple really (and a 'me' thing). I compare myself to them and come up...wanting. I'm...inadequate. By the time I finish the book I'm...despondent (for lack of a better word). Yes, I know they are fictional characters, so I guess what I'm saying it I want realism. I want flaws. I want the not so beautiful, the not so extraordinarily talented and intelligent, the not so feisty (oh do I hate that word!) character (be they male or female) to get the guy. Because that makes me feel that is may be possible (for me)..

And yes, I know feeling inadequate is not a good reason to dislike a character. After all, it's my issue, not their issue. I was chatting about this with my lovely friend Kerry from Too Many Books earlier today and Kerry made a really good point. (And I hope I have articulated this correctly.) The author doesn't need to make a character 'special' in order for the reader (OK, me) to buy into the character. And they definitely don't need to make them more 'special' as the book/series progresses (e.g. Anita Blake). Not. Necessary. Instead, all they need (IMHO) to do is give the character a solid foundation and allow the character's thoughts and actions to speak for them. Patricia Briggs is a great example of an author not imbuing her character (Mercy Thompson) with endless 'special' traits. Mercy isn't what I would call pretty. She's in her early thirties, so no ingenue. While she is a Coyote walker, her coyote form, while fast and agile, is no match for a werewolf when it comes to strength. And Mercy is aware of this. She is like a willow, bending when required (instead of attempting to mimic King Canute and stop the tide), but otherwise standing firm. I love characters like that!

So, what type of character drives you to spit tacks? And how much realism do you like in your books?

26 March 2012

Gem

I was going to post a rant...ummm...thought or two, but Headache 1, orannia 0 ATM, so I'm turning to music. And then I was going to wax lyrical and St Elmo's Fire and the delicious Rob Lowe, but the following 80s song caught my attention.



I love this song. And then I noticed something else, and this is probably showing up my lack of sleep, but...the lead singer of Mr Mister looks (to my mind) a bit like Jared Leto. Thoughts?

And what do we think of that hair and those tight jeans? *grin*

22 March 2012

What Ya Reading?

I have been drawing a blank on what to write tonight. All my ideas are like moths to a flame - they won't settle! And then it hit me! What ya reading? Currently I'm reading two books: River Marked (Patricia Briggs) and WMSmoker Seeks Seclusion (Pirate Grrl). The former is a UF - my first UF is quite a while; the latter is m/m and a free book. Both (surprisingly) are written in the first person. I say surprisingly because up until a year or so ago I was not a fan.

So, what ya reading?

20 March 2012

The Hunger Games

So...my best friend and I are (planets [and our schedules] aligning :) going to see The Hunger Games over the Easter weekend. I have yet to read the book. TBH I've been on the fence about the book. But then I saw the trailer and thought...hmmm. Maybe :)

So, I'm curious - have you read and/or seen The Hunger Games? And...are you a 'read the book' or 'watch the movie' first person? Or does it not matter? Because ATM I'm going to see the movie first and then decide on whether or not to tackle the book. (I'm a watch the movie first person, mostly because I find a movie can never do a book justice, and if I read a book before seeing the movie I end up getting very annoyed at the various shortcuts taken. LOTR being an exception of course, because otherwise we would have ended up with hundreds of movies :)

17 March 2012

Blast From The Past

I used to do this. Not the smoking. Nor the drinking. The dancing. No thinking just dancing was my way of releasing tension. Which is why I love this scene from Footloose the most:



And the song. Gotta love the song *grin* And my favourite line from the song?
If you don't give your heart wings you'll never, never, never, never learn to fly.
The line makes far more sense now than it ever did then! 0_0 I haven't seen the remake. IDK what it is, but often remakes are less....gritty. That was definitely the case for Fame. Battlestar Galactica on the other hand? Oh was that remake gritty!

Hmmm. I quite enjoyed delving back into some 80s music. I can't believe what I've found on the time suck known as YouTube :) Would you like another blast from the past later this month?

13 March 2012

Preparation

The tenth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (JR Ward) - Lover Reborn - is scheduled to be published on 27 March 2012. And its looming publication got me to thinking...should I be preparing for its release? Should I re-read the last book in the series? What about the whole series? Maybe just my favourite scenes? Hmmm...Qhuay :)

So...how do you prepare for the release of a book in a favourite series? Do you:
a) Do nothing;
b) Re-read the last book in the series;
c) Re-read the entire series;
d) Re-read your favourite scenes;
e) Something else :)

11 March 2012

Snapshot

Note: And it's back...for good this time :)

It's amazing what one finds when unpacking boxes that have been untouched for...years! *blushes* I found a photo of myself from a university (college for those of you in North America) ball. I was 21. I'm wearing a dress I borrowed off a friend of my flatmate's because the dress I had (a dress from my college [high school for those of you in North America :)] no longer fit me. My hair was done by the same friend as the hairdressing appointment I had booked had been overlooked and my hairdresser wasn't available. Someone else at the salon ended up doing my hair, someone who didn't understand fine hair at all. I came home looking like I had fallen into a vat of gel!

This is probably my favourite photo of me. Amusingly this photo was taken without me realizing. I heard my name, looked up, and then photo! Needless to say I wasn't amused at the time... I don't like how I look generally (read 99.9% of the time). But occasionally....very occasionally I don't think I look half bad. This is one of those times.

So, what was the last interesting thing you found unpacking a box?

05 March 2012

Books 2012: February Update

Total: 20 books (10 books this month: m/m [nine books]; urban fantasy [one book])

The 2012 M/M Romance Challenge total: 18 books (nine 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? (There were a few)

* At His Throat, A Promise (Lilith Grey)

* Breaking Cover (Kaje Harper)

* Life Lessons (Kaje Harper)

Currently reading:

* Shattered Glass (Dani Alexander)

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

* Lover Reborn (JR Ward) [GO TEAM QHUAY! (And Sax :)]

* The Rebuilding Year (Kaje Harper) [What can I say, I'm a completely fan]

So, what did you read last month?

03 March 2012

Tinkering

So...as you've probably already noticed I've been tinkering with my blog. I've changed the design, the background and the colours. (And YAH for the templates or else I would have no idea what I was doing :) I like it...I think :) I haven't changed much since I started this blog back in January 2009. Yes the colours are still somber (small steps), but..they aren't black. Progress? *grin*

So, what do you think? (I'm still not sure about the blue...) And...out of interest...how often do you tinker with your blog?

29 February 2012

Confession

You may be wondering why the sudden flurry of posts... I have a confession. The OCD (or should that be CDO :) is riding me hard ATM. I think it might have something to do with this being a family week. For the past almost 2 months I have been...family free. I took a giant step back from family at the beginning of the year. (After 6 years I felt it was time for..me.) And I feel like it has made a difference. Especially because this week, back within the family fold so to speak, I am noticing how...uptight I am. It's little things. I have to check each and every car that comes up the street in case in might be a particular family member's. I saw said type of car this afternoon on my way home from work and had to make sure it wasn't said family member. It's like I'm stalking in reverse. So...the plan is to get through Friday...and then go back to Coventry. And that brings me back to the OCD...and the posts. Ten is a nice round number :) Things will hopefully go back to normal after Friday :)

So...how do you cope when things get too much?

28 February 2012

Phase

I have a good book to read. A really good book. Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander (in case you were wondering). But am I reading it? No. Instead, I'm re-reading favourite scenes from a beloved dark fantasy series...from two books in said fantasy series if I'm honest. It's like my level of interest in new and interesting is...zilch! Why? No idea. (It may be because At His Throat, A Promise blew me away and hit with with the emotional equivalent of a TKO, but...IDK.) I'm hoping I'll snap out of this phase tomorrow...at least I hope I do.

Has anyone else experienced this...lack of interest and, if so, how did you snap out of it?

27 February 2012

I...

...had good intentions of being online over the weekend and visiting everyone. Unfortunately, those good intentions were just that...intentions. So...by way of apology I give you...COOKIES!
*fans self* I kind of went for the torso theme, but I was tempted by...another area *evil grin* So..would you like some more?
 
Edited to add: Well, I did, but then I deleted them in case of copyright infringement :)

24 February 2012

Insight

It never ceases to amaze me what I learn about myself from books. Or...more accurately...how certain books resonate in such a way that they help me to realize something about myself I never knew. It's like they shine a light on a hither unto unknown part of me. If that makes sense?

I'm currently reading At His Throat, A Promise (Lilith Grey). It's...a master-slave BDSM novel. I...like master-slave BDSM novels. There. I've admitted it. I was chatting to the unnamed expert this week about why I like such books. I'm a control freak. I'm a control freak because it gives me some control in a life where I feel I have had none, where I have been at the whim of family members, whose reactions I can never hope to anticipate. In a master-slave novel the slave gives up control...hopefully to someone worthy of it. And that ability...is seductively enticing. What the unnamed expert's response was to my confession I unfortunately can not remember...but I will check :)

Anyway...in At His Throat, A Promise were a few sentences that oh so resonated:
'I recognize this,' he said. 'I've been there. You think pretending you're not a real person will make the pain go away? You think ignoring everything in equal measures, whether it hurts or feels good, will be the answer? They will break you.'
They resonated because this is what I did. Still do. Locked all my emotions away because they were my weakness. Because, like the character in the book, it was what I had to do to survive. It was my coping mechanism. The question is whether I can undo it...even part of it? The only way to know is to try and so that is what I am doing. And in the meantime I am grateful for books like At His Throat, A Promise because they teach me more about myself...and help me realize I'm not the only one who took this road. And (on a lighter note :) because I love reading master slave novels *grin*

So, what have you read lately that has resonated with you?

22 February 2012

Rambling

Caveat: This is one of those posts whose title says it all. It...rambles :)

One of my most favourite things (don't worry, I'm not going to inflict the Sound of Music on you [although it does have its place *grin*]) is lying in bed listening to rain on the roof. I just find it...soothing. Today is the one-year anniversary of the Christchurch Earthquake, in which 185 people lost their lives. The people of Christchurch are rebuilding...and their resilience, in a year filled with thousands of aftershocks, is...inspiring. So...I thought on a day of remembrance I would introduce you to one of my favourite New Zealand bands, Dragon, and one of their songs - Rain. This song has a lot of memories, most of which are tied up with university (college for those of you in North America :)



So, I'm curious, what old song holds poignant memories for you?

19 February 2012

Changes

Earlier this month I added a book to the DNF list :( I don't like adding books to the DNF list, particularly a book that I have previously read (and enjoyed). So it got me to thinking - why did this book not work for me now when it has previously? TBH, this book is definitely a mood book. That is, you have to be in the right frame of mind to read it :) And I wasn't. But...I realized something else - I read differently now than I did 10, even 5 years ago. Way back when I think I read just the top layer, skimming everything. Not digging in and understanding, investing in the characters..and their emotions. Now? Now it's the opposite. I think that says more about me than anything else.

So, has how you read books changed over the years?

15 February 2012

Yesterday...

...was St Valentine's Day. I'm not a fan...of the day I mean. St Valentine himself? Don't know the guy...although I'd love to know his thoughts on how the day of his death is commemorated in the modern age. Anyway, because I'm me, I thought I'd post one of my favourite songs, which is probably not the right song for St Valentine's Day, but... *shrug* I like it.



Thoughts on its St Valentine's Day appropriateness? *grin*

12 February 2012

So...

...last month I celebrated my birthday. I use the word 'celebrated' loosely as...birthday and Christmas go hand-in-hand in my 'Oh, yes, you...where is the closet?' response. Anyway, this year I received a monetary gift from a certain family member. I was...pleasantly surprised. Now, usually upon receiving a monetary gift I put it towards something...boring. But since I'm attempting to turn over a new leaf this year, I bought myself something...I wouldn't normally purchase. Something...fun! A comic and a print! But not just any comic and print! See, last year the stupendous Kris from Kris 'n' Good Books introduced me to the amazing Starfighter comic by the very talented Hamlet Machine. You can find the print I purchased here.

Isn't it beautiful? HamletMachine is so talented! I also bought Chapter One of the comic, which is a science-fiction m/m comic. Yes, it is available online, but I wanted to support HamletMachine.

So, what have you recently bought yourself that was...not necessary but fun?

Edited to add: Apologies for being AWOL of late. I am finding it difficult to balance online and offline ATM. But...I'm working on it :)

06 February 2012

Books 2012: January Update

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

The 2012 M/M Romance Challenge total: nine books (nine 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? (There were a few)

* Double Blind (Heidi Cullinan)

* Life Lessons (Kaje Harper)

Currently reading:

* The Matchmaker (Megan Derr)

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

* Counterpunch (Aleksandr Voinov)

* Magic Gifts (Ilona Andrews)

So, what did you read last month?

02 February 2012

Coupling

Yes, this post probably should be my reading list for the month of January. But for some reason GoodReads is hiding some of my 'read' books. Once I work out where they are I can total up the books read for January and voila! Post!

In the interim, I thought I would introduce you to one of my favourite TV comedy series. As I may have mentioned, I don't really have a sense of humour. I take everything far too seriously. And I don't find embarrassing situations amusing in any way, shape or form. For instance, I will never see Something About Mary. Just...no. But this show...IDK. It's hilarious because it's so simple. Introducing...Coupling! And BTW I'm referring to the UK (original) version. (I believe there is a US version, although I haven't see more than a short clip on YouTube.) And while I have many favourite scenes, the following is one that still makes me laugh. The first time I saw it, my friend thought I was going to choke I was laughing (with tears) so hard! The scene is this: Patrick is surprising Sally with an 'I love you' speech. And has roped in Jeff and Steve (the taller of the two, and who you may remember from Pirates of the Caribbean) to help set the mood...using the music that he and Sally originally kissed to. (It's a long, but amusing, story :)



So, what TV series or movie makes you laugh?

Edited to add: I'm also a huge fan of The Big Bang Theory!

30 January 2012

Procrastination

Procrastination thy name is orannia. And in case you're wondering how I came to that conclusion, I have a box...Well, to be honest I have a number of boxes. Boxes that were packed years ago. And by years I mean anywhere from 6-12 years ago. No, you didn't read that wrong. And I'm only now unpacking them. But one particular box is significant in that I didn't pack it. I thought I knew what the contents were, but until I opened it I couldn't be positive. See, I bought the contents 10 years ago...in Ireland. And I sent them to New Zealand. And there they sat. Safe (I hoped) in the box. Until Saturday. Until I opened the box. Like to know what was in there?

But while writing this post it has struck me. Yes, I am talking about boxes. Tangible boxes. But I could also be talking about intangible ones. Boxes filled with feelings. Hopes. Dreams. Desires. All locked away. Somehow I don't expect such boxes to open as easily as the tangible ones. But I'm working on those boxes too. And somehow I think they will be just as bright and precious as the contents of Saturday's box. Pretty, yes?
So, what have you unpacked lately?

26 January 2012

Thoughts On Twilight's Dawn

Caveat: I do get on my soap box with this post...

When Twilight's Dawn was released last year I, like others, became caught up in the furore over one of the novellas - The High Lord's Daughter. At the time I decided not to read it, so I put it to one side on my library hold list where it has languished until the beginning of this week. And then I picked it up. I like to think that I didn't bring last year's baggage with me. But I did bring expectations. Overall I have to say that I enjoyed the book, but each novella evoked a different response.

The first novella - Winsol Gifts - made me laugh (which is a good thing :) It was the second novella - Shades of Honour - though which was my favourite of the four. Lucivar, Surreal and Rainier are three of my favourite characters (Daemon is the other), so any time spent with them was good. And I liked the premise...I just wish it had been longer. (I think that would be a wish for not just this novella but also the following one - Family. They all suffered [i.e. felt rushed because of the lack of detail] because they were so short.) And...if I'm honest I wasn't a fan of the ending. TBH there haven't been any good (as in scary) villains since the original trilogy. The characters all have so much power that they can deal with most potential villains relatively easily. So...no tension. And this was exactly what happened with Falonar. Daemon swooped in and...game over. It felt anti-climatic. And...I think Falonar would have suffered more where he was. And..perhaps, put under pressure, he had the potential to change? Kermilla (from Shalador's Lady) was given that chance - why not Falonar? And that's another thing - the characters that enter and exit with no resolution to their story arc. What did happen to Kermilla? Mikael? Rainier?

And that leads me to the High Lord's Daughter. I must confess to never being a massive Jaenelle fan. I don't dislike her, but Daemon, Lucivar & Saetan, and eventually Surreal & Rainier are my favourites. (Whoever said they don't have favourite characters has more willpower than I :) So...we've established that I like Jaenelle, yes? As for her relationship with Daemon? Hmmm...I wouldn't say I was massively invested. I have always approached this series as fantasy rather than romance novel, although I am invested in Daemon's well-being :) But...Jaenelle was always from one of the short-lived races and so I was aware Daemon would outlive her (although I didn't think the author would actually go there). And I could never work out how Daemon felt about Jaenelle, because it was tied up in how he felt about Witch, although I will concede that at the end of the Queen of Darkness it was Jaenelle he wanted. So...when I realized where the author was going with this novella I wasn't up in arms. Plus, I like Surreal. I have always wanted her to have...something (bearing in mind this isn't necessarily a romance series). But...I have to say...the whole novella left me with an...off feeling. How to explain? As I said, I had no problem with Surreal & Daemon 'together', and in a way it kind of made sense. But...we didn't get any of the slow development of their relationship. The first night they got together I kept thinking 'This feels off'. And that feeling never went away. Surreal never acted like Surreal. This series has never really got inside the characters' heads, but this novella out of all the stories had me feeling...disconnected. It didn't help that the timeline kept changing. I have OCD tendencies. I like to know...stuff. Lots of stuff. And I never felt like I did in this book. How old everyone was. What the timeframe was in relation to..anything. I would love to know more about Protocol. We get snippets, but it's never enough.

And then there is the child. I mean...seriously? Could she be any more...like Jaenelle? Let us count the ways. The name for one. *shakes head* And then she's all precocious (like Jaenelle). And the Kindred make an appearance (like Jaenelle). And she's talking to a 'special friend' (who is Jaenelle/Witch). And then at her Birthright Ceremony (and I still can't work out if Daemonar's Birthright Jewel is Green or his Descended Jewel is Green) she is given a 'special Jewel' - Twilight's Dawn (like Jaenelle). It's like the author killed Jaenelle off, but then missed her so much she all but regurgitates the character. And to make matters worse we have the scene in which Tersa tells Surreal that Jaenelle hadn't come back as Jaenelle Saetian. Seriously? Because (to all intents and purposes) she has. TBH Jaenelle Saetian should have been a boy. And if she had to be female, then she shouldn't have been a Jaenelle replica but been her own character. And to top it all off (in cherry form) we have a whatever of Witch making an appearance to Daemon and telling him it's OK to love Surreal, but that's he'll never be alone in the abyss? Way to go to allow Daemon to 'move on'. Nope. Not. Going. To. Happen. I don't buy how Daemon feels about Surreal because I don't feel he has had time to move on. Moving on doesn't mean not remembering Jaenelle. And I feel cheated on Surreal's behalf because I feel she deserved more. Does any of this make sense? I guess what I'm trying to say is...I have no problem with the premise, but the execution didn't work for me. It all just felt...wrong.

From the comments on the Dear Author review of Twilight's Dawn Anne Bishop is planning more Black Jewel books at some point. I almost feel like she could have stopped the series at Dreams Made Flesh. I enjoyed the Shalador duology, but again...here were these big powerful characters sweeping in and awing everyone. I like the rebuilding/renovation trope, so I would love more along that line. But with new characters.

19 January 2012

Jumping On The Bandwagon

Whether focusing on the book or the movie(s), the hype surrounding The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson has been intense. And...it has entirely passed
me by. Not. Been. Interested. I'm not sure exactly why. I never investigated enough to form an opinion. TBH I probably got put off by the hype, which I suppose is the secret nightmare of authors and directors.

Entirely passed me by that is...until now. And it's my best friend's fault *evil grin* See, the lovely Starfire from Songs and Spinnings and I are planning a catch-up. Just because, and also as a post-birthday celebration. We celebrate her birthday, 'our' birthday and then my birthday. Anyway, as the years have passed our celebrations have become less lavish (not that they were ever lavish exactly :) and more about just spending quality time together. (Which I love.) So we lunch. And occasionally see a movie. And the question of whether The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would be a suitable 'us' movie was raised. And I ummed. And I ahhed. Still
apathetic about all the hype I finally said I would watch a trailer. Yes. Up until last night I had neither watched a trailer or read a book review...even a back cover summary. So I watched this:



And now I really want to see it.

So...have you read the book? Watched the movie? Are you even interest in doing so? And if not, what's on your movie radar ATM?

16 January 2012

The 2012 M/M Romance Challenge

In 2010 and 2011 I joined I Heart Paperbacks' M/M Romance Challenge. Unfortunately, I Heart Paperbacks appears to be offline and so I have decided to take up the challenge of hosting for 2012! The rules are as follows:

1. This challenge is for those of you who enjoy reading m/m romances (i.e. novels and novellas where the main focus is a romantic relationship between male protagonists) or who might like to try the genre.

2. You can join at any time throughout the year and do not need a Blog, LiveJournal (or equivalent) to participate, just the ability to keep a list of books read.

3. The books don’t have to be selected ahead of time and can be utilized in multiple challenges.

4. The books can be in any format (e.g. audio books, eBooks, and print) [and includes comics and manga] and re-reads are welcome.

5. There are 8 reading levels to choose from:
- Read 1 m/m Romance (For those of you who would like to try the genre) [Any book suggestions from those of you well read in the genre would be welcome!]
- Read 5 m/m Romances
- Read 10 m/m Romances
- Read 20 m/m Romances
- Read 30 m/m Romances
- Read 40 m/m Romances
- Read 50+ m/m Romances
- Surprise me! (For those of you who read mostly m/m...and considering I read 94 m/m books last year I think this is me :)

6. Optional. If you’re not new to reading m/m romances, re-read your first ever m/m title. Do you feel differently about the book now than you did when you first read it? You could also aim to read a series, along a theme, or a book that you wouldn't otherwise read...

Please sign-up below:

To date I have read the following:
1. Strange Fortune (Josh Lanyon)
2. Handyman (Claire Thompson)
3. Double Blind (Heidi Cullinan)
4. The Twelve Days of Randy (Heidi Cullinan)
5. Song of Oestend (Marie Sexton)
6. Driftwood (Harper Fox)
7. Prisoner (Megan Derr)
8. Outcast Mine (Jamie Craig)
9. Where You Least Expect It (M Durango)
10. Life Lesson (Kaje Harper)
11. By His Rules (JA Rock)
12. And To All A Good Night (Kaje Harper)
13. The Matchmaker (Megan Derr)
14. Breaking Cover (Kaje Harper)
15. Counterpunch (Aleksandr Voinov)
16. Accidentally in Love (Jane Davitt & Alexa Snow)
17. Blind Space (Marie Sexton)
18. At His Throat, A Promise (Lilith Grey)
19. Shattered Glass (Dani Alexander)
20. The Rebuilding Year (Kaje Harper)
21. Private Eye (SE Culpepper)
22. WM Smoker Seeks Seclusion (Pirate Grrl)
23. Moving in Rhythm (Dev Bentham)
24. Knight Errant (KD Sarge)
25. The Only Gold (Tamara Allen)
26. PetSitting (Syd McGinley)
27. Lost and Found (Syd McGinley)
28. A Short Leash (Syd McGinley)
29. Attitude Adjustments (Syd McGinley)
30. Sol Invictus (Syd McGinley)
31. Samhain (Syd McGinley)
32. Ain't Misbehavin' (Syd McGinley)
33. Un Bel Di Vedremo (Syd McGinley)
34. Pink: Dolorosa (Syd McGinley)
35. Wrong Customs (Syd McGinley)
36. Tommy and the Magi (Syd McGinley)
37. White Day (Syd McGinley)
38. Sky Blue Pink: Flying Pigs (Syd McGinley)
39. Fundamentals (Syd McGinley)
40. Poster Child (Syd McGinley)
41. Under Contract (Helen Saito)
42. Not Sir (Syd McGinley)
43. Fun With Dick & Shane (Gillibran Brown)
44. More Fun With Dick & Shane (Gillibran Brown)
45. Achilles and the Houseboy (Gillibran Brown)
46. Warrior's Cross (Madeline Urban & Abigail Roux)
47. Armed & Dangerous (Abigail Roux)
48. Falls Chance Ranch (Rolf & Ranger)
49. Three Traders (Rolf & Ranger)
50. Mustang Hill (Rolf & Ranger)
51. Silver Bullet (Rolf & Ranger) [Incomplete]
52. Diversion (Eden Winters)
53. Don't Judge A Book (Scarlet Blackwell)
54. It's Like This (Orbiting Jupiter)
55. Wacky Wednesday (JA Rock)
56. Dash & Dine (Abigail Roux)
57. A Better Man (RJ Scott)
58. Calling the Show (JA Rock)
59. Between Sinners & Saints (Marie Sexton)
60. Stars & Stripes (Abigail Roux)
61. Whitetail Rock (Anne Tenino)
62. The Fix (Anne Tenino)
63. Frat Boy and Toppy (Anne Tenino)
64. Love Hypothetically (Anne Tenino)
65. Latakia (JF Smith)
66. Pressue Head (JL Merrow)
67. How to Become a Man (liketheroad)
68. Importand Things (suzvoy)
69. The Good Fight (Andrew Grey)
70. Tigerland (Sean Kennedy)
71. The Hot Floor (Josephine Myles)
72. Gilliflowers (Gillibran Brown)
73. Home Work (Kaje Harper)
74. The One That Broke Free (TC Blue)
75. Cost of Repairs (AM Arthur)
76. Power Exchange (AJ Rose)
77. The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters (Amy Lane)
78. Cherish (Tere Michaels)
79. Great Restorations (Libby Drew)
80. Second Hand (Heidi Cullinan)
81. How to Raise an Honest Rabbit (Amy Lane)
82. The Nothingness of Ben (Brad Boney)
83. Winner Takes All (Jenny Urban)
84. Cover Up (KC Burn)
85. The First Supper (Sean Kennedy)
86. Countdown Until the End of the World (Sean Kennedy)
87. Chicken Soup for the Soul, and All That Crap (Sean Kennedy)
88. Taverners' Inn (Rolf & Ranger)
89. First Impressions (Josephine Myles)
90. Fuzzy (Josephine Myles)
91. Last Chance (Josephine Myles)
92. Falls Chance Ranch (Rolf & Ranger) [re-read])

14 January 2012

Instigation

According to the Oxford Dictionaries:

Instigation • noun [mass noun] the action or process of instigating an action or event. Origin: late Middle English (in the sense 'incitement'): from Old French, or from Latin instigatio(n-), from the verb instigare (see instigate).

I loathe instigating...anything. Why? Because by doing so I feel exposed. I feel...vulnerable. I feel...open to be judged that what I have instigated isn't worthwhile.

This all from earlier this week when I realized that I had received no comments on a post. No big deal, right? Wrong. The fact that this is the first post not to receive comments in 3 years of blogging doesn't factor in. Because I'm always about what is wrong, not what is right. To me, a post with no comments indicates an uninteresting post, a boring post. A post that isn't good enough. And I worry that if the post is not good enough then I am not good enough... (I know, it sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? At least I'm come far enough to know that.)

But all of the above is the reason why I have been sitting on a post. In 2010 and 2011 I joined I Heart Paperbacks' M/M Romance Challenge. And I loved it, Unfortunately, I Heart Paperbacks appears to be offline and so the challenge is not happening :( And no one else appears to be hosting it :( So...I thought about hosting it. And then the fear started. That no one would join. (Yes, even though six people other than myself have joined the 2012 Big Book Challenge.)

But...the thing is, a post isn't about others. This blog isn't about others. It is about me. For me. So whether people comment or not, or join challenges or not, isn't the point. I'm always telling others that their blog is about them and they can do what they want on it. And yet I don't take my own advice. If this is something that I want to do, if it is something that makes me happy (and doesn't hurt anyone else) then...why not do it?

Remember the quote from my previous post entitled Thoughts on Double Blind? The one about the wheel? I read it (and the other quote) out to the unnamed expert this week and realized that I was doing exactly what the character (Ethan) was. I keep waiting for things to go right. And by right I don't necessarily mean what I deserve but more in terms of balance. Except the wheel isn't about me. It isn't about anyone. It just is. And as the quote said:
You had to go and be your own wheel.
And that's when I realized that's what I have to do. (The unnamed expert was grinning away at me when I said this.)

So...here's me, being my wheel. Look out for the 2012 M/M Romance Challenge...coming to a blog near you! In other words this one *grin*

10 January 2012

Thoughts on Double Blind

Apologies in advance, but this is likely to end up as pure gushing! But this book (and the author) so deserve(s) it!

I'm not sure why it took me so long to pick up Double Blind. In an way I'm glad I waited, because the amount of emotion Heidi Cullinan pours into her writing? Blows. Me. Away. For instance:
It wasn't tidy, this pain. There was no one person or place that caused it, no demon to exorcise it, not by a single name. There was just pain, all thirty-some years of it, piled on in flakes and dust and bricks on top of itself, for aches remembered and wounds forgotten, at least by source. They were just there, all the things that had hurt him, that he'd been too tough to let get through, the Great Fucking Wall of Randy didn't let any fucking shit get through, God fucking damn it.

Or anybody, either.

Except for Ethan.

And Sam.

And Old Man Mitch.
But it's not just the emotion. Double Blind follows Randy (who we met in Special Delivery) and Ethan. And the game of poker. Gambling, particularly poker, plays a very special role in this book, and the author uses it beautifully to demonstrate Randy & Ethan's growth...as individuals and as a couple. For instance:
Like Carter he kept waiting for the big payout. Waiting for the moment things would go right. For the time when the wheel would come around to his number and give him what he deserved.

Except sometimes the wheel didn't come around. Because the wheel wasn't about you. The wheel wasn't about anyone. It was just a damn wheel. It was like Randy said: you had to get the best of it.

You had to go and be your own wheel.
I know nothing about poker, but I didn't need too. The game (at its simplest) is explained to the reader as it is to Ethan. For he, potentially like the reader is a novice. And as the game is explained more fully so the story progresses. The two main characters from Special Delivery, Sam & Mitch, make a welcome return. Bringing in two previously beloved characters can be risky - they can overwhelm the other characters and you are left with half a story. But that doesn't happen with Double Blind. Sam & Mitch's story (as individuals and as a couple) [although to be fair we get far less of Mitch than we do of Sam] was not yet complete, but they act as a catalyst in a way, for Randy and for Ethan.

And what's even more amazing is how much this book spoke to me (see above quotes). As Randy & Ethan learned about themselves, so I learnt about me (and I love it when books do that). They are the true keepers.

So, what book has spoken to you recently?

04 January 2012

The 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge

The 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge is being hosted by The Eclectic Bookshelf. The guidelines are as follows:

1. Anyone can join.

2. You don't need a blog to participate. If you are a Non-blogger please leave a comment with a link (if you review elsewhere) to your review or with the book(s) you read.

3. Audio, ebooks (some libraries allow ebooks to be checked out), bound books are ok.

4. No re-reads.

5. Create a sign up post and post the link in the linky.

6. Challenge goes from January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012.

7. Levels:
* Level 1 - Read 12 library books
* Level 2 - Read 24 library books
* Level 3 - Read 36 library books
* Level 4 - Read 37+ library books

I have decided to sign up for Level 2 (24 library books), which is realistic (I think :) based on last year.

To date, I have read the following library books:

1. River Marked (Patricia Briggs)
2. Archangel's Blade (Nalini Singh)
3. Treachery in Death
4. The Dark Enquiry (Deanna Raybourn)
5. Downpour (Kat Richardson))
6. A Deadly Penance (Maureen Ash)
7. A Safe Place for Caleb (Kathleen A Chara)
8.

03 January 2012

The 2012 Big Book Challenge

Tis the season for Book Challenges! And since it's the season I thought I would...play *grin* So, I hereby bring you: The Big Book Challenge (yes, again). And when I say big I mean really big, because in this challenge, size really does matter. You see, even after reading a number of 'big' books last year, I still panic when I see them... They are so big I'm afraid they will eat my alive! *hides under bed* So, this challenge it to help me tackle those big books that scare me. The challenge rules are simple:

1) Read a big book, and by a big book I mean a book with more than 400 pages, before the end of 2012. Note the change in page length to 400 pages!

2) The book can be in any format as long as its length is equivalent to more than 400 pages in print (hardback, trade paperback or mass market paperback) format.

3) The big book can be from any fiction genre (e.g. fantasy, romance, science fiction). It can even be non-fiction.

4) A review is not required (although I'm going to attempt a post detailing my thoughts on the book, or the reasons why I didn't finish it *grin*).

5) No penalties if the book isn't read by the end of 2012 (because this is meant to be fun and I'm sure we'll put enough pressure on ourselves without this challenge being the last straw).

6) The book can be changed at any time! (Flexibility is important IMO :)

7) You can join at any time throughout the year!

Please sign-up below and let me know in the comments what big book you have been avoiding! For me, it's a re-read: Sarah Monette's Corambis!

This challenge was inspired by the lovely Heidenkind from Truth, Beauty, Freedom & Books and a discussion I had at some point....somewhere ...back in 2009.

02 January 2012

The (Book) Year (2011) In Review

Edited to add: This post is looong!

So, another year has ended. TBH I'm not quite sure where 2011 went. It hasn't been...the easiest of years, although compared to what others have been through it has been a walk in the park. *shrug* I guess it's all a matter of perspective :) And where have I ended 2011? Do I know who I really am? (Does anyone ever work that out or is it a journey of a lifetime?) Do I know what I want? Do I even know how to begin to answer these questions? *deep breath* If I worked anything out in 2011 it is that I need to keep on...keeping on. Take that stunted (hiding) human being and let her...grow beyond the walls of her own making, allow her to develop confidence and faith in her own abilities and...trust herself. Because...even though I'm working on pulling that emotional wall down I'm still hiding behind it. It's safer there. I almost think I functioned better with the wall intact. No panic attacks for one. But it's not living, it's existing. And one can't exist forever. Also...I need to learn to relax - being hypervigilant 24/7 is exhausting and I'm so over it - and to be happy. You wouldn't think that is something one would have to learn how to do, but..when have I ever been normal? *grin* So...obviously I have delusions of grandeur if I think I can accomplish all of that? Perhaps...not in 2012, but I make a start, yes?

And that brings me to family. It would be all but impossible to walk away unless I was suddenly thrust into Witness Protection (hopefully with a gorgeous hero to keep me company while I renovate a house) [Note to self: must stop re-reading Hide Out and day dreaming incessantly!]. But...the situation as it is is untenable. I can't move on and grow when I'm so entangled. So...I think I need to draw a firm line in the sand as far as family is concerned and ensure that in 2012 I do not cross it except as pre-specified. Something to discuss with the unnamed expert methinks...

And that brings me to the world of reading and challenges. I read a total of 125 books in 2011 (yes, the same number as 2010). At the beginning of the year I signed up for I Heart Paperbacks' M/M Romance Challenge 2011 and went for the option of reading 20+ m/m romances in 2010. And I read....94 novels/novellas! *blushes* What can I say, I love the genre! 2012 has been the year of Megan Derr, Ginn Hale, and Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux, and of course favourite authors such as Amy Lane, James Buchanan, Josh Lanyon and Jordan Castillo Price (to name but a few).

I also reissued the 2011 Big Book Challenge in an effort to actually read a large tombed book...you know, the ones with more than 500 pages that can be used as a paperweight? In 2011 I chose Astrid Amara's The Archer's Heart! And I finished it! *throws confetti* Will the Big Book Challenge be back for 2012? That is the question!

The last challenge I signed up for in 2011 was Home Girl's Book Blog's 2011 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge. In 2010 I read 40 library books so I accepted the challenge to read 25 library books in 2011. And...I manged to read *drum roll* 29 library books! There definitely seems to be a downward trend, but I put that down to reading more m/m (eBooks) and to my wrists.

Unfortunately book reviews in 2011 were few and far between. I still have review notes for Corambis (Sarah Monette), which I read over a year ago, and I would like to review it so I have reviewed the entire (brilliant) series, so I think I might have to re-read the book. (Such a shame and ohhh it's a Big Book [in mass market paperback format anyway]!)

And finally I come to my favourite books for 2011. I read a number of five star books this year, but...these were the books that spoke to me. So...in no particular order (OK, alphabetical):

* Coda series (Marie Sexton) [Particularly the first and fourth books - the latter (Strawberries for Dessert) had me in tears]

* Cut & Run (Madeline Urban & Abigail Roux) [Ty & Zane, need I say more? *swoon*]

* Gathering Storm (Lyn Gala)

* Life After Joe (Harper Fox)

* One Real Thing (Anah Crow)

* Rescue Me (Scarlet Blackwell)

* Simple Gifts (LB Gregg) [For such a small book it packed a big punch!]

* Talker series (Amy Lane)

* The Rifter (Ginn Hale)

It's the emotional books I'm drawn to obviously :)

So, what challenges (reading or otherwise) are you thinking about accepting for 2012?

01 January 2012

Books 2011: December Update

Total: 125 books (16 books this month: fantasy [one book]; m/m [12 books]; paranormal romance [one book]; urban fantasy [two books])

The 2011 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total: 29 books (three books this month) COMPLETE!

The M/M Romance Challenge 2011 total: 94 books (12 books this month) [COMPLETE!]

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? (There were a few)

* Divide & Conquer (Madeline Urban & Abigail Roux)

* His Holy Bones (Ginn Hale)

* Men Under the Mistletoe (Anthology)

* Of Blood & Honey (Stina Leicht)

* Simple Gifts (LB Gregg)

Currently reading:

* Strange Fortune (Josh Lanyon)

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

* Prisoner (Megan Derr)

Thank you for being such an integral part of my online experience in 2011! *hugs* Happy New Year and may your 2012 be filled with joy and happiness!