Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Reading Year - 2007 - The Highlights

This is my late entry for this week's Booking Through Thursday question

It’s an old question, but a good one . . . What were your favorite books this year?

List as many as you like … fiction, non-fiction, mystery, romance, science-fiction, business, travel, cookbooks … whatever the category. But, really, we’re all dying to know. What books were the highlight of your reading year in 2007?


I am answering this question a little late because I knew that I had a couple more books to read that I wanted to be able to include if they were outsanding!

In my stats post I mentioned that there were only two books that I would rate as a 5 out of 5 for the year, but that I would change one of those gradings retrospectively. There are 43 books that I would rate as 4.5 out of 5 and 113 that I rated as 4 out of 5. The thing with grading is that it is very much a gut reaction once I finish a book, and so as I look down the list I am finding that there are some very memorable books that I rated a 4, that looking back I would probably grade higher and vice versa. So, this list might not be all my highest graded book, but they are the most memorable reads of 2007 for me. Where I have written the review I have linked to it (included some over at Historical Tapestry), but it will give you some idea of how far behind I am when you see how many links are missing!

Having said all that, the decision as to what the best book I read was in 2007 was easy! It was......


The Arrival by Shaun Tan


The fact that this was a book with no words amazes me completely, but I was just so affected by this book that I can't praise his work enough!


The Honourable Mentions are:

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon - I swear this woman could write on the back of a cereal box and I would love it!

Taking Liberties and The Sparks Fly Upwards by Diana Norman - I read two of the three books in this trilogy this year, and really enjoyed them. Diana Norman is now one of my favourite books whether under this name or her other name, Ariana Franklin.

In Death series by J D Robb - I read 5 In Death books this year, and really enjoyed them all.

Josephine B series by Sandra Gulland - I read the whole series this year, and very much enjoyed it. Start with The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - so good!

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - a really moving book!

My Best Friends Girl by Dorothy Koomson - I cried, I laughed...I loved it!

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani - such an unusual setting - 17th century Persia

The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies - a Booker long list book - WWII in Wales - really good!

Barbed Wire and Roses by Peter Yeldham - I was blown away by this book, which I first picked up because I loved the cover! A story of what happened to one soldier when the history of a WWI doesn't quite make sense.

The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall - another book I picked up because of the cover, and enjoyed immensely.

The Persimmon Tree by Bryce Courtenay - there were major flaws with this book, but it is a cracking good story that has stayed with me!

Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas - I have been hearing that I should have read Zachary Bronsons story for a while, and I am glad that I finally did.

The Prince Trilogy by Elizabeth Hoyt - one of the best new romance authors I read this year.

Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon - Mmmm Vane!

My Reading Year - 2007 - The Reading Resolutions

My reading resolutions for this year were:

Read 200 books - I've just scraped in, having completed 203 books so far, although I do expect to finish another couple of books this year.

Read 15 books that I owned as at 1 January 2007 - As I mentioned in my stats post, I have only read 33 books that I own this year. The rest mostly came from the library. Of the 33 books that I read that I owned, only 4 of them were books that I owned before this year! Expect to see a similar goal in my reading resolutions for next year, because this year I bought 112 books. To say I am getting further and further behind on my TBR is an understatement!

Read Dorothy Dunnett - will a simple no suffice? I will read her....but it won't be this year!

Read more Australian Authors - In 2006 I only read 5 books by Australian authors - this year I managed 20, so I am pretty happy with that!

Shortlists - It was my intention to read the shortlists for The Booker Prize and either The Orange or The Pulitzer. Of the Booker shortlist I have read one, and have two more here to read. I also read two of the books that were longlisted but not shortlisted. I read three of the books that were shortlisted for the Orange Prize including the winner, but somehow I completely missed knowing what books were on the shortlist for the Pulitzer! Not sure how that happened. I did read the winner though! Overall, I haven't met my goal here, but I am not totally unhappy with what I did do! I might have something similar for my reading goals next year.

Blogging - My goal for this year was "try not to get so far behind on reviews, or to put pressure on myself when I do get behind!" At one stage this year, I was all caught up, but suffice to say that I am not at the moment!



I'll be posting my 2008 Reading Resolutions in the next few days.

My Reading Year - 2007 - The stats

It's that time of the year to look book over the reading year. I thought I would start with some stats about my 2007 reading year, and then in a separate posts I will focus a bit more on specifics!

No. of books:

Completed 203 books so far - expecting to finish 2 more before the end of the year so should end up with 205 by the end of the year.

Of those 203 books, only 33 were books that I owned, either because I bought them or got given them to review, and there were no rereads in amongst those! With the exception of 2 books the rest were from the library. By contrast I bought 112 books this year. I really need to read more books that I already own next year!

I read 20 books by Australian authors-vast improvement over previous years

Genres:

YA/kids - 8
Crime/Mystery - 26
Fantasy - 16
Historical Fiction - 43
Literature - 18
Non fiction - 5
Romances - 73
Womens/Chick lit - 15

Of those books that aren't historical fiction, the setting was historical in 55 of them, 15 paranormal and 8 suspense/thriller, although I don't always seem to be consistent in how I classify the sub genres!

Grades:

5/5 - 2 - although I would probably change one of those retrospectively
4.5/5 - 43
4/5 - 113 - seems to be my go to grade
3.5/5 - 27
3/5 - 12
2.5/5 - 4
1.5/5 - 1
1 0/5 - DNF

Publishers:

14 Harlequin
33 Harper Collins
1 Kensington
11 MacMillan
36 Penguin/Putnam
27 Random House
18 Simon and Schuster
6 Hatchette/Warner
49 Others

Total No. of pages read: 73889

New to me authors: 110

In summary, I read about 30 less books this year than I did last year. Not sure why, but I still made my goal of 200 so I am not disappointed.

I am kind of surprised that I read 16 fantasy books - I always say that I don't read fantasy, but I am averaging more than one a month!

110 authors seems quite a lot, but I did read a few anthologies earlier in the year that introduced me to a lot!

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Pub 08 Reading Challenge

I did warn you that I was planning on joining in on some challenges in 2008, and here's another one.





Michelle from 1 More Chapter was quite surprised to find that she read less than 5 books this year that were published in 2007, and so decided that she wanted to challenge herself (and anyone else who wanted to join in) to read more new books in 2008. I have decided to join in on this challenge because I don't want to lose the new book momentum that I had this year - over a quarter of the books that I read this year were published this year! The rules are:

1. Read 8 books published in 2008
2. No YA/children's books are allowed (we are at the pub after all)
3. At least 4 titles must be fiction
4. Crossovers with other challenges are allowed
5. Titles can be changed


In order to join up, you can go and sign up at "The Pub"

As to which books I am going to read, I will start off with the following, and add more later!

Daughter of York by Anne Easter Smith (out February)
Fire Study by Maria V Snyder (out February)
Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland (out March)
The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin (out January)
The Seduction of the Crimson Rose by Lauren Willig (out January)
The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Sara Donati (or Rosina Lippi depending on where it is to be published)
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Sci-Fi Experience 2008


Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings has come up with a great idea - the Sci-Fi Experience 2008. As the title suggests, it involves reading Sci-fi. I think it is a pretty fair bet to say that I haven't read any sci-fi at all in the last, maybe 8-10 years! That's right....years!

I do however have one out from the library at the moment! And so, I am signing up for just one book, which fortunately is well within the rules for the challenge! My challenge book is going to be ..... Island in the Sea of Time by SM Stirling. It is a book that was highly recommended by someone in a group I am in, and I thought I would give it a go and see if I liked it too!

Click on the link above to read more about the experience!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Only a Duke Will Do by Sabrina Jeffries

"You can't avoid him forever, Louisa. Just tell him you're not interested, and put an end to it."
—Mrs. Charlotte Harris, headmistress

Marry? Never! It would end Louisa North's work with her ladies reform group—and truth be told, she likes her independence very much, despite her royal father's protests. So when Simon Tremaine, the dashing Duke of Foxmoor whom she once loved—and had exiled from England—returns bent on marrying her, she's skeptical. Does he truly care for her, or does he simply want revenge? It's difficult to resist Simon's dangerous charms, because the fire between them still burns as hot as ever. But when his ulterior motive for marriage is exposed, along with the deeply buried secrets of his past, Louisa vows to make him pay ... and the price will be his heart.


I have wanted to read Louisa and Simon's story ever since it was the background story in To Pleasure a Prince. The main couple in that book were Louisa's brother Marcus and Simon's sister Regina, and as such, they both play pretty major roles in this book as well! Without wanting to give too much away Simon broke Louisa's heart, and in this book, he has now returned to London following a successful governorship in India seven years down the track.

The instant that he sees Louisa he knows that she still affects him, despite her protestations. Simon is determined that he will have Louisa as his wife, despite the fact that he knows that he is incapable of loving her, as a result of the bizarre training that his statesman grandfather gave him when he was a young man. The fact that her father (who happens to be the King) is prepared to back his political aims should he be successful in both marrying her, and also in stopping her from her participation in her political group is a bonus.

For the most part I really enjoyed this book, although there was an awful lot of politics in this book, and at time they did get in the way of the love story. For example, there is more than one scene where the amorous activities between the two were used to trade off promises relating to the various political activities that the two of them were undertaking. Having said that, the work that Louisa was involved in in terms of prison reforms was very interesting in it's own right, and was borrowed directly from the pages of history.

Simon's search for documents relating to his cousin dovetailed really nicely with the novella in the School for Heiresses novella which I read earlier this year. Now I need to decide if I want to buy the next book in this series, because my library doesn't have it!

I think I will!

Rating 4/5

Boxing Day 2007

Boxing Day is the day after Christmas and is another public holiday for us, so no work until Thursday for us. It's original reasons for commencement have been lost through the ages, but one of the suggestion is that traditionally it was a day where the more well off boxed up some of the belongings and gave it to their servants, or less well off, as gifts. On the news this morning they mentioned that apparently the original reasons for Boxing Day have been so lost that according to a recent survey of young people in the UK, the suggestion was that the reason for Boxing Day was that it was inevitable that there would be huge family arguments!

When I was younger our family used to always spend boxing day together. Everyone went to the in-laws or whoever on Christmas Day and then we would always get together for a relaxed day. Now that I live in a different city that's not the case anymore sadly. I don't recall there being that many family arguments, but maybe I just blocked them out because it was too traumatic!

Here in Australia it is a huge sporting day - the cricket starts as does the Sydney to Hobart yachting race. It is also the biggest shopping day of the year here, with the stocktake sales all starting! Normally I would avoid going to the shops today, but I have been looking for a new TV for my back room, and when I saw that they were out cheap I couldn't resist, and then I couldn't resist a new DVD player or a special on Playstation2 games!! And then, there is a new book warehouse open nearby to us, and I went and got a few books from there.

Later this afternoon I am thinking that we are going to the movies to see Bee Movie, but I might be able to convince my son otherwise because I have really spent quite a lot of money already today!

Monday, December 24, 2007

2007 Advent Blog Tour - Day 24

And the last day of the 2007 Advent Blog Tour!

Thank you once again to everyone for participating! I hope that everyone had a great time reading about all the different Christmas traditions, finding lots of new recipes, and hopefully some new blogs to read. I certainly did!

For our finale, there are two sites to visit. One is Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings, and the other is at my co-host Kailana's blog, The Written World!

I just thought I would mention that there are a couple of fun things that you can do on Christmas Eve, and both involve tracking Santa.

The first is at Norad, and the other is to track Santa using Google Earth. Tracking Santa via Norad has become one of our Christmas traditions!


Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Duke by Gaelen Foley

Driven to uncover the truth about the mysterious death of his ladylove, the Duke of Hawkscliffe will go to any lengths to unmask a murderer. Even if it means jeopardizing his reputation by engaging in a scandalous affair with London's most provocative courtesan--the desirable but aloof Belinda Hamilton.

Bel has used her intelligence and wit to charm the city's titled gentlemen, while struggling to put the pieces of her life back together. She needs a protector, so she accepts Hawk's invitation to become his mistress in name only. He asks nothing of her body, but seeks her help in snaring the same man who shattered her virtue. Together they tempt the unforgiving wrath of society--until their risky charade turns into a dangerous attraction, and Bel must make a devastating decision that could ruin her last chance at love. . . .



Uh-oh! Even when I have read a book months ago, I can usually remember some details, but I am drawing a complete blank on this one! Apparently I quite enjoyed it when I read it as I gave it a 4/5, but it seems to have merged with every other historical romance I have read over the last few months! Which probably says a little something about this book anyway!

I really must catch up on my reviews so this doesn't happen again!

Ref: Note to Self


So, I remembered that The Hogfather was on tonight. Unfortunately I missed the first 45 minutes because we were in the city doing Christmassy things, and then I fell asleep and have no idea how much I missed - at least half an hour I would think! I guess it is fair to say that it is going well so far! And, I have no idea when the next part of the series is being shown!

2007 Blog Tour - Day 23


This is the second last day to visit our participants! Today, we are off to visit Booklogged!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

2007 Blog Tour - Day 22


Today Carolyn Jean has some of her favourite characters giving each other Christmas gifts! What a hoot!

The Red Tree by Shaun Tan

Sometimes the day begins with nothing to look forward to...



Another great book from Shaun Tan, although it didn't blow me away as much as The Arrival did!

This book is about a young girl who feels as though there is no one who understands her, and she is not sure what direction to take but then she finds what she is looking for, so that the book basically is a message of hope.

Whereas The Arrival was purely pencil drawn pictures, this book does have words accompanying the once again beautiful, coloured illustrations that Tan draws.

To say much more would be to use more words than are actually in the book, but suffice to say it is another kids book that I very much enjoyed reading and looking at!

Rating 4/5

Playing the game

The girls over at Book Binge are starting a game!

The rules of the game:

Take the letters of your name and write out a title of a romance novel for it. It's that simple, see if you can actually do it. You can omit the words "A" and "The" from the title to suit your needs if you want....

M - The Mysterious Miss M by Diane Gaston
A - Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas
R - The Rules of Seduction by Madeline Hunter
G - The Gentle Winds Caress by Anne Whitfield



I have read so few books that start with G!!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Note to self


Remember that the mini series of Terry Pratchett's The Hogfather is on TV on Sunday night!

I swear....


...the pizza shops in my area hate me!

A couple of months ago I was on my way home after a very long day out and about and my son and I decided to have pizza for dinner. As I was trying to be super efficient, I phoned through my order and was told that it would be ready in about 15-20 minutes. Once I got to the store I discovered that they had forgot to put my order through. So another 20-25 minutes later and I saw my name come up as ready, and then disappear off the list. After waiting another couple of minutes, I asked the guy where it was, and they said it wasn't ready yet. Another 15 minutes, and I asked again and they said, oh, it's been ready for ages, we just forgot to call it out for you. In the end, they gave the pizza to me for free seeing as I had been there for over an hour. Got in the car...and it turns out it was the wrong darn pizza!

Fast forward a couple of months to tonight, and because it was absolutely bucketing down with rain and I was soaked through, and this was the first night I had been home all week, I decided to try out a new pizza shop that has just opened near us. I placed the order, and then waited, and waited and waited! People came...and people went, and still no pizza. I heard them say behind the counter that there was a pizza missing, and I KNEW it was mine, but when I asked the girl why it was taking so long, and she said something along the lines of Oh, we are just busy. Finally.. it's ready, except the garlic bread isn't! Eventually everything was ready and we could go home and eat it! Luckily it tasted good, and the owner has assured me that he will look after me next time I go to his shop!

2007 Blog Tour - Day 21

Oh my goodness, only 4 more sleeps! So much to do, so many gifts to buy! Luckily Susan Higginbotham is giving us a very imaginative tale of a ghost's visit to a British department store. Should be able to get some shopping tips from Richard III! Meanwhile over at Carla's blog, she is exploring where the words Yule and Yuletide come from!

Great posts ladies!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares

In the town of Waterby on Fire Island, the rhythms and rituals of summer are sacrosanct: the ceremonial arrivals and departures by ferry; yacht club dinners with terrible food and breathtaking views; the virtual decree against shoes; and the generational parade of sandy, sun-bleached kids, running, swimming, squealing, and coming of age on the beach.

Set against this vivid backdrop, The Last Summer (of You and Me) is the enchanting, heartrending story of a beach-community friendship triangle among three young adults for whom summer and this place have meant everything. Sisters Riley and Alice, now in their twenties, have been returning to their parents’ modest beach house every summer for their entire lives. Petite, tenacious Riley is a tomboy and a lifeguard, always ready for a midnight swim, a gale-force sail, or a barefoot sprint down the beach. Beautiful Alice is lithe, gentle, a reader and a thinker, and worshipful of her older sister. And every summer growing up, in the big house that overshadowed their humble one, there was Paul, a friend as important to both girls as the place itself, who has now finally returned to the island after three years away. But his return marks a season of tremendous change, and when a simmering attraction, a serious illness, and a deep secret all collide, the three friends are launched into an unfamiliar adult world, a world from which their summer haven can no longer protect them.

Ann Brashares has won millions of fans with her blockbuster series, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, in which she so powerfully captured the emotional complexities of female friendship and young love. With The Last Summer (of You and Me), she moves on to introduce a new set of characters and adult relationships just as true, endearing, and unforgettable. With warmth, humor, and wisdom, Brashares makes us feel the excruciating joys and pangs of love—both platonic and romantic. She reminds us of the strength and sting of friendship, the great ache of loss, and the complicated weight of family loyalty. Thoughtful, lyrical, and tremendously moving, The Last Summer (of You and Me) is a deeply felt celebration of summer and nostalgia for youth.



When this book was first announced, there was a bit of hoopla saying that this was Ann Brashares first book for adult, and yes, there were definitely some more adult scenes. Where sex is implied in the fabulous Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants book, it was more open and detailed without being completely explicit in this book. In many other ways though, this was a book that explored some of the same themes that we have previously seen from this author - loss, illness, young love. The other thing was the youngest of the two sisters who were the main female characters was only just in her twenties, and so in many ways, this book targets many of those same readers who have been reading Ann Brashares over the last however long she was writing the Traveling Pants books!

The blurb tells a lot of the story so I won't worry about regurgitating here. The story itself was a pleasant enough read about the relationship between two sisters, and about the secrets that family members keep from each other, as well about how changes in relationship dynamics can affect everyone involved both in ways that are expected and unexpected. What the book wasn't was something fresh and completely different from this author.

Overall, as long as you go into expecting something very treacley and sweet, you won't be disappointed. It was an easy enough read though.

Rating 4/5

And the nominees are...

This week's Booking Through Thursday question:


  1. What fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?
    (Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.)
  2. What non-fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?
    (Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.)
  3. And, do “best of” lists influence your reading?



In some ways this is a really easy question. It means going to the handy-dandy spreadsheet I mentioned in last week's answer and filtering for all book published this year and then for the highest grades, and then picking one right? Right?

Well, it's the picking one part that is difficult! So, below is a list of the best fiction books published this year, that I have read. For those that I have reviewed, click on the link to see what I said about them at the time!

  • The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith - I love this series. Can't wait for the next book which is going to be called The Miracle at Speedy Motors
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini- incredibly moving story of two women's struggle for happiness in Afghanistan
  • City of Glory by Beverly Swerling - Fantastic story set in the early days of New York.
  • The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani - Historical Fiction set in 17th century Persia. Really good read.
  • Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer - I loved this! Such a relief to have liked this one so much when I thought Don't Look Down was so average.
  • The Boar Stone by Jules Watson - A really fitting conclusion to the trilogy. Can't wait to see what this author comes up with next!
  • Silver Wattle by Belinda Alexandra - I had only read one book by this author previously, and liked it but not loved it. In this story it feels to me as though Belinda Alexandra really came of age!
  • The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies - Shortlisted for the Booker. I really enjoyed it!
  • Barbed Wire and Roses by Peter Yeldham - I added this to my TBR list because I loved the cover! Fortunately I enjoyed what was inside the cover as well.
  • The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall - Another gorgeous cover...another great read!
  • Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon - I didn't really love the first Lord John book, but I did really love this one!
  • The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt - Best romance published this year for me!


It's kind of weird actually. Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade was only one of two books that I rated as a 5/5. If I was to go back and rerate my books now, I probably would pick one or two of the above list as rating better (Barbed Wire and Roses and maybe one or two others), including even one book that isn't in the above list! The Persimmon Tree by Bryce Courtenay had some major flaws, but it is the most memorable book I have read in the last six to eight weeks! However, my ratings are very much a gut reaction to what I felt as I closed the last page of the book, so I will leave then as they are!

Wow...that was a lot of typing, and I haven't even answered part 2 of the question.

The best non fiction book I read that was published this year, was definitely Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. One of these days I will write a review to tell you all why I enjoyed it so much.

As to whether I take any notice of Best Of lists. I don't necessarily take more than a superficial look at the ones that come out from places like Amazon and from newspapers. I do however love reading the best of lists from other bloggers! Can't wait to see what is on everyone's lists!

2007 Blog Tour - Day 20


Only a few more sleeps to the big day...and only a few more stops left on the blog tour! Today we are visiting TinyLittleLibrarian!

Today I bought my son a CD that he wanted for Christmas. Is it wrong that I bought it at lunchtime and then went back and copied it to my work computer before wrapping it up to give to him??

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Book giveaways

If you head over to Zeek's blog you might be in with a chance to win a copy of any of the following three books:

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
Son of the Morning by Linda Howard

I have read the first two, so I am putting my name in the drawer for Son of the Morning. You can check out the details of how to win here.


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Another place you can win books is over at Deeanddeedish.blogspot.com, where you could win up to 6 books, all of which were among the girls' favourite reads for this year!

You can get the details for this contest by clicking here

2007 Blog Tour - Day 19


Today we are off to visit with Callista at her blog, SMS book reviews!

Enjoy!

2007 Blog Tour - Day 18

Dev has her post up talking about the Christmas traditions she shares with her neice and some Norwegian recipers, as does Stephanie who talks about her family traditions and shares a delicious looking cookie recipe.


I'm a happy camper today! I finally figured out what I am going to buy my sister. She is the person in our family who insists that we have to give her a list of what we would like at the beginning of December, but when you ask her what to get she answers with either "I don't know" or "Oh, anything will do:!

The remaining stops on the blog tour for this year are:

19 December - Callista
20 December - Tiny Little Librarian
21 December - Carla, Susan Higginbotham
22 December - Carolyn Jean
23 December - Booklogged
24 December - Kailana, Carl

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Lady in Blue by Javier Sierra


In Los Angeles, Jennifer Narody has been having a series of disturbing dreams involving eerie images of a lady dressed in blue. What she doesn't know is that this same spirit appeared to leaders of the Jumano Native American tribe in New Mexico 362 years earlier, and was linked to a Spanish nun capable of powers of "bilocation," or the ability to be in two places simultaneously.

Meanwhile, young journalist Carlos Albert is driven by a blinding snowstorm to the little Spanish town of √Āgreda, where he stumbles upon a nearly forgotten seventeenth-century convent founded by this same legendary woman. Intrigued by her rumored powers, he delves into finding out more.

These threads, linked by an apparent suicide, eventually lead Carlos to Cardinal Baldi, to an American spy, and ultimately to Los Angeles, where Jennifer Narody unwittingly holds the key to the mystery that the Catholic Church, the U.S. Defense Department, and the journalist are each determined to decipher -- the Lady in Blue.



When I read The Secret Supper by this author, I was quite pleased to find a new author that I enjoyed reading. So when I saw this book at the library, it was a no-brainer for me - I borrowed it straight away! Unfortunately, for me, this was nowhere near as good as The Secret Supper. Maybe it is because it is supposed to be much more of a thriller style novel, but it certainly didn't have the thrills if that is the case.

This book is made up of a series of very short chapters telling four different stories that in the end converge in the climax (or perhaps slight peak?) at the end of the novel. This, for me, was one of the major flaws in this novel. The chapters are so short that with each change of chapter and also storyline, it just felt incredibly choppy to me!

The four threads follow quite different people - the first is a young woman by the name of Jennifer Narody who lives in Los Angeles. She is consulting with a psychiatrist because she has been having incredibly vivid dreams about the past, about a time that she could know nothing about. She is somewhat restricted in what she can tell her therapist because of the secrecy surrounding the nature of her previous employment, which included time spent working for the government and in a joint project with the Vatican in Rome.

which was trying to scientifically generate the ability to The second is about Carlos Albert. He is a somewhat jaded young man, working for what sounded like it was kind of a like a paranormal magazine, following up on stories that make you go hmmm. He is being drawn/led to a story about people who have the ability to bilocate. Several months previously he had interviewed a priest about a project called Chronovisionbilocate. Chronovision is a Vatican project which is investigating the phenomenon of being able to bilocate which they want to use to be able to use people to actually view historical events as they happen. When, during a severe snowstorm Carlos and his companion coincidentally finds that the only open road leads them to a small town where he finds the priory where nearly 400 years before a young nun had the ability to bilocate, he decides to dig further or to use the correct vernacular, to follow the signs.

Our third thread mentions the aforementioned priest, Cardinal Baldi, who spoke to Carlos about Chronovision. For his slip up about the ultra top secret project, he has been called to Rome, and breaking the rules about not having direct contact with the other members of the project, he arranges to meet one of the other members, only to find out that the other man had just apparently committed suicide, and now his own life is in danger. He must also follow the signs to try and discover what the other members of the group had been working on, and who and why someone wants to put an end to the project.

The fourth, and quite frankly, most interesting aspect of the story, focused on the events of 400 years ago with the appearances of the Lady in Blue to the native Americans in what would now be New Mexico I believe. As the missionaries were sent to the newly acquired lands by the Spanish government, they were astounded to find that there were already many converts to Christianity who claimed to have seen a Lady in Blue, or at least paved the way for conversion.

Since the publication of The Da Vinci Code there has been many novels published exploring the various aspects of church conspiracies and mysteries. This is yet another. The one saving grace for this novel is that it is not about Mary Magdelene!

With a top secret studies focusing on music providing the key ingredient on how to bilocate, angels in red high heels committing crimes like theft kidnapping and terrorism, this is a hodge podge that failed to fully engage my attention, and was definitely a disappointment for me.

Perhaps one of my main issues was that every time Chronovision was mentioned I couldn't help but think of the Chronoguard from Jasper Ffordes Thursday Next series? It certainly didn't help!

Rating 2.5/5

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

What's this....two reviews in a week?

I've just posted my review of Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross over at Historical Tapestry.

2007 Blog Tour - Day 16

Today we are off to visit Rachel at her blog, A Fair Substitute for Heaven. Be sure to drop on by and see what treats she has for us!

Prince Caspian movie trailer

Here's a first look at the next Narnia movie, which is out in May apparently.





Official site


Looks pretty good!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Are you an Australian Romance Reader

It's in the very early stages of planning at the moment, but planning is under way for an Australian Romance Readers Convention to be held early in 2009!

You can find more info, and the Expression of Interest form, by reading the ARRC blog!

Keith Urban and John Butler Trio at the 2007 Arias

Can you tell that I am home on a Saturday night! I do have other things I COULD be doing, but instead I am going on a YouTube adventure, seeing where I end up!


I love Keith Urban's music, and quite like John Butler Trios as well, but when the two were put together at the Australian Record Industry Awards (ARIAs) nt too long ago....it was amazing!





And that should be my last post of the day!

90's music nostalgia - Del Amitri

Last week I posted about some 80's music. Tonight, it's the early 90s.


The Del Amitri album Change Everything is one of my favourite albums of all time. It came out about 15 years ago, but it is one that I still listen to at least once every couple of weeks if not more often! Here are two Youtube videos - the first of Always The Last To Know recorded from a British music show (TOTP2), the second of Justin Currie doing a live version of Be My Downfall earlier this year.








Thinking about the album, I think it is fair to say that I love just about every song on it!

You can listen to Nothing Ever Happens (great song!) and watch the video Roll to Me (which was off the next album, but I still love it!) by clicking on the links.

December Cooking Challenge Update

So, how did we go this week? Well ... I kind of met the challenge! I said that last week too didn't I, but it's for different reasons this week!

Sunday night - I had Steak and pasta and vegies. Actually this was leftovers from Friday night. My son had noodles.

Monday night - Hungry Jacks - Uh-oh, it looks like a pattern forming! I had this last Monday night as well.

Tuesday night - Chicken marinaded in Red Wine and Garlic sauce, served with rice and vegies

Wednesday night - Veal schnitzel, chips and vegies

Thursday night - nothing. This is where I am saying I am not sure if I met the challenge, because for me the challenge is as much about not buying take away every night of the week as it is about finding new recipes! I didn't have anything because I was still full from our work Christmas lunch.

Friday night - McDonalds. We weren't eating until late because my son had his first school disco.

Saturday night
- Chicken curry noodles.




The chicken curry noodles is a recipe that I cooked two or three times about 5 or 6 years ago, and I thought I would pull out the recipe and make again. Wouldn't you know it, I couldn't find the darn book, so I ended up just improvising but it tasted really good so I might make it again! I was a bit worried that it would be a little dry but as long as the chicken isn't overcooked it was fine!



I cut 500g of boneless chicken into strips, and marinaded it for an hour or so in 2 tablespoons of green curry paste (like you would use in Thai cooking).

Stir fry the chicken, and then add some snow peas.

Prepare a packet of fresh Hokkien Noodles as per the instructions and then toss with the chicken and snow peas and serve!


Simple but yummy, and I am thinking relatively healthy but you might not want to quote me on that!

2007 Blog Tour - Day 15

Today, we are off to visit Alyssa's blog, where she is talking about the magic of Christmas Lights.

I have to admit that I am partial to the magic myself. I remember when I was a kid when we would go out at night I would count how many houses had their Christmas lights on. Every single time we left the house! Even when I was young I was a bit sad really! LOL!!


Alyssa's post also reminded me of a video that I saw last year that was just amazing. Someone is way too clever!


Funny Videos


I do have a Christmas lights story I could tell, but I will let the light shine on Alyssa for today. Maybe I will remember another day!

Romance Reading Challenge

Have you started thinking about what your reading goals are going to be next year? I have, and one of the things I have been thinking about doing is joining in some of the challenges that are going on around blog land. I decided very early on this year to resist the urge to join in because it is enough of a challenge for me to manage my library list usually, but if the challenge can fit in with my other reading goals, then I might join in!

The first one I am joining in on is the Romance Reading Challenge that is being hosted by Naida.

Now, I read a fair proportion of romance as it is, so what I wanted to do is tie it in with some of my other reading resolutions. One of these will again be to try and read some of the books that I have gone and spent my hard earned cash on but haven't yet read! In order to complete the challenge you have to read (and review!)5 books next year, so below is a list of five books that I have bought, but still haven't read yet, despite the fact that I really, really want to! Believe me when I say that there are plenty of other books that I could have chosen from for this challenge too!





The Huntress by Susan Carroll - I was so excited about this book coming out in June 2007. Still haven't read it!











The Wild Hunt by Elizabeth Chadwick
- I have loved the two books that I have read by Chadwick and so want to now start working my way through her backlist. I was so excited when I won this on Ebay because it is a book that is a bit hard to come by at this point in time, although from what I understand this book, and the two that follow it, are going to be reissued soon.

My review is now up here.








Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan
- I've actually got both this book and Warsworn here to read.

Review now up here








Lessons of Desire by Madeline Hunter - The first book in this series was the first book that I finished in 2007. Despite having preordered this, still havent read it!

My review is now up here












Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas - What exactly am I waiting for?

Review is now up here









I'll have one book in reserve as well...just in case!





Lover Unbound by JR Ward - Shhh! Don't tell anyone but I had this one preordered as well and haven't read it yet.

Friday, December 14, 2007

2007 Blog Tour - Day 14


Another blog to visit today for an extra special blog tour treat - today we are visiting Robyn!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

You won't believe it!

I actually managed to write a review today!

Come on over to Historical Tapestry and read my review of The Persimmon Tree by Bryce Courtenay.

Catalog

Or should that be catalogue? [wink]

This week's Booking Through Thursday question:

Do you use any of the online book-cataloguing sites, like Library Thing or Shelfari? Why or why not? (Or . . . do you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking to?? (grin))

If not an online catalog, do you use any other method to catalog your book collection? Excel spreadsheets, index cards, a notebook, anything?



Woo-hoo! A BTT post on time for once!

I have bought a lifetime membership to Library Thing, and went through and got completely up to date, and then haven't even visited it for nearly 6 months. I have meant too! Maybe when I have holidays at the end of January I will be able to get more on top of things over there again!

As for Spreadsheets....do I have spreadsheets! Yes indeedy!

I actually have two workbooks that I use for books. One is Rosario's fabulous yearly Excel spreadsheet in which I list all the books I have read this year. You can then get graphs which show you which types of books you are reading, what the settings are, percentages of rereads to new reads, which year your most copyrights are from, as well, I am sure a few other things! You can see an example of one of Rosario's spreadsheets here.

The other Excel workbook is less technical than Rosario's spreadsheet, but it is in effect my personal catalogue.

On the first page, there is a list of all the books that I have read or that I own and am yet to read. The kind of information held on that spreadsheet is the date I bought a book, the date I read it, if I borrowed it from somewhere where, and if I have lent it to someone who (so I know who to chase up if it doesn't come back!), the ratings I have given the books I have read, what number book it is this year and whether the author is Australian or not.

The second page is my TBR list of all the books I want to read. It includes what number in a series the book is so that I can be sure that I am reading the series in order, as well as if it is available from the library or not. At the moment the list stands at about 2000 items, although I must confess that if I think that an author's books sound interesting I will add most of them straight away, so that figure is probably a little bit inflated!

The third page is my library books page. What books I have out from the library, how many times I have left of renewing them, and their due dates. This is what I use to help me decide what I am reading next.

The final page is about series. It is a list of all the series I am either reading or finished, along with an indicator of whether there are currently books out in the series that I haven't read yet, or if I am waiting for the next book...or perhaps I have completely finished the series. This is probably the page I use least.

Aren't you so glad that this question got asked??

2007 Blog Tour - Day 13

More than half way through now. Are you all organised for the big day? I am....in my head! In actuality I'm nowhere near ready. Why is it that some people in your life are allowed to insist that I need to have a list for both myself and my son of what we would like, but when I ask them what they would like the answer is always 'oh, I don't know...anything'? Anyway...moving on!

Today we are visiting with Jill and with Stephanie.

Hope you enjoy their offerings!


13 December - Jill, Stephanie (Written Word)
14 December - Robyn
15 December - Alyssa,
16 December - Rachel
17 December - Literary Feline
18 December - Dev,Stephanie (Confessions of a Book-a-holic)
19 December - Callista
20 December - Tiny Little Librarian
21 December - Carla, Susan Higginbotham
22 December - Carolyn Jean
23 December - Booklogged
24 December - Kailana, Carl

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

2007 Blog Tour - Day 11

Only a couple more days and we will be half way through our blog tour! Can you believe it. The old cliche is true - Time flies when you are having fun!

Today, we are stopping off at Suey's blog, so don't forget to stop on by and see what goodies she has for us!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Spirit Award

I first saw this mentioned over at Dancin' Fools blog. Lady Banana has offered this badge to everyone who visits her blog as a way saying Merry Christmas. In order to snag this badge, you just need to visit her here.

It's really very cool! If you hold your cursor over the word Santa you can hear him!

I would love to pass this badge onto anyone who is participating in the Advent Calendar Blog Tour, whether you are posting or just reading along!

80's Music Nostalgia

You can't embed these videos, but I think that they are better to just listen to and then go...man I haven't heard that song in forever, and then to go searching for the full versions on Youtube!

The Top 20 songs of 1986

The Top 20 songs of 1985

I am sure that there are links for lots of other years. The question is can I stop myself from linking to them all! We will just start with those!

I do have an aside to this. I was just listening to the Top 20 songs of 1984. The number 1 song is Jump by Van Halen, and my son came into the room and said "That's the song that's in Herbie Full Loaded". What kind of cultural referencing does my child have??

Booking Through Thursday

For no really good reason that I can think of, I haven't managed to do the last three Booking Through Thursday Memes, so I thought I would do a bit of a catch up post!

From Thursday 19th November - Connecting Words


Okay, today’s question is going to be a little different. First, I’m posting it early because Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and I’m going to be busy making and eating turkey as I’m sure some of you will also be, so I want to give everyone time to play. And two, because I’m basically going to link you through to somebody else’s blog with a question that I thought was pretty interesting.

Joanna and Brad are asking about “connecting words,” and they don’t mean conjunctions like “and” or “but.” No, what they’re looking for are unique, or treasured words that we’ve found out and about in our daily travels, words that might not be common usage, or often heard, but which struck a chord for some reason.

This is unorthodox, of course, but here’s the thing: if you link back to Joanna’s post (which is where the rules are written), you’re eligible to win a prize. Not to mention joining in some great conversation about interesting words.

I’m not sure if you’re supposed to leave a comment there or not. She only specifies that you should link to it in your post, but . . . I suppose a comment wouldn’t hurt. But, as always, comment here, too, please so that all of us can play along. I’ve already answered this one here.



I actually don't have an answer for this one, and looking at the comments it seems as though I wasn't really the only one! It did kind of make me laugh though that Deb posted the question early to allow for Thanksgiving, and I am still managing to even think about answering a couple of weeks late! Oh well!

From November 29 - Rolling

Do you get on a roll when you read, so that one book leads to the next, which leads to the next, and so on and so on?

I don’t so much mean something like reading a series from beginning to end, but, say, a string of books that all take place in Paris. Or that have anthropologists as the main character. Or were written in the same year. Something like that… Something that strings them together in your head, and yet, otherwise could be different genres, different authors…


I would have originally said no, not really to this question, but when I look back over the last few months I can definitely see some patterns forming, and most certainly in terms of things that happen in life that interconnect with my reading. For example, last month I read Barbed Wire and Roses by Peter Yeldham, and one of the themes in the book was about the treatment for soldiers who had shell-shock during WWI. Not long after that I watched a documentary on the difficulties that the soldiers who are returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are having in readjusting and not being treated for their medical issues. Last week, I watched another documentary on the History Channel, which investigated what happened to those soldiers that survived WWI but who were mentally scarred and suffering from shell shock.

Since reading that book I do seem to have been reading a bit more fiction that is set in either WWI and WWII, including right now, The Persimmon Tree by Bryce Courtenay which is set during WWII in the Pacific fronts. It all seems to tie in.

Another example of rolling is after reading The Arrival (a look at the immigrant experience with a fantasy setting_ not long ago I also read Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung which is the story of a young girl who was born in Australia of immigrant parents, and she is living the ever changing immigrant experience, trying to balance her home life with living in current day Australia

From December 6 - OOP

This week’s question is suggested by Island Editions:

Do you have a favourite book, now out of print, that you would like to see become available again? (I have several…)



It's probably a good thing that I have had a few days to think about this one, because initially I couldn't think of any, but now I have a couple that I haven't read but would really like to, and the works of another author that I loved when I read them just under 20 years ago.

First, the ones that I have read, but would really like to. I have heard such good things about Kathryn in the Court of Six Queens by Anne Merton Abbey but it does seem very difficult to find, and so far I haven't managed to do so.

The other one that I would really like to read is Phantom by Susan Kay Law. I am told that it is one of the best versions of Phantom around, but it seems to be another really hard one to find!

The author that I have read, but would love to see reprinted is Noel Barber. My aunt recommended his books to me when I was about 17 or 18, and once I read one, I just devoured them! I loved the fact that he wrote multi generational sagas featuring passionate relationships set against the world at war. Loved them. I have no idea if I would enjoy them if I reread them now, but I do enjoy the memory of them!

And now, I am all caught up on Booking Through Thursday....and there has been a bookish post on my blog! Yay!

2007 Blog Tour - Day 10


Today's stop on the blog tour express is at Dewey's blog.

Yesterday's posts were great. When I posted the links they weren't up yet, so when I went and visited it was fun to read some Christmas Carol riddles and about Christmas in New Orleans. I wonder what other goodies we have in store for us as the tour progresses.

Speaking of Advent Calendars, we are no longer opening one here at home because my son has surreptiously been eating all the chocolates from behind all the doors! Lucky I still have this one!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Music

I have been spending a little time over at Youtube, and thought I might post some videos of Christmas songs I really like!


2007 Blog Tour - Day 9

Today is kind of special in the blog tour, because it is one of only a few days where we have two places to visit.

The first is going to be at Raidergirl's blog, and the second is at Chris's blog, Stuff as Dreams are Made on.

As of this moment in time, their posts aren't up, but I am looking forward to seeing what they both have up later in the day!

December cooking challenge update


Saturday night - pork steaks with tangy tomato couscous and salad

Sunday night - wedding

Monday night - Hungry Jacks...whoops (our equivalent of Burger King)

Tuesday night - chicken in red wine and garlic marinade and salad.

Wednesday night - Red rooster (Roasted chicken and chips) - went swimming and was home far too late to cook

Thursday night - lamb chops with ratatouille, chips and vegies

Friday night - steak, packet pasta and vegies

Saturday night
- out for dinner


So, my aim was to cook 5 nights a week, and I almost achieved that this week. I didn't exactly try a new recipe, but I hadn't had the tangy tomato couscous or pasta from Friday night before so I did try some new packet accompaniments!

I did spend some time this afternoon looking through a recipe magazine and there were a few things that caught my attention! I have to admit that looking through recipe magazines, and cook books is one of my great pleasures. Often times all I do is buy them and look through them and never cook anything out of them, but that's okay.

Book blog?

If anyone came to visit this blog anytime recently for the first time, they would be pretty hard pressed to identify this blog as a book blog!

I am not in a reading slump, but I am in a reviewing slump! I have only written three reviews since the beginning of November. In that same period I've read 22 books! Can anyone say 'oh my goodness I am so far behind' with me!

I was intending to write at least one review this weekend, but I don't think it is going to happen. Maybe some time during this week.

Social butterfly

Basically for the last three months I have been busy, busy, busy social life wise. In all that time, I only had one weekend where I haven't had anything planned. We've had visitors from interstate, I have been out to dinner numerous times, as well as to a show and a wedding, and I have to say I must have run out of babysitting credits with my sister because my son has stayed there so often. Basically, other than Christmas my next event that is already planned isn't until April! Normally, I would jokingly comment about not having a life, but just lately the idea of a weekend at home sounds very enticing!

Last night was the last of those events. I went out for dinner with my old boss and a couple of my friends who used to work with us. They are all in new jobs now, and I am the only one left in the same job. Apart from the fact that they spent ages telling me to get moving and get my resume together to look for a new job, it was a fun night.

We went to a place called Donovans at St Kilda. It is right on the beachfront in one of the trendiest areas in Melbourne. The ambience was great, the service was excellent, but I am not 100% sure that the food was worth the money. It's certainly the most expensive dinner I have ever had to pay for! We started by having dinner in their dining area which is quite casual in a designer kind of way, and then we ended up having dessert in their outdoor terrace section, watching the sun go down, and people watching everyone on the beach. We even had some people playing their drums on the sand not too far away so got entertainment as well.

After that, we went to Luna Park, which is a small amusement park that has been in St Kilda for many years. One of the girls had to bring her son with her, so we spent probably an hour or so in there whilst he went on a few of the rides. And then, the three of us who didn't have a kid with them went onto a pub that is quite nearby. Apparently it is a very popular place and it did seem like the perfect place to spend a summer's night.

We didn't stay terribly late, which is probably a good thing considering how quickly we get through the wine when we are drinking together, and even better, I didn't wake up with a terribly bad headache this morning, which is a definite bonus!

All in all, a fun, but expensive night!

2007 Blog Tour - Day 8


Today Nymeth has a link to some free Christmas music downloads, and a recipe for Portuguese Sweet Rice which sound delish!

The rest of the stops on the blog tour are:
9 December - Raidergirl, Chris
10 December - Dewey
11 December - Suey
12 December - Chris
13 December - Jill, Stephanie (Written Word)
14 December - Robyn
15 December - Alyssa,
16 December - Rachel
17 December - Literary Feline
18 December - Dev, Stephanie (Confessions of a Book-a-holic)
19 December - Callista
20 December - Tiny Little Librarian
21 December - Carla, Susan Higginbotham
22 December - Carolyn Jean
23 December - Booklogged
24 December - Kailana, Carl

Friday, December 07, 2007

2007 Blog Tour - Day 7


Today we are stopping off at Wendy's blog. She is talking about her memories of her grandparent's Christmas, and has another delicious sounding cookie recipe.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Which of Santa's Reindeer are you?

Saw this over at Wandeca Reads and thought it looked like fun! Not quite sure which answers I gave to get this result, but still......



You Are Dancer

Carefree and fun, you always find reasons to do a happy dance.

Why You're Naughty: That dark stint you had as Santa's private dancer.

Why You're Nice: You're friendly. Very friendly.



How about you?

2007 Blog Tour - Day 6

Today, we are off to visit Laura! Laura is a new to me blogger, which is really cool because as much as I love to visit all of you, I do like to discover new blogs too!

Not only is her post about Christmas...it's also her daughter's birthday...so Happy Birthday to Julia!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

2007 Blog Tour - Day 5

After taking a trip down memory with Valentina yesterday, we are now off to Melissa's blog, where she has a post up about Christmas Stories and a delicious sounding reciper for Hot Chocolate.

Enjoy!

Christmas Day forecast!

For all my talk about having a hot Christmas, I have just seen the extended weather forecast for Christmas Day. They are saying that they believe that it is going to only be about 17C (62F) here in Melbourne! That's the equivalent of a mild winter day for us!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

2007 Blog Tour - Day 4

Thanks everyone who stopped by yesterday. I hope that everyone has enjoyed the posts so far.

Today, we are off to Valentina's Room to see what festive fun she will serve up!


This is where the tour is going to visit over the next couple of weeks:

5 December - Melissa
6 December - Laura
7 December - Wendy
8 December - Nymeth
9 December - Raidergirl, Chris
10 December - Dewey
11 December - Suey
12 December - Chris
13 December - Jill, Stephanie (Written Word)
14 December - Robyn
15 December - Alyssa,
16 December - Rachel
17 December - Literary Feline
18 December - Dev, Stephanie (Confessions of a Book-a-holic)
19 December - Callista
20 December - Tiny Little Librarian
21 December - Carla, Susan Higginbotham
22 December - Carolyn Jean
23 December - Booklogged
24 December - Kailana, Carl

There's still time if you want to join in the fun!

Monday, December 03, 2007

2007 Blog Tour - Day 3

Today you have not one, but two stops on the Advent Blog Tour. The first is at Lady Tink's blog, and the other is right here!

When I lived overseas, one of the things that amazed most people was the thought of having a hot Christmas. One thing that can be a little different is the food. My mother never cooked a hot Christmas lunch. The first time I ever had roast turkey was when I lived in England and had to cook it for ten people! Of course, now that it is other people who are doing the cooking she is more than happy to eat a hot lunch! One of the great things about Christmas lunch in Australia is that there is inevitably some seafood somewhere on the menu! Yum!

For me, it is of course normal to have a summer Christmas, but lots of people would ask if we spent Christmas at the beach. I can safely say that I have never spent all day Christmas Day at the beach. I have been down there at sunset on Christmas Eve with friends, which is always pleasant, but not during the whole day. Besides, how would your turkey taste if it was chocful of sand! Having said that, we do quite regularly end up in the pool on Christmas Day, which is great, especially when it's hot! One of the big advantages of having Christmas in the Australian summer is that you get to do lots of great outside activities. I spent my teenage years heavily involved in Salvation Army activities, so we used to go Christmas carolling around the streets, ending up at one of the church member's houses for a swim and a barbie!

That long introduction was leading up to me talking about something that is an Aussie tradition - Carols by Candlelight. Each of the major cities has a Carols by Candlelight service, with the ones from Sydney and Melbourne being televised across the country. Thousands and thousands of people crowd into a major park, bringing blankets, food, champers, and good company and spend the late afternoon waiting for it to start to get dark enough to start the carol service and most importantly, to light the candles, and at the end of the night....fireworks! Lots of famous singers participate (as well a few celebrities who would like to think that they can sing), the audience sings along, all the while helping to raise funds for some major charities.

However, even more fun are the local services that are held all over the suburbs. They can vary in size between really small, and quite large events depending on the area. One of the ones in my area is held at Werribee Mansion. The gardens become a huge picnic ground for several thousand people. The ice cream van does a brisk business, Santa inevitably makes an appearance and everyone goes home full of Christmas cheer. It is a perfect event for families to get together and spend some time together, although you do need to ensure that you remember the sunscreen and the insect repellent!

There were so many videos up on Youtube that I struggled to know which ones to choose, but in the end I have gone with Jessica Mauboy (runner up in Australian Idol last year) singing one more traditional carol, and a poppy Christmas song.







In closing,this is a fun sitewhere you can make yourself into an elf. It takes a while to load, but it's fun once you get it! So from my son and I, Merry Christmas!

Click here to Elf Yourself

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