Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Challenge Page

This post is just my own record of challenges that I participated in that have finished during 2008.


  • The Sci-fi Experience 2008

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    Gaskell Mini Challenge

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    Once Upon a Time II

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  • 100+ Reading Challenge

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    Book Blowout

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    Olympic Reading Challenge

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    Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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  • Pub 08 Challenge

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  • Romance Reading Challenge

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  • Chunkster Challenge 2008

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    Heard it Through the Grapevine Challenge
  • Happy New Year!

    With just over 5 hours of 2008 left for us, we are getting ready to head into the city with friends, to observe the fireworks, listen to some music and generally celebrate the end of this year, and the start of the new year! We actually have never done this since we have lived in Melbourne so hopefully it will be fun!

    I wish all my blogging friends a very Happy New Year, and hope that however you are celebrating you have a great new year, and that you party safely!

    Tuesday, December 30, 2008

    Teaser Tuesday

    Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Should be Reading:

    • Grab your current read.
    • Let the book fall open to a random page.
    • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
    • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    • Please avoid spoilers!

    This week my teaser comes from page 206 of Bleeding Dusk by Colleen Gleason.

    She would have followed him, but Ilias caught her arm. "You cannot come back in this way, so take care. It is only an exit."

    I have no idea who Ilias is, let alone who 'him' is! Have to keep reading.

    Reading Challenges update Part 1

    Given how close it is to the end of the year (gasp!) it is time for one last look at the outstanding challenges that I have for this year. Over the next couple of days I will do a best of 2008 type post with some stats and then some details of the challenges that I will be taking part in during 2009.

    Pub 08 Reading Challenge

    Whilst I didn't get around to reading the first three books off of my original list (but I will!) and I read but didn't review the last two books, I have read 47 books this year that were published in 2008, so I definitely finished the reading part of the challenge. Some highlights (with reviews) were The Host by Stephenie Meyer, The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Maryann Shaffer, The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, The Time of Singing by Elizabeth Chadwick and East of the Sun by Julia Gregson. I am swapping these titles in, so this is challenge complete!

    I've signed up for the Pub 09 Reading Challenge already!

    Romance Reading Challenge

    This challenge finished earlier this month. I still didn't manage to read either The Huntress or Lover Unbound, so I didn't quite make it to completion on this challenge.

    Naida is running this challenge again this year. I am not signing up this year, but not for any other reason than I need to have some kind of limits on the number of challenges that I participate in!

    Chunkster Challenge

    I finally read Wolf of the Plains by Conn Iggulden, but I haven't done the reviw yet. So I kind of finished this one.

    Does anyone know if someone is running this again next year? I have tried to contact this year's host but haven't had a response yet. Are people interested in participating in this challenge? I definitely still am, and I might be willing to host it as long as no one else wants to.

    Heard it Through the Grapevine Challenge

    I never did get around to reading Counting the Stars. I do have it out from the library again at the moment so maybe I will get to read it early in the new year. This challenge ended on November 30.

    Stephenie Meyer Mini Challenge

    I have read both The Host and Breaking Dawn, but haven't reviewed Breaking Dawn. I also went to see Twilight tonight. With the challenge finishing on January 30, I should still be able to complete this one.

    Monday, December 29, 2008

    The Sci-Fi Experience 2009

    Okay, so I am shallow and have joined a challenge/experience because of the awesomeness of the button! Actually, I may have done that before too, and I did participate in last year's version of the challenge as well, so perhaps, just perhaps, I am not totally shallow. Maybe?

    Anyway, Carl V is once again hosting the Sci-fi Experience. In his words:

    As I said last year, this is an experience and not a challenge. There are no reading lists, book requirements, etc. I do not argue about what is or is not considered ’science fiction’. Nothing about this two month period of science fiction celebration should cause anyone to feel obligated to participate. I host two other very involved challenges throughout the year and the last thing I want to do is start a new year adding stress to your busy lives or my own. This is simply a time to experience how exhilarating science fiction can be.

    Again from last year:

    “More than any other genre of fiction, science fiction reading is to me an experience– not only does it transport me to another time and place in the future but it also transports me to my past and as such creates an aura of reading that is wonderful to experience but difficult to describe. I can only hope that you fellow readers are nodding your heads in agreement right now, recalling similar experiences that you have with various novels and/or genres of fiction.”

    The main reason for me to participate in the Experience is that sci-fi is one of the genres that I don't read very often, and so I like to try and expand my exposure to the genre as a whole. I really enjoyed the book I read last year, and then The Host by Stephenie Meyer is one of my favourite reads of 2008, so it does seem like a good idea to read another sci-fi book. The question is what? I could read the second book in the Island in the Sea of Time trilogy but I guess that would be cheating a little. I have borrowed it from the library a couple of times over the last twelve months but had to return it unread.

    I think though I am going to give myself two books to read. Both are cross genre reads. The first is a sci-fi/romance that I bought months ago and haven't read yet - Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre. The other is a YA/sci-fi book that I first read about at Becky's Book Reviews, and have seen around other places in blogland - Life as We Know It by Susan Pfeffer.

    ****Edited to say****

    I will of course be reading Grimspace, the first book in Ann Aguirre's ongoing series, not the second book!

    Saturday, December 27, 2008

    The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

    From one of England's most celebrated writers, the author of the award-winning The History Boys, a funny and superbly observed novella about the Queen of England and the subversive power of reading

    When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large.
    In this 120 page long novella, Alan Bennett hypothesises about what might happen should the Queen suddenly become an avid reader. What would happen if she wanted to talk to the influential people that she meets about famous authors, and if suddenly all those affairs of state got in the way of that really good book that she is reading!

    Whilst many of the events in the novel are pretty unrealistic, the book itself is very readable, and will have a ready made audience in terms of bookworms everywhere, who will appreciate Her Majesty's frustration when the book she is reading goes missing, and when she would rather just stay at home reading than go on a Royal excursion.

    This was an entertaining and fun read - just perfect to read when you are not feeling a hundred percent and would struggle to concentrate on anything too long or too hard. I can tell that I am really ill when I can't read, and I picked up several books before this one caught my eye. I managed to read it in a couple of sittings. If I had of been feeling better I could probably have read it quicker, but as it was it met my requirements quite well.

    Other Blogger's Thoughts:

    It's All About Books

    Hidden Side of a Leaf
    A Striped Armchair
    Stuff As Dreams Are Made On
    A Reader's Respite
    Things Mean a Lot
    Melody's Reading Corner
    The 3 Rs: Reading, 'Riting and Randomness
    Just Add Books
    Literate Housewife

    Top 10 Crime novels

    Kerrie from Mysteries in Paradise is wanting to create a blogger's list of the Top 10 Crime novels read in 2008. You can see the details here.

    My list would look something like this:

    The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters
    Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
    Seduction in Death by J D Robb
    The Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters
    Exit Strategy by Kelley Armstrong
    Diamond Dove by Adrian Nyland
    Purity in Death by J D Robb
    When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson
    The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

    I am not sure that all of these qualify as crime, but they meet my definition at least! Be sure to visiit Kerrie and give her your list of best crime novels for the year!

    Christmas wrap up!

    I am slowly recovering from the cold that I managed to get for Christmas. My goodness I felt terrible for the last couple of days. I sound as though I am coughing up a lung still but I do feel a bit better! Might still have to have a nap or two today!

    Santa was good to me. No books, but that is because at least some of my family members believe I read a bit much! He bought me a new bag (which I really needed), a new cast iron frying pan (which I really needed), some earrings, a vase, some vouchers, Abba Singstar, a Top Gear DVD, Pink's Funhouse.

    For the boy there was an iPod Shuffle (so I have been spending a while trying to figure out how to work the darn thing!), a new bike, a book, a Futurama DVD, Kung Fu Panda DVD, some Adelaide Crows merchandise, a Battleship game, some Transformers, a Bakugan amongst other things.

    I decided that seeing as I was doing so well with the vegies, I would try a couple of other plants, so now I have not the one or two I was thinking of, but six pots full of fuschias. My mother thinks that I can go from killing everything I grow to growing cuttings in one easy step. I am not sure that I agree with her, but we'll see I guess!

    Speaking of growing things, we ate our first piece of home grown produce yesterday. Here it is, before it was gobbled up!

    Thursday, December 25, 2008

    Merry Christmas!

    Santa has been, and I think that the boy is happy with his gifts! He would want to be I tell you!

    It is a beautiful 24C here today (75F). We are off to sit outside and enjoy our dinner. I don't know for sure what we are having but I am sure that there will be lots of it, including prawns, roast and pudding! I am just glad that I am not the one who needs to prepare it all!

    Whatever you and yours are doing, I hope that you have a safe and merry Christmas, or, if you don't celebrate Christmas that you are enjoying your holiday season as well!

    Wednesday, December 24, 2008

    Day 24 - Blog Advent Tour

    And so we come to the end of this year's Blog Advent Tour and I have to say I think it has been terrific this year! I already am looking forward to next year!

    I was hoping to do a recap of some of the posts tonight, but I have managed to get myself a summer cold and I feel terrible so I am off to bed for an early night!

    Before I do go to bed though I do want to say thanks to everyone who participated this year, and to announce the final stops on the tour which are with Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings
    , Kailana's Written World and Sherry at Semicolon.

    One last treat from me. Did you know that you can track Santa as he goes around the world via NORAD - click here and watch Santa as he criss crosses the globe delivering gifts! My son loves watching this, and it is something that we enjoy doing together!

    Merry Christmas everyone!

    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    Teaser Tuesday

    Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Should be Reading:

    • Grab your current read.
    • Let the book fall open to a random page.
    • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
    • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    • Please avoid spoilers!

    Just like last week, I have a teaser from It by Stephen King - yes, I am still reading it!

    Grimacing (his belly was stiffening now; it had gone board-hard, and the blood seeping sluggishly between his fingers had the consistency of sap just before you took the taps out of the maples in late March or early April), he got on his knees and pushed aside the still hedge-branches. He could see headlights and the shop of a car. Cops?

    The reason I am reading It because I was challenged to do so by Ana and Thea from Book Smugglers. I was supposed to have finished it by the 21st, but I didn't quite make it. You can see my guest post where I talk about my experience ... so far... reading this book by clicking here!

    Day 23 - 2008 Advent Blog Tour

    Well, apart from a few bits and pieces, I think I am done! Tonight I am hoping to wrap the last of the gifts, but I also need to clear the spare room in case my mother does end up staying with me for the next two nights!

    We are nearly done for the Advent Blog Tour as well, although there are a few stops yet, including the following blogs today:

    Jane from Janezlifeandtimes

    Memory from Stella Matutina

    Debbie from Friday Friends Book Blog

    Cari from Book Scoops

    I thought I might put up a couple of classic 80's Christmas songs for our enjoyment!

    Monday, December 22, 2008

    Australian LitBlog Snapshot

    Matilda, one of my favourite Aussie blogs to read, has been hosting an ongoing series called the Australian LitBlog Snapshot where he asks the same series of questions to a group of Aussie bloggers! Some of the blogs are new to me, others I already read regularly, and there is great variety amongst the list!

    Today, I am lucky enough to be the featured blog! You can read everyone's answers by clicking here.

    Thanks for the opportunity, and welcome to any new visitors!

    Day 22 - Blog Advent Tour

    Not many days to go, but still quite a few stops on the tour! Here's the list including today's tour stops:

    22 December

    Think Pink Dana

    My Friend Amy

    Nicole from Linus's Blanket

    Susan from Reading, Raving and Ranting by a Historical Fiction Writer

    23 December

    Jane from Janezlifeandtimes

    Memory from Stella Matutina

    Debbie from Friday Friends Book Blog

    Cari from Book Scoops

    24 December

    Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings

    Kailana's Written World

    Sherry at Semicolon

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    Monsters Are Afraid of the Moon by Marjane Satrapi

    Even though my favourite book of last year was a picture book, I don't often read them. My reason for reading this one was simple. I loved the two Persepolis books by Marjane Satrapi and I was hoping to read some of her other books as well, but the only one my library had was this one!

    This is very much a book aimed at say a 6 or 7 years old. There are quite a lot of words in it for a picture book. The drawings are boldly coloured, and simple - very easy on the eyes. The message is a good one too. Marie is scared of the monsters that come out at night, but the monsters are scared at the light, so Marie decides to cut the moon from the sky, but there are consequences of her actions, for everyone, but especially for the cats and rats, so there needs to be another solution.

    A fun read. My 10 year old read it in the car to me as I drove along, so it didn't take very long at all to read.

    I don't read enough picture books to give a true rating, but I liked this one!

    Day 21 - 2008 Blog Advent Tours

    Today on the Advent Tour there are four stops:

    Rhinoa from Rhinoa's Ramblings

    Melissa from Remember to Breathe

    The Bluestocking Guide

    Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies

    Yesterday I posted about my new ornaments. Today, it is two of my favourites from a couple of years ago. I just love these two, and normally I insist that I need to be the one to put them on the tree! This year my son put one on, and I thought I had lost one of them!

    Saturday, December 20, 2008

    Day 20 - Blog Advent Tour

    Day 20 on the tour and today we are visiting Jessica from The Bluestockings Society, Naida from The Bookworm, BookClover and Book Thingo.

    Each year I try to buy at least one new Christmas decoration for the tree. Some years it is a ball with the year painted on it. Other years it has been something else. This year, I have not one new decoration but six! The main reason for having six is that when I went to the shops last weekend, one of the department stores already had 40% off of their decorations, so I bought four! The other two came from a couple of family members who went to Sydney earlier in the month and bought decorations back.

    The ones that I bought were three wise men and a purple and gold year bauble.

    This is one of the gifts. At first glance I thought it was a kangaroo but a closer look tells me it is actually a reindeer. We won't mention my inability to recognise the national emblem okay? The tail should have been a clue!

    This one is one that I was given last night. I really need a new bag, although I don't think that this one will fit many books in it, which is the top criteria I have for buying new handbags!

    Friday, December 19, 2008

    Day 19 - 2008 Blog Advent Tour

    Today on the Blog Advent Tour we are visiting the blogs of Laclau from Conversacions de Cafe, Krissi from The Swim Mom, Morgan from Insert Clever Name Here and Mariel from Where Troubles Melt Like Lemon Drops. Laclau's post is in Spanish, but there is a translation tool at the bottom of the blog! I just love that the English translation keeps referring to her panthers, which I suspect might be cats! LOL!

    Here's some snippets of Aussie Christmas songs! It should be said that we don't sing any of them regularly, but they are an attempt to catch a little bit of the summer Christmas spirit!

    The songs in order are:

    1.Aussie Jingle bells
    2.Deck the Sheds with bits of wattle
    3.Santa's movin' to the South Pole
    4.Barry the elf
    5.The Holly and the Ivy
    6.He's the Aussie Santa
    7.Cool Rockin' Santa
    8.Here Comes Christmas Bob
    9.We wish you a ripper Christmas
    10.Boomba the snow man

    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Finally made those changes I was talking about!

    I first talked about making some changes to my blog in October. My plan was to copy all the posts that I had at my card making blog that I updated infrequently over to this blog, instead of maintaining them both! I was still thinking about it today when I noticed a new feature in Blogger that allowed the Import and Export of Blogger posts. I have to say I was totally impressed at how easy it was to both export the posts off of Card Making Adventures and into this blog! The posts will be on both blogs for a short time while I relabel and then I will delete Card Making Adventures totally. It seems to me that this new option will make it a bit easier to back up your blog on a regular basis as well!

    Another small change is that I have changed the comment form so that it is embedded below the post instead of in a separate window. I can not tell you how often I have to click back to see what the main post was about because I have made half a comment and then forgotten what I was going to say!

    Day 18 - Blog Advent Tour

    A week to go before the big day! Are we all ready? I think I am getting there in terms of things that need to happen on the big day. We just won't think about Christmas cards! Other than that, all under control I think!

    Today on the tour we are visiting Alex from Daemonwolf Books, Leya from Wandeca Reads, Julia's Book Cornerand Hope is the Word.

    Now for a little bit of fun...

    Your Christmas is Most Like: A Very Brady Christmas

    For you, it's all about sharing times with family.

    Even if you all get a bit cheesy at times.

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Day 17 - 2008 Blog Advent Tour

    This month has gone so quickly! Only 8 more sleeps to go before the big day! Today on the Advent Blog Tour we are stopping by and visiting 3M from 1 More Chapter, Stine from The Washingtonium and Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness

    Following on from yesterday's post, here's a poem that I received in my email for those of who like to craft as well as to read!

    Twas the night before Christmas, I'm glued to the tree.
    I'm wondering what Santa brought just for me.
    Could it be cardstock or chipboard or lace?
    Or a Cricut, I said, with a smile on my face.
    And that's when I heard him,

    "Hi Santa, " I said
    "You know....good little girls
    should be in their beds."
    "I know I should Santa,
    and now I've got caught.
    But I was just so excited
    To see what you brought."

    "Well, let's take a look
    in this room where you work.
    He shook his head quickly,
    And left with a jerk.
    I heard him exclaim
    as he put it in gear.
    "You've got enough crap,
    I'll see you next year!"

    Would you try this?

    I have a number of blogs on my reader that are just there because I like to look at the pictures.

    A few months ago, I started reading Cake Wrecks, because it amuses me no end, which led me to another blog called Cupcakes That Take the Cake. Normally I just look at the gorgeous creations, but I must confess that I am not tempted at all by the post for today.

    Would you try a Chocolate Cupcake with Bacon Cream Cheese Filling?

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Teaser Tuesday

    I haven't done a Teaser Tuesday post for a couple of weeks. No idea why!

    Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Should be Reading:

    • Grab your current read.
    • Let the book fall open to a random page.
    • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
    • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    • Please avoid spoilers!

    I have two teasers to share with you this week, one from each of the books I am currently reading!

    The first teaser is from It by Stephen King. This is my first by King, who writes in a genre that it is fair to say is waaay outside my comfort zone, but it is good to challenge yourself...right?

    We went into Ben's Morlock holes, into the sewers, but after awhile they weren't sewers anymore. They were...were...what?

    The second teaser is from Under a Blood Red Sky by Kate Furnivall. I loved her first book, The Russian Concubine, when I read it last year. Unfortunately it is one of the books that I have the review started and sitting in draft for me to finish one day (not really going to happen!).

    Sofia beckoned to Anna and led the way to the ditch on the edge of the forest, dug out as a latrine for the hundreds of workers. Behind it lay a boulder that was still half buried in the snow.
    Give how much I have already read of the book, I have to say that that teaser has teased me, even if it isn't a very exciting tease for anyone else! LOL!

    Day 16 - 2008 Advent Blog Tour

    Today on the Blog Advent Tour we are stopping by at the blogs of Strumpet from Strumpet's Life, Chris from Stuff as Dreams are Made on and Tammy from Omah's Helping Hand.

    Personally, I am rapidly coming to the realisation that unlike last year, I am not going to be able to make all my Christmas cards this year!

    I have made some. There are two designs - one made out of the leftovers of the other. I have decided that I am a bit of a magpie really because I love the sparkles!

    The only problem is that I only bought a couple of sheets of the red because I hadn't really worked through my design, so then I tried it in green and liked it in both. I am going to try making it in purple as well. The little silver strip is folded so that it becomes like a stand for the card as it is opened up. The silver embossing is done with holographic silver embossing powder so that it really sparkles as it moves around.

    The second design I have was one that originally made in the blue because I needed to send it to a secret identity card swap, and there needed to be a clue as to my identity. Because my userid on a lot of forums is 'diamondlil' or some variation of that name, the sparkles will hopefully be a bit of a clue! In this case, the embossing is done with Opalescent embossing powder so that as you move it around in the light you can see all different shades of blue, green and red.

    So out of each 12x12 Bazill card I get 4 cards, which I think is pretty good!