Thursday, January 31, 2008


This week's Booking Through Thursday question

This week’s question is suggested by (blogless) JMutford:

Sometimes I find eccentric characters quirky and fun, other times I find them too unbelievable and annoying. What are some of the more outrageous characters you’ve read, and how do you feel about them?

Quirky huh? Lets start with a definition:

Quirky - having or full of quirks

Hmmm, that doesn't really help

Quirk -
  1. A peculiarity of behavior; an idiosyncrasy: "Every man had his own quirks and twists" (Harriet Beecher Stowe).
  2. An unpredictable or unaccountable act or event; a vagary: a quirk of fate.
  3. A sudden sharp turn or twist.
  4. An equivocation; a quibble.
  5. Architecture A lengthwise groove on a molding between the convex upper part and the soffit.
When I think of quirky characters I definitely think of those with idiosyncrasies outside the norm. There is no doubt in my mind that it takes quite a skilled author to take those quirky characters that populate book world, and make them into characters that do not eventually irritate and annoy.

When I was trying to think back to books that I have read not in the not too distant past and which I have quirky characters, the first series I thought of was the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich - her books are chockful of them! I do wonder if in some cases the quirkiness that started in her earlier books have not become the characters in the later books. By that I mean that there are certain things that you know the characters are going to do in every book. Lula is going to maneuvre herself into clothes that are too tight and too skimpy, Stephanie is going to be inept, Grandma Mazur will be just a tad crazy! Not that I don't like that, because I know now what to expect, but in a lesser series it could definitely become tiresome.

How about some other examples - Amelia Peabody and family from the mystery series of the same name by Elizabeth Peters. I definitely don't get tired of them. It seems that cozy mystery series seem to give us more than their fare share of quirky characters. Another one that came to mind was Phryne Fisher from the Phryne Fisher mysteries by Kerrie Greenwood. Maybe it is that quirkyness gives the author a hook to carry a book on - something that can carry through a series of books without having to come up with completely new characteristics every time.

Thank goodness that there are some authors out there that are skilful enough to come up with quirks, and quirky characters, that don't irritate after a while. There are some that just don't have that skill, or who think that being quirky equate to being bitchy or horrible in other ways!

I am sure that there are loads of examples, but for now this will do!

*Definition from

So Oprah has a new book out

So Oprah announced a new book club pick on Wednesday's show, and for the first time since she restarted the book club, I have absolutely NO interest in reading it! There have been some that I haven't been completely over the moon about reading but there was still a little enthusiasm. The book she chose was A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle - apparently a self help book. I don't know. It seems that she has plenty of opportunities to push self help books without having it as her book club selection as well.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Irish Girls About Town Anthology

New York Times bestselling authors Maeve Binchy and Marian Keyes top an impressive roster of the Emerald Isle's most popular women writers and prove that when it comes to spinning a good yarn, the Irish are the best in the business. Showcasing dazzling wit and remarkable insight in short stories that run the gamut from provocative to poignant, these Irish women will tug at your heartstrings and have you crying with laughter in no time. In these stories, and throughout this fabulous collection, Ireland's finest women authors celebrate the joys and perils of love, the adventure and constancy of female friendships, and their own irresistible band of Irish charm.

I originally picked this book up from the library as part of my quest to read everything that has been published in book form by Marian Keyes. Imagine my disappointment when I open the book to read the Marian Keyes contribution, only to find that it is a story that I have already read in one of the two short story collections I have read not too long ago!

Having said that there were stories from 15 other Irish authors including Maeve Binchy, who I last read about 15 years ago if not longer, and Cathy Kelly, who I have never read but I have heard good things about! In fact, in reading this book, which features 14 new to me authors, I have upped my total number of new authors to me so far this year to 21 - which is more than the number of books I have read!

Interestingly enough, quite a few of the stories featured older characters - middle aged women

Here's a brief glimpse of the stories in the anthology:

Soulmates by Marian Keyes - Fun story about a super couple who do everything with style, much to their friends amazement, or perhaps it should be called jealousy!

Destress by Joan O'Neill - When Alex is expecting a marriage proposal, what she gets a break-up. Suddenly single she takes up exercise and finds that maybe she didn't really need that marriage proposal after all.

The Twenty-Eighth Day by Catherine Barry - PMS gone crazy!

Thelma, Louise and the Lurve Gods by Cathy Kelly - Another fun story, this time about two girls who decide to do a driving tour across America, only to find that they have to share their trip with two guys.

Your Place or Mine? by Gemma O'Connor - An Irish family by a French cottage. Luckily they find some friendly locals willing to maintain it while they are away...or is it!

A Good Catch by Mary Ryan- A kind of strange story about an older woman who moves into a flat, and befriends the girl across the way, only to be caught up in a scandal.

About That Night by Sarah Webb - I liked this one for the most part, although I hated the best friend! Fortunately, I think I was supposed to. A group of friends go to Cowes to go to their mate's society wedding. One of them has a secret though. The question is can her friend keep it to herself?

The Cup Runneth Over by Julie Parsons - an attractive middle aged woman sets her sights on a married man. The main character in this one was a bit of a bunny boiler!

Carissima by Maeve Binchy - a friend tries to convince Nora that her family is using her. Quite a nice story really, about the value of strong friendships.

The Ring Cycle by Martina Devlin - How does a divorced woman finally rid herself of her wedding ring? Especially one that doesn't seem to want to go away!

The Unlovable Woman by Annie Sparrow - A lonely and little bit past her prime woman meets a clairvoyant who tries to help her find love. The question is, 'Will she recognise it when she knocks on the door?'

Moving by Colette Caddle - After many years of living in London Sara, a somewhat bored housewife, and her family are returning to Ireland. She is dreading being inundated with family, and also with the prospect of running into her ex again.

Playing Games by Catherine Dunne - This story was well written, but pretty gloomy in its outlook. Norah has been visiting her aunt regularly for many years, and playing her role in the many games of manipulation, and guilt. Suddenly though, she finds out that she doesn't actually know all the games.

Girls Weekend by Marisa Mackle - Emma's partner is a bit of a lad about town - going off for weekends with the boys etc etc. What happens when it is her turn?

The Union Man by Tina Reilly - My goodness, if I was married to this bloke I would have kicked him to the curve many years ago! Peter is a man who promises much, but delivers little. What does his wife have to do to get some action anytime before the tomorrow that never actually comes?

An Independent Woman by Morag Prunty - Bridie takes pride in having maintained herself quite nicely, but she's been lonely for quite a long time, especially seeing as she seems to be losing touch with her daughter as well. When she answers a lonely hearts column she meets someone very different than she expected. Bridie to me was a very harsh character - not one that I found easy to like at all!

In summary, a few good short stories, a few not so good. If I had of known that I had already read the Keyes contribution I probably wouldn't have read it at all, but once I had it here, I figured it wouldn't hurt to read it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Warsworn by Elizabeth Vaughan

Lara is the Warprize

A powerful healer, she has sworn an oath of loyalty to Keir the Warlord, and his people. Now the Warlord and his chosen mate face enemies within the tribe and danger lurks on every hand as they journey toward Keir's homeland.

When they reach a village marked with the warnings of the plague, Keir forbids Lara to heal the sick, commanding that she not risk her own life. But both Lara and Kier are strong of will and neither will bend easily, even for love; and when Lara disobeys, she pays the price: both she and Kier are plague-struck... and so is their entire encampment.

In the midst of the dying, Iften, a rival warrior, gathers his followers and challenges Keir for the right to rule their tribe. If Keir, weakened by the sickness, loses -- he dies.

And so does Lara.

To save her love, her life, and her adopted people, Lara must find a cure for the plague -- and fully embrace her sworn role as Warprize to her Warlord.

I tend not to move directly from one book in a series to the next, but I was sufficiently intrigued when I finished Warprize that I did pick up Warsworn the next day to keep reading Kier and Lara's story. Please note that there may be SPOILERS for Warprize in this review!

Having come up with a way to still be with Kier without jeopardising her country, Kier and Lara begin to travel back to his country, where she must be accepted by the elders as the Warprize. The journey itself is yet more of a learning curve for Lara as she begins to understand the rules that dictate the life of the Firelanders - a people that she had long thought uncivilized. It turns out that although their ways are much different from her own, there are very distinct rules to protect individuals privacy and as to how challenges to leadership can be made.

The book opens with Lara suffering from sore feet after the events where she basically gave herself up to Kier as the Warprize. Whilst they are travelling through her land on the way to Keir's homeland, he demands as his right the homage of the towns and people within Xy, so when they get to a town and the necessary homage is not forthcoming, Kier interprets it as an act of disobedience. Ready to declare war, Lara puts a stop to it when she realises that by shooting at Keir's warriors the town was not declaring war but rather trying to warn the people off as they have contracted a very virulent form of plague in their town.

As a healer, Lara knows that it is her role to go and provide whatever assistance she can, despite the risk that she puts herself and those that accompany her. When, despite all the precautions she takes, she catches the plague, she believes that her life is over, but Kier gives every resource he can to trying to save her, even though they still remain far away from the main camp to try and prevent the spread of the disease. All their precautions were in vain though, as the main camp does become infected, and soon, instead of dying honourable deaths in battle, the warriors are dropping from the disease, including some of the people who they value highly within their inner circle. Many within the camp take this as a sign from the gods that there is something amiss and soon Kier is not only fighting for his people, to try and protect as many as they can, but he is also is being challenged in his position as Warlord.

Once again, this was an excellent read. In fact, I rated it as slightly better than Warprize. I have had both of these books on my bookshelves for months, and it is definitely a case of me wondering what the heck I was waiting for now that I have read them! I have now ordered the next book in the series. Hopefully I will get to it soon and not leave it languishing on the shelves as I did for the first two!

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Romance Rookie

Eva's Book Meme

Seeing as I have been tagged by Julia, Rhinoa and Aarti, I probably should answer this meme, created by Eva, which has been sweeping through the bookish blogs that I read!

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

That would have to be Dorothy Dunnett's books. I have been intending to read them for a while now. In fact, it was one of my reading resolutions for last year, and I still didn't manage to start them. I have borrowed the first one, Game of Kings, a couple of times, but had to return them because I couldn't read them before it was due back. I am going to attempt to borrow, and READ, Game of Kings some time this year!

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?

Err - well, I think I would have a dinner party (because I am far too old for clubbing!) and start with Jamie Fraser from Outlander because I think that he would be a very entertaining guest. I guess if he insisted that Claire had to come that would be fine.

Another guest would be William Marshal from Elizabeth Chadwick's The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion - a man of honour and integrity - and given his history of participating in tourneys I am sure that he would have some great stories to tell!

And the third? John Thornton from North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, but only as portrayed by Richard Armitage - no real good reason other than for the eye candy factor!

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can't die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it's past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?

It's tempting to say War and Peace, but as I am intending to try and read the new translation by Pevlear and Volokhonsky sooner rather than later, I would hate to be jinxing myself!

Come on, we've all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you've read, when in fact you've been nowhere near it?

I may have inferred that I read a book to an author, when I actually only got half way through! The sad thing is I really enjoyed the book, or what I read of it, and even bought the second one, at relatively great expense because it was coming from Canada. One day, I will finish it, I really will!

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to 'reread' it that you haven't? Which book?

I really can't think of one straight off.

You've been appointed Book Advisor to a VIP (who's not a big reader). What's the first book you'd recommend and why? (if you feel like you'd have to know the person, go ahead of personalise the VIP)

It really does depend on the VIP. Is it a female who really needs to escape into another world away from their busy lives - maybe some Outlander. Is it someone who would like to challenge themselves - maybe Anna Karenina.

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?

I think I would go with Latin, simply because it is the basis for so many other languages, and presumably if I am fluent in Latin, it won't be that difficult to master some of the other languages myself!

Having said that, I always wanted to learn Japanese.

A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?

Hmmm.....maybe Anna Karenina, because I am sure that it is the type of book that you could get something different out of every time you read it!

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What's one bookish thing you 'discovered' from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?

Before I started blogging, I would never have thought that I would read paranormal romances. Vampires and werewolves? Bah, not for me! Of course, that's changed and now I read them quite regularly.

Another change is that I read more fantasy now than I ever have before. Books like Anne Bishop's Black Jewels books for example, would be books that I never would have found because I just would never normally have gone near the Fantasy section of the bookstore. Now, I wouldn't say that I read it regularly, but I do read enough now and look forward to reading well written fantasy.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she's granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.

My dream library is one where I have ever expanding bookshelves where I could keep all the books that I own and want to own! I am not all that fussed about leather bound, but certainly would love a library full of pristine trade paperbacks, and if some of them are signed by my favourite authors then all the better! At the moment, I am in desperate need of new bookshelves but I also have a problem in how I am going to fit them into my living room if I do buy more!

And the final portion of the assignment is to tag four others.

I tag:

Susan Higginbotham
Kelly from Loaded Questions
Kerrie from Mysteries in Paradise
Kathrin from Crazy Cozy Murders

*And, for extra credit, if you leave a comment letting Eva know you've done the meme with a link to the post, she will give you some link love via a big list of who's participated. Additionally, if you link back to her original post, she will enter you in a drawing to win The House at Riverton. If you're an American, this is especially exciting since it isn't going to published until April. ;) To be in the drawing, you must have posted the meme (and commented) by February 5th, which is when she is holding the drawing.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I'll stop after this one

Australian comedian Adam Hills puts forward his idea for the Australian National Anthem. And now I am navigating away from Youtube before I cause you all to stop visiting me!

Not sure what this would sound like in a brass band version though!

More music

Just because I have spent the last hour or so searching through Youtube. Two of my favourite songs ever!

The first is just a link because it can't be embedded, but if there is a song that is guaranteed to get me up off of the couch and dance around the lounge room at 1am (err...not that that happens often!), then this is it.

And We Danced by The Hooters

The second is a live version from last year of I'd Die to be With You Tonight by Jimmy Barnes. He sang Working Class Man as well which I showed in my last post! What can I say...I'm a fan!

Australia Day 2008

Some of you may know that I lived in the UK for five years in the 90s. Whenever this ad for Qantas (the Australian National Airline) came on, I used to tear up....every time! I've been home now for a long time, and Qantas have changed their ads, but it still gives me chills. And the images are beautiful, not only of Australia but also other places!

This second video is probably the quintessential Aussie rock song of the 80s. Jimmy Barnes was (still is) a massive star here, both as an individual performer and as part of Cold Chisel - one of the great Aussie pub rock bands.

And this one...just cause I like it. Thanks to it's use in a Coca-Cola ad campaign this is a song that is definitely associated with summer for me! It was a bit strange watching the video though, because I remember the images from the Coke ad (which you can see here) more than I do the video:

Happy Australia Day!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


In my last post I talked a little bit about ways to time's another!! By clicking on the fish at the top you can choose whether you have a shark or a clown fish, an orca or a dolphin! Just move your mouse to make the fish move!

Very therapeutic!

Click here to get more mini-SharkBreak widgets

Hmmmmm....seems to have stuffed my formatting! Scroll down for more posts!

Mine to Possess Hot Men Contest

Nalini Singh always has such great contests to celebrate the releases of her books, and this one is no exception. To get all the details of how to enter go and check out this post on her blog. Entries close on 2 Feb, so you have a little time to work out who you want to write about!

To celebrate the upcoming (February 5th!) release of Mine to Possess the 4th full-length entry in the Psy/Changeling world, which features one hot hero in the luscious Clay Bennett, I'm running a contest where you get to rave/gush/cheer about your favorite romance novel hero(es).

What's up for grabs?

The winner, chosen at random, will receive a US$50 Amazon voucher and a very special Mine to Possess Teaser prize pack. All the things in the prize pack have some relevance to the book (ok, so maybe one is kinda just for fun) so speculate away!

1. Fancy Tea

2. Dark Chocolate

3. Strawberry scented soap

4. Candles

5. A Stud...ded collar

No picture because we'll put it together after the contest ends so everything will be sparkly fresh.

So...favourite heroes. hmmmmm...I am going to cop out a little and not actually write about ONE hero, but rather a type of hero - I love me some scarred-from-the-events-of -the-past alpha heroes, who people don't necessarily seem to like, but who really are completely honourable, just wanting to be loved, but don't think that he deserves it kind of men. Mmmmm...can't get enough of them or their darkly tormented ways.

Want some examples? How about Sin from Born in Sin by Kinley MacGregor - even his name was given to him as an insult, kind of like Cyprian Sloan from Diane Gaston's A Reputable Rake, Or perhaps even Zsadist from Lover Awakened or Sebastian St Vincent from Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas.

Whilst maybe not as tormented as a couple of those, other examples of my favourite kinds of heroes - Jamie Fraser from Outlander and Alexander Barrington from The Bronze Horsemen. Both are men who do what needs to be done...even if sometimes that is not the action that mere normal men would be courageous enough to take...but they do it! A bit like Jack Devlin from Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas who pushes Amanda just enough to get what he wants, oh, and all right, I also have to mention Derek from Dreaming of You as part of the dreamy Kleypas heroes collection!

Or how about those cold and aloof heroes that seem to finally only unbend when they find the love of the right woman - men like Wulfric from the Slightly series by Mary Balogh, or Marcus, Duke of Westcliff who appears in several Kleypas books but finally gets his own HEA in It Happened One Autumn.

Nalini really is a bit cheeky asking this question, it could take me hours to finish writing this post, and I do really need to do some other things like wash the top that I am wearing to a wedding tomorrow, and the dishes....oh wait, what am I saying...this is much more interesting!

In closing, I leave a picture of my favourite mini-series hero of the moment....for no good reason at all except that I can! Oh, and I guess he counts as a bit cool and aloof in the beginning!

Of course, for dark and tormented you could always go with this picture...although I am not sure he really counts as a hero!

**Guy banner made be Heathdancer from The Armitage Army**


This week's Booking Through Thursday question:

What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”

And, folks–Becca was nice enough to nominate Booking Through Thursday for a Blogger’s Choice Award–while you’re here, why don’t you head over and vote for us, too. Because, a vote for BTT is a vote for all of us who play each week!

I think my answer to this question really depends on who 'people' are! If we are talking about in real life, then the list of books that I love that other people haven't read is extensive. If we are talking about in blogland, then it is a little harder to narrow it down!

In terms of my family and friends, there are very few that I can talk books with. The girl I sit next to at work and I do, but we read very different genres. Basically I think I could talk just about anyone to them and they wouldn't necessarily have heard of them, with the exception of probably Diana Gabaldon, Paullina Simons and Bryce Courtenay! The first two is because they have heard me rave on about, the other because when he has a new book out he does get saturation coverage here!

In blogland, I decided that I would look at the least known book out of my best reads of 2007, and that would have to be Barbed Wire and Roses by Peter Yeldham. I really, really enjoyed that book, but I don't think I have ever seen this author mentioned on any other blogs. Actually, I don't even see him in the shops at all either, so I guess that his sales weren't all that great, given that Barbed Wire and Roses only came out six months ago. If that is the case, it is disappointing because the book itself is a really good read. I am now on a mission to read his backlist, and have another of his books out from the library to read.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

NaJuReMoNoMo 2008

I saw this over at Raidergirl's blog and thought that it was a bit of fun. The original idea is actually quite serious. It was created by Foma, and these were his reasons for creating it:

Two years ago I invented a semi-parody of National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo that I called National Just Read More Novels Month or, for not-so-short, the unpronounceable NaJuReMoNoMo. It’s only a semi-parody because I am completely serious about wanting people to read more novels. January is the perfect month for this sort of internet meme. It’s the middle of winter and doesn’t conflict with any major holidays. January is 31 days long, giving people plenty of time to read a book. Folks are flush with cash and gift cards from holiday giving, And they are burnt out from the endless November challenges that require too much work.

Best of all, NaJuReMoNoMo is astoundingly easy. All you have to do is read any novel from start to finish within the month of January. You can read memoirs or non-fiction in January, they just don’t count towards your NaJuReMoNoMo total.

Given how many novels a lot of us already read we can already be winners, which has to be a good thing right! So there are badges for our blogs, to say that we are winners, and then there are badges to signify how many novels we have read! So at this point in time, these are the badges that I can claim, having started and finished 8 novels so far this month:

NaJuReMoNoMo NaJuReMoNoMo

I am aspiring to get a gold badge for having read 10!

It's a shame that I didn't know about it earlier in the month, but it's still a great idea and I am going to try and keep an eye out for it next year!

Reading Challenges

Kerrie from over at Mysteries in Paradise recently asked some questions on her blog about reading challenges. I was specifically mentioned, so instead of answering in the comments I thought I would answer here. Kerrie's questions were:

So, are you into Challenges?Tell us about the ones doing this year.
If you are, why do you do it?

For me, reading challenges are a way to expand my reading horizons, whilst reducing the number of books on my TBR list, and as an added bonus I think that participating in challenges assist in feeling part of the blogging community, connecting with new people and blogs.

Last year I decided pretty early on that I wasn't going to participate in challenges, mainly because for me just managing my library list is a challenge, and I stuck to that for the year. There were, however, so many people whose blogs I read and enjoy that were participating and posting about their participation and I wanted to be part of that this year. I have put some restrictions on myself though. For example, any challenge that I join really needs to help me reduce the number of books on my TBR list. I don't want to be joining challenges all over the place just for the sake of it, and then have to add yet more books to my list just to be able to participate. Of course, there's every possibility that by reading the posts of other challenge participants then I will add yet more books to my list anyway....but that's a side effect not a direct effect so I can live with that!

There are two exceptions to that. The Pulitzer Challenge and The Complete Booker have meant that I have added books to my TBR list, but given that there is no time limit on the completion of those challenges, and that I had often thought about trying to read them all anyway, I still joined up.

The challenges that I have joined up for are listed in my sidebar. It's not THAT many. I think the person I have seen who is participating in the most challenges is probably Becky, but maybe there is someone who is doing more.

Some other challenges that I have contemplated joining are

Jennie's classic romance challenge
Shannon's Back to History challenge
Royalty Rules Challenge
Sea Faring Challenge

and that's just for starters!

So why haven't I joined these. Well...Jennie has only just put hers up, and I guess I am wanting to figure out in my own mind what a Classic Romance is! Of the books on Jennies list I am somewhat ashamed to say I have only read only 1 of them, but I am thinking that I will put a post up in the next few days asking about what books are considered classic romance and then I will figure out once and for all if I am going to join in or not.

As an aside, it is interesting to me to see that the craze for reading challenges really hasn't caught on all that much in romance land. There are only two that I can think of that are specifically romance related, although I am sure that there are lots of others that could be adapted to fit reading romances.

The Back to History challenge is one that I may still join. I have changed my mind about joining numerous times. It's not like I don't read a lot of Historical Fiction so I should be able to manage it, but the two are not always compatible. When I sat down to look at the books I had that fit into the Royalty Rules challenge I was somewhat surprised to see that I wouldn't have enough books to make the challenge that fit the theme! Although, I did just get a new review book which would fit the criteria...hmmm.

I didn't end up joining the Sea Faring Challenge because having a beautiful button is not enough of a reason to join a challenge, although I did think about it for a long time! I do intend to one day read some of the books mentioned by others for that challenge, but it isn't going to be this year.

There are loads of others that have momentarily caught my eye, but whilst I am joining in this year, I am trying to have at least some self control at the same time! There are so many challenges out there that it is almost possible to not have time to read for fun!

Are there too many challenges out there? Probably! Do people who enjoy the challenges really care that there are so many out there? I wouldn't think so!

How about other people? Do you participate in reading challenges and if so why? If you don't, why not? Is there a challenge that you would really love to participate in that you haven't seen anywhere in blog land yet?

Good job I didn't write all this in the comments to your post Kerrie!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Let's Review

I am off work this week because it is school holidays, and it was something of a surprise to me that it was Thursday! And now it is even more of a surprise that it is late on Monday night! How bad is that! Anyway, last week's Booking Through Thursday question was:

This week’s question is suggested by Puss Reboots:

How much do reviews (good and bad) affect your choice of reading? If you see a bad review of a book you wanted to read, do you still read it? If you see a good review of a book you’re sure you won’t like, do you change your mind and give the book a try?

I get most of my book recommendations from reader reviews or because the author is one that I already know that I like so I would say that reviews do affect my choice of reading quite a lot. Having said that, if there is a book that I wanted to read and it gets a bad review I will still read it because there are some books that people love that I just don't feel the same way about and vice versa. Just recently, I read a review of a book that I gave 5/5 a couple of years of ago, but the reviewer thought it was a wall banger. This was a person that I normally totally agree with, but I guess it was bound to happen. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

Getting a book on my TBR list isn't all that difficult - if I see a mention and it looks remotely interesting I'll add it. What good or bad reviews might do is actually encourage me to move it up or down the list.

I have to admit though I am someone who can be tempted to read a book if there is a passionate disagreement between people about. A while ago there was a big kerfuffle on one of the boards I moderate on about a specific book that ended up being quite a hostile situation. At first my reaction was something along the lines of "well if you think that I am going to read that book you must be joking" but after a couple of days I was still wondering if it was going to be as good or as bad as the various parties suggested so when I noticed it on the library catalogue I borrowed it. In the end, I returned it unread just because I ran out of renewals, and haven't reborrowed it again, and probably won't because the people who were so fanatically divided have not bothered to revisit the site again, and so apparently were just in it for the argument, so I can't be bothered anymore with it.

The Great Room Cleanout of 2008

Today was the day that I had set aside to clean out my son's bedroom. I have a number of questions, the first and most pressing of which is where did all of this crap come from, but the second is how did all of this:

come out of here:

Bear in mind that this is just the toys, and the pile above does not show all the books or clothes that are in the other rooms!

At this point we are probably half way through the clean out, because it is a proper clean out. I am going through every little box, every container to either sort them into the appropriate place or to throw out. The outside bin is pretty much full, so not sure what I am going to do with the rest of the rubbish, and I am making a pile of toys to keep for other kids to play with if they come over and I have to find a place for those as well, but hopefully by this time tomorrow it will be nicely sorted out once and for all, or for at least a couple of years anyway.

Where does the time go?

I am on holidays from work at the moment and yet I still don't seem to have any time to get the things done that I want to get the five posts filled with completely interesting details that I have started!

Today, we are cleaning out the boys room....won't that be fun!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

B List Blogger

B-List Blogger

I'm pretty happy with that! I expected to be C-List!!!

Click on the image to find out what level blogger you are!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wherein I ignore the elephant in the strawberry patch (or the cat in the brown paper bag as the case may be!)

So, I am feeling pretty pleased with myself. It's January 15th, I've finished 8 books so far this year, and I have written reviews for all of them! GO ME!! The latest review is up over at Historical Tapestry and is for The Alchemist's Daughter by Katharine McMahon.

So what am I hiding? Well...we just won't mention the fact that I have got a bucket load of reviews from the books I finished last year still to write.

Shhhh.......I said we weren't mentioning that!!

The Complete Booker

Hot on the heels of The Pulitzer Project comes The Complete Booker. Of the books on this prize winning list I have read only three, although I have been meaning to read several others for ages!

2006 - The Inheritance of Loss (Desai)
2005 - The Sea (Banville)
2004 - The Line of Beauty (Hollinghurst) - Didn't really like this one.
2003 - Vernon God Little (Pierre)
2002 - Life of Pi (Martel)
2001 - True History of the Kelly Gang (Carey)
2000 - The Blind Assassin (Atwood)
1999 - Disgrace (Coetzee)
1998 - Amsterdam: A Novel (McEwan)
1997 - The God of Small Things (Roy)
1996 - Last Orders (Swift)
1995 - The Ghost Road (Barker)
1994 - How Late It Was, How Late (Kelman)
1993 - Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Doyle)
1992 - The English Patient (Ondaatje)
1992 - Sacred Hunger (Unsworth)
1991 - The Famished Road (Okri)
1990 - Possession: A Romance (Byatt)
1989 - The Remains of the Day (Ishiguro)
1988 - Oscar and Lucinda (Carey)
1987 - Moon Tiger (Lively)
1986 - The Old Devils (Amis)
1985 - The Bone People (Hulme)
1984 - Hotel Du Lac (Brookner)
1983 - Life & Times of Michael K (Coetzee)
1982 - Schindler's List (Keneally)
1981 - Midnight's Children (Rushdie)
1980 - Rites of Passage (Golding)
1979 - Offshore (Fitzgerald)
1978 - The Sea, the Sea (Murdoch)
1977 - Staying on (Scott)
1976 - Saville (Storey)
1975 - Heat and Dust (Jhabvala)
1974 - The Conservationist (Gordimer)
1973 - The Siege of Krishnapur (Farrell)
1972 - G. (Berger)
1971 - In a Free State (Naipaul)
1970 - The Elected Member (Rubens)
1969 - Something to Answer For (Newby)

Another reason for posting this today is that I am going to join in on Dewey's Man Booker Challenge where the challenge is to read six of the books listed above between January 1 and December 31 2008.

Of the books listed above, the books that I am going to read for this challenge are:

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
Ghost Road by Pat Barker
Amsterdam: A Novel by Ian McEwan
The Famished Road by Ben Okri

The only concern I have about that list is that Ghost Road is the third book in the series, so just in case I decide not to go with that one my substitute may be Possession by AS Byatt.

And that, I think, will be it for challenges for a little while. I did seriously contemplate joining the Royalty Rules challenge to the extent that I had my book list almost ready and the post almost done, but in the end I was going to have to be adding books to my TBR list to complete it, and one of the things that I said about joining in on challenges is that they had to be bringing the number of books on my TBR list down...not up!

Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan


Xylara is the Daughter of the Warrior King, Xyron. With her father dead and her incompetent half-brother on the throne, the kingdom is in danger of falling to the warring Firelanders.

Before she was old enough for a marriage-of-alliance, Xylara was trained as a healer. She can't usurp her brother or negotiate a peace--but she can heal the brave ones injured in battle.

But not only her countrymen are wounded, and Xylara's conscience won't let Firelander warriors die when she can do something to save them. She learns their language and their customs and tries to make them as comfortable as possible, despite their prisoner-of-war status.

She never expects that these deeds, done in good faith, would lead to the handsome and mysterious Firelander Warlord demanding her in exchange for a cease-fire. Xylara knows must trade the life she has always known for the well-being of her people, and so she becomes...

The Warprize

I bought this book, and the second book in the trilogy, over a year ago, presumably based on seeing a review or something somewhere. They have sat on my bookshelf for all this time, looking very pretty. I heard some renewed positive feedback about them in a best of 2007 list, and decided that I really should give them a go. When I decided to sign up for Naida's Romance Reading Challenge this book caught my eye, so I added it to my challenge list, and the rest, as they say, is history.

For the first 50-100 pages I have to confess I was pretty underwhelmed by the book, but after that...whoa! I ended up staying up until 2am to finish this book (you know, the whole "I'll just read one more chapter" business, which ends up being "well...there's only two more chapters to go. Might as well finish it tonight"). Part of the reason for being underwhelmed I think is that I was reading it at night and so, being really tired, I was only getting through two or three pages at a time before I needed to put it down. That wasn't a factor on Sunday night apparently!

Xylara is a member of the royal family of Xy. Her half brother Xymund is ruler of the small country, which at the opening of the book is under invasion from the Firelanders, under the leadership of the Warlord. What makes Xylara quite unusual within the royal family is that she is also a Master Healer, pledged to always do anything she can to assist those in need. When the people in need are enemy soldiers who have been captured, she incurs the wrath of her brother (there were already some issues in the relationship anyway) but it is a consequence that she is prepared to take.

She begins to learn more about the strangers, including some of their language and customs, and in the process of trying to assist them she meets a stranger in the market who knows where she can get hold of some kavage, a drink that the Firelanders love (that sounds suspiciously like coffee). Little does she know, the stranger is Keir, Warlord of the Plains.

As Keir comes to the castle to receive his dues as conqueror of Xylan, he names his price - he wants Lara as his Warprize. For her, this means leaving behind those she loves, and her life of healing to become slave - a high personal price to pay for the safety of her people. By tradition, the warprize can accept nothing that is not from the Warlord and so she is reliant on Keir for food, clothing and shelter. It is some surprise to her to find that her Warlord is the man from the market.

Lara must learn the strange ways of a people who appear to be less civilised, and definitely tend to be more act first and then think later kind of people, but as she gets to know and understand at least some of their ways she begins to appreciate more of their strengths. And it is only after some time that she begins to understand exactly what it does mean to be the Warprize.

Keir and Lara go well together. Keir is that always attractive combination of strong and ruthless, but also can be tender and gentle when necessary. He is willing to make changes to the way that his people live in order to find a lasting peace with the lands that he has conquered, and is willing to deal with any internal opposition that he might have. He demands, and receives respect from everyone. Lara is prepared to stand up to Keir when she needs to, even if there are times when she has to somewhat grudgingly concede to allow him to do whatever is necessary to protect her from danger.

There is a good cast of interesting secondary characters from the incredibly loyal but demanding assistant Marcus, to the guards, to Gils, the young boy who volunteers to learn some of Lara's healing ways.

I think that this is one of those series which are being marketed as romance but where we are going to have to wait for the third book in order to be sure of a Happy Ever After, but if the other two books are as good as this one, then it will be a fun ride!

Book 1 in the Romance Reading Challenge down.....4 to go!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Are you in the club?

I saw this over at Lynne's Little Corner, and thought this describes me perfectly!

You don't have to do anything to be in the club other than be a Blogaholic. You can get the code and the details here (it's in the right sidebar).

Lord John and the Hand of Devils

My review of Lord John and the Hand of Devils is up over at Historical Tapestry. Pop over and have a look!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Biting the Bullet

This post has been sitting in draft for several months now, but I am finally going to bite the bullet and join in on The Pulitzer Project challenge. The main reason for joining is the fact that there is no deadline, so it fits in with my library deadlines a lot easier than many of the other challenges do.

The following list is all the prize winners (all 81 of them!). I have read ten, but a few of them were years ago, so a reread wouldn't hurt! There are only a couple that I have previously reviewed but I have put links on in those two. The ones I have read are marked in red.

2007 - The Road (McCarthy)
2006 - March (Brooks) - Read this about 3 years ago
2005 - Gilead (Robinson)
2004 - The Known World (Jones)
2003 - Middlesex (Eugenides) - listened to this in my pre-blogging days
2002 - Empire Falls (Russo)
2001 - The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (Chabon)
2000 - Interpreter of Maladies (Lahiri)
1999 - The Hours (Cunningham)
1998 - American Pastoral (Roth)
1997 - Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer (Millhauser)
1996 - Independence Day (Ford)
1995 - The Stone Diaries (Shields)
1994 - The Shipping News (Proulx)
1993 - A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (Butler)
1992 - A Thousand Acres (Smiley) - I listened to an abridged version (yuck!)
1991 - Rabbit at Rest (Updike)
1990 - The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (Hijuelos)
1989 - Breathing Lessons (Tyler)
1988 - Beloved (Morrison)
1987 - A Summons to Memphis (Taylor)
1986 - Lonesome Dove (McMurtry) - Read it, then watched the mini-series!
1985 - Foreign Affairs (Lurie)
1984 - Ironweed (Kennedy)
1983 - The Color Purple (Walker)
1982 - Rabbit is Rich (Updike)
1981 - A Confederacy of Dunces (Toole)
1980 - The Executioner’s Song (Mailer)
1979 - The Stories of John Cheever (Cheever)
1978 - Elbow Room (McPherson)
1977 - None given
1976 - Humboldt’s Gift (Bellow)
1975 - The Killer Angels (Shaara)
1974 - None given
1973 - The Optimist’s Daughter (Welty)
1972 - Angle of Repose (Stegner)
1971 - None given
1970 - Collected Stories by Jean Stafford (Stafford)
1969 - House Made of Dawn (Momaday)
1968 - The Confessions of Nat Turner (Styron)
1967 - The Fixer (Malamud)
1966 - Collected Stories by Katherine Anne Porter (Porter)
1965 - The Keepers Of the House (Grau)
1964 - None given
1963 - The Reivers (Faulkner)
1962 - The Edge of Sadness (Edwin O’Connor)
1961 - To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee) - Read this in school. Time for a reread.
1960 - Advise and Consent (Drury)
1959 - The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (Taylor)
1958 - A Death in the Family (Agee)
1957 - None
1956 - Andersonville (Kantor)
1955 - A Fable (Faulkner)
1954 - None
1953 - The Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway)
1952 - The Caine Mutiny (Wouk)
1951 - The Town (Richter)
1950 - The Way West (Guthrie)
1949 - Guard of Honor (Cozzens)
1948 - Tales of the South Pacific (Michener)
1947 - All the King’s Men (Warren)
1946 - None
1945 - Bell for Adano (Hersey)
1944 - Journey in the Dark (Flavin)
1943 - Dragon’s Teeth I (Sinclair)
1942 - In This Our Life (Glasgow)
1941 - None
1940 - The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck)
1939 - The Yearling (Rawlings)
1938 - The Late George Apley (Marquand)
1937 - Gone with the Wind (Mitchell) - Read this a couple of times.
1936 - Honey in the Horn (Davis)
1935 - Now in November (Johnson)
1934 - Lamb in His Bosom (Miller)
1933 - The Store (Stribling)
1932 - The Good Earth (Buck) - Read this when Oprah chose it for her bookclub
1931 - Years of Grace (Barnes)
1930 - Laughing Boy (Lafarge)
1929 - Scarlet Sister Mary (Peterkin)
1928 - The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Wilder)
1927 - Early Autumn (Bromfield)
1926 - Arrowsmith (Lewis)
1925 - So Big (Ferber)
1924 - The Able McLauglins (Wilson)
1923 - One of Ours (Cather)
1922 - Alice Adams (Tarkington)
1921 - The Age of Innocence (Wharton) - Did a BNU course a few years ago
1920 - None
1919 - The Magnificent Ambersons (Tarkington)
1918 - His Family (Poole)

Overheard in Borders

Last night I went out for dinner with friends in Carlton, an area that is famous for its Italian food and cafes. It also has a couple of pretty good bookstores, including a Borders.

While we were on the way there, Bon Jovi came onto the radio and I said something to my son along the lines of "Do you know who is singing this song?", and proceeded to tell him. Of course, my self-censor switch was turned off, because at the end of that I said "And it doesn't hurt that he is totally HOT!" to which my 9 year old replies "so you LOVE him". No, I don't LOVE him, but he is a very fine specimen of manhood along with someone else that I could mention but won't just yet!!.

So later, we are in Borders and I am looking for something to buy (they didn't have any of the books that I wanted to buy) when I say to my son "I am thinking about getting a Robin Hood DVD". Now bear in mind that we are standing in the kids area, and he says "oh yes, let's get this one!" and proceeds to hand me a Disney DVD that has Robin Hood, The Fox and the Hound and something else on it. Self censor switch still not turned on, I say "I don't want that one. I want the one with Richard Armitage in because he is hot!". The woman behind me turned around and gave me the strangest look. Perhaps I shouldn't be discussing the hotness of certain men with my son in the kids section of Borders.

Anyway, I spent enough money to get a discount on parking - spend $50 to save $6 on parking...I'm sure there's some logic in there somewhere - and I came home with the complete series one of Robin Hood! I've never watched the show before so I hope it's good!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Atonement by Ian McEwan

On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge.

By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl's imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone.

This is a book that I was always going to read, for a number of reasons. The first was the "there's a movie" coming hype, where I think that a movie sounds interesting but I really want to read the book first. The second reason was that there was a LOT of Atonement love happening over at one of the forums I am a member of (rather I should say IS a lot of love) and the third reason was that having read On Chesil Beach not too long ago and not minding it, I was curious as to whether I really would like to read more of McEwans books. The answer to that question, having read this book, is a definite yes. Of course, the fact that I liked this is no guarantee that I will like the others, but it's a good sign.

It is more difficult than usual for me to write about this book, because even to try to give basic explanations of plots will be to spoil. What I would say is that the love story that is contained within this book is very strong, thriving in spite of huge difficulties that are placed in its path, and has a star-crossed lovers feel to it.

There are three main setting in the novel - one the country estate that the Tallis' call home, where events take an unforeseen turn that very nearly destroys both one individual and a whole family. We also found ourselves in the desperate days just before the evacuation of the British troops at Dunkirk, and then again later in the hospitals of London as they try to cope with the influx of wounded. McEwan does a great job at giving each of these locations very distinct atmosphere and emotional charge without losing any of the emotional depth associated with the events that happen in each of these places.

As to whether the main character atones or not...well....I'm not sure she does, but she is definitely a character about whom it is not possible to be ambivalent.

Overall, a very satisfying read, and I am looking forward to seeing the novel now that I have finished the book!

Other Blogger's Thoughts

A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore
Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Rhinoa's Ramblings

Thursday, January 10, 2008

East of Time by Jacob G Rosenberg

Jacob G Rosenberg was born in Lodz, Poland, the youngest member of a working-class family. After the Germans occupied Poland, he was confined with his parents, two sisters, and their little girls in the Lodz Ghetto, from which they were eventually transported to Auschwitz. Except for one sister (who committed suicide a few days later) and himself, all the members of his family were gassed on the day of their arrival. He remained in Auschwitz for about two months, then spend the rest of the war in other concentration camps. In 1948 he emigrated to Australia with his wife Esther; their only child, Marcia, was born in Melbourne. Rosenberg has published three books of poetry in English, including My Father's Silence and Twilight Whisper, as well as three earlier volumes of prose and poetry in Yiddish: Snow in Spring, Wooden Clogs with Snow, and Light-Shadow-Light.

I first heard of this book when it was book of the month for The First Tuesday Book club, which is on our public broadcaster here once a month. The book itself sounded interesting, but something very unusual happened when the four reviewers on that show discussed this book - they all pretty much agreed that it was a worthy read, which isn't something that is guaranteed to happen!

There is no synopsis on the back cover of this book, so I have instead posted the blurb about the author, because, as this is a memoir, it does still give a fair idea of what this book is about.

In lesser hands this book could quite easily have become nothing more than a list of names of the people that the author knew that didn't make it out of the aftermath of WWII. Instead, we have a series of poignant vignettes about the people that a young Jacob Rosenberg knew, stories about how they influenced him then, and how some of them continue to influence him now. They are short glimpses into the life of a teenage boy as he experiences love and lust and fear and living a life that I am sure very few of us could actually imagine.

There are many heartbreaking tales - men and women of talent and passion and potential who either ended up in the gas chambers, or shot, or who just disappeared. As an example. one of the stories is of a family friend who has come around to share what little the Rosenbergs have (eating soup made with potato peel). Realising that it is getting late, they encourage the man to stay the night, so that he cannot be caught breaking the heavily monitored curfew. At daybreak, he leaves...and is never seen or heard of again.

The author is very clear in his introduction - this is definitely a memoir as opposed to an actual autobiography. As he says in the opening sentence of the preface:

East of Time is a rendezvous of history and imagination, of realities and dreams, of hopes and disenchantments.
Regardless of where the lines are blurred between what actually happened and the parts that are imagined, the story of loss and pain are very vibrant and real, and all too heartbreaking, and are definitely written in a very readable style.

This is the first book I have read by this author, and I will read more once his next book comes out here some time this year. I would love to know more about how he came to survive the concentration camps and how he came to live in Australia.

I Love You More by Laura Duksta

I love you longer than the longest lollipop ever lasted.
I love you louder than the loudest rocket ship ever blasted.
I love you taller than the tallest giraffe ever grown.
I love you more, so much more than you've ever known.

Are you one of the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of people who use the phrase "I Love You More" every day? Are you part of that magical giving and receiving of love? If so, then reach out and embrace I LoveYou More, a story about a mother and son, and really, if we are lucky, all of us, who every day can say I Love You More!

Once opened, it is a gorgeous and touching combination of heartfelt message, rhyme and rhythm, and child-like illustrations. Its cleverly conceived flip story, which ends in the middle and starts from either side, will show you what love looks like from both a parent and a child's perspective.

What a lovely book! When I was offered this by Sourcebooks, I wasn't sure about accepting it, because it really isn't something that I normally read. In the end I acquiesced because I thought that if nothing else, once I have read it I can give it to my nephew - now, I'm not sure I want to give it away!

The flip design is in itself a really clever idea - when you read from the front of the book you get the child's thoughts on how much he loves his mother and vice versa from the back, and the slipcover also illustrates the two sides of the story quite well.

The illustrations (by Karen Keesler) are bright and engaging and the story simple and fun. This is definitely a book that little kids will enjoy reading.

I am glad that I did get this book sent to me!

May I Introduce....

This week's Booking Through Thursday question:

1. How did you come across your favorite author(s)? Recommended by a friend? Stumbled across at a bookstore? A book given to you as a gift?

2. Was it love at first sight? Or did the love affair evolve over a long acquaintance?

Before I can answer these questions I need to take a step back and think who exactly would I classify as my favourite authors. We'll start with Diana Gabaldon.

I was given Cross Stitch for my birthday from my sister about 5 years ago I think. It sat on my shelf for months until one day I felt like reading something and so picked that up, started and finished it, and then basically devoured the rest of the series as quickly as I possible could.

Reading Cross Stitch led me to the Ladies of Lallybroch board where everyone raved about Sharon Kay Penman, so I read Sunne in Splendour and loved it which led me to read all of her other books, except for Time and Chance which I will read when I know for sure how long I have to wait for Devil's Brood.

Still over at Lallybroch, there was mention of Claire, Jamie and Young Ian making a brief appearance in a book called Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati, so I started reading that series and anything else that Sara/Rosina puts out.

Then there was much excitement over a book called The Bronze Horseman and my love for Paullina Simons' books was born.

Then I started getting involved in blogging and other online forums, and started reading more romance. Liz Carlyle and Lisa Kleypas' books caught the eye. Then JR Ward mania hit and I started reading more and more paranormal romances

Another favourite is Diana Norman and I am pretty sure that I first heard of her over at Dear Author. I think I first heard of Susan Carroll over at Historical Fiction, and have been introduced to loads of great books over there.

Really, I could go on and on, but I won't. I will however say that I am always grateful when people blog about great reads, that lead me to discover lots of new thanks everyone!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Historical Tapestry review

I've posted a new review over at Historical Tapestry. It was for a First Look book from Harper Collins Australia called Death at Dawn by Caro Peacock. I really enjoy receiving these ARCs, and look forward to getting more...hopefully! The last couple of months there have been several books that I have been tempted to apply for, but I am trying to restrict myself to only applying for one each month. Having said that, this month I don't think I will be applying for any!

Saturday, January 05, 2008


My son told me today that he doesn't like North and South.

Admittedly it's all that has been on the TV in the back room for well over a week now, and yes, whereas for the last few years up until just before Christmas he was on my wallpaper on my desktop and now it's a North and South wallpaper, but surely that's not reason for him to dislike the mini-series. Perhaps he needs some attention!

What he hasn't seen yet is that I have a new screensaver too. Can you guess what type it is?


This week's Booking Through Thursday question:

Last week we talked about the books you liked best from 2007. So this week, what with it being a new year, and all, we’re looking forward….

What new books are you looking forward to most in 2008? Something new being published this year? Something you got as a gift for the holidays? Anything in particular that you’re planning to read in 2008 that you’re looking forward to? A classic, or maybe a best-seller from 2007 that you’re waiting to appear in paperback?

I have quite a few books that are coming out in 2008 that I am very much looking forward to reading, most of which I have listed as my books for the Pub 08 Challenge. They are:

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

In addition I am also looking forward to:

Tangled Webs by Anne Bishop (out in March)
The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory (hopefully later this year)
The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (although this may not come out until next year)
An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon (another one that might not be out until next year)
Twilight of a Queen by Susan Carroll

I'm sure there are more, but that will do for now!

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Ruthless Groom by Bronwyn Jameson


Enter Zara Lovett. His ex-fiancee’s best friend. Her hair a spill of honeyed silk framing whiskey eyes. Zara, who’d strode into Alex Carlisle’s life on killer legs and lit a powder keg in his gut.

It was chemistry, the kind of powerful, explosive mix Alex made a habit of avoiding—until today. Because the fireworks between them changed nothing. He still needed to satisfy the terms of his father’s will. That was his goal. That was his duty.

This was a 2-in-1 book along with Engagement Between Enemies by Kathie DeNosky, but in the same way I discovered DeNosky because her story was in a book with a Nalini Singh book, I read this book because of it was there, not because I had heard anything about it. And for a book that I had never heard of, by an author I had never read before I thought it was pretty darned good. The only problem is that, as always seems to be the case, these are never the first book in the linked series!

When Alex Carlisle is basically stood up on his wedding day, he is determined to find his fiancee and get an explanation. It was a marriage to meet the terms of his father's will - and very much not a love match. What he doesn't count on is meeting Zara Lovett, a friend of his fiancee, or to feel the intense spark of attraction with her. Zara is headstrong and passionate, studying to be a doctor and definitely not ready to have a relationship with a man like Alex, a man who is very visible in the press and who is used to getting what he wants.

One of the things that was interesting was that there was a glossary of Australian terms, even a couple that I didn't remember reading in the text! I don't really read a romances with Australian setting, but I do suspect that I might end up reading at least the other two books that are connected to this one.

Definitely an enjoyable read!

Rating: 4/5

Chunkster Challenge 2008

Dana is hosting the Chunkster Challenge this year.

The Rules:
  • To qualify the book must be 450 pps regular type OR 750 pps large text.
  • You must read FOUR chunksters (one each quarter), you OBVIOUSLY may read more
  • The Challenge will run Jan 7th, 2008 - Dec 20th, 2008 (the only chunky thing occupying my mind over Christmas is ME! AND I am using my foresight remembering my inbox on Dec 31st/ Jan 1 of THIS year when all the challenges ended). BUT any chunkster started after Jan 1 qualifies.
  • OH THERE WILL BE PRIZES - one a quarter. Prizes to be determined later ( so making the rules on the fly here, peeps). Think small and fun, not big and chunky.
  • Sharing reviews mandatory, format still to be determined.

To join the challenge you need to leave a comment at Dana's blog confirming your interest before March 1.

The books:

As I look at my TBR shelf, there are a load of books that I could nominate for this challenge. I am going to start with the following but may end up substituting other books later:

Wolf of the Plains by Conn Iggulden (560 pages)

Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks (618 pages)

A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick (544 pages)

Shadowbrook by Beverly Swerling (512 pages)

I do so love big books!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Library crazy

As usual, I have far too many books out. One of the things I want to try and do next year is to reduce the maximum number of books I have out at one time right down, maybe even as far as down to 35. We'll see how I go though!

The books I have out are:

  • The Alchemists Daughter by Katherine McMahon
  • The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters (the next book in the Amelia Peabody series)
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan (I am reading this at the moment)
  • Belladonna by Anne Bishop (second book in the Belladonna series)
  • The Boy in Striped Pajamas: A Fable by John Boyne
  • Bridge Across My Sorrows: The Christina Noble Story by Christina Noble
  • Circle of Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini(the next book in the Elm Creek Quilt series)
  • Courting the Countess by Barbara Pierce
  • The Currency Lads by Peter Yeldham
  • Dreaming the Serpent Spear by Manda Scott (the final book in the Boudicea series)
  • East of Time by Jacob Rosenberg
  • England's Perfect Hero by Suzanne Enoch
  • The Family Tree by Barbara Delinksy
  • The Flower Net by Lisa See
  • Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks
  • Interlude in Death by J D Robb
  • Irish Girls Around Town anthology
  • Island in the Sea of Time by SM Stirling (my Sci-fi Experience book)
  • Lion's Honey by David Grossman
  • The Lion's Lady by Julie Garwood
  • Lord John and the Hand of Devils by Diana Gabaldon (reading this at the moment)
  • Lord of Fire by Gaelen Foley
  • Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones
  • One Forbidden Evening by Jo Goodman
  • The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint
  • Only With Your Love by Lisa Kleypas
  • The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson
  • The Pirate Queen by Diana Norman
  • Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
  • Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig
  • Sea Swept by Nora Roberts (this will be a reread for me)
  • Shadowbrook by Beverly Swerling
  • Shadows in Bronze by Lindsey Davis
  • Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
  • Silhouette in Scarlet by Elizabeth Peters (next Vicky Bliss book)
  • Sins of the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • The Sleeping Beauty Proposal by Sarah Strohmeyer
  • The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (reread)
  • Temeraire by Naomi Novik (reread)
  • The Whisper of Leaves by K S Nikakis
  • Wild and Wicked in Scotland by Melody Thomas
  • Wolf of the Plains by Conn Iggulden

Books on hold waiting to be picked up:

  • Betrothed for the Baby by Kathie DeNosky
  • Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning
  • Lady Whistledown Strikes Back anthology
  • Making Money by Terry Pratchett
  • Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff
  • Ruddy Gore by Kerry Greenwood
  • Thin Air by Rachel Caine

Books on Request:

  • Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts
  • The Crystal Skull by Manda Scott
  • Dead Man's Walk by Larry McMurtry
  • Haunted by Kelley Armstrong
  • An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris
  • Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
  • People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
  • A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick
  • Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich
  • Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett
  • The Seduction of Water by Carol Goodman
  • Solomon Key by Dan Brown
  • Where Three Roads Meet by Sally Vickers

2008 Reading Resolutions

So I have done the 2007 year in review posts, but what I haven't posted yet are my 2008 reading resolutions. I had a somewhat mixed year in terms of my reading resolutions last year, but I will be keeping at least some of those same goals this year.

Read 150 books - this is a significant drop in the number of books I read this year, but I really want to get a new job much closer to home and so I will have much less reading time!

Blogging - catch up and keep up!

Australian Authors - I would like to read at least 20 books by Australian authors this year.

Library - I really need to get the number of books that I have out from the library down to say 35, and keep it there. Ill be going a post of all my library books shortly, and I am pretty sure that you will agree that it is over the top at the moment!

Challenges - I am going to be joining in on challenges this year, but I want them to be ones that will help me reduce my huge TBR list down a bit!

Books I Own - I want to read at least 15 books that I owned as at 31 December 2007!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I need someone who is good with DVD players

Does anyone know anyone who is good with electronics who can program my DVD player to be able to automatically take some actions. My request is very specific.

You see, the DVD player needs to firstly recognise that the disc that has been put in there is North and South (the Elizabeth Gaskell version not the US version, although I wouldn't really mind watching that one again either).

The second requirement is that the DVD player must understand that as soon as I have finished watching the second disc that it automatically needs to reset itself so that I can watch the final scene over and over again, at least four or five times in succession. The DVD must also understand that it is likely that this sequence of events is going to need to be followed quite regularly for a number of days, and also that it could be that I might wish to replay numerous other scenes randomly as well.

Of course, if my DVD player could be coordinated with my computer so that it knows that not longer after watching the last scene of North and South several times I am going to NEED to go to Youtube and watch the final two episodes of The Vicar of Dibley where Richard Armitage co-stars that would be great too! He's too damn fine to just watch in just one show!

That final scene of North and South....sigh........ could I just say that he had me at "Where are you going?"

I am so glad that my son gave me this for Christmas, even though I had to buy it and wrap it myself. It's a bit sad really. I gave myself Elizabeth and Pride and Prejudice for Christmas as well, but I still haven't unwrapped the plastic off those DVDs yet! Maybe by the time we get to February I will be ready to crack them open!

If you want to read more about the Great North and South Crusade, I think that campaign headquarters are to be found over at Ramblings on Romance!.

By the way, even though Richard Armitage is definitely one of THE best reasons to watch North and South, he is not the only reason. I can't remember who, but someone mentioned that Nicholas Higgins was quite good too..and I have to agree! If you want someone a bit rougher around the edges he is definitely worth giving a look.


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