Tuesday, April 28, 2009

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!

I nearly didn't do Teaser Tuesday this week, because I am still reading a couple of books that I have been going with for a while, simply because they are both very big books!

The Terror by Dan Simmons is a really long book at 769 pages. I am enjoying it a lot but I will be glad when I can close it for the last time and say 'done'. I do have another book by this author on my bookshelves to read soon as well (Drood), which is even longer! The other book I am still reading is Cross Stitch which is another huge novel at 863 pages. I was so tempted to just go through and pick out some of my favourite quotes. The problem with this book is choosing which quotes to use as there are so many great lines!

This week's teaser comes from page 498 of The Terror. I am posting a whole paragraph because I think it works much better for this teaser:

I know that Captain Crozier is especially Devestated by the Loss.. His face was so Pale when He came into camp this morning sometime after 2:00 a.m. that I would have staked my Professional Reputation on the opinion that it could not grow any paler. But it did upon his hearing the News. Even his lips became as white as the ice-pack snow we have been staring at now for the better part of three years.

Monday, April 27, 2009

An Offer You Can't Refuse by Jill Mansell

A new bestseller from one of the UK's biggest authors.

Seventeen-year-old Lola has no intention of accepting when her boyfriend's snobbish mother offers her a huge bribe to break up with him. Then Lola discovers a secret that makes her think again, and the only way she can help one of the people she loves most in the world is to take the money and break Dougie's heart.

Ten years later, when Lola meets Dougie again, her feelings for him are as strong as ever. She'll do almost anything to get him back, but she can never tell him the truth. Can she overcome his bitterness and win his heart? She's attractive, persuasive, and endlessly optimistic, but even Lola's got her work cut out for her this time.

A number of years ago I was given at least two Jill Mansell books to read. I read them, enjoyed them, but then didn't really continue reading any of her books. So when I was offered this book for review, I jumped at the chance to renew my acquaintance with Mansell's work.

This is one of Jill Mansell's later books, having originally been released in the UK last year. It is the first of the books that Sourcebooks are planning to release into the US market this year. One of the things that I did wonder was how some of the more British language would translate to the US market. I lived in the UK for a number of years, but there were still a few terms that I didn't easily recognise. For example, what on earth are Toasta Bags? If my interpretation of what they do is correct, I want some, if you can toast a sandwich in the toaster without making a mess!

In terms of the actual story, the characters follow a fairly typical chick lit arc in the storyline. Lola is a young woman who is desperately in love with Dougie. When his mother offers her a sizable amount of money, Lola would ordinarily have said no, but due to an unexpected situation she realises that this is a chance to make someone close to her happy, even if it means that she must never see Dougie again.

Fast forward a number of years and Lola has just returned to the UK after living overseas. She has no way of knowing that by helping out a woman who is being attacked in the street, that she is going to bring herself into contact with Dougie, and his family again.

Whilst the story does focus on Lola and Dougie, the author also manages to fit in secondary stories for Lola's friend Gabe (his adventures in his new career as a paparazzi are both funny and poignant), Dougie's sister, Lola's mother and at least one other person from her past.

If there was one small criticism to be made of this book, it is that all the loose ends were so completely nicely tied up at the end, but that is a small thing really. If you want a fun chick lit read, then from my experience, both with this book, and with the other books I have read from this author in the past, you can't go wrong with Jill Mansell.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for sending me this book for review.

Rating: 4/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

My Friend Amy
Booking Mama
Savvy Verse and Wit

Saturday, April 25, 2009

An Anzac Day tradition

Today is Anzac Day, a day when we celebrate the sacrifices made by our soldiers during conflict. The reason why it we celebrate on this day, is because on April 25, 1915, our soldiers arrived a Gallipoli, the first time that we had fought not as British soldiers, but as Australians. The word Anzac stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, and this is a day that we share proudly with our New Zealand comrade.

This day is a day I actually get very emotional and very proud to be an Aussie. There are the inevitable documentaries about various actions, either the debacle at Gallipoli itself or the conflict on the Western Front. If you are really keen you can go to the dawn service, or there are generally services later in the day, and a big parade in the city as well.

Over the last few years I have posted poems, and videos and stories of sacrifice, but today I thought I would post about something a little different.

It has often been said that Aussies will bet on just about anything, and on Anzac Day especially, if you want to throw some money away you might do it by playing Two-Up. It is actually illegal to run a Two Up game for money anywhere outside of a casino any other day of the year, but on Anzac Day two-up schools (which is what a game of two-up is called) pop up all over the place.

So what is two-up? Basically it is a betting game when you toss up two coins (traditionally pennies) and bet on whether they are going to land on heads, tails or odds (where the coins land with one head up and one tail up). Among the rules are the stipulation that the coins must be flipped up more than 1 metre above the head, and the spinner (the person flipping the coins) wins if they can throw 3 lots of heads in a row.

I was trying to find some video where the noise didn't just sound like a rabble, but one of the thing that goes hand in hand with two-up for many is drinking, but here is a short video of a veteran being the spinner (warning there is a little swearing at the end), and the second video is some radio announcers at a Brisbane radio stations learning how to play two-up.

They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Library Loot!

There's something just a little bit different about this week's library loot! The obvious difference is the widget showing the covers. The other thing is that there are again lots of library books out, but the difference is that they are from two different libraries!

At one point I was actually a member of four library districts. There were two different libraries over near where I used to live about 4 years ago and that is about 45 minutes away from where I live now, so it isn't exactly easy to get to either of them. On the weekend just gone, I made the big step of getting rid of my library cards to both of these as the likelihood of me borrowing something from them again is remote really.

The other two libraries that I am a member of is the library district near my house, which I visit at least once a week, and then there is a library less than 10 minutes walk from where I work. I joined that library a few months again, but I hadn't borrowed anything from there until this week!

So the books that I borrowed from my normal library were:

Night Train to Memphis by Elizabeth Peters
Lord of the Silent by Elizabeth Peters
My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding anthology
Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
Web of Love by Mary Balogh
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom DVD
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
Tomorrow when the War Began by John Marsden (audio book)
The Terror by Dan Simmons
The Boat by Nam Le

Now you may have noticed in previous posts that I was actually reading The Terror. I got really stuck on it last week, not because I wasn't enjoying it, but just because I couldn't seem to read! I have left it in the Currently Reading section of my sidebar as it is my intention to pick that one up from where I left off last week when I finish the current book that I am reading, perhaps tomorrow.

As I need to try and figure out how to do a slideshow for a craft blog that I help out with, I have come up with the following display of covers for the books listed above.

From the other library (near work) I picked up Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry and Her Only Desire by Gaelen Foley. I couldn't borrow the Foley from my main library because it appears as though their copy is lost. As for Lonesome Dove, it turns out that if I had of realised, I actually didn't need to borrow it from the library anyway! When I finished Comanche Moon, the first thing I tried to do was request the next book in the series. I thought it was really odd that my main library had the first two books in the Lonesome Dove series but didn't have the third, and most famous, book, Lonesome Dove.

One of my work colleagues asked me if I owned a copy of Angels and Demons that she could borrow. I came home and was just about to go to bed when I remembered her request so went in to scour my bookshelf to look for it, and ended up creating a big mess of books that I will need to fix, probably on the weekend. I didn't find Angels and Demons, because my brother borrowed it years ago I think, but I did find my own copy of Lonesome Dove that I bought when the mini-series originally was shown on TV, which I guess makes back in the 80s some times!

****Library Loot is a weekly meme hosted by Alessandra from Out of the Blue and Eva from A Striped Armchair****

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Teaser Tuesday and a little Star Trek fun

It's not very often that I put a photo of myself up on the blog, but this widget looked like so much fun when I saw it over at Scifichick.com that I just couldn't resist!

Create Your Own

Yes, I really am hiding underneath there!

Onto more serious business - 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!

Two teasers this week, both from books I am enjoying immensely!

The Swan Maiden is the latest book by Aussie author Jules Watson. It is a retelling of the Irish Celtic myth about Diedre and so far is very enjoyable. I had to be very careful this morning to make sure I didn't get so engrossed in my reading that I went past my train station! This teaser comes from page 369:

As he spoke to them, he had been filled with the memory of what it felt like in a great mass of warriors, and his long-dammed passion had fired his words.

And so the Epidii felt a glimpse of it, at last.

The second teaser comes from an old favourite. I don't really do rereads, but I decided that it was time for me to reintroduce myself to Jamie and Claire and so I am rereading the first book in the Outlander series, which was published here under the title Cross Stitch. This teaser comes from page 400:

Now, listen. Ye understand me, ye say, and I believe it. But there's a difference between understandin' something with your mind and really knowing, deep down.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The end has come!

So the read-a-thon is over for this time! I have to say that I don't think it was my most auspicious effort for a first time, but there was too many other factors involved. I don't think that some of those factors are necessarily going to go away any time soon either. One is the child factor - in this weekend's case it was sport and also wanting to watch a movie together. The other factor is really the times. In less than 8 hours I need to be up and going to work, and there is just no way that that would be enough recovery time if I hadn't slept for the last 24 hours. I still had fun, I am just a bit disappointed that I didn't get to participate more in mini-challenges, or to get around to visit anyone else who was participating at all. Last time the read-a-thon was on, I was a cheerleader and I literally didn't move away from the computer for about 12-14 hours. This time, as a reader, I really struggled to string together more than a couple of hours at a time for reading.

I did end up fitting in some more reading time, but it wasn't exactly quality as I was reading whilst my son was watching Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Ark in the same room, and so I kept on getting distracted!

I did end up getting about 150 pages into Cross Stitch. Not as much as I would have liked, but still it is a start! All up my stats for the read-a-thon were:

Running totals

Minutes read: Approximately 320

Pages read during official readathon: Approximately 500

Pages read so far this weekend: Approx 700

Books completed during official readathon: 2

Books completed so far this weekend: 3

The books I completed on the weekend were Don't Bargain with the Devil by Sabrina Jeffries, Coraline by Neil Gaiman and Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan. I also started The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson and Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon.

Now I need to go and check my emails, check into the forums I am supposed to mod on but haven't logged into for 36 hours, check Bloglines (I hate to think how many feeds there are to read given that I was already behind before this started), and think about cleaning up my kitchen and finishing my laundry. Maybe I need to take another day off tomorrow just to catch-up!

And the answer to how many Bloglines entries I currently have - 1830!

So it's going well...or not!

In the last 3 hours I have spent 45 minutes preparing dinner, 90 minutes sleeping, oh, and 45 minutes reading! During those 45 minutes I managed to read about 55 pages, but still! It seems the spirit is willing but the mind and body are weak!

Running totals

Minutes read: Approximately 200

Pages read during official readathon: Approximately 380

Pages read so far this weekend: Approx 680

Books completed during official readathon: 2

Books completed so far this weekend: 3

Just got back

I am hoping to get some solid reading time in now, other than when I have to cook dinner.

There is a distinct possibility that I might fall asleep though!

I am hoping to have some photos and maybe video of the first game soon!

This hour's mini challenge is about rereads, which is timely because I am planning to start rereading Cross Stitch now, which is known in other parts of the world as Outlander, the first book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. This is one of my favourite series ever, but because I don't really do rereads normally, I haven't ever reread this book at all. I am really looking forward to going back to the beginning of the fantastic story which feature Claire and Jamie!

Mid event survey!

1. What are you reading right now? The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

2. How many books have you read so far? 2 or 3 depending on how official you want to be.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I really want to sink my teeth into Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon.

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? I wasn't really able to given the time zones and also my son's sporting commitments.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? I've had more interupti0ns than reading time, if you count the need to sleep!

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I would try and make it a weekend event as opposed to set hours so as to give the people who have trouble with time zones a bit more flexible! I have just changed what I needed to change so that I could participate but I get that that probably isn't really the intention behind the whole concept.

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I would try to clear the day out a bit more!

9. Are you getting tired yet? No, I just got out of bed a couple of hours ago!

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Not really. I haven't really been able to get to visit anyone else or participate in any of the mini-challenges or anything like that.


Today is a big day in our house. My son plays his first ever game of real football. Not just doing skills but actually competing to win. He is very excited, and is already to go, so this will be my final update before we leave to go and play!

I will be back to reading in a few hours time!

Running totals

Minutes read: Approximately 160

Pages read during official readathon: Approximately 330

Pages read so far this weekend: Approx 630

Books completed during official readathon: 2

Books completed so far this weekend: 3


It has taken me ages to log in this morning. I think there is something wrong with my modem, but eventually I have managed to get in.

Since I last updated I have slept for about 8 hours, been to the shops, done some dishes and some washing, and now I am having some breakfast.

Reading wise I finished Tales from Outer Suburbia, which I really loved. Shaun Tan is an amazing artist/storyteller. Now I am about 40 pages into The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.

I only have an hour or so before I need to start getting ready to go out, so I am planning on reading for at least some of that time, and then when we get home I will be having a concentrated reading time. That's the plan anyway.

Running totals

Minutes read: Approximately 115

Pages read during official readathon: Approximately 280

Pages read so far this weekend: Approx 580

Books completed during official readathon: 2

Books completed so far this weekend: 3

Saturday, April 18, 2009

And I'm off ...

This time to bed!

I have just finished reading Coraline by Neil Gaiman which was deliciously fun to read, and I am taking Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan to bed with me. Not sure how much I will read, but I might get at least a few pages read.

Running totals

Minutes read: Approximately 75

Pages read during official readathon: Approximately 200

Pages read so far this weekend: Approx 500

Books completed during official readathon: 1

Books completed so far this weekend: 2

Good night everybody!

And we're off!

Actually it's a bit of a stuttering start for me! Because it is 10pm on Saturday night and I have been up since 6am, I am not going to get a lot of reading done tonight, and then I will have a few hours out tomorrow because of a prior commitment, but I should be able to read for a few hours in the morning and then again tomorrow afternoon. That's the plan anyway.

I did read for a couple of hours this afternoon. It probably won't count officially for the read-a-thon, but I really wanted to use the whole weekend to get some books off my TBR list. This afternoon I read about 280 pages and finished reading the ARC I had of Don't Bargain with the Devil, which is the new book in the School for Heiresses series that is due out soon by Sabrina Jeffries.

I started reading again about 45 minutes ago and got through about 45 pages of The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson, and I have read the first couple of chapters of Coraline by Neil Gaiman. That is probably the book I will concentrate on now before I go to bed!

To everyone just starting and reading through our night time - good luck and have fun!

More Susan Boyle!

Susan Boyle seems to have taken the whole world by storm!

Here's a link to a recording of Cry Me a River that she did 10 years ago for a charity recording!

Absolutely beautiful to listen to.

Editted to add a Youtube Video - the link and the video are of the same song


So it turns out that 8am Saturday on New York time is not 10pm Friday night our time - it is in fact 10pm on Saturday night! I actually knew this but was obviuosly having a moment when I was thinking things through!

This actually changes things quite a lot for me in terms of participating in read-a-thon because my day on Saturday is pretty clear, but Sunday I have a bit on, so while I will read as much as I can on Sunday, I am also going to try to take advantage of my clear schedule on Saturday and do some of my reading today. I am not sure how we are going to go though. I already woke up tired which isn't really conducive to reading.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I've hit the wall ...

Reading and blogging wise at least. It isn't often that I find myself not reading, or blogging, but at this point in time I haven't finished a book in over a week! I have at least at 3 posts that I need to write, about half a dozen posts that are half written and if I just finished writing would have new content and I am hundreds of feeds behind in Bloglines.

Part of the reason that there was no Teaser Tuesday post this week was because I am still reading the same books as last week. I guess I don't have far to go with Silver Phoenix, but I don't think I am even a third of the way through The Terror, despite the fact that I am really enjoying it. My problem is that the book was due back at the library a couple of days ago, so now I need to decide whether to keep it and hope I finish it soon (no one else has it requested), or to take it back and then try and reborrow it straight away.

I will however do a Library Loot post! I took a whole heap of books back unread this week, and only picked two up:

The Wedding Officer by Anthony Cappella - Thanks to a mention from Rosario

Away with the Fairies by Kerry Greenwood - I did have this out on audio book but had to return it because I bought a new MP3 player but can't figure out how to get to the stuff that I save on it!

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner - Thanks to a rave review from Jenclair at A Garden carried in the Pocket.

What is the best thing to do when you are not reading. Buy books? Or perhaps contemplate signing up for the read-a-thon that is happening this weekend? I know straight up that I won't be completing the whole 24 hours, but I am definitely thinking about doing as much as I can. I have been thinking about what books I might want to read. I am pretty sure though that my eyes aren't going to cope particularly well with long stretches of reading - not until I go and get my eyes checked and new glasses at least! The other thing is that it officially starts at 10pm on Friday night here, but I am going out, so I will probably start on Saturday morning, and try and fit in stuff like house cleaning etc to give my eyes a break!

Who else is doing the read-a-thon?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Incredible Voice

Part of this clip was shown on one of our morning TV shows today, and then I saw it posted on 1morechapter.com. By the end of it, I was moved to tears - an absolutely amazing voice!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A close shave

I have mentioned before about the DVD player that I own that is obsessed with Richard Armitage. I bought it early last year and the first DVD I played in it was North and South (over and over and over), and then I followed up with repeated viewings of The Vicar of Dibley Christmas special (where Dawn French marries Richard Armitage) and the first season of Robin Hood (featuring Richard Armitage as the dastardly Guy of Gisborne). I never had any issues with the DVD player until I tried to play a DVD where there was no Richard Armitage. After another couple of months of trying to watch other DVDs, the player gave up the ghost completely and wouldn't even play RA movies.

There was nearly a very scary outcome yesterday - a very close shave!

A couple of times a year we have a hard rubbish collection where you put out all those items that you no longer want but that are too big to put in your normal bin. As I was looking around thinking about what I should get rid of, I spied the DVD player and thought that there was no reason to keep that anymore, so gave my son instructions to take it out and throw it out on the pile. He was just walking out when I said to him that we should just check to make sure that there was no disc in there. He gave it a shake, and yes there was definitely a disc in there. Only problem was that it was no longer on the disc tray. It was now rolling around inside the housing. So in order to retrieve the disc, I had to dismantle the whole case. And what do you think the disc was? Yep, a Richard Armitage disc!

I had mentioned on someone's blog a few weeks ago that I haven't been able to locate disc number 1 from North and South for a while now, but I have now got my complete set back again. I haven't quite been brave enough to try the disc in the replacement DVD player. What happens if that one gets obsessed as well?

There is no doubt that the original DVD player had impeccable taste, but I will definitely sleep better at night knowing that something that gets so obsessed is now out of my house!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blue Diablo winner!

Whoops! I am running a couple of hours late. I was busy, erm, watching Australia! You judge whether it was worth the delay or not!

Anyway, I allocated everyone a number in order of the comments that have been left, fed that info into a random number generator, and the winning number was 8, so our winner is:


Congrats to you Limecello. Hope you enjoy the book!

Don't forget to keep leaving your comments about what makes a keeper as there is still a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift certificate. Entries for that giveaway close on Friday.

How much room is there in a suitcase anyway?

In the time honoured tradition of music channels and radio stations for long weekends, one of our music channels is having a Top 1000 80s vs 90s countdown! I was pleasantly surprised when they played this song, even if the video is just a little disturbing!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ann Aguirre guest blog and giveaway

I am very excited today to welcome author and guest blogger Ann Aguirre, with a special guest appearance by reader Alice Anderson. Ann Aguirre is touring blogland to help celebrate the release of her new book, Blue Diablo, first book in her new Corinne Solomon series. Click here to see where the other stops on the blog tour are going to be! Be sure to check to the end of the post for details on how to win a copy of Blue Diablo and a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate.

Because I don't want everything to be about me, I have decided to share the spotlight with a reader. Meet Alice Anderson.

What it Takes to be a Keeper

Alice: It's no secret that I adore romance novels. At last count, I have a little over a thousand. You're probably thinking man, that's the mother of all keeper shelves. Are all of them keepers? No, not really. But it's what you might call a collection. I have numerous bookshelves as well as boxes full of books. But I do have an illustrious Keeper Shelf.

Ann: I love romances too, but lately cross-genre fiction has been a big win for me. I had that many at one time, but a basement flood before I moved out of the States decimated my book collection. Let me tell you, I cried.

Alice: So what makes a book a keeper and what's on my keeper shelf?

A keeper, to me, is a book that is unforgettable. Unput-down-able. Rereadable. It's a book that, as my husband says, gives me the warm fuzzies. They're the first romance novels I ever read. The ones that got me hooked on romance way back in the beginning of all this. They're the books that kept me up into the wee hours of the morning and made me late for work the next day. They're the books that I think about often, reference frequently and tell all my friends about.

Ann: For me, it's any book I can't bear to get rid of under any circumstance because I may want to read it again. And let me tell you, that is rare.

Alice: Books like the Marcelli Bride by Susan Mallery...that start with a bang and keep me turning the pages all the way through. I fell in love with the hero almost instantly and I rooted for the (odd) couple until The End. Stories like Night Play that got me hooked on both Dark Hunters and Sherrilyn Kenyon. And oh yeah, hunky super hot (and rich, oh yeah!) werewolves. Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark are there and so are Jennifer Estep's superheroes and ubervillans. I'm still not sure about Fiona Fine's fashion sense but at least her outfits are fireproof.

Ann: Oooh, we're naming names now, are we? Larissa Ione, Lauren Dane, Victoria Dahl, Carrie Lofty, Eve Kenin, Kresley Cole, Sharon Shinn, Patricia Briggs, Robin McKinley... I'd better stop.

Alice: You'll find my all time favorite authors on my keeper shelf because well, all time favorite authors are just keepers. A few of my Rebecca Winters books are so old that the pages are yellow, the spines are crumbling and the covers have creases. And I've reread a few of them no less than twenty times. These books are like medicine. They keep me calm when I have reason to panic (plane liftoff, anyone?), keep me occupied when the world is crumbling around me (death in the family), and in general make me feel better (like when I have the flu for two weeks right before Christmas!).

Ann: I lost all my old books. So anything on my keeper shelf has been purchased in the last four years.

Alice: You'll also find recent additions such as the historical romance that made me fall in love with historicals. I was a hold out for a long time but now I'm addicted. I'm thinking I may need a bigger keeper shelf.

Ann: So glad you mentioned this! I love Elizabeth Hoyt lately, and Anna Campbell and Meredith Duran. OMG, yum!

Alice: In short they're books that I fall in love with at first read and fall in love with again each time thereafter. They make me feel something. They teach me something. They give me new words for my vocabulary...like uber (my new favorite!) I find the characters fascinating. I want to be friends with the heroines and date the heroes (shh, don't tell my husband!). They change the way I think about things, make me want to be a better person, and they give me hope. Keepers sit high and proud on the top shelf and always keep me coming back for more.

Ann: What she said.

Alice: What about you? What makes a book a keeper and what's on your shelf? I'll give a $10 amazon gift card to one person who answers by April 15th.

Ann: I'm giving away a copy of Blue Diablo. Winner chosen in 24 hours. I'll talk more about my keepers in comments, too.

About Alice
Alice Anderson is, as yet, an unpublished romance writer. She lives in the Southeast with her husband, dog, three kitties, and beta fish. When she's not slaving over her latest novel, she's hard at work creating designs for other authors and promoting romance to the world through her creation, the CataNetwork. Visit her online at http://www.alice-anderson.com.

So how about you all?

Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Ann's book or the $15 Amazon certificate. Please be sure to leave a valid email address so that we can contact you easily if you win!

The giveaway will close at 7pm Saturday (Australian East Coast Time), which is 4am New York time, and 10am London time on Friday. Hopefully you can figure out what time that is for you from one of those times, because I am terrible at working things like this out!

April Card Swap

I haven't been mentioning much about card making recently, simply because I really haven't been making anything. I think this year I have only made some bookmarks if you don't count the two classes I've been to. In a couple of days I will hopefully post some images of the cards that we have made in the classes we have had this year so far. Of course, I have still been buying stuff for card making!

Today though I sat down and used some of the things that I bought recently. That is quite unusual in itself. Normally I have to have something NOW, and find it months later and wonder what it was that I was intending to make.

The reason for suddenly getting busy is that at our last class, I volunteered myself into the April card swap, which meant that I really needed to hurry up and make the 8 identical cards that I needed to produce in time for next Friday! I am not finished yet, but I just need to finish cutting out the dragonflies and sticking them onto the cards and then I will be done, and there is every chance that will be no Thursday night rush this time!

The theme for the card swap this month was Autumn. I suspect that a lot of people are going to do lots of leave type things, but as soon as I heard the theme I knew that I wanted to use the diamond paper that I had recently bought because I thought that the colours were very autumnal.

Normally when I start making something, I have a fair idea in my mind, but I am never quite happy with the way the finished product turns out. There's always just something that is not quite right. With today's cards I knew what I wanted the feature to be but I didn't know how I was going to implement it. I have to say that for a change I am really very happy with the finished result.

I am not sure that you can really see it from the photos, but the wings on the dragonfly have been folded upwards so that this is very much a card with extra definition.

Originally I bought the diamond paper so that when I try and make more bookmarks I don't have to sit there and measure out the diamonds and cut them out by hand, but now I will have to buy more because I have used it all on this card. That is because the yellow colour you can see is on the reverse of the diamonds! Never mind.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

It does a readers heart good to read this article

From News.com.au

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd won't tell Australians how to spend their stimulus bonuses, but says if he is eligible for the handout, he would blow it on books and music.

Taxpayers earning less than $100,000 will receive a one-off bonus of up to $900, as part of the Federal Government's $42 billion stimulus package.

Speaking on Nova radio in Sydney today, Mr Rudd was asked how he would spend the money if he was eligible for the bonus.

"Some people have accused me of being a nerd from central casting,'' he said.

"What I would probably do is go down to the bookshop and buy some books I've been wanting to buy for a while. A bit of music, that sort of stuff.''

I am not sure that Kev and I would have the same taste in books or music but I am pretty sure that I could quite easily spent $900 on them, if I didn't have other expenses!

Library Loot and Grasshopper Award

Once again this week I picked up more books than I returned, but only by 1 so that's okay right? Right? I need you to enable my library addiction people! The books I picked up were:

The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari - Kerrie from Mysteries in Paradise recently reviewed the third book in this series and gave it a seriously good review! Because I can not possibly start anywhere other than the beginning of a series, this is the first book!

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong - New series + Kelley Armstrong = No brainer!

Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin - Whether this author is writing under her real name, Diana Norman, or this name, I really enjoy her writing, and I am looking forward to catching up with Adelia Aguilar and her friends again.

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan - A couple of years ago I read The Arrival by this author and absolutely loved it! I had every intention of reading anything I could find by him, but that kind of hasn't happened. This is his latest book which came out last year.


I mentioned Kerrie from Mysteries in Paradise a bit earlier in my post. A couple of days ago, she was kind enough to award me The Grasshopper Award:

1) display the grasshopper award on your blog knowing you have touched someone you may never meet IRL.

2) pass this on to any fellow bloggers who have taught, inspired or entertained you.

When I was thinking about who I might pass this award on to, it came to me! With this award I want to honour those people who host weekly memes that I participate in, thereby influencing my content regularly. I am therefore giving this award to:

Alessandra from Out of the Blue and Eva from A Striped Armchair, who host Library Loot each week.

Miz B from Should be Reading who hosts Teaser Tuesday each week

Raidergirl3 from An Adventure in Reading, who each week asks the question "It's Tuesday, Where are you?. I tend to answer this one in the comments on her blog but I do participate regularly in the meme, and it is one that I look forward to each week.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

I wanted to start this post tonight by letting you all know that we are currently hosting a giveaway of Susan Higginbotham's book, The Traitor's Wife, which has just been rereleased by Sourcebooks. Head over to Historical Tapestry for details on how to win.

Now, on to 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!
I thought I would share two teasers this week, both from YA books that I am reading at the moment. I generally try not to read two books from the same genre at the same time, but it has just worked out that way this time. Luckily they are sufficiently different for there not to be any confusion.

The first teaser comes from page 297 of Marked by P C Cast and Kristin Cast:

No, they managed to trick me and tired their best to freak me out. But why? Wait! I knew what they'd been up to.

The second comes from page 137 of Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon. Isn't this cover just gorgeous?

The trio walked in wide circles, among the trees and along the path, calling Feng's name, but to no avail. Li Rong's shoulders sagged, his usual jaunty manner gone.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Premio Zombie Chicken Awards!

I was very honoured to be awarded another Premio Dardos award today. This time it was from Melissa from Remember to Breathe. This is a totally new blog to me, and Melissa emerged fro lurkdom to let me know that she had awarded this to me, which I think makes it all the more awesome! Hope you stick around Melissa, and thanks!

I was also lucky enough to receive the Zombie Chicken Award twice in the last couple of days, once from Sharon at A Bookworm's Reviews and also from Sheree at The Eclectic Reader. I must confess that opening my emails to see a comment saying about the Zombie Chicken award made me smile first thing in the morning. It's not a phrase that you see often!

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all...

I don't want to risk the wrath of the zombie chicken so I am passing this award onto

Carolyn Jean from The Thrillionth Page
Thea and Ana from The Book Smugglers
The girls at Book Binge
Michele from A Reader's Respite
Rosie from Nobody Asked Me

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts

It had been the Pagan Stone for hundreds of years, long before three boys stood around it and spilled their blood in a bond of brotherhood, unleashing a force bent on destruction ...

Gage Turner has been running from his past for a long time. The son of an abusive drunk, his childhood in the small town of Hawkins Hollow had been rough. His only solace was his friendship with Fox O'Dell and Caleb Hawkins. But, when the trio turned ten, an innocent boyish ritual accidentally unleashed an ancient evil on their town. Every seven years murder and mayhem reign, events that seem to be escalating with each cycle.

Now Gage has returned home to help his friends finally defeat the evil force. Helping them will be Layla Darnell, Quinn Black and Cybil Kinski. Gage finds himself drawn to the smart and savvy Cybil, but a lifetime as a loner has made him wary of emotional ties. And who can make plans for the future when their present is so uncertain? For unless they can find a way of using the Pagan Stone against the demonic force, everything they know and love will be destroyed ...

Whilst I have liked this trilogy, I don't think it has been the strongest thing that Nora Roberts has produced. It was therefore something of a surprise when I found myself crying while reading this (on the train no less) three times! Normally I can walk from the train station to work without being talked to by anyone, so of course on Friday morning when I had been crying at this book three people stopped me to ask questions or say hello! Always the way!

So what was it about this book that touched me so much. Mainly, it was to do with the fact that the Gage, whose father was a violent alcoholic and whose mother died when he was very young, was adopted by Fox and Caleb's families. Whilst my dad is an alcoholic and has pretty much been absent for most of my life through a series of circumstances that were not only of his own makings, I am not motherless. It is pretty fair to say though that none of my family has a particularly strong relationship when I compare it to those that other people have with their mothers. I often wondered what it said about me that where my sister was 'adopted' by several different families over the years, that never really happened for me. It is something that I should really be over by this time in my life, but if there is something that is almost guaranteed to get me going it is happy or dysfunctional families - doesn't really matter which - both have the potential to distress!

The thing that Nora Robert is great at is dialogue, and the representation of relationships, in particular friendships, but in this book it was the dialogue about adoptive families. The particular passages that touched me:

He knew what he wanted to say, Gage realized. "You always let me in. I was thinking about things today. You and Fox's mother, you always let me in. You never once turned me away.

"Why in the world would I?"


"You and Jim, you made sure I had a roof over my head - and you made it clear I could have this one, I could have yours whenever I needed it. You kept my father on at the center, even when you should've let him go, and you did that for me. but you never made me feel like it was charity. You and Fox's parents, you made sure I had clothes, shoes, work so I had spending money. And you never made me feel it was because you felt sorry for that Turner kid."

And a bit further on with Fox's mother:

With a sigh, she put her arms around him, laid her head on his shoulder. "All of your life, as a parent, you wonder and you worry. Did I do that right? Should I have done that, said this? Then, suddenly, in a fingersnap it seems, your children are grown. And still you wonder and you worry. Could I have done this, did I remember to say that? If you're very lucky, one day one of your children..." She leaned back to look into his eyes. "Because you're mine and Frannie's too. One of your children writes you a note that arrows straight into your heart. All that worry goes away." She gave him a watery smile. "For a moment anyway. Thank you for the moment, baby."

Anyway, enough about my issues.

Given that in the first couple of books, Cal and Quinn initially and then Fox and Layla all buddied up, there was an inevitability to Gage and Cybil getting it together that even the characters commented on, but there was definite chemistry between them as well as their shared gift of being able to see the future. Their destiny was something that was perhaps a little bit of a cliche, but it is fair to say that it was not the only cliched aspect of the storyline. Then again the symbolism in those moments was also a very important element in the final showdown, so I guess it had to be there.

In many ways the final showdown against the demon, far from being the crescendo of the trilogy, was a bit flat and a bit rushed, especially compared to some of the earlier battles. In the end, I am glad that I have finished the trilogy, and I am ready to see what comes out next from Nora Roberts.

In closing I am going to focus on a really deep issue. How boring is this cover from Piatkus? The whole trilogy has had this 'stony' cover on it (just in different colours). Yes, I get the symbolism, but really ... boring! I do wonder if maybe because it is Nora, she will sell by the bucket and so they don't think that covers matter or something?

Rating 4/5

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

March Update

This month was a pretty good one reading wise. I ended up reading 17 books, but it is fair to say that I had a very average reviewing month, with only two reviews written! I do have a couple of reviews nearly written so we will see how we go with actually posting them!

New Year's Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini (4/5)
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (4/5)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (5/5)
The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson (4/5)
Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn (4/5)
Living with the Dead by Kelley Armstrong (4/5)
Death Before Wicket by Kerry Greenwood (3.5/5)
Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich (3.5/5)
Angelique and the Sultan by Sergeanne Golon (4/5)
Wife for Hire by Janet Evanovich (4/5)
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen (4.5/5)
Night of Flames by Douglas W Jacobson (4.5/5)
Superior Saturday by Garth Nix (4/5)
Venus in Copper by Lindsey Davis (4/5)
An Offer You Can't Refuse by Jill Mansell (4.5/5)
The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts (4/5)
Forbidden Fantasies anthology (4/5)

The end of the month means it is time to check out the progress on my challenges and to do my 'I Suck at Challenges' update.

By reading Silent in the Sanctuary, I finished the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, but I also joined two new challenges, Once Upon a Time III and The Love Bites Challenge. I have already read one of my books for Once Upon a Time III (Superior Saturday by Garth Nix) but haven't yet read anything for my other new challenge.

I managed to read two books for the Book Awards Reading Challenge - The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson. You might notice that I rated The Graveyard Book as a 5/5 read - my first, and only, so far this year. I think I still have four books to read to complete this challenge.

I read another book for the War Through the Generations challenge this month as well - Night of Flames by Douglas W Jacobson, so have three more books to read before the end of the year for this challenge.

I have read 37 books for the 100+ Reading Challenge, and 27 for the Library Challenge. My target for the Library Challenge is 50 books, so I am over half way through.

One more book to go to complete the Victorian Challenge after I read Silent in the Sanctuary in March. I just picked up Silent on the Moor from the library tonight so that may well be the third book for the challenge, although I do have at least one more book that fits so maybe it will be that one instead.

Silent in the Sanctuary also fitted for the Chunkster Challenge, so I have 4 books left to go to complete that challenge. The book that I am currently reading (Comanche Moon by Larry McMurtry) fits for this challenge too.

Plum Spooky was the book I read for the 2009 Pub Challenge this month - 2 down, 7 to go!

Library Loot!

Only one visit to the library this week which is possible a good thing given my tendency to always borrow more than I take back!

I do have something to whinge about a little this week about my library. Actually I have been thinking about writing about it for a few weeks but have decided that today is the day to actually put it all down.

A bit of background first. The area where I live has quite a fast growing population, thanks mainly to a lot of development between here and the city. Along with shopping centres and other infrastructure, the local council has decided to build a new library branch. All good so far, right?

Well, yes and no. As a library patron I am pleased at the thought of a new branch, but there does appear to be a down side, and that is that they have ordered loads and loads of new books, but they are not adding them to the catalogue until the new branch opens, which I think is in August some time.

I totally get that they want a lovely new library with lots of lovely new books, but what about the existing patrons who want to read specific books? Here are a few of the books that I want to read now, but that won't be available for at another 3 months yet:

A Silent Ocean Away by DeVa Gantt
Men of the Otherworld and Made to be Broken by Kelley Armstrong
The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (I know that this one isn't out yet, but still)
City of God by Beverly Swerling

There are loads more, but that will do for now. Okay, I have finished being a little petulant now, so we will move onto what I have been able to borrow this week:

All the Rivers Run (DVD) - This is something of an Australian TV classic. Set in the 1880's, the mini-series originally showed on TV here back in the early 1980's (I think). I read the book that this was based on years ago and remember loving it, so I am looking forward to revisiting old friends.

Jewels of the Sun
by Nora Roberts - now that I have finished the latest trilogy it is time to go back and discover one of the earlier series, before her next series starts.

The Piano Teacher
by Janice Y K Lee - I have had this on my TBR list for a while now and finally got around to requesting it from the library.

Silent on the Moor
by Deanna Raybourn - the third book in the Lady Julia Grey mystery series.

Good Reading Magazine (March 2009)
- I haven't really spent much time reading magazines about reading, but the other week Kerrie from Mysteries in Paradise posted about the magazine! Because she is one smart cookie, she suggested I look at my library and see if they order the magazine, and they do! Who knows if it will be a good thing or not, but I am happy to borrow them for a couple of months at this point in time.

And now for an almost completely unrelated video moment! One of the reasons for borrowing All the Rivers Run is to do a guest post. I thought I would try my luck and see if there was any footage on Youtube. No luck, but the search did bring up this Australian classic from Hunters and Collectors (who I saw live at Sound Relief a few weeks ago) - When the River Runs Dry.

****Library Loot is a weekly meme hosted by Alessandra from Out of the Blue and Eva from A Striped Armchair****