Saturday, 15 July 2017

Sunday Post 64; It's Monday! What are you reading? 50


The Sunday Post - a chance for a chat and a catch-up with other bloggers - is hosted by Kimba, here:
http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ and It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Kathryn right here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Let's see ... last week was ... something - lol.

For us as a family, the biggest news is that J got a fulltime job. He's been working as a grocery assistant part-time at a supermarket for years so this is good all around - not just for the family, but for him as well.

For myself, I went into Tech last Monday and discovered that no, no I was not enrolled in the course I thought I was. After some to-ing and fro-ing, I somehow found myself enrolled in a graduate diploma in marketing. Now - I really enjoyed marketing last semester but after a week of course, I don't feel ready to tackle a graduate course. So I'm going to go in there tomorrow and talk to the head of department - I have a week in which I can change my course with no penalties, and I want to see if I can switch to a BCom.

It was my intention anyway after the Certificate I did, but because I have a Bachelor of Arts (from 20 years ago I might add) people kept saying that I really didn't need another bachelor's degree, I already have a good education - and yes, that's all good advice and all but I lost sight of what I wanted to do. I want to pursue the BCom, and still major in marketing, as that's what I'm really interested in. So hopefully I can switch.

I still haven't heard from the job that I really wanted, so I think I have to let that one go - I was talking on Friday to one of the people I had put down for a reference, and she said she hadn't heard from them - two weeks later.

So the plan is (hopefully) to switch my course, but keep applying for jobs. Studying is something I can always come back to, now that I know I still have the knack to get the work done, but you can't pin a job to a noticeboard for later.

I'm still picking through the same books - the Hamilton bio and Tongues of Serpents, though the latter isn't the strongest entry in the Temeraire series, I will still persist.

How about you? What are you reading? How's your week?

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Review - The Crow by Alison Croggon

The Crow is book three in Alison Croggon’s YA fantasy series The Books of Pellinor.

The first two books focused on Maerad, a Bard who had no idea of her skills until she was rescued from slavery. Subsequently, Maerad finds out that she’s the Chosen One and she has to find something called the Treesong to restore the Balance.

Book three focuses on Maerad’s long-lost brother Hem, with whom she is reunited in book two.

I have to admit, I was wary at first going in, because I did become invested in Maerad’s journey, and I also dig the way that Alison Croggan just kind of went “yep, it’s a Chosen one narrative. Look, there she is. She’s the Chosen One. Yep.” It works really well, and it’s cosy because you know exactly what you’re getting so you just sort of …. Dive in.

Hem has been taken to another city by another Bard, Saliman, in order to learn How to be a Proper Bard. Hem is good at some things, not so good at others, but he’s also very likable, and The Crow is kind of a found family story, and if there is something I have a HUGE weakness for, it’s a found family story.

Often in this sort of fantasy story, Hem might have turned bitter or been jealous of Maerad but he’s not. He misses her and wants nothing but to see her again and gosh it just has so much HEART.

On the flip side of that, of course, terrible terrible things happen and I think the descriptions of the child soldiers that serve The Nameless One (yes, the bad guy is called that. The tropes. They live, but they’re handled so. well.) are awful and heartbreaking, and the time that Hem spends in one of the child soldiers’ camps ...well.

Wary as I was, The Crow did not disappoint and I like that it rounded out the story of the Books of Pellinor so well. The next book in the series - The Singing - swings the focus back to Maerad as the good vs evil narrative reaches its climax.

Good stuff. Really, really, really good stuff.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Sunday post 63; It's Monday, what are you reading? 49


The Sunday Post is a chance for a chat and catch-up with the lives of other bloggers, and is hosted by Kimba, here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ and It's Monday! What are you reading? Can be found hosted by Kathryn, here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

You know the saying that goes life happens when you make other plans? Nothing I had set out for last week happened. Patrick was sick with a bad cough for most of it and that had the knock-on effect of me not getting anytyhing done.

As for what's going to happen this week, I'm actually not sure. My course is supposed to start tomorrow, but I haven't heard anything from the institute since about June 21 when they emailed me to ask what papers I wanted to take. I replied to that, and ... nothing. I tried calling a couple of times but only got an answerphone. So, tomorrow (they've been on semester break) I'm going in there in person and politely asking whether I'm enrolled or not.

I'm still waiting to hear back from the part-time admin job that I interviewed for, and the other one that I had a phone interview for I didn't progress. I'm living in limbo and it's actually the worst. If I start the course then that's something, and then if I get the job what I'll likely do is put the course on hold and maybe re-enrol next year, but I don't want to speak my plans too loudly - lol.

We're coming into school holidays for two weeks here as well, so spawn will be home for a bit. I don't like things to be this ... disorderly.

I finished The Crow yesterday and I'm hoping to get a review up for that this week. I'm also about to dive into the next Temeraire book - Tongues of Serpents. For everything else - let's say I'd like to get some blogging and writing done, and some stitching and get a few walks in, but honestly - let's see how I go.

What about you? What are you doing? What are you reading? How's your week?

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Sunday post 62; It's Monday! What are you reading? 48


The Sunday Post - a chance for bloggers to catch up and chat about what's been going on in their lives - is hosted by Kimba, here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ and It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Kathryn, over here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

I have been rather notable by my absence, I think. Or not notable perhaps. Certainly absent, without intention.

Let's see ... my course finished and I closed out with As and Bs in everything, so that's the good news. I'm back looking for a job, which is the less-good news, but the struggle continues. At worst, I'll re-enrol for another semester of study. It gets me out of the house, gets the old brain cells cranking, and I genuinely enjoy the studying process.

Watch this space?

That's about the most significant thing, I think. I did have a job interview the week before last, but I'll update on that when I know more. It is a job I would love, but I have to wait and see.

I didn't do very much last week at all - it was the week after my course finished, so I decided to take it easy for a little bit - I applied for jobs and belted through a replay of Dragon Age II. This week - although applying for jobs is a given - I need to fill my days a bit more productively. I need to go through the process (again) of applying for benefits, which is always fun, and the course I want to do starts up on July 10, so if something doesn't fall out of the sky between now and next Monday, I need to follow up with the admin for that.

I have some projects I want to get done - I have hoarder pockets in my room that need to be dealt with, and I also want to reorganise the family collection of movies and video games so everything is tidy. It doesn't sound like much besides busywork, but while I have the time I want to get something done. I also want to go for a walk every day - not for fitness, but I find being outside, even for a little while walking around the block, can shift my perspective and clear my head.

I have my Circe cross-stitch that I've had on the go for years, but I've come to the stage where I can sort of see the finish line - it's blurry and distant but it's there, so I want to work on that as well. Get back into blogging regularly, and of course, reading.

My reading has slowed down, but I'm climbing that TBR, one book at a time. Right now, I'm picking my way through Ron Chernow's tome of an Alexander Hamilton bio, and also reading The Crow by Alison Croggan, the third in the Books of Pellinor series. Both good reads, and both very different reads. I'm about 20 books behind on my Goodreads challenge but I'm not losing any sleep over it - either I'll catch up, or I won't. If I don't I'll set myself a less lofty target next year.

I won tickets a couple of weeks ago to a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and went with a couple of women from my course. It was great fun, singing and dancing along with the movie, though I'm getting to the age where being out past midnight is something that my body does not enjoy - lol.

What about you? How's your week? What are you reading?

Monday, 1 May 2017

It's Monday, What are you reading? 47

I didn't do a Sunday Post yesterday because ... um. Well, it was readathon weekend, and I did the opening meme for that and somehow deemed that enough for one weekend - lol.

I'm trying to get back into the swing of blogging, and this seems like a good place to start.

I've given the old homestead a bit of a tickle-up, and I have to say, I like the new look. Tis shiny.

As for what I'm reading... I got halfway through The Paladin Caper by Patrick Weekes for readathon, which was all I got read. So I still have that on the go. I'm also picking very slowly away at an ebook of Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton biography. It's a tome of a book, and reading it as an ebook makes it much, much easier.

I'm still on my course (until the end of June) and that's going well, as near as I can tell. Spawn turns 10 (!) on May 15 so we're planning a party. Nothing themed or anything - just pizza, sandwiches etc, and a few friends of his.

So. How are you? What are you reading?

Friday, 28 April 2017

Dewey's readathon, plus starting meme

I only just signed up today, so my snack and books pile are both rather last-minute. I'm going out tonight, and readathon starts at midnight my time, so I won't be there for the early part of the festivities.

I am, however, part of #TeamANZ - a group of Aussie and NZ books bloggers - you can find the others here: http://bronasbooks.blogspot.co.nz/2017/04/deweys-readathon-april-2017.html - who will be around on the twitter tomorrow afternoon when our northern hemisphere readers might be a bit quieter.

I've put a pic on instagram, and here it is in all its glory, my last-minute stack of readathon possibles and snacks:

The book stack possibles are: A Feast for Crows by G R R Martin, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel (this would be a re-read but it's the book of my soul), Wizards and Glass by Stephen King, The Paladin Caper by Patrick Weekes, The Stolen Throne by David Gaider and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

The snacks are salt and vinegar chips, toffee milk chocolate by Whitaker's and Sprite - lol. 

My plan is to (hopefully) set aside a few reading hours tomorrow. I'm only going to pick one book from the stack, and I think it'll depend on what I'm feeling like.

Meanwhile, here's the starting meme that kicks off each readathon:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
New Zealand. :) Specifically my living room. Possibly outside for a bit if it's sunny.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

I'm not sure actually, but I have Wizards and Glass by Stephen King, and The Prophecy Con by Patrick Weekes, so I might dive in to one of those.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Whittaker's toffee milk chocolate... om nom

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
Um. At this point, I'm not sure what people don't know about me - lol.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? Hopefully get a bit more reading done ...

Most of these answers are the same as last time - lol.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Sunday Post 61; It's Monday, What are you reading? 46


The Sunday Post is a chance for a chat and a catch-up with other bloggers, and is hosted by Kimba, here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ and It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Kathryn, here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Well, it's been a couple of weeks. Oops. I have a quiet Sunday afternoon ahead of me, so I'm listening to Hamilton and painting my nails and I thought "hey, I could do a blog post." So here I am :)

Uhm. I've mostly been doing coursework and studying, to be honest. And listening to Hamilton a lot. We got our first tests back for Intro to Law, last week, which I did well on. I have two assessments due this week, but I'll just have to wait and see how those go.

I'm reading on and off but my reading has been very patchy. I'm picking away at Ten Thousand Pieces of You, still; and Lords and Ladies. I'm also reading Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver on my ibooks, and that's pretty good. I keep trying to get into some kind of regular routine and then completely failing - lol.

I did treat myself to a couple of games on Steam - Herald, a narrative type game that follows the fortunes of a young sailor in a kind of alternate world 19th century; and Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, which is more my speed - masks and conspiracies and worldbuilding. Though I've reached a point where I keep dying - oops.

What else. Coursework. Games. Reading. Family things. That's ... about it? I do want to try and get a couple of posts up this week - book reviews and an awesome ladies post, I just need to do the research.

What about you? What are you reading? How's your week?

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Sunday Post 60; It's Monday! What are you reading? 45


The Sunday Post is a chance for a chat and catch-up with other bloggers. It’s hosted by Kimba, here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ and It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is hosted by Kathryn, here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

I … have not blogged at all. I need to be a bit more organized than this. Anyway.

Study continues, and our first assignments are looming, so we’re getting into deadlines and suchlike. I’m not worried yet, but I’m sure the worry is just around the corner.

I have some paperwork to deal with this week as well as I forgot to declare income to Winz, which I should have done. That’s on me, and I need to call them and sort out repayments. I’m not looking forward to it because bureaucracy, but needs must.

What else. I’m still trying to find a good rhythm for studying outside of class. I know what I want to do, and we have a kind of informal study group going, but sometimes I just want to bury myself at the library with my books. I need to strike that balance. I’ve also picked up a few hours of peer tutoring work with one of the other students in my course. It’s only six hours and it doesn’t pay much, but the experience will be good for me.

Outside of that … did I say that I bought the Dragon Age colouring book? Because I totally did. It’s awesome but so far I’ve been too intimidated to start on any of the pictures – lol. I need to practice my shading and skin tones. I’m not the world’s best or most patient colouring-in person, but I want to make these look pretty.

As for reading, I’m still working on Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray. I’ve also been reading Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell – the third novel in their M/M Cyberlove series. I’m really enjoying it – it’s a fast read and it’s an ebook so I can just pick up my ipad and zoom away.

I also have Lords and Ladies by Mr Sir Terry Pratchett on the go. I started it on Friday and I’m not very far in, but it is Mr Sir Terry Pratchett.

Other than that, not a lot is going on. Spawn has discovered Geronimo Stilton, and is enjoying those books. There seems to be approximately 784 books in the series so far, so they should keep him going for a bit.


What about you? How’s your week? What are you reading?

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Sunday post 59; it's Monday! What are you reading? 44


The Sunday Post is a chance for a chat and a catch-up with other bloggers. It’s hosted by Kimba, here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is hosted by Kathryn, here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Let’s see …. I’m settling in okay to my course, I think. Assignments are looming already, so this week will be about studying and time management so I don’t end up doing them at the last minute – something that has never worked for me. I may have picked up some work as a peer tutor, which is only a few hours but I’d get paid for it, so that’s something possibly promising. (I’m not sure yet.)

There’s only about a dozen of us on the course I’m taking, which is good, and so we’re working on doing a study group at least once a week to exchange ideas on upcoming assignments and offer support, etc.

Last week was a bit more lively than I’m used to as well. I went to quiz night on Wednesday night with my team, and we came fourth, which wasn’t bad. On Friday night I ended up taking spawn to  a live wrestling show. There’s a nascent professional league starting up down here and the brother of one of my classmates is a wrestler, so she got us free tickets. I used to watch a lot of WWE back in the day, and this is structured a lot like that. It was a lot of fun. It ran a little long, and there were kids at the back of the room who were just yelling the whole time, but other than that it was a good night out, and spawn had a great time.

On Saturday, spawn and I went into town and went to Sing, which was a very cute movie. We also had Subway, went to the library and poked around the shops. By the time we got home I was knackered, so begged off my regular stitch and watch night with my friend. I watched TV and played games on my iPad instead – lol.

I haven’t done a lot of reading, though I’m working through Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray. I loved One Thousand Pieces of You, and this is good too, though there’s a bit of a love triangle … theme? Kind of that I don’t like. Other than that, the story is good, and it’s alternate universes, which I love.

I’m also eyeing Orlando, as the director of that film Sally Potter is one of my awesome ladies, and I want to read the book before diving into the movie. I also need to get into my Back to the Classics books, so possibly The Count of Monte Cristo or Howard’s End might be on the immediate to-read list as well.

I think that’s all. I’m still adjusting to being out and about and doing (well, going to classes and such) and so I’m not doing much at night beyond watching TV which is about all I feel capable of.


What about you? How’s your week? What are you reading?

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Sunday post 58; It's Monday! What are you reading? 43


The Sunday Post is a chance for a chat and catch-up with other bloggers to find out what's been going on in their world during the past week or so. It's hosted by Kimba, right here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ It's Monday! What are you reading? Is now hosted by Kathryn, here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Let's see .... I'm now officially a full-time student - until June, anyway. The course runs for 32 weeks. After that - at this stage I don't know. At this stage I'll be happy to get through the course in one piece - lol. Week one was all right. All of my classes are quite small, and there's a range of ages and backgrounds among us, which is a good thing. I think the most I had in one class was something like nine people. I imagine we're all going to get to know each other pretty well by the end of it.

I haven't been doing a lot of reading this past week. I did read Enjoy the Dance by Heidi Cullinan, the sequel to Dance With Me. It was set during the time the Marriage Equality bill came into law. Its background is intense - there's that, and also one of the main character's parents are undocumented immigrants, and there's issues of childcare and homophobia and ... and despite all that, it's a really sweet, optimistic book about love.  I'll review that one this week,  hopefully.

I'm struggling with The Summer Queen - not because it isn't good, or interesting, but it's the wrong time for me to be reading it. I worked out that I like reading historical fiction when I'm on holiday. Not bodice-rippers, but things like this and Wolf Hall, and The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough. I started the latter on holiday with my parents one year, and the idea of it has stuck with me. I think because I like having time to dive into those big, complex novels. So The Summer Queen will go back to the library for now and I might give it a whirl in April, when I have a two-week semester break.

This does mean that I'm sort of between books. I'm flirting with Ten Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray - I really dug One Thousand Skies Above You and it's about my brain-speed right now, but I'll see.  I should also dive into a classic for the Back to the Classics challenge - handily I've downloaded several on to my ipad, as they tend to be cheap or free on iBooks. Other than that ... textbooks I guess - lol

What else. I think that's all? I'm considering doing a "Nevertheless, she resisted" cross-stitch - someone I follow on instagram designed one and put it on Craftsy as a freebie. That's a maybe though. I still want to try and get Circe finished this year, and 2017 is already racing away from me!

I've also reached my first modern era awesome lady - Sally Potter, who directed Orlando. I'm hoping to read the book and watch the film before I do the post, so that's possibly at least a couple of weeks away.

How about you? How's your week? What are you reading?

Friday, 17 February 2017

Review - Slim to None

Abbie is the food critic for the New York Sentinel newspaper. Or she was – until her photo is splashed across the front page of a rival newspaper, and Abbie finds herself shuffled sideways at her job, and it would seem, in her life as well.

Her husband, William, thinks this is the ideal time to start talking about babies, her best friend Jess is having an affair, and Abbie's homeless friend George isn't who he seems, either.

Abbie has to go on a diet in order to keep her job, which she does, sort of. Well.

I don't know. I mean, I'm in two minds about Slim to None.

There was a lot about it that I liked. The recipes that intersperse the text are a nice touch, and Abbie – when she's not distracted by food metaphors – is interesting. But ... it's a very slight book (excuse the pun).

The food metaphors get distracting – there seems to be at least three on every page, which, in my opinion, detracted from the overall story and from Abbie's internal struggles.

Abbie kind of rambles about everywhere, and there are dropped threads that are just never picked up. Also some of the editing was sloppy, which is always annoying.


It was pleasant enough? I guess? By which I mean "I liked enough to finish it but beyond that ... eh."

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The awesome ladies project 4 - Lady Xu Mu of China

Awesome lady number four is Lady Xu Mu, who lived in China, circa 7th century BC.

She was the first recorded female poet in Chinese history.
According to her Wikipedia article, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Xu_Mu she was married to Duke Mu of Xu, though when her homestate of Wey was invaded in 660BC by the Northern Di barbarians, she attempted to return and call for help from Wey's neighbouring states on the way.

Unfortunately, Mu's courtiers caught up with her on the road and returned her to Xu. Her appeals for help succeeded, however and the state of Qi came to Wey's aid.

Lady Xu Mu's highly acclaimed poems Bamboo Pole and Spring Water expressed her longing for her home state, and her most famous work Speeding Chariot (or Chariot Speeding – I've seen it written both ways on different websites) offers a scathing attack on beaurocracy. This is from the website article http://www.colorq.org/Articles/article.aspx?d=asianwomen&x=xumu

This article http://history.cultural-china.com/en/48History12830.html offers more insight into Lady Xu Mu's life

It took me a bit of digging around, but I finally found English translations of some of Lady Xu Mu's poetry, here: https://rebelwomenembroidery.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/xu-mu-%E8%AE%B8%E7%A9%86%E5%A4%AB%E4%BA%BA-b-690-bce-kingdom-of-wei-china/


Lady Xu Mu was a creative and clever force who gave her people hope when they needed it most, and expressed herself through some very moving poetry.

We're moving forward in history for the next one, as it's film-makers. Up first is Sally Potter, and her film adaptation of Virginia Woolfe's novel, Orlando. 

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Sunday post 57; It's Monday! What are you reading? 42


The Sunday Post  - a chance for a chat and catch-up with other bloggers - is hosted by Kimba, here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ and It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Kathryn, here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Let's see ... I had orientation on Friday morning for my course, and I officially start tomorrow. I have Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and Fridays off, but I anticipate I'll be using that time to study. Not only has it been a very long time, the papers I'm doing are a million miles from anything I've studied before. Still. Out of the house. Doing something. That can only be positive, I think.

I can't think of anything else of note I did last week. Bought stationary I think - lol.

I blogged - I finally caught up on my book reviews with a short reviews post. I still have an aim of a movie a week, but I haven't been able to pin that down to any kind of regularity yet. Unless you count NZ's sci-fi channel The Zone's Cinema Z on a Friday night. Though those movies are really meant to be mocked rather than reviewed. It is something I want to do, so I'll figure it out.

What else. My reading has dipped a bit since I finished Return of the King but I did manage to finish Slim to None by Jenny Gardiner. Which I liked, but didn't love. Now I'm flirting with The Summer  Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick, the first of a trilogy about Eleanor of Aquitaine. I'm only about 30  pages in, but so far so good.

I'm also still chipping away at my awesome ladies project with Lady Xu Mu - the first recorded female verse writer in Chinese history. It was supposed to be Hypatia, but put her in the wrong category - she was a mathematician, so I might do a post on her down the track a bit.

So this week will be all about the backpack life for me - classes and note-taking and juggling life and studying. I'll let you know next week how my first week went!

Anyway. How's your week? What are you reading?

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Short reviews

I didn't realise it had been a while since I had done any reviews. And now suddenly here we are - five books behind. Well. Here I am. You all shouldn't have to suffer because of my laziness.

Speaking of which, these are going to be very very short reviews. Highlight reels, even. But then at least I'll be caught up.

First up is Dance Off by Ariel Tachna and Nessa L. Warin. It's an M/M romance novel, set during a reality dancing show - think Dancing with the Stars. Professional rugby player Olivier and Olympic
swimmer JC are both competitors. Soon, though, they're doing more than just cutting a dashing rug. Dance Off is sweet, undemanding and the developing relationship between the two men is shown really well - not too fast, but not so slow that you want to shout JUST KISS. There's little angst, and it's a really pleasant way to pass a few hours.




Next is Foreign Affairs by Patricia Scanlan. I picked up the free ebook a few weeks ago and honestly didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. It's not the kind of novel I read very often, but it made for a pleasant change of pace. The book follows four friends - Paula, Jennifer, Brenda and Rachel through different stages of their lives. It opens with the four of them waiting to go on a Greek holiday together, and they're all bringing different kinds of baggage. The novel then travels backwards and traces how each women came to be there. It was an oddly cosy read somehow, and I enjoyed dropping in on the women in the different stages outlined in the book.



Third in this highlights reel is How to Repair a Mechanical Heart, by J. C. Lillis. And it's absolutely delightful. Another M/M romance, but this time it deals with first love, and pining and also road trip. Add in found family and honestly JC Lillis can have my axe. A sweet, sweet story, with some teenage-relatable angst thrown in, but not so much that you get impatient with the characters. Friends and sci-fi show Castaway Planet fans Brendon and Abel set out for a series of Castaway Planet conventions, their sights set firmly on the fangirls who ship two of the characters in the show. Not so simple - Brendon and Abel's feelings. As they travel from con to con with Brendon's best friend Nat, feelings surface and shenanigans happen and EVERYTHING IS GREAT.

 


Next up is What Would Mary Berry Do? by Claire Sandy.
 A sweet (sorry) novel about family, changes, baking and love, it's an easy and fun read with a great main character. Marie Dunwoody has
a husband she loves, three great kids and an equally great life. However, when she compares herself to her seemingly perfect neighbour Lucy, Marie feels somewhat lacking. A chance purchase of a cookbook by Mary Berry at a school fair changes pretty much everything. Marie is relatable, and her family is well-rounded as well. Lucy, the perfect neighbour, doesn't have everything as great as Marie thinks, and when the two women find common ground, both their lives change. So fun.




Okay, four books. The last book I finished was Return of the King and Lord of the Rings is the book series of my heart, so I'm not going to review it because it's my heart. :)


Saturday, 4 February 2017

Sunday Post 56; It's Monday, what are you reading? 41


The Sunday Post -  a chance for a chat and catch-up with other bloggers - is hosted by Kimba, here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ and It's Monday! What are you reading? Is now hosted by Kathryn over here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Let's see ... school's back! SCHOOL IS BACK. I mean, I love spawn of course, but dear LORD he can talk!!! Having him at home all the time also makes working at home that much harder, so I'm hoping that I can productively finish this spreadsheet this week. I need to have it done by Friday anyway, and on Friday I have an intro thing to go to for my course. I'm officially a student again!

Ha! Hahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Never ever saw myself doing any kind of business course - I have a degree but it's in English literature and is also from 20-plus years ago. This will be .............................. interesting.

There's still some paperwork things to clear up, as there always seems to be, but other than that, as of Monday Feb 13, I will be a card-carrying student. I'm taking papers in employment relations, intro to law, workplace communication, intro to computers, intro to marketing and intro to management. That should spark up some dormant brain cells!

I finished two books over the weekend - Dance Off by Ariel Tachna and Nessa L. Warin - a very genial and sweet M/M romance novel set during a Dance with the Stars style competition, and Return of the King (LOTR) which packs a different emotional punch every time I read those last words of Samwise Gamgee's "Well, I'm back."

I'm flirting with The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick, and possibly Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray - I loved One Thousand Pieces of You, and this is the sequel.

Other than that, more spreadsheeting, school, getting ready for uni - and also being a grown-up and bidding for freelance editing work on Upwork.com. Why not, right? I have 19 years' experience as a copy-editor, I feel like I can still put it to good use.

I did one post last week - my third awesome lady; Helena of Egypt. Once again, frustratingly, not much is known. Next up is my first author, but I may have to re-think that. I've put Hypatia in that category, but from what I've found she seems to have been a mathematician. So I need to dig around for a very early lady author for the next slot.

What about you? How's your week? What are you reading?

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Awesome Ladies project 3 - Helena of Egypt

Helena of Egypt is my first artist in my awesome ladies series and – just like Sahakdukht and Merit-Ptah, there's not much known about her.

Her works have been lost to history, except a mosaic copy found in the ruins of Pompeii.

The work in question is a scene of Alexander defeating the Persian ruler, Darius III at the battle of Issus in Asia Minor.

There is a picture of the mosaic, which I found on theriveriawoman.com.

This post: https://arthistorygrrrls.com/tag/helena-of-egypt/ says that Helena lived and worked in Egypt in the 4th century BC. Her father Timon was also an artist and an instructor.


This is a very short post, and it's a shame that there's so little information on these awesome ladies.  

Next up is the first author of the group – Hypatia. :)

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Sunday post 55; It's Monday, What are you reading 40


The Sunday Post is a chance for a chatter and catch-up with other bloggers. It's hosted by Kimba, here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Kathryn, here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Let's see ... I'm still battling through paperwork for my course - for the loans and allowances, which like all paperwork is about as much fun as you would expect. I also have not one but TWO appointments with Winz this week for the allegedly "seamless" transition of my benefit to a student allowance. I also have this lovely bridge that I'd like to offer at a bargain price.

So I grit my teeth and tell myself one step at a time.

I had a disastrous phone interview on Friday, but the less said about that one the better.

I'm picking away at the spreadsheeting work, and waiting till spawn goes back to school on Wednesday.

I had a moment last week, and I was going to do a separate blog post about it but I forgot - lol.

Anyways. You know how sometimes - I don't know - God, the Universe, weird coincidence - shows you something? And it can be the littlest, silliest something? That was me.

I went to the library on Friday, and I needed to sit at a table for a bit in order to write something down. So I did that, and happened to look at the books around me.

I'd sat down in the travel section. Now, I've never travelled beyond Melbourne, but it's been a long-held dream of mine to go to Paris. One of the first books I saw was called Lunch in Paris. And maybe it's silly, but it helped. I don't know how I'm going to pay my rent this week, but that book (that I borrowed), and browsing the travel section, helped me to realise I need to hang on somehow. By the shredded remains of my fingernails, but I need to hang on.

So that one day - when these hard and awful and scary times are behind me - I can get on a plane (providing the world hasn't imploded) and have my own lunch in Paris. Whether it's a sign or not, I'm taking it as one. :)

I blogged last week - I wrote a quick review of the film Valentine's Day. I need to go through what I have to watch/review something this week. I meant to do a post on Helena of Egypt - my next awesome lady - but that'll have to be this week as well.

I read Foreign Affairs by Patricia Scanlan and What Would Mary Berry Do by Claire Sandy, so there'll be reviews of those this week as well.

I'm still picking away at Return of the King, and I'm hoping to finish it this week, I'll have to see how I go.

What about you? How's your week? What are you reading?

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Valentine's Day - review

I have to admit, I'm not a huge rom-com film watcher these days. I used to enjoy them, back in the 90s, when they all seemed to star Tom Hanks and also there were dinosaurs. (I may be confusing my genres).

Anyway. I was trawling Netflix, looking for something to watch, and for some reason the ensemble piece Valentine's Day caught my eye, so I hit the little play triangle button.

It follows the fates of a loosely connected group of people on Valentine's Day as they explore love, life and like ... dinner.

The thing is, the movie isn't terrible. The characters are mostly nice, rather than awful, and it's perfectly watchable. It's like ... chicken soup out of a can. You know it's not as good or as satisfying as home-made (though I've only made chicken soup once and I accidently drained the broth down the sink), but it's edible enough.


Valentine's Day is like that – it's edible enough.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Sunday post 54, It's Monday, what are you reading? 39


The Sunday Post is a chance for bloggers to have a chat and a catch-up. It's hosted by Kimba, over here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ It's Monday! What are you reading? is now hosted by Kathryn over here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Let's see .... I got the course information for the Certificate in Business, so as of mid-February, I'll be a student again after .... a while - lol. But it feels good to have something to work towards. I just need to sort out the student loans/allowances part of the whole thing.

Otherwise life chips on, as it does. I'm still doing the spreadsheet work, spawn is still on holiday, and the weather is STILL awful. Other than that ... I have nothing - lol.

I blogged last week - one book review and my second Awesome Ladies post, on Merit-Ptah, thought to be the first named female physician, and one of the world's earliest female scientists. This week's post will be on the artist Helena of Egypt. I also wrote  a short review on

I also watched Valentine's Day on netflix, and since I"m trying to keep myself honest with watching and reviewing weekly movies, I'll do a review of that this week as well. I thought I had published a review of the HBO film Bessie starring Queen Latifah, but clearly not.

As for reading ... I'm admitting defeat for now on the Alexander Hamilton biography. It's good, and interesting, but I don't think I'm in the right headspace for it. I'm still reading Return of the King, and I also read a really cute M/M novel called How to Repair a Mechanical Heart. I'll review that this week too, hopefully.

How about you? What are you reading? How's your week?

Friday, 20 January 2017

The Awesome Ladies project 2 - Merit-Ptah - scientist and physician

For my second awesome lady, I'm delving into the first scientist on my list – Merit-Ptah, named as the first female physician in ancient Egypt, and possibly one of the world's first named female scientists.

According to the blog post here: https://rebelwomenembroidery.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/merit-ptah-c-2700-bce-memphis-egypt/ Merit-Ptah practiced medicine more than 5000 years ago, and is identified as "chief physician" in a hieroglyphic carving near the pyramid of Saqqara, in the old Egyptian kingdom's capital of Memphis.

According to this post https://www.ancient.eu/article/49/ the study of medicine was considered a worthy occupation for men and women alike, and combined prayer and natural healing methods along with study and practice.

In my internet chicken-scratchings, I can't find what discipline Merit-Ptah particularly studied, though, from my scratchings it seems that female physicians in ancient Egypt often focused on gynaecology and obstetrics. A later physician, Cleopatra (no relation to the queen as far as I can tell) wrote texts on childbirth, women's health and pregnancy that were studied for over 1000 years.

Also, according to Wikipedia, an impact crater on Venus was named Merit-Ptah in her honour.

This blog entry is a bit sparse, but I think I might do a bit more research on this one than just picking away at internet links. So I'll put this post up for now to keep myself honest, and move on to the next awesome lady.


Awesome lady three will be an artist – Helena of Egypt. Stay tuned. :)

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Review - St Nacho's by Z. A. Maxfield

Cooper is a drifter. He has his motorbike, his violin, and doesn't stay in one place long enough for people to start asking awkward questions. He's running from a tragic accident in his past; an accident that has shaped the person he is now.

He lands in St Ignacio – affectionately called St Nacho's by the locals – and only intends to stay for a few days. He takes a job at a bar, and finds the idea of setting down some roots not as awful as he's always thought. Of course, Shawn – the pretty college boy who's got Cooper in his sights might have something to do with Cooper's decision to stay ...

Shawn is deaf, and Cooper communicates most easily through his music but the two of them find a way, and Cooper starts to think that maybe this whole relationship thing isn't so bad after all.

Then he gets a phone call from his past, and everything is turned on its head.

Cooper has a somewhat messed up idea of what his obligations are, but he follows through on them, leading to a bit of a tangle for everyone.

St Nacho's was a good, easy read. Cooper and Shawn are great characters and their relationship grows realistically, even with Cooper's personal demons along for the ride. Shawn is determined, stubborn and refuses to let Cooper get away with shit. For his part, Cooper is a loner yes, but not the ~mysterious loner~ type that I find so annoying. He sees it as self-preservation rather than as a way to bring all the boys to the yard.

The side characters – especially those in St Nacho's – are great; fun and fleshed out really well. The only character I had trouble with was Cooper's childhood friend and first boyfriend, Jordan. I felt their relationship wasn't fleshed out enough for me to understand why Cooper reacted the way he did when Jordan kind of fell back into his life.


But that's a minor quibble for a novel of moving on, finding love and found families (ask my what my weakness is. Go on. [It's found families]).  

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Sunday post 53; It's Monday, what are you reading? 38


The Sunday Post is a chance for a chatter and catch-up with other bloggers and is hosted by Kimba, here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ and It's Monday! What are you reading? is now hosted by Kathryn over here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Let's see ... I've been doing a little bit of work which is going to take me through to mid-February, which is good. It's more spreadsheeting, but work is work and money is money. The school holidays grind on, and I'm discovering just how difficult it is working from home with spawn around. The weather's been bad, so he can't even really go outside. It's a delicate balance, but I'm working on it.

I'm applying for jobs, applying for jobs, applying for - you get the idea. Nothing on the horizon so far. The polytech is having an open evening to meet tutors next Tuesday, so I'm going to go along to that, see where my application is at.

This week is more of the same - more spreadsheeting, more negotiating terms of time with spawn, more job applications. Hopefully more blogging. I did all right last week, I think - I joined Back to the Classics reading challenge, and blogged about that, and also started a blogging project I've been kicking around for a couple of years.

I've called it the Awesome Ladies Project, the idea being to sort of profile five different awesome ladies from five different disciplines - composers, scientists, artists, authors and film-makers. I started last week with 8th century Armenian composer Sahakdukht, and this week is the first scientist - Merit-Ptah, believed to be the first named physician in ancient Egypt.

I decided to finally start the project instead of just staring at it in google docs as part of my world expansion pack. Which is also why I've signed up for Back to the Classics. I'm having trouble at the moment with focus, and I think it's partly because I've let my brain become lazy over the past few months. I need to find ways to sharpen that focus, especially when I'm working - most especially when I'm working from home which is chock full of distractions.

I also have a couple of reviews to write up this week - the HBO film Bessie, a biopic of Bessie Smith, starring Queen Latifah, and St Nacho's, an M/M romance novel by Z. A. Maxfield. I have a goal this year of trying to watch a movie a week - I love movies but somehow that's slipped by the wayside, and I want to pick up on it again.

I'm still pecking away at the Alexander Hamilton biography - I'm not going to get it finished before it's due back at the library, but I'll read as much as I can before then and then just get it out again, I think.

I'm also winding through Return of the King as part of the slowest re-read of Lord of the Rings ever. I think I started Fellowship two or three years ago - lol. Up next, I think might be Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor, or possibly The Count of Monte Cristo, as that's one of my challenge novels and I have a handy ebook of it. :)

How about you? How's your week? What are you reading?

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Awesome Ladies project 1 - Sahakdukht - Composer

This blog project is something I have had in mind to do for a couple of years. It originally started, in my mind, as a project for classical composers - I don’t listen to a lot of classical music, and thought “hey, maybe I should change that.” Then my brain saw a squirrel. SQUIRREL!


Anyway, I was kicking the idea around again, and thought, why not expand it because more ladies is always better? So I wittered some more (SQUIRREL) and finally decided on the categories, which are:
  • Composers
  • Scientists
  • Artists
  • Authors
  • Film-makers
Five ladies in each category, spanning (I hope) a wide range of human history and diversity.


So this is the first awesome ladies post, and I’m starting in 8th century Armenia.


Shall we? :)


Sahakdukht: Armenian composer; 8th century.

I started out by googling women composers, and Sahakdukht is, chronologically, the first on my list.



According to the very short Wikipedia entry, Sahakdukht lived in a cave in the Garni Valley, near present-day Yerevan. She composed ecclesiastical poems as well as liturgical chants. The only remaining work of hers is Srbuhi Mariam (St Mary), a nine-stanza acrostic poem, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.


I dug around, but the only versions I could find came from this blog post: https://coloraturaconsulting.com/2014/06/16/composer-biography-byzantine-women-composers-8th-and-9th-century/ which links a couple of YouTube performances of, presumably, the work in Armenian.


Sahakdukht was the sister of music theorist Stepannos Syunetsi.


According to this blog post, https://armenianwomen.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/sahaktukht-8th-century-4-2/ Sahakdukht fell into a deep grief when her brother was assassinated, which is when she retired to live in  a cave in the Garni valley.


However, others followed her in her retreat, and she played music and taught from behind a curtain in her cave. She played her lyre to help those suffering from nervous disorders, and this is believed to be the start of music therapy. Her fame was so great that, after she died, people still made their way to her cave on pilgrimage.


Admittedly my scrapings around the internet yielded little beyond what I’ve linked to here, but I find Sahakdukht fascinating nonetheless. Her grief at the loss of her brother drove her to seek retreat, but she still composed music, and is believed to be one of the forerunners of hymnal writing as well as the first music therapist. She also reached out through her music to others who were suffering, and I can imagine she gave many people a sense of peace and hope.

I'm hoping to do one awesome lady a week. Next week, the first scientist of the series – Merit-Ptah, a physician in Ancient Egypt and, apparently, the first woman physician known by name.


Monday, 9 January 2017

Reading challenge - Back to the Classics Challenge

When I first started blogging over at http://justaddbooks.blogspot.co.nz/ it was because I had set myself a challenge of reading 12 classic novels in a year. I think I managed about seven, ultimately.

But the unintended consequence of that idea was that my teeny wings stretched slightly and I started books blogging semi-regularly.

As part of my quest to embiggen my world this year, I went poking for reading challenges, and found the one above, hosted over here at https://karensbooksandchocolate.blogspot.co.nz/ and my brain went "a ha!" here is a place to start!

So I read over the rules and categories, and I'm aiming for 12 reads. Here they are, with their attendant categories:

1.  A 19th century classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.

2.  A 20th century classic - any book published between 1900 and 1967.
Howard’s End by E M Forster

3.  A classic by a woman author.
Middlemarch by George Eliot

4.  A classic in translation.
The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat

5.  A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

6.  A romance classic.
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

7.  A Gothic or horror classic.
The Woman in White by Wilke Collins

8.  A classic with a number in the title.
Fahrenheit 451

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title.
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit. It can be real or imaginary:
Down and out in Paris and London by George Orwell

11. An award-winning classic.
The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber (Hugo winner, 1965)

12. A Russian classic. 2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, so read a classic by any Russian author.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

That's ... a list of books! See how I go, anyway. :)