October 13, 2016

GWTW: problems already

Last night I finally picked up Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, and let me tell you that even though I've only read the first chapter, I foresee stormy reading weather ahead.

Yes, only 21 pages in (in my edition), and yet to start chapter 2, and I am surprised to say that I'm not sure if I'll be finishing this book.  I don't think I've ever said that before - at least not so soon - about a book.  So far the characters, Scarlet, Stuart and Brent, are all insufferable, and the twins 'darkie' body-servant, Jeems, is just as biggoted as his white masters in the way he looks down his nose at the slaves from smaller landholders.  

While I was prepared to dislike Scarlet, the fact that I'm only just starting this book and actively disliking the characters, the stereotypes, and the language (see above quote) as well as the tone used does not bode well for completing this massive story before the end of the year.

I know some people love this book, and I'm hoping that once I get a few chapters in, and become used to the rhythm of the text, that the story will improve enough that I can enjoy parts of it.  However I'm not holding my breathe!  I know that in Mitchell's time that segregation was still a huge issue, and the Civil War was still within living memory, but fast forward 80 years and the sensibilities of many people is a total 180° to those held by the majority a century ago.

I just don't know.  So these are my first impressions of Gone With The Wind.  Let me know in the comments whether you loved it - or not? - and why.  I'm curious to see what everyone else thinks about this book and it's themes and use of language.

Until nex time,

October 9, 2016

Done! At Betram's Hotel

Unlike most months where I procrastinate about starting my Miss Marple title, I actually picked it up on the 1st, and had it finished by the 2nd of October!  Shocking, I know ;-D

I was really surprised that I found this book better than the adaptations, as the final three books in the Miss Marple series are not generally the TV adaptations I go to when I need a Miss Marple fix.  This gives me hope that the final two books, Nemesis and The Sleeping Murder, will not be boring, or annoying (as I found The Murder at the Vicarage to be!).

Since I'm still not spending much time online (this is only the third time I've booted up the computer since I moved!) it will be a while before I begin to post a few reviews on what I've been reading for the past couple of weeks.  Fingers crossed that I can upload something else in the next week or so.

So until next time, my lovelies...

October 2, 2016

It can't be October already!

Seriously, I can't have been in this house for almost a month!  There are still boxes stored in the garage and stuff spread out throughout the house with only a vauge idea of where they will finally go - and I'm freaking out about the hours of unboxing and decorating that need to be done before Christmas.  So with that deadline foremost in mind, I fired up the desktop and put on a movie and spent most of this morning in the spare room trying to bring a little bit of order to what will be the 'library' and sewing room.  It was so messy that I nearly twisted my ankle trying to get past the boxes that had been conveniently dropped just past the door and forgotten.  It's now nearly 1pm and I'm quiting for the day so I can go grab some lunch and either continue reading my October Miss Marple, At Bertrams, or (most likely) whack in a season of The Vampire Diaries and veg out for the rest of the afternoon.

Looking out over the farmland behind my place!

On the reading front, I finished my September Miss Marple in a few hours.  Enjoyed it more that I thought I would, but I can't believe how much the Miss Marple TV adaptations play fast and loose with the source material.  I'm down to my final three books for the year, and while some books were adapted quite closely - others... only vaguely.  Hopefully in the future the BBC will remake all the Marples in the style of And Then There Were None as that was beautifully designed and filmed.

Apart from these two Agatha Chrisite's, I have only started reading the All Souls Trilogy as October means Halloween Reads is back on again.  Like the LOTR trilogy for fantasy fans, I think this has become a yearly reread around this time of year.  I love the way the story unfolds over the trilogy, and while I don't think it ended with all my questions answered, I do love reading A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night.

Couldn't resist these gorgeous Halloween Jack-o-antern lights!

Luckily my first lot of Book Depository orders have arrived at the new address.  One is a bind up of the first two Aunt Dimity books that I ordered last month only to have the order cancelled and refunded as they were out of stock of this very book.  However, when I saw it recently I ordered it again and managed to get a copy! (It's now out of stock again).  The final book in the Kylie Chan series arrived as well, can't believe that Black Jade is the final time we'll see these characters.  Thankfully there are nine books in the series that I can reread any time I get the urge to see Emma and Xuan Wu, but still, I'll miss them.

Still having trouble finding all the books I'd like to read soon as the bookshelves are a total mess (and I won't be unpacking any more 'book' boxes until I get the current mess under control), so I'll go with whatever strike the Halloween spirit in me.

Until next time, 

September 20, 2016

All moved in

Already on my way to the new house (8th September, 2016)

I am finally in my new home.  I can't tell you how amazing it is to be in a nice quiet neighbourhood where the only noise I wake up with is the chorus of birds each morning.  Bliss...

However, moving day was a bitch.  I took two carloads of stuff up before the movers were due (stopped to take a pic of the sunrise as it was amazing!) and felt like a wrung out washcloth before the morning was over.  The movers took forever to get all my stuff boxed up and loaded.  Unloading was by far the quickest job, but the carport was wall-to-wall boxes with only a narrow path to navigate through.  How did I end up with so much stuff?!  By the time they finished unloading all my stuff, they had been on the road for over 11 hours!  They had stopped by my childhood home first to pick up my huge bookcase, as well as the old piano (and 2 couches), but even after they were done they still had a 2½ to 3 hour trip back to look forward to.  However, they were great.  No breakages, no lost items.  Just a lot of hard work and friendly conversations.

It's now over a week and a half later and I am still swimming in boxes.  Empty boxes, full boxes, half dug through boxes.  It will be a red letter day when I finally have the last of the unboxing done.  Thankfully the very nice Telstra man who fixed my landline was also moving soon and was happy to take any boxes that we left out for him.  Yeah!  I don't have to figure out what to do with a gazillion empty boxes ;-D  But when I get to that final box, perhaps I'll set it on fire?  I'll just have to wait and see. 

So while the house is slowly being whipped into a semblance of order, the yard is another story.  It's getting so unkept looking already.  It has bucketed down rain at least every second day since I've been here - which would be great under other circumstances - but I only just got a lawn mower (didn't need that in a unit!), so I need to wait for the ground to dry out a bit before I head on out to cut the jungle that is my front lawn.  Ah, the joys of being a homeowner ;-D

On the reading front, since I'm still unboxing, my bookshelves look like a train wreck.  I have my three big bookcases spread throughout the house.  Will be splitting the books up into genres I think so that I can just go to a bookcase when the mood strikes.  Discovered I need to buy a slender tall set of bookshelves to house my classics as they take up too much space on my big bookcase, but there are too many of them for one of my smaller bookcases.  Would have loved to put all my books in the one room, but they just wouldn't fit.  Bummer... oh well, a problem for another day.

My first bookmail arrived to the new address and while I still need to read my newly purchased title for my September Miss Marple challenge, A Caribbean Mystery, the move has put my 'A Classic a Month' challenge on hold.  Still, 10 classics during the year is nothing to sneeze at either.

Hopefully the weather will sort itself out soon, and I can post some book pics from around the garden for IG.  I really miss not being able to just snap a couple of pics when the mood strikes.  Finger's crossed that I can get back into the swing of things soon - once this whole moving mess is sorted out ;-D

Until next time,

August 30, 2016

Quick update

Sorry for the lack of posts, but moving is a real time suck.  My current place is a mess and I have stuff everywhere, and I've almost finished organizing all the annoying details like new address notifications to the million and one businesses, government departments, or social clubs as well as arranging for utilities at the new house.  Can't wait until its all over and I can sit back and relax with a book on the deck with a glass of something yummy while I listen to the sounds of silence (aka, no noisy neighbours!).

Read quite a few books over the last couple of weeks.  At least one good thing about moving is that you uncover books that you'd forgotten you even owned.

Anyway, until the move is over - and I'm connected to the internet again - I think this will be my last blog post (though I'll still be posting Instagram pics).

Can't wait to post some pics from the new house!

Until then,

August 7, 2016

Friday sucked

I bought this on Friday afternoon, desperately trying to find something to distract myself from the decision to let my furry old friend, Titchy, go.  My mother and aunt took her home with them - and to their lovely vet.  So, after bawling for about an hour, I pulled myself back together and went back to our small local shopping centre and picked up a copy of Nevernight (which I had eyed off earlier in the day).

Unfortunately I didn't, and still don't, really feel like picking up a book.  I've been binge watching multiple seasons of The Murdoch Mysteries, and snuggling up to my remaining furry buddies.  Will try to get to it after I move into my new house next month.  In the mean time I need to avoid all the spoiler reviews!

Also, isn't the cover art beautiful!  Love how the artwork wraps around the whole book.  Reminds me of the artwork of Kerby Rosanes (that gorgeous and quirky adult colouring book, Animorphia).

Let me know in the comments what you thought of Nevernight.  Did you enjoyed it, or perhaps not.  But please, no spoilers!

Thanks, and until next time...

House update

Okay, we have now passed the 'cooling off' period, and the house is officially listed as UNDER CONTRACT!  Had a mini freak out when the bank would not let the money out of the account when we wanted it (had to wait 31 days!), but it's been sorted out and we have a new date for closure.  Thankfully there were no existing plans in place in regards to movers,  and we can now arrange them - as well as organize the other million and one details associated with moving - accordingly. 

Can't wait to get into this home and finally set up my own library and sewing room!

I am already falling into the trap of mentally planting the gardens, and arranging the furniture, and I know I shouldn't do this until I get the keys in my hands as anything could go wrong in the next couple of weeks.  But, my fingers are crossed oh, so tightly because I think this house is just what I am looking for - and I want to be moved in by this time next month!

In the meantime, there is not much happening on the reading front.  I will try to get to my August Miss Marple, The Mirror Crack'd, read, but realistically that will probably be the only book I consume this month as trying to organize and sort through all the stuff to pack, as well as cleaning and doing the usual household chores, is really kicking my butt at the moment.  My poor wrists (and now my back) are very sore at the moment, pins and needles all through it, which means that I'm only going to do a few small jobs today.  No point in pushing it and being totally out of commission.

Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well.  I'll update my move as it gets closer.

Until next time,

July 31, 2016

Did we really just buy a house?

image source: Shutterstock

Yes, I think we really did!  

Went to see the property on Friday morning, we loved it, and had a contract signed by morning tea.  So, for the next couple of weeks I'm going to be on tender hooks, waiting for the day I can pick up the key and move away from my noisy neighbours from hell!

We're now waiting for the pest and building inspections to be completed (fingers crossed), then we have a couple of weeks for the contract to go through, but if all goes to plan I'll soon be posting pics - here and on IG - from my new house!  I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about this.

At odd times of the day - and night - it pops into my head and I begin mentally placing furniture, what plants go where, how the garden might one day look.  I can also begin to plan for some places to take my book-ish photographs in as well.  {hint: there is a huge expanse of small plants growing on farmland behind my block so I expect some amazing sunset inspired pics}

I still feel like it's not real.  I just can't believe it's happening.  Again, so excited.  Really looking forward to giving notice to my landlord and escaping the rental rat-race for my own little ¼ acre piece of paradise!

So until this is all sorted out, I don't think I'll have much time to sit down and read, or blog.  Will be spending hours just sorting through and boxing up my 3 large (and 3 smaller) bookcases for the move as well as organizing all the other thousand and one details that also need to be attended to when one moves.

It's really happening!  Somebody, just pinch me! 🏡

Until next time,

July 25, 2016

From beneath the sea they came

On Friday I picked up this interesting book, The Blood in the Beginning by Kim Falconer, and on Sunday night I devoured it in one sitting!

The storyline was interesting, fast paced and action packed.  Characters were fleshed out enough that they weren't wooden and one dimensional, and the author's twist on a mer-people species was refreshingly different from the usual syereotypes.  These guys, and gals, are tough as nails, brutal, and as cold as the sea.  Good times ahead for this series I feel.

If you can find a copy I'd recommend giving the Ava Sykes series a go!

Until next time,

July 24, 2016

Going back to Mistborn

It looks like history has repeated itself with the second set of Mistborn books.  Yes, I once again devoured the three books over three days - a Friday to Sunday marathon (just like last time).  Thankfully this time round, I wasn't left feeling completely betrayed and devastated by the deaths of the main characters, and I was surprised- and delighted - to see certain characters making a reappearance.

As you can see, once I finished Shadows of Self I made myself a little nest, surrounded by all the items I might need, so I could bunker in and get stuck into The Bands of Mourning - and it worked!  Finished it in about 4 hours 😸

Enjoyed the final book immensely, but the ending was left unfinished... okay, a little odd - until I read the postscript and discovered that there will be a fourth book, The Last Metal (due in 2018!).  What the...?!  I was so close to finishing, and yet it's still so far away.

So, like everyone else who is up to date with Wax & Wayne, I'm left pondering their fate until  I can get my hands on the next book.

Until next time,

July 22, 2016

Back to Mistborn

Loved the newspaper sections that popped up now and then ;-D

After almost 10 months I finally found myself heading back to the mists, only this time with Waxillium Ladrian, as he hangs up his six shooters for good.

Binge read this in two sessions, and after about 4 hours I was done with The Alloy of Law, and grabbing my copy of Shadows of Self so I could continue on this journey with Wax.

Loved the interactions between not only Wax and Wayne, but their reactions to the intelligent Marasi, the illegitimate sister of Wax's aristocratic, snobby, and very bossy fiancé!

Am hoping as I read these books that Wax ends up with Marasi, but you just never know what Brandon Sanderson intends (think end of Hero of Ages!).

The Alloy of Law: 4 stars

July 20, 2016

Look what arrived today!

Hadn't been home long after a visit to the hospital physio when the courier knocked on my door.  Inside the surprisingly chunky parcel was my pre-ordered copy of the illustrated edition of Neil Gaiman's NEVERWHERE (illustrated by Chris Riddell).  

So excited to flick through this.  There are illustrations everywhere, even it they only frame the page, and although not as crisp as those in The Sleeper and the Spindle, they still capture the mood very well.

Can't wait to read this.  

Until next time

July 19, 2016

Review: The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides
Jeffrey Eugenides

First published: 1993 (my edition 2002)

Bloomsbury, paperback (format B), 249p.
ISBN: 978-0-7475-6059-3

The haunting, humorous and tender story of the brief lives of the five entrancing Lisbon sisters, The Virgin Suicides, is Jeffrey Eugenides' classic debut novel.

The shocking thing about the girls was how nearly normal they seemed when their mother let them out for the one and only date in their lives.  Twenty years on, their enigmatic personalities are embalmed in the memories of the boys who worshiped them and who now recall their shared adolescence: the brassiere draped over a crucifix belonging to the promiscuous Lux; the sisters' breathtaking appearance on the night of the dance; and the sultry, sleepy street across which they watched a family disintegrate and fragile lives disappear.

I read this book over the course of perhaps 3 hours last night, and to say I was left feeling unsettled is an understatement.  In The Virgin Suicides, we span the course of a year as we follow the narrator  as he reflects on the memories he has of those fragile Lisbon sisters some 20 years later, and the implosion of their family as the sisters all commit suicide that year.

Now that sounds a bit trite, but the way this book is written - through the eyes of a man reflecting on his adolescent crush on these girls, and how he - and the other boys who adored them, too - have seemingly spent 20 years gathering evidence and taking witness statements from as many people who knew the sisters as possible, gives you a real insight into this families dramatic decline.

After the first sister, 13 year old Cecilia, tries to take her life, you get a hint of things to come in the way this family is structured.  So when Cecilia finally succeeds in killing herself, it sets in motion a chain of events that still leaves the narrator, and reader, wondering. . . why?

Mrs Lisbon rules her house.  She is not demonstratively affectionate (and seems to carry no sense of blame in later interviews) and does not seem to see the withering of her daughters under the iron fist she uses to keep them under control.  They are not allowed to have boys in the house, no makeup, and she even went so far as to pull them out of school.  But was that for their sake as she claimed, or rather for her own selfish reasons?  You never really see a softer, loving side of this mother.

Then we have their father.  He is just lost.  He wanders around in a fog, escaping the house only to teach at the school, never seeming to see the isolation and ostracism his daughters encounter at school - and how they cleaved together in support of each other (or looking back, was it?).  Even the attitudes of the community were amazingly destructive. 

While reading this book I didn't see this as a story about adolescent teenage boys fantasizing over the sisters in general (i.e., didn't matter which sister, they were all beautiful and fragile), but rather as a window into this families destruction witnessed through the eyes of young observers who were baffled, scared, and angry at the treatment the girls endured at the hands of their parents, friends, and community.

Note: I also found the symbolism of a dying elm tree as well as the house and yard falling into disrepair and decline wonderfully reflective of the decay of the family as the year went on.  From suburban paradise, or at least no different to any other house in the neighbourhood, to an almost abandoned shell of a home when it was eventually sold.  Broken, just like this family.

If you are reading this book in the hopes that you will discover answers as to why they died, then you will be disappointed - but I think that is the point.  There are no answers.  You can't possibly know what is going through someones mind as they contemplate this course of action.  You can try to puzzle it out, try to use logic to fit all the evidence together, but there will still be key pieces missing, and the picture will never be complete.

Now it has been at least 10 years since I've seen the movie adaptation with Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett, but I think I'll try to find a copy as this book is something I wish we had read in high school as it is an amazing piece of social commentary about a very taboo topic.  It invites discussion, which is a wonderful thing, and a great way to broach this subject matter.

Will try another Eugenides in the future I think as I found his writing style easy to get through, and well written.  

I hope you enjoyed my thought on The Virgin Suicides.  I'd love to hear what you thought of the book, or movie, did you like it, hate it.  Let me know ;-D

Until next time,

July 15, 2016

Grumpy reader at the moment

Hello, my lovelies!

I hope you're having a better July than I am.  I have two neighbours (in my unit complex) who seem to think that the only good music is extremely loud heavy metal and techno/dance music!  Earlier this month I even bought some noise cancelling headphones to try and dampen the sound, but it still bleeds through.  Reading is difficult at any time, but especially at night, and I've literally had to plug those headphones into my iPod to watch movies, or listen to a local radio station on my phone, to try and distract myself from going nuts!  Arrrrrgh!

However, you really don't want to hear any more of that, so on to some happy news - my latest bookmail!

Evie Nyxx likes the box most of all!

On Wednesday the courier dropped off a rather large box that only contain five books.  Yes, five smallish books all wrapped up in some amazing bubble wrap and held in place by those air pockets to make sure that my items were not going to move in the slightest.  It's so funny when you rip open the box as you have to make your way through all the protective wrapping to get to the books ;-D

Phrynekinns wouldn't get off the bed (or my pillow!), so she got surrounded by the books ;-D

In this haul I took advantage of Booktopia's free shipping period and bought some long standing items from my wishlist. 

I couldn't resist trying one of the graphic novel adaptations of Agatha Christie books.  I've seen them hauled and review quite a bit on BookTube recently, but the titles I would have loved to get (The Man in the Brown Suit, Death on the Nile, And Then There Were None, and Murder on the Orient Express) were all unavailable, or worse still - out of print!  So, I bought Hallowe'en Party, and I was very happy with it.  I read it that afternoon and it took no time at all as it's only 45 pages long.  Liked the art style, it was interesting but without being so odd or weird that it was distracting.  However I adore the cover art.  So good! 😸

Then I read Seventh Grave and No Body by Darynda Jones.  This is the seventh book in the Charlie Davidson series, and while it is still okay, I'm not sure that I will be continuing to buy these in hardcover - unless I come across some amazing bargins (books 1-3 for $1.49 each on Book Outlet, but the p&h was just highway robbery!).  Thankfully, this book was only $10, so I'm okay with that.  Will try and get a mini-review up at some point in the future.

The last three books are on my TBR pile.  Unseemly Science sounds amazing, but I don't know if I have to read The Bullet Catcher's Daughter first, or if I can just jump straight in?  So that's why it's on the back-burner at the moment.  Next is Shakespeare Undead, which sounds like a hoot and a half - and an odd coincidence as I reread Shadow of Night on Tuesday, and I love that books as we see Kit Marlowe as a daemon, and young Will Shakespeare as a wannabe playwright hanging around with the members of the School of Night - and eventually stealing Marlowe's work (given to young Annie).

Finally there is Stray Souls by Kate Griffin.  This sounded amazing when I read the synopsis online, and I love this style of contemporary urban fantasy that mixes element of mythology.  Since the Dark Heavens series finished earlier this year, I have been on the lookout for a new series (or stand alone) that can fill the void.  Hopefully, this may be it.

And that my lovely ladies and gentlemen, is what came in the mail for me this week.  Next week I am expecting the new release of the illustrated edition of Neverwhere.  I nearly bought the previous release of the author's preferred text edition (I love that cover!), but when I found out from an IG account I follow that this was on it's way - I had to pre-order it as I love Chris Riddell's illustrations!  So look out for a pic of that when it arrives ;-D

Until next time,