Saturday, 31 December 2016

Sunday Post 51; It's Monday, What are you reading? 36

Whoops, I took a bit of an unintended blogging break there. Nothing outstanding happened - I was working on the spreadsheet, and then Christmas, and I caught a cold. Plus, of course, spawn is home for the school holidays.

Anyway. Back to regular blogging, I hope. I'm aiming for around three posts a week - I find that the more I write, the more I write, if that makes sense.

The Sunday Post is a chance for a chat and a catch-up with other bloggers, and is hosted by Kimba over at Meanwhile, It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Kathryn right here:

We had a quiet Christmas. I was sick, so I stayed home while J and spawn went to family for Christmas dinner. I actually had a nice day. Spawn got up at 5, so I sent him back to bed for another hour, then, of course, he insisted on bringing his Santa sack in and showing me everything. We did presents, then the boys headed off. I had steak for my lunch and played Dragon Age for a bit, enjoying the peace and quiet. The boys had a great time as well, so it was a good day all around.

I'm still applying for jobs but somewhere along the way I've lost the spirit of optimism I had. This time last year, I wasn't working either, but I had money in the bank, and the difference that actually makes - is huge. Right now, I'm sitting here wondering how we're going to pay for our groceries next week. I want to remember this, because at the end of 2017, I don't want this hanging over my head like a storm cloud.

I  have applied for a course at the local polytech - SIT. It has a fee-free scheme, and I'm hoping I'll be eligible for student loans and an allowance. I'm going for a Certificate in Business, as a possible precursor to doing a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in marketing. It's not something I ever saw myself doing, but a lot of the communication jobs I've seen have a marketing component. I have nearly 20 years' communications experience, and if I can't find a job anyway ... I need to do something.

With my luck and timing, I was contacted by a local restaurant I had applied at. I'd forgotten that I'd applied - put it out of my mind, I think. I have no food service industry experience but the owner wanted to meet. Smack in the middle of the week I was coughing my lungs out. Ugh. So I chatted to him on the phone, and he said to call him when I'm feeling better. The cough is lingering, but it's nearly gone, so I might give him a call either this week or next week.

I do have another month of spreadsheet work this month, but I won't get paid for that until mid-February, when I deliver the work. Which is fine, it'll be good to be doing something, but ugh. Money. It's absolutely true that when you have money, you don't think about it. When you don't ... you don't think about anything else.

I made my Goodreads goal last year of 80 books - passing it by about four books - This year I'm going to aim for 85 books and work to diversify my reading - more women, more writers of colour.

I didn't get the Dark Tower series finished in 2016, so that's on the agenda for this year. Also finishing my long-term cross-stitch project, Circe. (I say that like Circe is my only long-term project. I have many languishers.) But as you can see, it's  a realistic goal.

Right now I'm flirting with the Alexander Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow. It's a doorstopper.

Get a job, or get on the course. Get out of the bloody system and off benefits.

Drink more water. Eat more fruit. Be kind.

How about you? What are you reading? What are your 2017 plans?

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Sunday Post 50; It's Monday What are you reading? 35

The Sunday Post is a chance for a chat and a catch-up, and is hosted by Kimba over here: and It's Monday! What are you reading? is now hosted by Kathryn right here:

Let's see ... last week was mostly spent mired in spreadsheets as I'm still working through this two-week contract. The work is due on Wednesday this week, and I have a lot of double-checking to do before then.  The good thing about it is that I can just do it from home. And in looking for something suitable on Netflix to watch while I work, I stumbled over Gilmore Girls, which I had never watched.

Now I'm on to ... season three? I think? It's good fodder for while I'm working because I don't need to concentrate too hard.

What else. I've finished a few books, and I've written a couple of reviews. Coming up - hopefully this week - will be She Sings of Old, Unhappy Far-off Things (the book itself was much better than the terrible title suggests), Going South by Colin Hogg, and the first book in the Valerian series of graphic novels - City of Shifting Waters.

I've also watched some terrible, terrible Netflix movies, but I'm not sure whether I'll review them or not. Maybe do a short reviews post - lol.

The local library has launched its summer reading programme, and spawn's class travelled there on Thursday to get started, so I went along as parent help. There's challenges for kids, teens and adults, and for the kids, there's an activity challenge as well as a reading one. I've never finished one but you never know. :)

I went out for lunch on Saturday with some former workmates which was a lot of fun - always good to catch up with people.

I haven't been doing much else, I don't think. Spreadsheeting. Watching Netflix and reading -lol.

What about you?

How's your week?

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Review - The Girl From the Savoy

It's 1923, and Dolly Lane is about to start work at the Savoy in London as a maid. Dolly is carrying memories and baggage from the fallout of the Great War, but she's determined  to live out her dream of performing on the stage.

Actress Loretta May has the world at her feet - she's rich, famous, beautiful - and dying.

Dolly and Loretta's paths would normally never cross, but Dolly bumps into Loretta's brother Perry, and it changes all of their lives.

The Girl From the Savoy evokes the era perfectly - the early 1920s - post-war with endless possibilities in the future.

Both Dolly and Loretta come to life off the page, and the supporting characters like Perry and Dolly's friend Clover - are also memorable.

Reading The Girl From the Savoy made me want to put on a nice dress and go for afternoon tea in a fancy hotel - complete with tiny cakes. True escapism at its best.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Review - Breakaway

Lane Courtnall's future looks bright - recruited to an NHL affiliate team, his hockey career looks set. However, after Lane says some stupid things, his team turns their backs on him, and he's feeling a bit isolated.

Jackson Shore is in his early 30s, meaning his hockey career is just about at an end. He's angry about a lot of things, and then upstart Lane challenges him to a fight on the ice.

Lane and Jackson don't get on - at first - but a one night stand soon changes both their lives.

It sounds a bit odd, but this was actually adorable. Cute, and very little angst really, and Lane is the type of character who just says whatever he's thinking with no filter whatsoever. And it's easy for that kind of character to be a complete asshole, but Lane is the opposite.

He lets his thought processes out all the time, and exasperates everyone ever, but he's such a likeable character, that it doesn't matter.

Breakaway is fun, and you don't need to know anything about hockey (I don't) to enjoy the developing love story.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Sunday Post 49; It's Monday, what are you reading? 34

The Sunday Post - a chance for bloggers to chat and catch up - is hosted by Kimba over here: and It's Monday! What are reading? is hosted by Kathryn right here:

Let's see ... it's been a couple of weeks since I did a Sunday Post.

I do have a bit of sad news. One of our cats, Casper, who was 15 this year, deteriorated. He lost a lot of weight, and then got an abcess on his jaw that got infected. It all felt like it happened very quickly. And, of course, with me not working ... ugh. But I rang the vet and we took him in and he was put to sleep. He was in pain and couldn't eat for the last few days, which you never want to see in your pets. The vet was lovely about it and told us that we could make payment arrangements if we needed to - which I hadn't realised.

This was Casper. He was a very good cat. Much more fond of my husband than me, but still a good cat.

So that was some sadness. It's never easy saying farewell to a pet - especially one who's been with you for so long.

J stayed with him, but I get weird and panicky around death, so I waited out in the waiting room.

Right. What else has been going on around these parts for the past couple of weeks?

I'm sure everyone heard about the big quake, but luckily I live well outside of that particular area, so we weren't affected, though a friend of mine lives in Wellington. She's fine, but naturally rattled, of course.

I actually managed to write some posts last week - three reviews - two books, one movie. I also read Breakaway by Avon Gale, and I'm hoping to finish The Girl From the Savoy this week. So yay, content!

I was frustrated on Friday though. On Tuesday, I had an assessment to see whether I had the skills to proceed with a job interview to be a court reporter. Basically transcribing notes, etc. A job that I KNOW I could do easily. So. Of course, I completely fluffed the assessment. Typing speed, using MS word ... everything. Everything but accuracy. But just being accurate isn't enough.

So I'm still sending out applications and trying to fill my days. I do have the chance of a couple of weeks' work with a local independent community newspaper, which is good timing with Christmas right around the corner. I'm meeting with the editor - someone I used to work with - tomorrow to have a chat. Fingers crossed and all that jazz. It's only a couple of weeks at the moment, but who knows?

As I said, I'm reading The Girl From the Savoy, and I'm not sure what might be up next. Wizards and Glass, perhaps.


What's up with you? What are you reading?

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Review - The Prophecy Con

Loch and co are back in book 2 of Patrick Weekes' The Rogues Republic Series.

This time, the team has to steal an invaluable elven manuscript in order to prevent a war between the Republic and the Empire.

Just why this particular manuscript can stop the war, no one really knows, but Loch has a job to do. She gathers the usual suspects from The Palace Job, and we're off to the races.

If you like your fantasy with a healthy dose of humour, strategy and the kind of heists seen in Ocean's Eleven, then this is the series for you. It dives right in and doesn't let up until the very end.

Loch and co pursue the manuscript, uncover consipracies, and there's even a little romance, if that's your sort of thing.

Something for everyone.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Review - Hold Me

Hold Me by Courtney Milan is the second book in the loosely connected Cyclone series.

This one features Maria Lopez, Tina's room-mate from book one.

Once again, I downloaded it, sat down to read, and basically didn't get up till I'd finished the book.

Maria is studying to be an actuary, and on the side she runs a blog that runs scenarios for different kinds of apocalypses. She has her friends, and her adored brother, and things are good.

Then she meets Jay, a professor at the university and things go a bit ... wrong.

Jay and Maria get off on the wrong foot, as Jay pre-judges Maria for her very put-together appearance, and assumes she's about as deep as a puddle. Maria, for her part, comes out swinging - she's worked hard to get to where she is in her life and refuses to let someone like Jay bring her down.

What neither of them know, is that they've been communicating via a message app for over a year, as Jay commented on Maria's blog - that she runs anonymously.

Ah ... this was greatly satisfying to read. Especially Maria, who takes absolutely no shit from anyone, especially Jay - even when they work out who the other is.

Hold Me is about two adults meeting, hating each other, then not so much hating each other, then actually TALKING about why they hated each other and then dating and then nakedness.

This is SUCH a good series and I'm looking forward to book three very much.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Review - Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Ricky Baker is considered a problem. He's got a list of offences that are as impressive as they are sad for a 12-year-old.

He's packed off to a foster family in the middle of nowhere, and that's where the fun begins.

His foster mother Bella (Rima Te Wiata) is loving and patient with Ricky, whereas - in contrast - her husband Hec (Sam Neill) is grumpy and standoffish with Ricky.

However, when Bella dies, Hec and Ricky find themselves having to get along. They're also on the run in the wilds of New Zealand's backcountry thanks to a misunderstanding with a bunch of weekend warriors.

I missed this at the movies somehow, but picked it up on DVD and I'm so glad I did. It's a very New Zealand story, and the landscape is almost a third star of the film along with Sam Neill and newcomer Julian Dennison as Ricky.

Hec and Ricky are hilarious together and the story itself is extremely heartfelt. It's a feel-good movie from start to finish (although warning for animal lovers, there is a pet death in there).

Under the steady hand of Kiwi director Taika Waitit, Wilderpeople is an absolute must-see.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Sunday post 48; It's Monday what are you reading? 33

The Sunday Post is a chance for a natter and catch-up with other bloggers, and is hosted by Kimba, here: and It's Monday! What are you reading? Is hosted by Kathryn here:

Let's see ... what happened last week? Not a lot, really. I had a job interview last Monday, and I'm in a wait-and-see mode, but I'm not particularly optimistic, just because I don't have a key set of skills needed for that particular job. So I'm still applying for jobs most days, and trying to stay upbeat.

I've also been catching up on Gotham, which is an odd one because it's not really all that good, but somehow it's really watchable? I don't know how they managed to pull that one off. Anyway, I'm working my way through series two at the moment.

I'm doing nano but I've decided not to stress over it, or try and make the word count every single day. If I write 500-1000 words every day, and I can stop myself from editing, I'll be happy, I think. It feels good, anyway, to sit down at my computer in the mornings and do something productive - along with trawling the job sites and my emails for possible positions, I mean.

As for what I'm reading, I'm diving in to book 2 of The Rogues of the Republic series by Patrick Weekes - so I'm reading The Prophecy Con. It's a series of heist novels, essentially, in a fantasy setting. Think Oceans Eleven meets Terry Pratchett. Up next, I think I'll pick up Wizards and Glass. I'm likely not going to make my goal of reading the whole of The Dark Tower series by the end of the year, but I'll make as good of a fist of it as I can.

I'm back into stitching a little bit more, as one of my other modest goals for the year was to finish Circe, a project I have had on the go - on and off - for several years. She's not the only lonely WIP, but the one I have the best chance of finishing - lol.

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

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Review - Trade Me

I'm not a great reader of romance novels (as a non sci-fi reading friend of mine says, "it's not my genre") and I have very specific criteria before I venture in:

- No bodice-ripping
- No arrogant pricks with arrogant pricks
- No foot-stamping in vexation
- No emotional constipation

Someone recced The Duchess War by Courtney Milan to me, and I went in, somewhat dubious, because historical romance. But BUT The Duchess War was great, and I reviewed it here:

This is a very rambly way of saying  that I didn't hesitate to jump in to Trade Me because I knew I was in good hands, romance-wise, and I was right.

Tina Chen is a college student, struggling to get by between work, study and her overbearing and energetic mother.

Blake Reynolds is also a college student, but he's also the heir to the billion-dollar Cyclone Technology company. When he makes an offhand comment about poverty in a seminar he and Tina are both in, Tina loses her hard-won cool and tells him he wouldn't last a week in her world.

And so the trade is on ...

Ahhh this was so good. I sat down on Saturday morning with the ebook, and just spent the whole day reading till I was finished it.

Tina and Blake are both great characters and they actually TALK about their issues and the obstacles in the way of them actually getting together.

It's a very satisfying story, with a satisfying and realistic-feeling romance. Good stuff.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Sunday post 47; It's Monday, what are you reading? 32

The Sunday Post - a chance for a chat and a catch-up with other bloggers - is hosted by Kimba over here: and It's Monday! What are you reading? is now hosted by Kathryn here:

Let's see ... I blogged this week! Woo hoo! I managed to write a couple of quick reviews for Illuminae and Nevernight, both of which I greatly enjoyed.

Last week didn't differ greatly from any other week recently, but I'm working on improving my outlook, which in turn has improved my attitude somewhat. Who knew? I have vague plans to start going for a walk after lunch when I can, just to get out of the house. We'll see how that goes. :)

I have a job interview tomorrow afternoon, so I'm in wait-and-see mode. Even if I don't get it, the interview itself is a good experience. See? Positivity. :D :D

Yesterday I sat down and read the entirety of Trade Me by Courtney Milan, a contemporary romance. Romance isn't usually my genre but I really enjoyed The Duchess Wars by Ms Milan and Trade Me was also great. No one is arrogant or a dick, and it has a great storyline and characters, so A+.

Apart from that ... that's all I have for now, I think. Next up for reading is Book 2 of Patrick Weekes' Rogues of the Republic series - The Prophecy Con. Other than that I'll likely be playing the new Lifeline game Flatline, and Gordon Ramsay's Dash - lol.

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

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Review - Nevernight

I don't usually read back-to-back books by the same author (see also: Why I Am Bad at Finishing Series) and at first didn't make the connection between the author of this and the co-author of Illuminae.


Anyways. Mia is 16 years old and lives in the city of Godsgrave. A fledgling assassin, she joins a school to learn how to become the Blade that will take revenge for her father's death and her family's ruin.

Mia has to best her fellow students in contests of blades, poison, secrets and the ~subtle arts~~ in order to take her revenge.

As she navigates Tric, The Boy, the school with its own built-in Mia-haters, and friendship, Mia grows into who she is meant  to be.

Listen, this is the girl assassin book I have been waiting for since I fell down the fantasy hole when I was 14. I was 14 in the 80s. Do you know how many girl assassin fantasy novels there were in the 80s? NONE. At least, none that I could FIND.

So I was predisposed to like Nevernight anyway. And THEN Jay Kristoff layers on this Roman Empire-style universe AND THEN ON TOP OF THAT gives the Red Church layers on layers of history and ceremony and the whole thing adds up to basically catnip.


Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Review - Illuminae

Kady thinks her biggest problem right now is breaking up with her boyfriend Ezra.

Then her planet is invaded.

She finds herself separated from Ezra, from her mother, and from everything she knows. Ezra, on a different rescue ship from Kady, is also struggling with the sudden and sharp changes in his life.

Soon, both Kady and Ezra realise there's a lot more going on than the invasion of one small speck of a mining planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy.

With a plague invading one ship, and an AI that may or may not be insane, Kady and Ezra find themselves fighting for their lives.

I have to say, I did enjoy Illuminae a lot, although I found the graphic art element of it a little bit distracting and unwieldy at times. I get why it's been put together like that, but.

Anyway, Kady and Ezra are both great characters - brave in their own ways, and each with their own fully realised personalities and skill-sets. Illuminae is fascinating, deep sci-fi storytelling at its best.

Definitely looking forward to the sequel.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Sunday post 46; It's Monday, What are you reading? 32

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba here; and is a chance for a chat and a catch-up with fellow bloggers each week.

The 24 Hour Readathon takes place every April and October, and you can find out about it here:

It's Monday, What are you reading? Is now hosted by Kathryn, and it can be found over here:

Let's see ...

I'm only sort-of doing the readathon, which is what I always do. I dive in, read as much as possible in the time that I have given that it starts at 1am my time, and cheer on other readers on the twitter. This year I managed to read half of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, which I'm really digging. I've put it down for the night now, and will encourage other readers.

I blogged last week - actually did a few posts. Finally wrote that Secret Life of Pets review I've been threatening, wrote a couple of readathon posts, and also reviewed Alexis Hall's new novel, Pansies.

Went to a quiz night last Wednesday with some friends - we usually do all right, and came in fourth, which was a pretty respectable showing.

Got a few more job rejections, but I'm trying to ..... not be down about it? I'm looking into ways to fill in my time, like maybe volunteer work of some sort, or picking a subject I really want to know more about and doing some research. You know how we always say "I'd do .... if I just had TIME." Well. I have time. I'm going to keep applying for jobs, I just refuse to let the process grind me down. A self-pity pit is an easy one to fall into but climbing back out of it ... so. Ideas?

What would YOU do, if you had the time?

I've signed up for nano next month as well. At the moment I'm planning on writing Dragon Age fic, but the idea I have for that is ridiculously complicated, so I might have to change it.

I finished Illuminae on Saturday, and really enjoyed it, though I did find the format a bit annoying. So there should be a review of that coming up this week. I'm halfway through Nevernight, so possibly will review that this week, too.

It's Labour Day here tomorrow, which means spawn will be home from school. Other than that for this week, my goal is to ... get out of my own head a bit. Look into volunteering, and maybe some kind of studying for next year if I can't find a job. It's a much more disheartening process than I realised, but I refuse to let it grind me down. REFUSE.


How's your week?

What are you reading?

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Readathon - opening meme

The Readathon officially starts at 1am my time, so my plan is to stay up for the first hour, go get some sleep, and spend as much time tomorrow as possible reading. 

Let's see how I go - lol.

Meme time: 

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?
Caramel popcorn ... om nom nom nom  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 ...

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

It's (nearly) readathon time again!

Every year, I whitter over whether I'm going to sign up for Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon or not, and every year (well, twice a year) I talk myself into it.

This month is no different. I signed up earlier in the week, and I'm all set to go, although I still need to stock up on snacks and figure out what I'm going to read.

If you're reading this and going ... huh? Go here: and all will be made clear and all that jazz. Readathon is fun, and it brings all corners of the book blogging community - from the old-school crusty bloggers like myself - to the young'ns on the tumblr and the instagram together to unite in the same purpose: read as much as possible, and consume mass quantities.

This year I'll be diving in a little bit late, as I'm going out on Saturday night to my stitch-and-watch friend's place - Saturday is her birthday, and she not long ago lost her mum, so I'm sticking to my leave-the-house plans this once. On Sunday, however, my "plan" is to find a book, park up somewhere comfy, no doubt with a cat ... and probably spend far too much time on social media, like I always do.

Join us! It's fun! :)

Review - Pansies by Alexis Hall

Alfie Bell, on paper, has everything. A flash London flat, a six-figure salary, and good friends. Going home to South Shields for a wedding, however, throws into relief for Alfie how shallow his life really is. And now that everyone back home knows that he's gay, well, that just adds to the complications.

Alfie expects to grit his teeth through his best friend's wedding, head to London and never return to South Shields again. Fate, however, has other ideas, in the form of Fen. Fen, with his sharp tongue and pink-tipped hair, draws Alfie in straight away. The trouble is, Alfie doesn't remember Fen, but Fen remembers Alfie and the torment he put him through back at school.

Once Alfie realises who Fen is, he wants to try and put things right, and hopefully move on WITH Fen. But there are a lot of obstacles in their way ...

Oh, I liked this. I liked this very much of a lot. Fen, especially is a great character and Alfie is like this blundering, well-meaning Great Dane who still thinks he's a lapdog.

Pansies has more in common with Glitterland (incidentally my all-time favourite Alexis Hall novel) than, say, For Real, and it's just a very, very good read with an awful lot of heart.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Review - The Secret Life of Pets

Ever wondered what your pets get up to when you're not around? Well, here's the answer and it's adorable and funny.

The Secret Life of Pets follows terrier Max as he goes about his day in New York while his owner Katie is at work. Max, as per every kids' movie ever with animals, has a host of quirky animal friends, including Gidget the pomeranian, Chloe the cat and Mel the pug.

When Katie adopts a new dog, Doug, Max lets his jealousy get the better of him and shenanigans ensue. There's a bad-tempered bunny (an abandoned pet) called Snowball, an ancient basset hound called Pops and a whole host of cats, dogs, birds and others.

I took spawn to this during the school holidays, and we both enjoyed it greatly. It's light-hearted for the most part, with some sniffle-inducing emotional parts as well.

Great for the kids, and a really enjoyable family movie.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Sunday Post 45; It's Monday, what are you reading? 31

The Sunday Post - a chance for a chat and a catch-up with other bloggers - is hosted by Kimba here: and It's Monday! What are you reading? is now hosted by Kathryn, here:

Let's see ....

Well, I'm now a fully functioning beneficiary.  A ward of the Government, as it were. It feels ... weird. It's good, to have some kind of money coming in, but the longer I'm out of work, the more heavily the days weigh on my hands. I'm applying for everything even remotely likely and so far all I've had are a couple of interviews, a vague expression of interest from a recruitment agency, and rejections, rejections, rejections.

I think my favourite one so far said that although my experience was "of interest" to them, it didn't' line up perfectly with what they wanted. They wanted a content writer with sub-editing skills. Which. That's. That's what I did, essentially. So right now, my job-seeking mode is ... frustrated. I feel like ... I don't know. If I'm not filling my days productively then I'm somehow ... cheating someone somewhere. But after I've applied for all the jobs in the morning, what CAN I do? Spawn is at school, and he's nine, so he needs me less than he used to and so ... ugh. I didn't mean to start a pity party. I'd just rather be working. Being home was nice and fun and all when I had funds, and then I was working for a bit, and now that I don't have funds and I'm not working? Less fun.

Anyway. Spawn is sick - it never fails, he goes back to school after the holidays, and comes home with a bug. Sore throat/sore ear/fever again. He's had it for a few days, so it'll be off to the doctor again. The school has done a hearing assessment on him too, and he's been referred to the hospital, so we're waiting for an appointment there. Likely he'll need grommets, but I'm adopting a wait-and-see approach because what-ifs aren't productive.

My Saturday night stitch-and-watch friend's mother died last Monday. She had had Alzheimer's for about nine years, and my friend was her main caregiver. Her funeral was on Friday.

I have been reading a bit, and I finished Pansies by Alexis Hall on Saturday. It never fails when I get one of his books, I have to sit down and read it till it's done. It was great, but I don't think anything can replace the standing Glitterland has in my heart. Review to come this week,  hopefully! I still need to write up The Secret Life of Pets, too.

I'm picking away at the audio for This Census-Taker, and it's going okay. I don't really listen to a lot of audiobooks but I had a free Audible credit, so I took advantage. I also started Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristof. The formatting takes a bit of getting used to but I'm enjoying the story so far.

I think that's all - lol.

What about you?

How's your week?

What are you reading?

Monday, 10 October 2016

Short reviews

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Clay Jensen comes home to find a box of cassette tapes on his doorstep. He soon realises they're a recorded suicide note from classmate Hannah Baker, who had recently taken her own life.

Hannah has tapes for various different people from her life, and how they impacted and affected her decision. Clay spends a long night listening to them all, to find out why Hannah did what she did.

13 Reasons Why was a difficult read for sure, and I found the plot a little bit clumsy at times, but it was an absorbing and moving book.

Leviathan Wakes: Book one of The Expanse by James S A Corey
Humanity has spread itself out across space - from earth to Mars and beyond. It hasn't, however, conquered the stars as of yet.

When the crew of an ice miner runs into an abandoned ship and a secret they don't want on their hands, events tip out of their control very quickly.

On Mars, security officer Detective Miller is looking for a missing girl. When his case and that of the abandoned ship collide, things happen that no one expects.

Leviathan Wakes is like a noir novel but set in space, and I enjoyed the fusion of genres greatly. Also the adverserial relationship between cynical Miller and idealistic Holden from the ice miner. Good stuff.

Dragon Age: The Masked Empire by Patrick Weekes
Set before the events of Dragon Age Inquisition, Empress Celene is fighting to keep her throne as the ruler of Orlais. Her cousin, the chevalier Gaspard is right on her heels for the throne, and complicating things even further is Celene's Elven lover, Briala.

Orlais is a kingdom of masks, and the Game, which plays out among the nobles and the elite. Meanwhile, the elves of Orlais suffer under the burdens of prejudice and poverty. Briala is trying to improve their lot, but when Celene takes drastic action against an elven uprising in Halamshiral, things spiral even further out of control.

I love this stuff. Honestly. Murder and masks and conspiracies and magic ... The Masked Empire fills in a lot of the background as well for one of the main questlines in Dragon Age: Inquisition and honestly leads me to the conclusion that Orleisians are collectively terrible, terrible people.

Dead Wrong by Leighann Dobbs

I picked up the first three books of this series free on iBooks. It happened to be just what I needed at the time - something relatively light, with a hint of mystery and a touch of romance.

The Blackmoore sisters all enjoy their life in a small sleepy Maine town, even as they struggle with property taxes on their home. However, when a woman that Morgan Blackmoore had a long-running feud with turns up murdered, things get a whole lot murkier.

All four sisters pull together to find out whodunit, and for Fiona Blackmoore, there's the new detective in town: Jake. Romance, mystery, family bonding. It's a short, slight novel to be sure, but it's also ideal for filling that I-don't-know-what-to-read-next gap.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Sunday post 44; It's Monday What are you reading? 30

The Sunday Post - a chance for a natter and a catch-up - is hosted by Kimba here: and It's Monday! What are you reading? is now hosted by Kathryn over here:

It's been a couple of weeks since I did one of these posts. There's something disheartening about sitting down to write one and realising it's essentially the same thing over and over again. I'm still looking for a job. I had .... six? rejections last week, I think?

Spawn has been on school holidays but heads back tomorrow.

I've applied for benefits but the wheels of bureaucracy grind exceedingly slow.

I've done one short reviews post, and I have a couple more posts lined up this week - another short reviews one, and a review of The Secret Life of Pets which I took spawn to in the first week of the holidays.

So. I'm applying for jobs, applying for benefits, trying to fill my days as best I can at the moment.

Up next reading-wise is the audiobook of This Census-Taker by China Mieville, that I'm co-reading with Jodie from

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

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Short reviews

Former best friends Clark and Bryce are reunited unexpectedly at a comic convention. They have a bit of a history, and Bryce is wary, especially after Clark broke his heart a few years ago.

Clark, however, is determined to make it up to Bryce and to get back into his good books (and his pants).

Super-cute novella about life, love and second chances.

I got these two as freebies on iBooks. Book one and book two of Aria Grace's Mile High Romance series. I didn't really know what to expect, but hey, the price was right.

I was mostly pleasantly surprised overall, although the angsty parts felt overdone and awkward. One of the characters - both grown men who presumably know how to use their words - ups and leaves one day with no explanation, and just assumes other grown man will move on with his life with no closure. Um. 

I enjoyed book 2 more than book 1. There was still some angst, but it felt more organic and plot-relevant than the angst in book 1. Pleasant M/M romances, both of them.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Sunday Post 43; It's Monday, what are you reading? 29

The Sunday Post - hosted by Kimba here - is a chance for a chat and a catch-up with other bloggers. It's Monday! What are you reading? is now hosted by Kathryn over here:

Let's see .... I had one job interview over Skype last week. It seemed to go okay but I'm reserving judgement. For one thing, it would mean moving to a different city, which would avalanche into all kinds of upheavals, but I'm keeping my options open. The red tape grinds on. I got one form back that I needed from my former employer - on which they had filled in my name in one part with "Jane." Which is my middle name. Not my real, legal name that I go by. So I need to get that sorted out before I can move on with applying for support because I can just imagine the red tape nightmare that would be.

It's so frustrating. And I'm trying not to be demoralised, but ... it's demoralising. I have to email the form back to former employer to get them to correct the name. I have to call Winz (Work and Income - the government agency) and ask for the contact details of whom to send the form to, because they don't provide that ON the document. Which will eat up half my morning, as, inevitably, I will be on hold for at least half an hour. I have to email the documents to former employer because they no longer have an on-site pay clerk. Everything is done out of Wellington, which means I can't just drop off the form at the office. Everything gets a little more complicated when Winz says "please take this form to your employer to fill out" and you just can't. I had it emailed to me, then employer  made the mistake.

Urgh. Urrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.

ANYWAY. On to other things. I managed to do a couple of blog posts last week - reviews of The Waste Lands, Wishful Drinking, and A Thousand Pieces of You. I've also started putting things for sale up on Trade Me. I'll sell every single damn thing I own if I have to. I mean, I hope I won't have to, but I will, because ultimately it's just stuff.

Spawn's class won tickets to a basketball game through a radio station competition last week - they had to provide the loudest chant. So I took him to the game on Saturday, as the class all got free tickets. I have no interest in sport of any kind usually, but if I get to a live game, within five seconds I'm yelling along with everyone else. I have a competitive streak - lol.

I begged off my usual Saturday night stitch-and-watch with my friend because I was so tired from the game and spawn and just everything. I spent a pleasant evening watching Merlin repeats and playing Gordon Ramsey's Dash. :)

I started reading Leviathan's Wake by James S A Corey - the first book in The Expanse series. I want to get to it before diving in to the TV series. So far, I'm very pleasantly surprised. It's kind of a genre-blend of sci-fi and procedural cop drama.

What else. I have a mammogram on Tuesday (hooray). When you turn 45 here, apparently, you get a form that says congrats, here's your free mammogram. So that's. A thing that I'll be doing this week.

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

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Short reviews

Wishful Drinking is a short and somewhat wild ride through Carrie Fisher's life. From being the child of celebrity parents - Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher - to playing Princess Leia in Star Wars at 19 and weathering the storms of addiction, bipolar disorder and other stressors - Carrie Fisher tells the story with a wry eye to the punchline and a sometimes un-nerving honesty.

You're laughing, for sure, but at the same time there's a lot of sadness just under the surface.

It's a witty and memorable memoir from a woman who has certainly earned her Hollywood stripes.

Marguerite Caine is having possibly the worst day of her life so far. She's landed in an alternate dimension, using the Firebird - an invention of her brilliant physicist parents, and she's on the trail of the man she believes has just killed her father.

Marguerite has joined forces with Theo, one of her parents' grad students, as they plan to jump across as many universes as it takes to find Paul and take revenge for Marguerite's father's death.

Of course, nothing is ever THAT simple, and as the book unfolds, so do the truths and lies that Marguerite has to contend with.

I enjoyed this very much of a lot, I really did. It felt ... cosy somehow? And okay, yes, there's a touch of a love triangle, which is normally enough to put me off because I HATE love triangles but it's handled very deftly and never takes over the narrative.

The different universes ... om nom nommmm I needed more of that. More of alternate London, and Russia and under the sea, and I think that's why the book was such cosy catnip for me. I love love love a good multiverse.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Review - The Dark Tower 3: The Waste Lands

So Roland's quest for The Dark Tower rolls on in volume 3 of Stephen King's epic fantasy series.

He's drawn Eddie and Susannah to help him in his quest, but Roland is suffering - he thinks he's going mad. And he's not the only one.

On our world, Jake - the boy that Roland let go to his death previously ("go then. There are other worlds than these") has memories of this death, and is desperate to get back to Roland's world so his mind can be at peace.

Once they've drawn Jake back, and worked out that they have to travel along the Beam, Roland, Jake, Eddie and Susannah carry on with the quest.

Now, because this is Stephen King, The Dark Tower is not your average high fantasy series. Yes, there's a quest. Yes, there are fantastic creatures. But there's also a city full of insanity and disease, and a train that has gone mad, but is also their best chance to get where they're going.

The Waste Lands, for me, is peak King. A+ storytelling, scary as all get out, and a running thread of absolute weirdness.

Will Roland get to the Tower? Will everyone survive? Who really knows?

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Sunday post 42; It's Monday What are you reading? 28

The Sunday Post - a chance for a natter and a catch-up with other bloggers - is hosted by Kimba over here: and It's Monday! What are you reading? Is now hosted by Kathryn right here:

Life is rolling on. I'm getting through the long and painful process of applying for benefits and for jobs. One is going about as well as the other at the moment. But I'm sure something will turn up.

Other than that I'm really just trying to fill in my days as best I can. Hooray for a house full of books and an iPad full of games - lol.

As for what I'm reading .... I managed to write a couple of blog posts last week, so go me. I also finished book three of the Dark Tower series, and Carrie Fisher's sort-of memoir, Wishful Drinking.

Reviews will be coming up for those this week. Next up I think I'm going to tackle book one of The Expanse, Leviathan Wakes by James S A Corey. And I have One Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray on ibooks, so I'm digging into that as well this week.

The sci-fi channel here, The Zone is running a pop-up channel to celebrate 50 years of Star Trek and around 8.30 each night there appears to be a Star Trek movie. So far I've watched Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock. So tonight's entertainment is sorted.

What about you?

How's your week?

What are you reading?

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Review - Lucy

Let's just get this out of the way - Lucy is a terrible, terrible film.

According to Wikipedia, it made a lot of money, but I''m not sure how, because it's arrant nonsense.

Scarlett Johanssen is Lucy, a young woman on holiday with her loser boyfriend. When her loser boyfriend tricks her into becoming a drug mule, Lucy's life changes forever.

She's "given" a sachet of blue powder to carry in her abdomen but when someone kicks her in the stomach, the powder is released into her system and suddenly Lucy's brain power starts ratcheting up at an alarming rate.

Something, something. 10 percent of our brain, something something Morgan Freeman trying to persuade us that we're not watching arrant nonsense.

Sorry, Mr Freeman, even your gravitas can't save this one.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Short reviews - Too Many Fairy Princes; Looking for Group

Okay, yes that's a terrible title. And the cover ...... well. But I read a few reviews on goodreads and the consensus was largely positive, so I dived in.

And you know what, the story itself is much better than both the title and the cover suggest.

Kjartan is the titular fairy prince - one of four brothers vying for the throne of the kingdom, once their father decides to actually .... die. Well, he's already dead but he's still ruling because magic.

Kjartan doesn't want the throne, but that doesn't stop his younger, more murderous brother from making an attempt on Kjartan's life. Kjartan is forced to teleport away, and ends up in our world, where art gallery worker Joel - who is having The Day From Hell, discovers him.

What delighted me the most, is that Joel just goes straight to "well, here, clearly is a being from another world", and not "oh, a theme restaurant must have opened", or "there must be some kind of convention on this weekend, A+ cosplay". Nope. Joel goes straight to "being from another world" and gets dragged into Kjartan's shenanigans.

I wanted the book to be longer, to explore more of the dynamic of Kjartan as a fish-out-of-water and the politics of his own world, but what I got was fun and delightful. And they met the queen. Grand.

Ever since I read For Real, Alexis Hall has been one of my go-to authors. I even broke my $10 ebook limit for this one (by $1 but it's the thought that counts) because I knew it'd be a good'un.

Drew plays Heroes of Legend - an fantasy-based MMO, and at the start of the book, he's just left his previous guild and is looking for a new one. The guild that "Solace" plays for, needs a new tank. It's a match made in gamer heaven.

Drew hits it off with Solace, and they start hanging out in-game. Drew develops a crush on who he believes is a nerdy, funny girl. When he finds out that Solace is actually a nerdy, funny GUY, he stumbles for a bit, but picks himself up and goes for it anyway. They meet, sparks fly, everyone is happy.

Except Drew thinks Kit is playing Heroes of Legend too much; that he's too invested in the friendships he's formed with other guildmembers. Is Drew right? Or should Kit be allowed to form his own bonds wherever he wants to?

My favourite Alexis Hall novel now and forever is Glitterland, but I liked Looking for Group very much of a lot. A lot of the dialogue does take place in-game and that takes a bit of getting used to, but Drew and Kit are great characters - especially Drew, and I read the whole thing in one big go.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Sunday post 41; It's Monday What are you reading? 27

The Sunday Post is a chance for a chat and a catch-up with other bloggers, and is hosted by Kimba here: while It's Monday! What are you reading? is now hosted by Kathryn here:

Hmmmm .... not a lot is going on in my corner, to be honest. I have to start the process of getting financial help tomorrow, which I'm dreading in only one sense - the red tape, or the possibility that I'll be turned down, which is a genuine concern. But I won't know if I don't try.

Otherwise, I'm applying for jobs and figuring out how to fill in my days. It's funny - just after I took redundancy last year (and it's been a year - my ~anniversary was today) I didn't have the same problem.

Of course, then, I had money in the bank and my brain always goes "money = entertainment" so now that I don't have money in the bank, my brain is going, "I don't understand, what do we do?" Even though I'm surrounded by projects - books for one, cross-stitch; I have five or six colouring books and one very large dot-to-dot book (I used to love dot-to-dot as a kid - more than colouring in). I have movies, and games, and Netflix and a bus stop right outside the door to take me out for a bit.

And spawn, of course. But my brain rebels and goes "no money = nothing to dooooo." Lies. Damn lies.

We went to the library today, which was  a fun trip - spawn asked to go, which is unusual. He likes to read, but lately he's been getting more interested and invested in it which is great to see. We're slowly making our way through Harry Potter at bedtime and he's about the right age I think to  really enjoy it.

As for myself, I polished off two M/M ebooks last week - Too Many Fairy Princes by Alex Beecroft - which was FAR better than the terrible title suggests - and Looking For Group by Alexis Hall, which I really enjoyed. I meant to do a review post, but ... didn't. I'll do it this week.

I'm still reading Dark Tower #3 - The Waste Lands, and so far so good. Not sure if I'll meet my goal of finishing the whole series by the end of the year, but you never know.

I also started Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher's memoir. It's short and so far pretty entertaining.

My Friday night movie was Lucy, the Scarlett Johanssen one, and it was bloody awful. Review coming this week also.

How about you?

What's been going on?

What are you reading?