Friday, 17 November 2017

Dear Sophie

We adopted you from the SPCA nearly five years ago. You climbed up on to my shoulder, and, I like to think, chose us.

You were tiny, eight weeks old, black and white, and you looked like someone had spilt a bottle of black ink down your front.

You did all of the normal kitten things - playing, pouncing, sleeping ... but as you grew, we realised we had a rather ... unique cat on our hands.

I don't know if it was that you never learned how to meow properly, but you sounded exactly like a seagull. You were scared of everything, and when you went outside, you did nothing but hide until we called you back in, and you would loudly proclaim your distress at the OUTSIDES until you got back inside.

Even though you only ever went outside voluntarily.

You were not a traditional lap-cat. You did, however, crave attention, and somehow worked out that one way to get that attention was to land on a human and start chewing clothing. We never could break you of that habit.

One of your favourite spots to get the attention you believed was your due and right (and it was), was on my desk, between me and my keyboard, so I often had to type or game with my arms carefully stretched around you. For you, this was the best of all possible worlds. Attention, a place to stretch out, AND a human to inconvenience, all at once.

Playing Dragon Age now just won't be the same without you. I'll be able to reach my mouse, and see the keyboard keys, and not have my arm scratched, or my cardigan slobbered and chewed on.

I can't imagine it.

Week before last, you were in pain. On the Thursday night, you growled if we touched your stomach. J took you out to the emergency vet, who gave you painkillers and sent you back home.

By Saturday you weren't eating or drinking, and we were worried but more, "how much will this cost to make you better" worried and not, "I hope this isn't life or death for you" worried.

The vets admitted you, and did x-rays, and took blood samples. You were constipated. Uncomfortable yes, but surely an easy fix.

Last Monday morning, the vet rang as spawn and I were leaving for school and work. "Oh, good," I thought. "She'll be ringing to say we can bring Sophie home." You had perked up the day before, and starting eating.

But. It was not the conversation I ever imagined having. The vet was calling to say that you had passed away just that morning in front of her - unexpectedly. I was in shock, and went on autopilot, so I could get through my day. I called J at work to tell him, let spawn's teacher know that he would likely have a rocky day, and asked the vet if they would do a necropsy so we could find out what happened.

Dear Sophie, you had a twisted intestine. With the best will and most amazing vets in the world there would have been nothing that we - or they- could have done for you. It's a rare condition in cats, Sophie, and you were most certainly a rare cat. Scared of everything, and not quite sure HOW to cat, but you were loving and sweet in your own weird way.

There is a gap on my desk where you should be right now, rolling around and squawking at me if I dare to move the wrong way, and there is an even bigger gap in the centre of my heart where your spirit lives now.

The cold consolation with your cause of death is that I'm not left with any "if-onlys". Taking you to the vet earlier wouldn't have helped, nor would any level of attention or care we could have given you changed this outcome. It's not something that will show up on an x-ray, dear Sophie, and I am very, very sorry.

You should have lived to be old and curmudgeonly, taking your rightful place on my desk, between me and my keyboard for many more years, but it was not to be.

Know that, wherever you are now, Sophie, I will miss you forever. Even as I'm sitting here typing this out part of me is waiting for you to jump on my desk and insist I make room for you.

I will always have room for you.

Rest well, Sophie. Rest gloriously.

You were loved.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Sunday Post 77; It's Monday, What are you reading? 62





Well, that was quite the break, wasn't it? Completely unintentional. Moving on.

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

Let's see ... I've been in the new job for about three weeks now. So far so good. I'm still in training, which is reassuring to be honest. It's very different from what I did before, and getting my head around completely new work and work practices is going to take time. Luckily the company recognises that, and lets people learn at their own pace. With, I believe, a polite push now and then when needed.

What else has been happening. Work ... um. We're all still settling into a new routine, I think, as J and I are both working fulltime for the first time at the same time. Spawn struggles with it a bit, as he's going to after-school care for the first time, but I think he'll adjust and be okay. I make sure I talk to him when he's looking a bit down, and try to make sure we do something together at the weekends if possible.

As a surprise last Saturday I took him to see Thor: Ragnarok, which was an excellent choice - lol. The movie was great, great fun and Taika Waititi's Kiwi sense of humour was all over it. Highly recommend that one.

My reading has been a bit rocky, but I did read Down Among the Sticks and Bones yesterday, the second book in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. It was really, really, really good. I loved Every Heart a Doorway, but Sticks and Bones was GREAT. I'm trying to get into a more regular reading pattern, but I'm not going to stress. I'm massively behind on my Goodreads goal and I'm probably not even going to hit 50 books for the year, but these things happen.

Right now I'm reading Relics by Tim Lebbon, a kind of urban fantasy/crime thriller. So far so good.

We had a scare with one of the cats last week as well - Sophie suddenly started acting growly and strange. J took her to the emergency vet but they essentially just gave her painkillers and sent her home. She wasn't eating at all so we took her back to the vet on Saturday morning - and she's constipated. They admitted her to get fluids in to her and to take x-rays and bloods, and she's blocked up the poor thing. She's still there, but hopefully we can bring her home tomorrow.

What about you? What's been happening? What are you reading?

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Readathon - opening meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
New Zealand


2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
I'm hoping to make a large dent in Crown of Stars by Kate Elliott

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Potato chips, om nom

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

One husband, one son, eight cats. Many many many many many many books

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I always say I'd like to get more reading done, rather than getting distracted - lol.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Sunday Post 76; It's Monday! What are you reading? 61


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

As you can see by the complete lack of content here, I got exactly 0 blogging done. That's zero. Zip. Zilch ... well, you get the idea.

I meant to - I meant to research my latest awesome lady, and review a couple of books, but ... I did not.

Last Sunday, one of our cats, Snowy suddenly spiked a bad fever out of nowhere. So J took him to the emergency vet, and they couldn't pinpoint what it was. They gave him jabs for antibiotics and painkillers and sent him home. I watched him pretty closely the next day, but he wasn't getting any better. So, on Tuesday, it was back to the vets. And the vet raised the possibility that it could be FIP, which isn't curable.

I am normally very careful with my cats - I get them desexed, and vaccinated ... and while Snowy was desexed, somehow his vaccinations fell through the cracks, which is why the vet raised the possibility of FIP. So I spent a lot of Tuesday on  pins and needles waiting for the blood test results.

Thankfully, it wasn't FIP. Like. I was so damn relieved. I've had a cat with that before, and it's an awful decision to have to make. Anyway. They kept him in overnight then, because he was dehydrated and the fever was still high. He turned the corner overnight at the vets and got so bored he chewed out his dripline.

So he came home on Wednesday with painkillers and antibiotics and - so far - seems to be fine. Once I start working, I'm going to put some money aside for the vaccinations. I never would have forgiven myself if we had lost him because I was forgetful.

Also spawn was home last week, and is home this week as well because of school holidays, and somehow last week got away from me entirely.

I don't have anything much planned for this week; just dropping off my contract at the new office and doing some research for both my awesome ladies post AND for new shirts. Because I've been working in a fairly casual job outfit-wise for the past 20 or so years, I pretty much dress like a university student. However, that's not going to cut it in this new job. I have skirts, somehow, but I need new tops, so I'm going to do some online browsing and some secondhand shopping when spawn goes back to school next week.

As for what I've been reading ... I got The Girl With Seven Names out of the library again as an ebook and actually finished it. It was a fascinating read and I'm hoping to get a review up this week.

I also read Working It by Christine d'Abo, a really cute M/M romance. It was just what I needed after The Girl With Seven Names. So, fingers crossed, I'll have a couple of reviews this week as well as the post on Wang Zhenyi.

So, what about you? What are you reading? How's your week?

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Sunday Post 75; It's Monday, What are you reading? 60


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

Okay. Up first. *Clears throat*.

I GOT THE JOB.

The one I interviewed for a couple of weeks ago.

Well, actually, I didn't get THAT job, but the hiring manager said I interviewed so well, that she offered me one of the other positions that they had coming up with the company. So I start on October 24.

And, I have to tell you, it is a GREAT relief. I still have some battles - mostly related to childcare since J and I will both be working fulltime and I likely won't get paid till about three weeks in.

BUT.  A JOB. I HAVE A JOB.

I have three weeks to work out the rest and surely in three weeks I can come up with something.

What else. As you can see, I got 0 blogging done last week, despite having good intentions.

Something, something good intentions.

But on Wednesday I worked at the paper I proof pages for sometimes for a few hours, and Wednesday is also quiz night (we won) and on Thursday I volunteered for a school trip, so blogging took a bit of a back seat.

What else.

I finished season three of Hannibal and GGRARRRRGHHHHH. That means, it was great. Like. So great. And gory and horrific, but mostly great and I wish there was a season 4.

Up next is season 4 of Game of Thrones as I slowly and surely catch up. I'm also reading book 4 but I'm not very far in because I keep getting distracted.

The Girl With Seven Names came back up on the library's ebook reserve list, so I'm back into that one again, and I also started Contact by Carl Sagan, which I'm greatly enjoying so far.

I'm still doing the #30daysofreadathon challenge on instagram, and seem to be sort of keeping up with it so far.

It's school holidays here now - spawn has the next two weeks off so I expect we'll be doing some hanging out before I become a salaried person again in a few weeks. He's excited about me starting work because he believes it will lead to him getting Lego Dimension packs - lol.

The library is having its annual sale to cull withdrawn books, and I'm planning to take spawn to that on Tuesday. I fully expect I will come home with books, even though ... I don't need more books.

I think that covers the highlights.

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

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Sunday Post 74; It's Monday, what are you reading? 59


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

Let's see ... I actually managed to post a mobile game review last week, for Gordon Ramsay's Dash. I also did a bit of research and started a post on my next awesome lady - Chinese astronomer Wang Zheyi. I'm hoping to get that post up this week.

I had my job interview last Tuesday, but I don't know anything yet. The woman who conducted the interview has some personal stuff going on, but she did let me know that I had interviewed well. Hopefully I'll know something by the end of this week.

Other than that ... I went pub quizzing with my quiz team on Wednesday, and we came third, which was nice.

I got some stitching done on the project I'm doing for my friend who is going to police college next month. I'm hoping I'll have it finished by the time she graduates next year. I also embarked on season 3 of Hannibal, which I didn't finish when it was on TV, so I'm hopeful this time around.

It's spawn's last week of school before two weeks of holiday, so I'm mentally preparing myself for that - lol.

I'm still reading The Girl with Seven Names, though I've paused it for now - the ebook was due back at the library, and now it's on my hold list. I need something short and fun, I think.

What else. Oh! It's the 10-year anniversary of Dewey's Readathon next month: http://www.24hourreadathon.com/ and in celebration, there's a 30-day challenge, which I'm doing on instagram. Here are the prompts, if you want to play along ...
I think that's all ... what about you? How's your week? What are you reading?

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Mobile game review - Gordon Ramsay's Dash

This is a fun one. You play through levels of different restaurants in different locations around the world, and also you get sworn at by Gordon Ramsay.

Starting with Big Bay Burgers, you work through each level of each season of the game, with the difficulty increasing as you go along. Every so often there’s a new recipe to make and prepare, and you can also create VIP recipes to attract special customers to increase coinage, and maybe earn gold and ingredients.

You use the ingredients to create the recipes that attract the VIPs, who all have their own special boosts. For example, one VIP gives you the ability to carry more dishes, and another one gives you the ability to move around the restaurant at high speed.

You earn coins with each successful level, and 1-3 stars depending on how many coins you’ve earned and whether you’ve served all customers - for which you get a boost.

Earning VIP points and star points can also net you prizes in the form of coins and gold bars. You can duel other players, which is fun and you can also earn Wishelin Stars - watch out for when the Wishelin Inspector arrives, and complete the level he visits for coinage, gold and ingredients.

The game does have a few glitches which, for me, are pretty minor and tend to be related to the weekly events for some reason.

But if you like zoning out with a mobile game, and you’re a Gordon Ramsay fan, then this is definitely a game to check out.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Sunday Post 73; It's Monday, What are you reading? 58



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, here: https://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Let's see. Last week was much the same as the week before, although I did manage to get a couple of blog posts done and posted, so that was pleasing. I've also decided to try and increase my typing speed - I touch-type about 50wpm at the moment and my goal is to get up to 70 with as few errors as possible. So I've been practicing that as well. I also got an Access for Dummies book out of the library - I want to see if I can teach myself database. I did a little bit on my course, but that was very much a surface skim. While I'm not working, I want to see if I can still keep my brain cranking.


I'm hoping to do an awesome ladies post this week, and a couple of reviews, depending on what I get finished - if anything. :)


I did have a phone interview on Tuesday, for a position that I had applied for previously. I got as far as the phone interview last time, but no further. This time, I actually prepared a bit better, and have made it to the in-person stage. My interview is on Tuesday morning. It's for a job that I know I would be good at and it's ideal for this stage in my life - they actually advertised it as perfect for someone either just entering the workforce, or looking for a change of career. Mentally, I waved my hands in the air and yelled ME ME PICK ME but I'll have to see how it goes.


Good thoughts, positive energy, prayers, kittens ... I will take them all. 


The SPCA was looking for volunteers last week for their new Op Shop, and I had a weirdly vivid dream that I went in to apply, but was laughed out of the store. I was thinking about going in as it's close to spawn's school, and it would give me retail experience. Perhaps After The Interview.


What else. Yesterday, spawn randomly decided he wanted to do some baking, so we made banana choc-chip muffins, and they turned out not too bad.


As for what I'm reading - I still have a bookmark in book 4 of the Game of Thrones series, and I started The Girl With Seven Names by Hyenseo Lee, about growing up in - and escaping from - North Korea.


Apart from the job interview on Tuesday, I'm not sure what this week will bring. Good news, hopefully.


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

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Review - A Pocket Full of Lies by Kirsten Beyer

Star Trek novels are my go-to read when I need some pure escapism. With Star Trek: Voyager novels, I have a weakness for post-finale novels that explore what the crew are doing after returning from the Delta Quadrant.

I also read them randomly and out of order - pretty much the only series I do that with - so any references to previous stories, I just kind of roll with. Luckily, the way they tend to be written is that they reference previous events enough that you don’t get confused, but not so much that you get bogged down.

A Pocket Full of Lies has Commander Liam O’Donnell of the USS Demeter setting up a meeting with the Nihydron species in the Delta Quadrant. However, when the Nihydron see Admiral Kathryn Janeway, they are visibly shaken and retreat.

The mystery reaction is explained when another Kathryn Janeway is discovered - leading the war effort of the Rilnar against the Zahl on the planet Sormana.

Referencing back to The Year of Hell episode from the TV series, A Pocket Full of Lies explores how and why there are two Kathryn Janeways.

A Pocket Full of Lies was exactly what I wanted - pure Star Trek escapism with familiar characters and a really compelling storyline. It’s pretty far along the Voyager timeline in terms of the novels, but Beyer’s deft narrative touch meant I wasn’t confused and could just enjoy the story that was right in front of me.

Monday, 11 September 2017

The awesome ladies project 5 - Kassia of Constantinople

Kassia or Kassiani was born into a wealthy Constantinople family between about 805- 810AD.

She rejected the proposal of Theophilos, who was destined to become emperor at the time.

Instead, Kassia became a nun, founding a convent in the western part of Constantinople, where she was the first abbess.

She was a composer of religious poetry and also composed music. Unlike some of the other early musical ladies on here, many of Kassia’s works are still extant, and still used in Byzantine liturgy today.

The emperor Theophilos was an iconoclast, meaning he didn’t believe in the worship of icons, and Kassia suffered for her beliefs under his reign. When his son Michael III came to power, the iconoclastic period came to an end.

Kassia eventually settled on the Greek island of Kasos and her tomb and reliquary can be found in a church in the city of Panaghia.


Some of her works can be heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioWWIiG_sHc

I don’t understand the language at all but the music is lovely, and the harmonies are amazing. It’s the kind of music that makes you feel like you’re flying.

Source: (which also includes links to more of her compositions) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kassiani

Next up on the awesome ladies project is Chinese astronomer, Wang Zhenyi.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Sunday post 72; It's Monday, What are you reading? 57


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

Let's see ... not that I had any particular plans for the week, but last week did not go to plan at all.

I sent spawn to school on Monday, half-noticing he had a few spots around his mouth, but not thinking anything of it. When I went to pick him up after school he said his friends had been teasing him about having chickenpox. Which he's not vaccinated against (though he is vaccinated), and which he hasn't had. 

Well. Okay. It wasn't chickenpox - it was hand, foot and mouth which is ALSO a very contagious virus. I talked to a nurse at my doctor's surgery who said there wasn't much point bringing him in unless he took a turn for the worse, so I ended up keeping him home last week.

He wasn't particularly ill, but it's contagious and I'd hate for him to pass it on to someone more vulnerable and less robust than he is. So I spent last week pretty much stuck at home and not doing a lot of anything. 

It turns out that a couple of girls in his class had had it a few weeks ago, which they - or their parents/caregivers - hadn't told the teacher. She discovered it had reared its ugly head when her baby contracted it. It's frustrating because to me it's common sense to inform the school if your child has something contagious. 

Luckily spawn's case was very mild, and he's back off to school tomorrow.

He also had his confirmation today and did extremely well. I'm not particularly religious, but I sent him to my old school out of sentimentality perhaps. But it has a small roll, which I like and for a school with about 100 pupils it also has an extremely diverse roll, which I think is important for him as well. Somehow I forgot about all the religious stuff that comes with a Catholic education - lol. The good thing is that he's embraced it for himself, and I figure when he's older he can choose his own path. 

I did apply for a few jobs last week, and there was a pop-up job market going with displays of vacancies and CV advice, etc, and I was able to go there on Monday. I've tweaked my CV - again - and. Well, who knows. I have a pre-interview phone interview tomorrow - for a job that I applied for a while ago but didn't get further than the phone interview, but when it came up again, I thought "what the hell".

I also started a new cross-stitch - I have a friend who is about to go to Wellington to attend police college. She's a little older than me, and it's a long-held dream of hers. She's been working hard for the past two years or so to get her fitness up to scratch and tick all the necessary boxes, so I'm doing this project for her. I was originally going to try and finish it before she headed up to Wellington, but that's impossible given its relative size, so now the goal is to finish it for her graduation in February. 

What else. I spent Friday stitching and mainlining the four-part series Britain's Bloody Crown, about the War of the Roses. It was really really really excellent and if anyone has any War of the Roses-related recs, I am here for them. I have The Sunne in Splendour and I started it a few years ago, but I need to get back to it.

This week the aim is to start blogging more. I meant to last week but ... well. I'm hoping for about four posts a week - that's the goal, anyway.

As for what I'm reading - I picked up a Star Trek: Voyager novel, called A Pocket Full of Lies. Star Trek novels are my go-to when I need absolute, pure escapism. This one is set post-series, and so far it's really good. I also finally ventured to start book 4 of Game of Thrones, so we'll see how that pans out. I was going to rent season 4 from the library, but it's out at the moment, so I got season 2 of Hannibal instead. I never finished season 3, and I really enjoyed Hannibal, so I'm hoping to go the full distance this time.

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

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Sunday Post 71; It's Monday, what are you reading? 57



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

Not much new last week. I had the job interview on Wednesday and I'm still waiting to hear back. I have no optimism left about the process at all, but who knows. I should hear something tomorrow.

I meant to blog more last week and I'm not sure why I didn't. Towards the end of the week - Thursday/Friday - spawn came down with a sore throat and fever so he was home from school on Friday. Other than that ... I'm not sure. I did finish the CSI novel I was reading which filled the procedural slot nicely. So hopefully I'll have a review up for that this week sometime.

I haven't really done much else, I don't think. For this week, there's a pop-up job market in town so I'm going to go to that and see what happens.

Other than that I need to figure out what I'm going to read next, I'm not sure at the moment. I'm also thinking of joining in with RIP XII, which is being hosted by https://mycapriciouslife.com/ and http://estellasrevenge.blogspot.co.nz/ this year.

Anyway.

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

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Sunday Post 70; It's Monday, What are you reading? 56



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 run by Kathryn, here: https://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Sorry for the double post today - I remembered that I had a review languishing in my docs and wanted to post it before this one went up.

Let's see ... nothing outstanding, I don't think, but that means nothing bad, so there's that. I went quizzing with my team on Wednesday night and we won, so that was fun. 

Spawn and I have been walking home from school a few days a week - I don't have my licence and (let me just say, if you have teens, encourage them to get their licence; I should have back in the day and I didn't and now ... blergh. anyway) - and so we've been walking home rather than rely on buses and taxis, the cost of which racks up very quickly.

It's a pain mostly because it's a good 30 minute walk, but on the other hand, we talk, which is great, and we also slay dragons. So there's an up side and a down side. My friend also suggested we could hunt Pokemon to help it go faster.

I missed out on an interview for a job I really wanted (archive assistant) but I also have a job interview this week for a part-time short contract job at the hospital. So cross fingers, prayer, good thoughts ... I will take all of it. I'm a big believer in the power of positive energy, wherever it comes from. :)

I actually managed to put up two book reviews (okay, so one was today, but who's counting), and I STILL haven't finished my latest awesome ladies post - hopefully that one will go up this week.

I'm also hoping to get another mobile game review up this week. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet; I'm trying to avoid doing match-3 games but there are so many. Maybe I'll do Gordon Ramsey's Dash.

For what I'm reading ... I caught half an episode of a CSI Miami repeat on TV and it put me in the mood for something procedural, so I got a CSI (Vegas) novel out of the library. It's pleasant and largely forgettable and very easy to read. I'm also re-watching Hannibal from the beginning because I never watched to the very end of season 3 for some reason. So my procedural mood is satisfied for now.

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

Review - Saga Volume 1

“When two soldiers from opposite sides of a neverending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.”

This has been on my to-read radar for a while. I don’t read a lot of graphic novels (no particular reason, it just doesn’t usually occur to me), but I figured it would be a quick read - which it was - and it was also awesome.

It starts with the star-crossed lovers having a baby and then immediately going on the run from both sides of the conflict.

There are a lot of near-misses, and mercenaries with names like The Will and The Stalk on their tail.

The story is narrated from the baby - Hazel’s point of view as her parents do everything in their power to escape and find a safe haven where they can find some peace.

Nothing, of course, is ever that simple.

It’s a great, sweeping sci-fi story with a very heartfelt tale right at the centre of it, which means it never feels out of reach.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Review - Every Heart a Doorway

I love a good story. I love a good fantasy story that takes the tropes and shamelessly says “yes, yes these are the tropes - there’s a chosen one, and an epic quest, and clear lines of good and evil.” It’s comforting, you know?
Equally, I love a good fantasy story that looks at those tropes and goes … “hmmm. Not this time. How about this?” Neil Gaiman is good at this, as is China Mieville in novels like Un Lun Dun and Railsea.

And in Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan Maguire takes the notion of happily ever after and just kind of … shakes it down for lunch money. She makes it empty out its pockets and then runs off laughing.

It’s a short book - about 170 pages, and won this year’s Hugo for best novella.

The ideas that are packed in to such a short space are absolutely astonishing.

It posits the idea: what if the fantasy worlds were real? What if you could take one step and end up somewhere else? But - what happens when you come back? The children who return to the mundane from their fantasy worlds often end up at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. There, they meet other children like themselves who have returned from a fantasy realm and cannot find their footing any more in the “real” world.

Nancy arrives at the school as one of these wayward children, but her arrival sets of an unforseen chain of events, murder and nothing will be the same.

It’s so good, and I keep mulling over its ideas. It’s clever without being showy or show-off, and that subtlety feeds into the story in the best possible way.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Sunday post 69; It's Monday, what are you reading? 55


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 over here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Last week continued in much the same vein - some days I have to stop and think what the day is, or what the date is. 

There were, however, a couple of highlights. On Tuesday night a friend of mine and I - as a team of two - attended a book-related quiz at the library. For library week, the library has been doing all kinds of events and fundraisers with the proceeds going to Furever Homes, a local charity that fosters and cares for abandoned or lost pets.


There were only two of us on our team because we couldn't draft anyone else - lol. The idea was to pit teams against a team of librarians in a series of book-related questions. It was a lot of fun - and we won. Heh. :D We impressed the librarians I think - lol. It was a good night all around.

On Saturday at the library, the Furever Homes people hosted a kind of meet-and-greet and people who are fostering pets brought their dogs and cats in to the library for visiting. It was slightly chaotic, but also great fun. 

For reading - I finished volume one of the Saga graphic novel, and enjoyed that a lot. I'm still working on Hamilton, and I'm eyeing up Everfair by Nisi Shawl next.

So for this week - more job applications, housework, hopefully some blog posts, and try not to go quietly insane.

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

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Mobile game review - Merge Dragons

I said I was going to start reviewing mobile games, and here is the first review.

So far I’m just going with games that I play and enjoy. Moving forward … who knows.

Anyway, first up is Merge Dragons: http://www.mergedragons.com/

Essentially it’s a match-3 game, but with dragons. So far, so good, right? Because dragons!

The first few levels are basically tutorial levels where you merge plants into higher level plants and merge eggs into dragons. There’s a handy in-game guide in the early levels that give you tips and you go from there.

We’ve all played Candy Crush and Candy Crush-adjacent match-3 games, but this is so much more fun. You can set up camp for your dragons and also use it to gather coins and bricks. Dragons merge and level up progressively.

There’s several levels, and the more you play through them the more rewards you earn that you can reap back at your camp.

It’s fun, and it’s a game that I can zone out on and play for ages.

It’s available on google play and on the app store.

The only negative, as far as I can tell, is that it does drain the battery, so watch out for that.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Sunday post 68, It's Monday, What are you reading? 54


The Sunday Post - a chance for bloggers to have a chat and a catch-up - 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/

Last week was more of the same ... job applications, housework ... actually, that's about it.

I finished Tongues of Serpents, and reviewed that. I also read Every Heart a Doorway, so will review that this week. I have a couple of posts cooling their heels - a review of the mobile game Merge Dragons, and an awesome ladies post, both of which just need a bit of tweaking.

Coming up this week I'm expecting even more of the same, with a quiz evening on Tuesday at the local library.

For what I'm reading, I'm still picking at Hamilton and trying to decide what's up next.

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

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Review - Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik

Tongues of Serpents is the sixth book in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik.

In book five, Laurence and Temeraire had struggled with being accused of treason, and in an effort to make the embarrassment go away, the British government send them to the new colony of Australia.

Neither Laurence nor Temeraire know what to expect from the new colony, but when one of the dragon eggs they are tasked with taking care of is stolen, they embark on a journey across the Outback.

I have to admit, as much as I love the series overall, this is not my favourite entry. I still enjoyed the relationship between Laurence and Temeraire, but the bulk of the book is a fairly tedious journey across the Outback of Australia. I spent chapter after chapter waiting for something to happen, and all the action seems to be crammed in the last two or three chapters.

Given that it's the sixth book in the series, it's maybe not surprising that the quality falters at times, but  you know ... dragons. Dragons are good.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Sunday post 67, It's Monday, what are you reading? 53


The Sunday Post - a chance for bloggers to have a chat and a catch-up - 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 ... last week was pretty uneventful. I went to Winz to get the benefit process started all over again, and did a few hours' work at the community paper. Which is good but it's only five hours a week at most, and while J does start his fulltime job tomorrow ... it's not enough. So I'm looking and looking and looking ....

Anyway. Moving on.

Spawn spent Friday night at the home of a friend of his, so I took the opportunity to binge-watch season 2 of Versailles, which was a lot of fun. I love that kind of historical drama, although there's a lot more nudity than one would expect. Not as many boobs as you'd see in your average episode of Game of Thrones, but still, boobs were seen. And butts. (Heh. Butts.)

The series itself focuses on the creation of Versailles and on the life of Louis the Fourteenth, his brother Phillippe and of course the rest of the court and court intrigues.

And boobs.

I also played some Dragon Age Inquisition and went to my friend's house on Saturday night for our usual stitch-and-watch session.

We went to a fundraiser quiz night on Wednesday, and ended up coming second, which was great. We went to another one today, but placed out of the running in fourth. I love quizzing, and we're also going to a quiz next Tuesday, which is part of our local library's library week celebrations:
http://ilibrary.co.nz/whatson/library-week/

For what I'm reading - still chipping away at Hamilton, albeit very slowly, and I'm in the home stretch with Tongues of Serpents, which has been a battle. I love the Temeraire series, but this isn't up there with the best of them for me.

Coming up, I'm eyeing the fourth Game of Thrones book - once I've read that I'll dive in to series four, and I also want to read Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.

Other than that, I'll be applying for jobs, praying to the gods of employment, rent and groceries to get us through another week and ... learning how to be a domestic goddess, I suppose.

In terms of blogging, I want to get my next awesome ladies post up this week, and also a review for Tongues of Serpents. I also might start doing a mobile game review a week - see how I go, but I do play a lot of mobile games.

Got to keep the brain parts going somehow. :)

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

Monday, 31 July 2017

Review - Unforgiven by Ruth Clampett

Dean and Jason are best friends and room-mates in their last year of college. They think they know each other inside out and have no secrets, but when Dean stumbles across Jason in an intimate situation with another man at a party, he realises he doesn’t know his best friend as well as he thought.

For Jason, the struggles are much harder. He’s gay, but very much in the closet. He’s in love with his best friend, and he has demons from his past in the form of a priest who molested him as a young boy. When Dean finds Jason with another man, the proverbial really hits the fan.

I found this book extremely frustrating. It’s a great premise, I loved the premise, but the characters … *sigh*.

Dean, especially was frustrating because he spends at least half the book being a complete asshole and saying/thinking terrible things like this:

“I find Jason in the living room, sitting slack on the couch with his legs stretched out wide and a beer in his hand. He’s watching wrestling. Of course he’s watching wrestling … the gayest sport there is.”

And this is how Dean’s thought processes continue for an awful lot of the book. I start to wonder, to be honest, what the hell Jason saw in him and there were several times I nearly just peaced out of the whole thing.

I persisted, however, and there was some payoff. When Dean and Jason do get together, Dean stops being so much of a dick, and goes into full-on protective mode. Where was this Dean earlier???? There was no transition from dick!Dean to lovely!Dean and it kind of gave me whiplash.

Great premise, okay execution that was nearly undermined by bad characterisation.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Sunday post 66; It's Monday, What are you reading? 52



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

I had a pretty unremarkable week, I think. Spawn was back at school after the holidays, and so I'm in the routine of applying for jobs and finding semi-productive ways to fill the hours. It's going ... sort of okay-ish. Well, apart from the job. Nothing on the horizon there, though I do keep applying.

I had lunch with my friend on Wednesday, and did a few hours' casual work proofing pages for the local community paper. Other than that ... hrm.

I did get some blogging done - I wrote a review of Abroad  by Liz Jacobs, and one of the app game, Monument Valley 2. Coming up this week I'll have a review of Unforgiven by Ruth Clampett, a book for which I have very mixed feelings.

Also this week I'm hoping to restart my awesome ladies blog posts, so I need to do some research for that.

J has another week off before starting his new job, so I think we're all just waiting to adjust to a new normal.

I'm still picking away at the Hamilton bio, and I'm about 2/3 of the way through Tongues of Serpents, so I'm hoping to finish that this week. Otherwise it's more of the same: applying for jobs, blogging a bit, reading .... if I'm feeling particularly feisty  I might do some cross-stitching.

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

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Review - Monument Valley 2

I’ve talked about the original Monument Valley game before, here: https://lifetheuniverseandcats.blogspot.co.nz/2016/02/my-fave-non-match-3-app-games.html

It’s still one of my favourite games, so I was very excited when seemingly out of nowhere Ustwo Games dropped Monument Valley 2 earlier this year.

This time the playable characters are Ro, and her daughter. The gameplay is similar to the first one, with mind-bending physics, relaxing music and A+ graphics.

The main differences are the characters (obviously) and the colour palette which is much more varied than the first game.

While all that is great, my favourite thing about Monument Valley 2 is how a large chunk of the story centres around the mother, Ro. Often in games, stories, novels … mothers get left behind. Their stories aren’t considered important and their whole entire role is that of mother.

In Monument Valley 2, while Ro being a mother is important, she’s also shown having her own adventures and challenges and as someone who is always looking for the unicorn - the three-dimensional fully-realised mother character - Ro in Monument Valley 2 is a real gift.

Definitely start with Monument Valley if you haven’t played it before. Overall it’s a very rewarding and relaxing experience.