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  1. What's on the Bookshelf

    Sunday, May 30, 2010

    In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Go here to find out more.

    Serenity: Better Days by Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, and Will Conrad (Illustrator)
    I did my happy dance when this finally arrived on my doorstep. I had issues one and three of the comic but had been able to find issue two as it was never available at Kings Comics whenever I managed to make it into Sydney. So, I finally bought the entire volume through the Book Depository. I am so happy to finally be able to put on my browncoat and sit down and finish this comic.

    Hourglass by Claudia Gray
    I have not exactly been a fan of the Evernight series but I said that I would give the third instalment a try if it should fall into my lap. The reservation list at the library I work at dwindled out and seeing as it showed up in the returns I decided to go ahead and make good on that promise. I am somewhat curious as to how the series wraps up.

    Terra
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  2. From the Back Cover:
    Sookie Stackhouse doesn't have that many relations, so she really hated to lose one - but of all the people to go, she didn't expect it to be her cousin Hadley, a consort of New Orleans' vampire queen - after all, Hadley was technically already dead.

    But Hadley is gone, beyond recall, and she's left Sookie and inheritance, one that comes with a bit of a risk - not least because someone doesn't want Sookie digging too deep into Hadley's possessions... or her past. Sookie's life is once again on the line, and this time the suspects range from rogue weres to her first love, the vampire Bill. Sookie's got a lot to do if she's going to keep herself alive.

    My Thoughts:
    Definitely Dead gives you everything that we have come to expect from a Sookie Stackhouse novel. There is action, mystery, and of course, eye candy. However, a few pages in you may start wondering if you have somehow suffered a bout of amnesia and forgotten some major plot points or perhaps somehow missed a book in the series. I can assure you that amnesia is not your problem, rather it is something called One Word Answer. One Word Answer is Harris' short story contribution to Bite (and is also now published in A Touch Of Dead, a collection of Harris' Sookie Stackhouse short stories), which also contained short stories from Laurell K. Hamilton, MaryJanice Davidson, Angela Knight, and Vickie Taylor. I cannot help but feel that if an author is going to submit a short story to another publication it should not play a major role in the readers comprehension of the ongoing series. I felt let down by the fact that Harris had been foreshadowing the introduction of Sookie's cousin, Hadley, only to allow readers to miss out on it and the events that set the scene for Definitely Dead. In the very least, the publisher should have directed us to the short stories and their place in the series inside the cover if they are going to be significant to the series. To Harris' credit, she does work these details into the story well enough that you do get the overall story in the end, but it makes it no less irritating.

    Quinn, Sookie's current piece of eye candy is okay but I still prefer Eric as the more interesting love interest. I was also satisfied when my ongoing dislike of Bill was further justified in this book. There is no sex in Definitely Dead which I am going to say is not a bad thing at all - despite her complaining otherwise, Sookie tends to do a little too well in the dating department - but the dry humping scene is a bit... odd.

    Also, it is just a bit weird that Sookie spends most of the book on her period and has to frequently remind us of this.


    Definitely Dead is certainly not the strongest addition to the series put if you strip away its oddities and get to the core plot underneath, it is still a good story and seems like it is going to be significant in the setting up of events to come. I will keep on reading the series at this point, anyway.

    Also Check Out:
    Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
    True Blood Season One

    Terra
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  3. Active Readers

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    Active Readers is a new blog feature that I have been planning to introduce for ages. As both readers and bloggers it can become easy to find ourselves in a rut where we are doing an awful lot of sitting - sitting with a book, sitting at the computer, sitting in front of the television. The plan for Active Readers is to have an open discussion about fitness and well being.

    To start with, I'll be posting this once every two weeks. Depending on how well it is received and how much time I have, posting may increase to weekly down the track. I even made a (somewhat crappy) icon - something I have not done in years. Definitely not like riding a bicycle!

    For the very first issue of Active Readers I would like to help make people aware of a fantastic challenge called the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge, founded by Trish and currently being run by Allie and Jill. Head on over to the challenge blog to sign up and set your goal. Check in every week to share your progress and cheer on your fellow bloggers on their quest to better fitness!

    My goal for the current round of the challenge is to complete 200 miles (approx 322km) of exercise and fitness. After taking a break for a few weeks due to injury, I am pretty far behind but excited to be getting back into it. It does seem improbable that I will reach my goal in time but I refuse to say that it is impossible! Not only will I get there but I plan to smash it! ;)

    The current round ends in June so it is not too late to join in! Don't forget to join the round that follows either. It is a great motivator to know that others are striving right along side you and cheering you on!

    So, what do you think about my new blog feature? Are you motivated to join the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge? Share your thoughts and comments below!


    Terra
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  4. Towel Day 2010

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010


    Did you know that today is Towel Day? Towel Day is an annual celebration on the 25th of May to celebrate the life and works of the late Douglas Adams (1952-2001).

    Adams brilliantly wrote the famed The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently Series.


    Today you can pay tribute to this brilliant author by carrying your favourite towel out with you with pride. Remember, as The Guide teaches us, the towel "is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have."

    One of these utility towels describing the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is the perfect choice for such an occasion. (Available from ThinkGeek and, yes, I have one of these.) Or perhaps you would prefer a towel with ever solid advice for every hitchhiker, "Don't Panic", written across it. (Also available from ThinkGeek.)

    Check out the Towel Day website for more information.

    Terra
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  5. From the Back Cover
    Fire is more than attractive,

    Fire is mesmerising.

    Fire's exceptional beauty gives her influence and power. People who are susceptible to it will do anything for her attention, and for her affection. If she wished, they would abuse their power, crush nations and even destroy their own kingdoms to please her.

    But beauty is only skin deep, and beneath it Fire has a human appreciation of right and wrong. Aware of her ability to influence others, and afraid of it, she lives in a corner of the world away from people - not only to protect them but also to protect herself from their attention, their distrust, and even their hatred.

    Yet Fire is not the only danger to the Dells. If she wants to protect her home, if she wants a chance to undo the wrongs of the past, she must face her fears, her abilities and a royal court full of powerful people with reason to distrust her.

    Beauty is a weapon - and Fire is going to use it.


    My Thoughts
    I really enjoyed reading Fire, which is often described as the "prequelish companion" to Graceling. In fact, I think that I may even have liked it more than I did Graceling.

    Fire, like Katsa, is a strong female character. As she did with Katsa, Cashore once again introduces reservations about marriage and reproduction with her female lead. I felt, however, that with Fire these concepts where much better handled in the way that Fire comes to these decisions and how she copes with the choices that she makes in regards. Beauty plays an interesting role in Fire, with Fire herself losing her own breath at the site of her reflection. Cashore walks a fine line here between balancing strength, beauty, and femininity. I see Fire as a character who could have easily become a Mary Sue but I feel that Cashore has avoided this and has made Fire balanced and believable.

    Fans of Graceling will also recognise a certain cross-over character. I found discovering this characters background and what lead to him becoming the person that we know in Graceling to be a really fascinating aspect of the story.

    I am really excited that these books are now planned as a trilogy, The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, with the third book tentatively titled Bitterblue. Bitterblue was a character in Graceling and I am most certainly curious as to what Cashore has in plan for her.

    Fire gave the "more" that I had been wanting from Graceling and I am sure that fans of Cashore's debut book will enjoy Fire just as much if not more.

    Also Check Out
    Graceling by Kristin Cashore

    Terra
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  6. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
    • Grab your current read
    • Open to a random page
    • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
    • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
    The Leviathan's body was made from the life threads of a whale, but a hundred of species were tangled into its design, countless creatures, fitting together like the gears of a stopwatch. Flocks of fabricated birds swarmed around it - scouts, fighters, and predators to gather food. Deryn saw message lizards and other beasties scampering across its skin.

    From pages 70 to 71 of Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.

    This description is accompanied by one of Keith Thompson's fantastic illustrations, showing the Leviathan in marvellous detail.

    Terra
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  7. What's on the Bookshelf

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Go here to find out more.

    From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
    So I am back reading the Southern Vampire Mysteries again. These books are so much fun. I have a review of Definately Dead on the way and went and bought the next book in the series already.

    Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
    I wasn't familiar with this book but one of the local book stores is having a big moving sale and it caught my eye. An interesting (and somewhat sad) tid bit from Wikipedia, originally published in 1940, the original German story has now been lost and the current German versions are back translations from English.

    Terra
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  8. Splendid Betta Splendens

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010


    Yesterday I meet a new friend. My new fish is a male Betta Splenden - often called fighting fish as the males are really aggressive toward each other and will fight to the death. He is a lovely red colour (the above photo really doesn't do his colour justice) with silver flecks.

    Now the tricky part has been picking his name! Kvothe is a currently in the lead. Kvothe is the awesome fiery red-headed main character from Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind. King Weasley (he never lets the quaffle in) was also up for red-haired consideration. Perhaps Wranger? ("Coz he's a wranger, Sir!")

    Other suggested names include Kraken (because he is a ferocious fighting fish!), Sheldon (as in from The Big Bang Theory), and Stephen Fry (all hail the Tweet).

    What names would you suggested for my delightful new fishy friend? Fish naming is serious business!

    I also came across this adorable photo taken by my brother of Jasper hiding in the garden. He used to love to dig up cool spots to lie in to get away from the heat. I still love and miss him dearly but it's easier to look back now and smile instead of cry.

    Any tips on caring for my new fighting fish are of course welcome. I would rather if my fish-care learning curb didn't kill the little guy. D=

    Terra
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  9. From the Back Cover:
    If you have ever asked yourself where the Gold Snitch came from, how the Bludgers came into existence or why the Wigtown Wanderers have pictures of meat cleavers on their robes, you need Quidditch Through the Ages. This limited edition is a copy of the volume in Hogwarts School Library where it is consulted by young Quidditch fans on an almost daily basis.

    Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Comic Relief, who will use your money to continue improving and saving lives - work that is even more important and astonishing than the three and a half second capture of the Golden Snitch by Roderick Plumpton in 1921.

    - Albus Dumbledore

    My Thoughts:
    Harry Potter fans will be able to appreciate this delightful companion book. Readers of the series will recognise it as one of the books read by Harry Potter and his friends throughout the series, to aid them with the wizarding sport of Quidditch.

     Quidditch Through the Ages takes you through the history of the sport, it's rules and regulations, and a variety of exciting and often dangerous manoeuvres. The best part of the book is where it describes various Quidditch teams from around the world. While it was great to discover that I have a local team, it is only a shame that neither Rowling nor her editor realised that it should be "Wollongong Warriors" rather than "Woolongong".

    Perfect for anyone planning to convince their friends to don matching uniforms and run around the back yard on broomsticks (don't pretend that you have not at least wanted to try) but will mean little to anyone who has not yet read the actual Harry Potter series (or seen the movies).

    Go the Wollongong Warriors! They'll wipe the floor with the Thundelarra Thunderers any day!

    Also Check Out:
    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

    Terra
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  10. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
    • Grab your current read
    • Open to a random page
    • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
    • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
    'You think everyone wants to steal me,' Fire said mildly. 'If your own father had me tied up and sold to a monster zoo for spare change, you'd claim that you suspected him all along.'

    From page 29 of Fire by Kristin Cashore

    Terra
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  11. Musing Mondays

    Monday, May 17, 2010


    So, I have decided to participate in just one more meme. Musing Mondays is hosted by Rebecca over at Just One More Page.

    This week, Rebecca asks:

    "What happens when you see a movie based on a book/story, especially one you’ve not read? Do you feel the need to track it down and read it?"

    Usually when a movie takes my interest and I hear that it is based on a book I try to read the book before seeing it. The release of the movies encouraged me to finish reading all of The Lord of the Rings and I have been in love with the books ever since. In the case of The Children of Men by P.D. James, I was glad that I had read the book first as the movie absolutely butchered it. On the other hand, I had not thought that Memoirs of a Geisha would be my style but the fact that I enjoyed the movie encouraged me to give it a try and I found that I loved it.

    Terra
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  12. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Go here to find out more.

    Posting is still slowish because of my back but also because of have now picked up a couple more injuries to nurse. I have been a complete walking disaster lately, I swear. Hopefully everything will heal up quickly though.


    Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith
    Tantalize caught my eye because the main female character is called Quincie Morris - a direct reference to the young Texan, Quincey Morris, who played an important role in the defeat of Dracula in Bram Stoker's famous novel. If any vampire writer wants to catch my interest, showing respect for Dracula is a good way to go about it.
    The Phantom of Manhattan by Frederick Forsyth
    For those that haven't heard, this is the novel that Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical sequel to The Phantom of the Opera is based upon. I will try to approach this book without too much prejudice but when Love Never Dies was announced I cringed with horror. After hearing the plot of the musical (and some of the music too) I am left envisioning a train wreck. Forsyth published The Phantom of Manhattan after discussing it as a sequel to Phantom with Webber, only for Webber to originally pull out as he felt that their ideas were too difficult to adapt to the stage. From initial reviews, it sounds like a real shame that Webber changed his mind.

    Terra
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  13. Stargazer by Claudia Gray

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    From the Back Cover
    Evernight Academy: an exclusive boarding school for the most beautiful, dangerous students of all—vampires. Bianca, born to two vampires, has always been told her destiny is to become one of them.

    But Bianca fell in love with Lucas—a vampire hunter sworn to destroy her kind. They were torn apart when his true identity was revealed, forcing him to flee the school.

    Although they may be separated, Bianca and Lucas will not give each other up. She will risk anything for the chance to see him again, even if it means coming face-to-face with the vampire hunters of Black Cross—or deceiving the powerful vampires of Evernight. Bianca's secrets will force her to live a life of lies.

    Yet Bianca isn't the only one keeping secrets. When Evernight is attacked by an evil force that seems to target her, she discovers the truth she thought she knew is only the beginning....

    My Thoughts
    Warning: This review contains some spoilers.

    I did not dislike Stargazer as much as I did Evernight but I remain far from being a fan of the series.

    In Evernight Gray tried to draw a comparison between the themes in her work, particularly pertaining to Raquel and Erich, and Bram Stoker's Dracula by having the book and it's flaws discussed in a class. This time around, they discuss Romeo and Juliet and Bianca wonders if her relationship with Lucas is the same kind of foolish love shared by Shakespeare's famous "star-crossed" lovers, risking everything for someone that she hardly knows. I came to feel that, in regards to the relationships in the book, Gray sets up a lot and then doesn't follow through. Bianca has doubts about Lucas and there is conflict between them but everything of course turns out fine between them in the end. The attraction between Balthazar and Bianca is explored but just as it seems like it might genuinely develop into something the nature of their relationship abruptly changes to make way for Bianca and Lucas to be "true loves" again.

    In Evernight the twists were more difficult to guess but not necessarily appreciated for it. In Stargazer most of the twists can be seen from a mile off. One wonders why Bianca cannot figure out the obvious and when she does it is only when the information practically drops in her lap. Readers may find Bianca quite dislikable because of this and some of her poorer choices.

    On the positive side, Stargazer contained much more action which was much more welcome than sitting in on more classes and cattiness in the hallways. We got enough of that in the first book. Support characters also received much more development, adding more depth to Gray's world. Vic, for example, is not just the funny guy in the group but he is actually pretty smart and philosophical.

    I doubt that I will actively seek to read the next instalment in the series, Hourglass, but seeing as this book showed some improvement on the previous, in hope that the next book is improved yet again, I may read it if it shows up available at the library.

    Also Check Out
    Evernight by Claudia Gray

    Terra
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  14. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    From the Back Cover:
    In the early days of the Civil War, rumours of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

    But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.

    Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.

    His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.

    My Thoughts:
    Scott Westerfeld really did word it best when he described Boneshaker as a "Steampunk-zombie-airship adventure of rollicking pace and sweeping proportions, full of wonderfully gnarly details." I have always loved a good zombie story and I have always liked steampunk for its visual elements - the fashion and the style - but as of yet had not ventured very much in to reading the genre. For others looking to explore the steampunk genre for the first time Boneshaker is an excellent place to start.

    The story passes back-and-forth between Briar and Zeke. Priest has a knack for knowing just how long to leave us following one character before the need to find out what is happening to the other becomes too overwhelming. There is at times quite a bit of walking around under the city but Priest breaks it up with interesting and well rounded characters. I found Briar a particularly fascinating character to explore with many different facets as a mother, a woman, granddaughter, and her past as a wife and then now as the widow of a notorious man. But not only were the main characters well characterised, but Priest includes a support cast of quirky and unique characters.

    At the end of the book Priest admits to the warping of both geography and history to suit her story. Knowing absolutely nothing about the history of Seattle I really would not have known otherwise but I certainly do appreciate the research that went in to this and the consideration that she has put in to these changes. Also, I love her response on her website FAQs to the history in her books being inaccurate: "It isn’t inaccurate, it’s alternate."

    Another really nice touch was cracking the spine and discovering the brown coloured font within. It was a nice little surprise that added a little to the steampunk feel of the reading experience.

    Boneshaker is a well paced, action packed, and exciting read. It is a great place to start for those looking to foray into the steampunk genre as well as being an excellent and unique addition to the zombie genre.

    Also Check Out:
    The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

    Terra
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  15. So, my back is just about better, which is a relief, so I am making my return. Remind me never to fall asleep on the couch while watching TV ever again. It's not worth the pain that follows. T_T

    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
    • Grab your current read
    • Open to a random page
    • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
    • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
    I slid the card between the door and the doorjamb and started jimmying the lock.
    Five minutes later I was still uselessly wiggling the library card around, my hands now cold, wet, and clumsy. On TV, this part always looked so easy.

    From page 4 of Stargazer by Claudia Gray.

    This line amused me so I decided to share it as this weeks teaser instead of choosing something at random.


    Terra
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  16. What's on the Bookshelf

    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Go here to find out more.

    I've hurt my back which is why posts have been minimal over the past week and why they will probably remain so for the coming week as it is not so comfortable to sit at the computer for very long at the moment.

    Fire by Kristin Cashore
    I absolutely loved Cashore's Graceling so I have really been looking forward to getting the chance to read Fire. This book is set in the past of the same universe as Graceling but it sounds like it is going to be quite a different story.

    You can read my review of Graceling here.

    Terra
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