venetia_sassy: (101 Dalmatians // happy puppies!)
Happy day but very tired. *yawns*

Now carols are always beautiful but if you are sad they can make you feel sadder. (There are some people who always find that beauty makes them feel sadder, which is a very mysterious thing.)

101 Dalmatians
~ Dodie Smith

But after a good day ...

venetia_sassy: (SH // Gladstone oh no! dead dog?)
Slightly belated due to a 36-hour menstrual migraine. Worst migraine of any kind I've had for quite some time. I'm now in the hangover stage but I'm more affected by this wretched heat and humidity. Blegh. However, first market of the year tomorrow! I should be well enough to enjoy that. The dogs certainly will be.

What I've just finished reading

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.
#Meh# It was okay; had some good points but I'm not keeping it.

Fiction - new

The Enchantment Emporium (Gale Women #1) by Tanya Huff

Easy, pleasant read but it could have been tighter and the family and relationship dynamics squicked me a bit. I liked Charlie and Jack the best and they're the main characters in the two sequels so I'll probably read those at some point. Summon the Keeper remains my favourite Huff book.

The Mammoth Book of Steampunk edited by Sean Wallace

Better than Corsets and Clockwork. I really enjoyed most of the stories.

#Wicked Lovely (Wicked Lovely #1)# by Melissa Marr

Like Marr's Graveminder, there were some interesting ideas but the characters and execution were bland. I really didn't care about any of them and won't be picking up the sequels. I did like the resolution of the romances, particularly since Keenan's behaviour creeped me the hell out. I almost stopped reading when Ash's friends started enabling him. Ick.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin

I thought this might be a bit twee and moralising but although it verged on it a couple of times, it never tipped over. And it was so refreshing after Wicked Lovely! The stakes were small, not much happened and yet it was all so interesting and vital and every character was so vividly drawn and memorable. I was delighted.

What I'm reading now

Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century by Mark Mazower

This is really interesting but it's dense and I haven't been feeling great. Only a couple of chapters left!

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

What I'm reading next

Depends on how I'm feeling.
venetia_sassy: (SH // Gladstone oh no! dead dog?)
What I've just finished reading

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.
#Meh# It was okay; had some good points but I'm not keeping it.

Fiction - new

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I bounced off this some time ago but trying again, it was very powerful. Spare writing but very dense imagery. I didn't read a lot at once. War is stupid and wasteful and horrible and humanity can be wonderful and terrible and so very ordinary. Yes, I cried.

War Horse (War Horse #1) by Michael Morpurgo

I saw the play last year (no, year before, now) and it was amazing. The puppetry was so clever and Joey and Topthorn really came alive. Again, it showed the terrible wastefulness of war (I cried.) The book ... a trifle too, hmm, twee? Better for kids, but see the play if you ever can. (I've never tried to watch the movie. Even knowing the film horses weren't being harmed, I'd be thinking of all the real ones who never came home.)

The Earthsea Quartet (Earthsea Cycle #1-4) by Ursula K. Le Guin

I've read several Le Guin books but not the Earthsea Cycle for some reason? I know we had this quartet at some point but it must have been loaned to someone and never come back. I'm not sure what to say about these except that they're beautifully written, you need to go with flow and you need to be in the mood for fables more than fantasy and it's interesting to see how easily skin colour can be changed in high fantasy and whites become the foreigners so why doesn't it happen more often?

Pangur Ban The White Cat (Pangur Ban Celtic Fantasies #1) by Fay Sampson - DNF

Thin children's novel picked up at a sale for light reading. Main characters were so unpleasant that I gave it up after two chapters - yes, they were meant to learn from their mistakes but since those mistakes were a) trying to kill a cat and accidentally killing a fellow monk who was defending the cat (but still blaming the cat for his killing!) and b) trying so hard to pursue the man who killed her brother that she drowns her horse in the pursuit even knowing the horse was out of its depth - yeah, I really didn't give a shit about the two humans, I just felt deeply sorry for the cat who was stuck with two people who wanted to kill him.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Utterly delightful and I can't imagine why no one gave me this as a child.

The Animals of Farthing Wood (Farthing Wood #1) by Colin Dann

Thirty-five years later and the environmental message is still depressingly on point. But it's a good adventure story and I laughed out loud as the animals rushed out of the church.

Corsets & Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances edited by Trisha Telep

Mixed bag, as with all anthologies but I enjoyed a lot of them. 'Romances' imply HEAs to me though and these ... er, not necessarily.

Non-fiction - new

Champagne: How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times by Don & Petie Kladstrup

A bit scattered to start with but once it reached WWI, it was amazing and horrifying. The utter devastation of Reims and Champagne in general was so ghastly (reading about the Germans' deliberate destruction of the Reims Cathedral right after reading about Joan of Arc seeing her king crowned there made me feel sick) and yet the most celebratory of wines continued to be produced there. And the amazing way the population went underground to live in the limestone caves to escape bombing. I'd like to read a more comprehensive history of both champagne and Champagne.

Fiction - rereads

Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume

As an Australian, Judy Blume was not a formative author for me but the one book of hers I did read was a favourite. When I saw a trailer for the movie adaptation a while back, I quite literally nearly fell off my chair in shock - Wolf was being played by a Native American actor! It's rather sad how genuinely surprised I was by that ... I found the DVD at the library a few ago and it's a pretty good adaptation, I think. There's a bit more romance between Wolf and Davey but it worked well. However I was distracted because it had been so long since I read the book and yet so much felt familiar to me but I couldn't quite remember what had happened only in the book. Having read the book again (and loved it and cried), I'd like to watch the movie again (and cry again.)

What I'm reading now

Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century by Mark Mazower

What I'm reading next

Mum just discovered two Christmas presents she managed to knock under the bed while wrapping others - Parks and Rec S1 and The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff - and somehow didn't realise they weren't with the other presents she gave to me. (This is not really surprising. She completely forgot about the Marvel Encyclopedia she bought for me back in November - I had to remind her - and the same thing happened the year before with a handbag. She hides them too well and doesn't make lists, I guess.) I think the Huff book may be next for fiction!
venetia_sassy: (101 Dalmatians // happy puppies!)
Let's see if I can can keep up with doing it weekly this year! I really would like to.

What I've just finished reading

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.
#Meh# It was okay; had some good points but I'm not keeping it.

Fiction - new

Vixen in Velvet (The Dressmakers #3) by Loretta Chase

Light, frothy and fun but nothing so far has compared to Chase's Miss Wonderful/Mr Impossible/Lord Perfect trio. Even Peregrine and Olivia's return appearance as adults in Last Night's Scandal was no match for their appearance as children in Lord Perfect.

Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century #1) by Cherie Priest

Entertaining? But ... unmemorable? I liked Briar as the book went on but ...
it never quite grabbed me.

Charmed Life (Chrestomanci #1) by Diana Wynne Jones

Bizarrely, I have not read DWJ before despite having a number of her books on my shelves for years. Shocking I know. I have actually read The Tough Guide to Fantasyland and laughed myself silly over it but I tried reading a couple of her novels, got stuck and gave up.

Tried again and enjoyed this. I felt terribly sorry for Cat by the end of it and did rather wonder if things could have been better handled.

The Dark Lord of Derkholm (Derkholm #1) by Diana Wynne Jones

TOUGH GUIDE TO FANTASYLAND! Oh, if only this one had been suggested sooner. Did find it a bit stodgy in spots.

The Year of the Griffin (Derkholm #2) by Diana Wynne Jones

Loved it, loved it, loved it. Harry Potter kids at uni, with strong whiffs of Unseen University. Friends helping each other out!

Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones

This was one of the books I got stuck on (I think I just got bored.) Still not hugely thrilled but I liked Sophie embracing old ladyhood and I understand Coulson naming the toaster Calcifer now.

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1) by Elizabeth Wein

It was hot and stuffy and I had a headache so why on earth did I read a book that I strongly suspected was going to make me cry? Well, I read it and I cried and the headache got worse and IT WAS SUCH A GOOD BOOK. A bloody clever one, with so many layers and ways of shaping a story. And the characters ... KISS ME HARDY!

#The Piano# by Jane Campion & Kate Pullinger

Flat, faithful adaptation of a very excellent movie that somehow managed to suck all the depth out it. Seriously, watch the movie, don't read the book.


Golden Afternoon : Volume II of the Autobiography of M. M. Kaye by M.M. Kaye

I liked the first volume, about her childhood, better. This did seem like an endless string of parties at times. But it's a very vivid portrait of a specific time and place (the Raj, between the World Wars) that will never come again. Kaye is an excellent writer and she draws her word portraits beautifully. Also with great humour when called for.

Joan of Arc: A History by Helen Castor

This is where I wish I'd kept up the meme last year. I know I read Joan of Arc: Maid, Myth and History by Timothy Wilson-Smith, found it unsatisfactory and got rid of it but I can't remember exactly why. I know that I was left wanting a basic bio of Joan of Arc and Castor's book suited me well.

It's not just about Joan (in fact, she doesn't even appear for quite some time) instead it places her story in the context of the time and shows why people, especially certain people, were prepared to believe in her, give her a chance - and then abandon her to her fate at the hands of English.

As an introduction to Joan's story, I think it's excellent. But if you want a book that focuses exclusively on her life then I doubt you'll like it.

The Great Crown Jewels Robbery of 1303: The Extraordinary Story of the First Big Bank Raid in History by Paul Doherty

Terrible. A potentially interesting story completely obscured by bad, repetitive writing and sloppy editing. The only bit I liked was an translated extract from Fitzstephen's Description of London.

What I'm reading now

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Champagne: How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times by Don & Petie Kladstrup

What I'm reading next

No idea! Possibly Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens by Jane Dunn and something lighter in fiction?
venetia_sassy: (Images // reading)
It's been so hideously hot and humid the last few days, I've felt sick to my stomach most of the time. Cool change has just come through!

Books of 2014

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.

Without going back over all my posts and Goodreads ratings, these are the books that stand out in my memory.

Non-fiction - new reads - 94 )

Fiction - new reads - 47 )

Non-fiction - rereads - 6 )

Fiction - rereads - approx. 156 (I probably forgot a few)  )

All non-fiction - 100
All fiction - 203 (approx.)
All new reads - 141
All books - 303 (approx.)

If I'd been counting as I went along, I would have pushed myself to read a few more new books in December rather than letting myself rest with some rereads. 100, 50, and 150 new reads would have been nice numbers! But considering how utterly lousy things have been in many other areas, I'm very pleased with how much non-fiction reading I was able to do last year. Not sure how much of it I remember at this point though ...
venetia_sassy: (SH // Gladstone oh no! dead dog?)
Books of December

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.
#Meh# It was okay; had some good points but I'm not keeping it.

Fiction - rereads

Georgette Heyer - detective novels (these vary in mystery quality but there is always at least one utterly delightful character who wins me over and some marvellous dialogue.)

Envious Casca
A Blunt Instrument
They Found Him Dead
Duplicate Death
No Wind of Blame
Footsteps in the Dark
Why Shoot a Butler?
The Unfinished Clue
Death in the Stocks
Behold, Here's Poison
Detection Unlimited

Agatha Christie

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding
Hercule Poirot's Christmas
Cat Among the Pigeons
Murder in Mesopotamia
Death on the Nile
Evil Under the Sun
Cards on the Table
Mrs McGinty's Dead
Dead Man's Folly
The Pale Horse
Third Girl
Hallowe'en Party
Elephants Can Remember
After the Funeral
The Sittaford Mystery
Towards Zero
Three Act Tragedy
Five Little Pigs

M.M. Kaye

Death in the Andamans
Death in Cyprus
Death in Zanzibar
Death in Kenya
Death in Kashmir

Fiction - new

Death In Berlin by M.M. Kaye

The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne

Last Night's Scandal (Carsington Brothers #5) by Loretta Chase

Silk Is for Seduction (The Dressmakers #1) by Loretta Chase

Scandal Wears Satin (The Dressmakers #2) by Loretta Chase

What I'm reading now

Vixen in Velvet (The Dressmakers #3) by Loretta Chase

Golden Afternoon : Volume II of the Autobiography of M. M. Kaye

What I'm reading next

I've been doing very well at reading non-fiction this year but my brain shorted out halfway through a biography of Marie Antoinette towards the end of November. I've read a few new novels since then and I'm attempting Golden Afternoon so I might try one of the non-fiction books I was given for Christmas next. Or perhaps the The Hunger Games. Haven't read that yet.
venetia_sassy: (Images // tea)
Books of November

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.
#Meh# It was okay; had some good points but I'm not keeping it.


The Prospect Before Her: A History of Women in Western Europe, 1500 - 1800 by Olwen H. Hufton

The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex by Owen Chase

The Gilded Stage: The Social History of Opera by Daniel Snowman

Prince of Europe: The Life of Charles-Joseph de Ligne by Philip Mansel

Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots, and Revolutionaries, 1776-1871 by Adam Zamoyski

#Casanova: Actor, Spy, Lover, Priest# by Ian Kelly

How to Create the Perfect Wife by Wendy Moore

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes

The Lunar Men by Jenny Uglow

Fiction - new

The Arrangement (The Survivors' Club #2) by Mary Balogh

The Ice Princess (Patrik Hedström, #1) by Camilla Läckberg

Festive in Death by J.D. Robb

Fiction - rereads

Miss Wonderful by Loretta Chase

Mr Impossible by Loretta Chase

Lord Perfect by Loretta Chase

#Not Quite A Lady# by Loretta Chase

J.D. Robb rereads - I don't feel like going through and trying to match up names to plots but they're all pretty good light reads.

Thankless in Death
Concealed in Death
Calculated in Death
Delusion in Death
Celebrity in Death
Fantasy in Death
Kindred in Death
Salvation in Death
Strangers in Death
Creation in Death
Innocent in Death
Born in Death
Memory in Death
Origin in Death
Portrait in Death
Purity in Death
Holiday in Death
venetia_sassy: (Images // tea)
Books of October

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.
#Meh# It was okay; had some good points but I'm not keeping it.

Fiction - new

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville - (Audiobook project with varying quailty of readers. The best were superb. As for the book - dammit, Melville, write an adventure novel or a history book! Pick one! Already read an excellent and rather more accurate history - and the adventure novel could have been so good ... the side characters...)

Battle Magic (The Circle Reforged #3) by Tamora Pierce

Fiction - rereads

The Will of the Empress (Circle Reforged, #1) by Tamora Pierce

Street Magic (The Circle Opens, #2) by Tamora Pierce

Melting Stones (Circle Reforged, #2) by Tamora Pierce

Non-fiction - new

Cromwell: Our Chief of Men by Antonia Fraser

King Charles II by Antonia Fraser

#Circulation: William Harvey’s Revolutionary Idea# by Thomas Wright

1688: A Global History by John E. Wills Jr.

Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King by Antonia Fraser

Bonnie Prince Charlie: Charles Edward Stuart by Frank McLynn

Non-fiction - reread

Women All On Fire: The Women Of The English Civil War by Alison Plowden
venetia_sassy: (SH // Gladstone oh no! dead dog?)
Books of September

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.
#Meh# It was okay; had some good points but I'm not keeping it.


Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Heart of a New Nation by David A. Price

The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir (Ooh, this pissed me off. It was so slipshod and biased and just so ... sloppy I was ready to declare myself pro-Richard just to spite the author. And I hadn't even cared! Fortunately, the following book was a lot more even-handed and methodical and the author had obviously been annoyed by the Weir book as well, providing some specific refutations.

Royal Blood: Richard III And The Mystery Of The Princes by Bertram Fields

She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor (So many fierce and awesome ladies!)

#Joan of Arc: Maid, Myth and History# by Timothy Wilson-Smith

Mary Tudor: England's First Queen by Anna Whitelock

Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser

#The Queen's Agent : Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I# by John Cooper

The Weaker Vessel: Woman's Lot in Seventeenth-Century England by Antonia Fraser (reread)

Fiction - rereads

The Daughter Of Time by Josephine Tey

Georgette Heyer

I would recommend pretty much everything Heyer but I'm underlining some standouts among these.

A Civil Contract
April Lady
Black Sheep
Charity Girl
Cousin Kate
False Colours
Friday's Child
Lady of Quality
Pistols for Two
Sprig Muslin
The Corinthian
The Foundling
The Grand Sophy
The Nonesuch
The Quiet Gentleman
The Reluctant Widow
The Talisman Ring
The Toll-Gate
The Unknown Ajax
venetia_sassy: (SH // Gladstone oh no! dead dog?)
Books of August

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.
#Meh# It was okay; had some good points but I'm not keeping it.

The End Of The Line: How Overfishing Is Changing The World And What We Eat by Charles Clover

Sightings: The Gray Whales' Mysterious Journey by Brenda Peterson & Linda Hogan

A Fish Caught in Time: The Search for the Coelacanth by Samantha Weinberg

#The Dragon Seekers: How An Extraordinary Circle Of Fossilists Discovered The Dinosaurs And Paved The Way For Darwin# by Christopher McGowan

Eaten by a Giant Clam: Great Adventures in Natural Science by Joseph Cummins

The Flower Hunter: The Remarkable Life of Ellis Rowan by Christine Morton-Evans, Michael Morton-Evans

Humboldt's Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Epic Journey of Exploration Through Latin America That Changed the Way We See the World by Gerard Helferich

Fever Season: The Epidemic of 1878 That Almost Destroyed Memphis, and the People who Saved It by Jeanette Keith

The Mapmaker's Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder and Survival in the Amazon by Robert Whitaker (reread)

The Frozen Water Trade: How Ice From New England Kept The World Cool by Gavin Weightman

The Great Dinosaur Extinction Controversy by Charles Officer and Jake Page

#Mrs P's Journey: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Created the A-Z Map# by Sarah Hartley

Samurai William: The Adventurer Who Unlocked Japan by Giles Milton

1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro


The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
venetia_sassy: (Images // tea)
Books of July

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.

The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily by Nancy Goldstone (Who'd be royal? Good grief.)

Behemoth: The History of the Elephant in America by Ronald B. Tobias

The Astonishing Elephant by Shana Alexander

Vulture: Nature's Ghastly Gourmet by Wayne Grady

The Story of Rats: Their Impact on Us, and Our Impact on Them by S. Anthony Barnett

The Plague Race by Edward Marriott (reread)

Pasteur's Gambit by Stephen Dando-Collins

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Secret Hour (Midnighters, #1) by Scott Westerfeld

Touching Darkness (Midnighters, #2) by Scott Westerfeld

Blue Noon (Midnighters, #3) by Scott Westerfeld

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (animal abuse: the way the water horses were kept on dry land was cruel and the descriptions of the poor land horse, Dove, being forced into to race against them despite her terror were vivid and really upset me. Also, it was a boring book with a great starting idea.)

The Shadow Thieves (Cronus Chronicles, #1) by Anne Ursu

Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales by Tamora Pierce

Strange Angels by Lili St.Crow - DNF (blatant racism from a miserable main charcter. And if I wanted to read a female-led AU version of SPN, there are far better fanfics out there.)

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater - DNF (creepy new guy, inexplicable connection with main female character ... tedious.)

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey (SO REFRESHING!!!)

Thalia, The Failure by Robin Klein (silly reread from childhood)
venetia_sassy: (101 Dalmatians // happy puppies!)
Went for a walk with the dogs and Mum today for the first time in three weeks! Mum's knee starting to feel better was good timing - the dogs would have been going nuts otherwise, even if they are low-energy. I've been walking them by myself for most of the year, what with the stress fractures in Mum's foot, then her knee going out. But her foot is just fine now and the podiatrist says her knee should be entirely better by the end of the year.

Books of June

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.

Shipwrecks: Australia's Greatest Maritime Disasters by Evan McHugh

The Deadly Sisterhood: A story of Women, Power and Intrigue in the Italian Renaissance by Leonie Frieda (utter mess)

Travels With A Medieval Queen by Mary Taylor-Simeti

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (intriguing ideas; boring execution)

Graveminder by Melissa Marr (see above)

River Marked (Mercy Thompson, #6) by Patricia Briggs

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson, #7) by Patricia Briggs

Troll Fell by Katherine Langrish

Variant X by Susan Robinson

Psy-Changeling rereads in preparation for the new book.

Slave to Sensation (Psy/Changeling #1)
Visions of Heat (Psy/Changeling #2)
Caressed By Ice (Psy/Changeling #3)
Mine to Possess (Psy/Changeling #4)
Hostage to Pleasure (Psy/Changeling #5)
Branded by Fire (Psy/Changeling #6)
Blaze of Memory (Psy/Changeling #7)
Bonds of Justice (Psy/Changeling #8)
Play of Passion (Psy/Changeling #9)
Kiss of Snow (Psy/Changeling #10)
Tangle of Need (Psy/Changeling #11)
Heart of Obsidian (Psy/Changeling #12)
Whisper of Sin
in the Burning Up Anthology
Wild Invitation: A Psy/Changeling Anthology

Shield of Winter (Psy/Changeling, #13) by Nalini Singh

Uh, these judgements are based on my Nora Roberts standards and preferences which may or may not relate to my standards for other books. I don't know, I've read and reread almost every NR/J.D. Robb book out there which is well over a hundred by now. They've kept me sane throught some very bad brain fog times.

Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #1) by Nora Roberts

Shadow Spell (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #2) by Nora Roberts

The Collector by Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts rereads -
Northern Lights
The Witness
(one of only two NR heroes I utterly loathed. BOUNDARIES! RESPECT THEM!)
Morrigan's Cross (Fantasy is not NR's forte. It's okay as little bits of the book but not as the whole.)
The Search
Black Hills
Midnight Bayou

Vision in White (Bride Quartet #1)
Bed of Roses (Bride Quartet #2)
Savor The Moment (Bride Quartet #3)
Happy Ever After (Bride Quartet #4)

Key of Light (Key Trilogy #1)
Key of Knowledge (Key Trilogy #2)
Key of Valour (Key Trilogy #3)
venetia_sassy: (101 Dalmatians // happy puppies!)
I left the house today for the first time in two and half weeks - excepting the two visits to the doctor for the cold-turned-bacterial infection, plus raging allergic reaction to the first lot of antibiotics. Fun! Mum's knee has been doing better so she was able to walk the dogs sometimes - when it wasn't raining. Poor hounds, they did get a bit bored. But we went to the market today, mostly buying things that don't require much cooking since I'm still wiped out. The hounds had many cuddles, both from new people and regular admirers. Then we stopped at a pet supply store on the way home and along with necessities, we bought two new squeaky toys - a fluffy pink and brown ... apatosaurus? for Miss Shadow and a glossy blue and orange triceratops for Mr Nosey. There were many happy squeakings this afternoon.

Books of May

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.

The Tyranny of Distance: How Distance Shaped Australia's History by Geoffrey Blainey

Australian Children Through 200 Years by Suzane Fabian

Australian Transport Through Two Hundred Years by Brian Carroll

The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty by Caroline Alexander

In the Heart of the Sea: The Epic True Story That Inspired Moby-Dick by Nathaniel Philbrick

Hen Frigates: Wives Of Merchant Captains Under Sail by Joan Druett

Bite Me (Pride, #9) by Shelly Laurenston


Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson, #5) by Patricia Briggs

A Bite to Remember (Argeneau, #5) by Lynsay Sands

Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega rereads

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, #1)
Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, #2)
Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson, #3)
Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, #4)
Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega, #1)
Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, #2)
Fair Game (Alpha & Omega, #3)
Alpha & Omega
short stories in On the Prowl and Strange Brew
venetia_sassy: (SH // Gladstone oh no! dead dog?)
Books of April

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.

The Fatal Shore: A History of the Transportation of Convicts to Australia, 1787-1868 by Robert Hughes
The classic history of Australian transportation and settlement. And it's a classic for a reason, I can't believe I hadn't read it before. It's not difficult to read but it was so dense with ideas and information that it took me awhile to get through it. Highly recommended.

Savage or Civilised?: Manners in Colonial Australia by Penny Russell
Odd book, I was never quite sure of the what the author was trying to say. It offered some very interesting glimpses into Australian history but how they all connected, I'm not sure. It was an easy enough read, once I got used to the author's verbosity. I read a particularly convoluted passage out to Mum and she said:

"That was very ... uni."

"She's an Associate Professor."

"Ah. That would explain it."


Reread Shelly Laurenston's Pride series in preparation for the 9th and possibly final book coming out in May.

The Mane Event (Pride, #1)
The Beast in Him (Pride, #2)
The Mane Attraction (Pride, #3)
The Mane Squeeze (Pride, #4)
Beast Behaving Badly (Pride, #5)
Big Bad Beast (Pride, #6)
Bear Meets Girl (Pride, #7)
Wolf with Benefits (Pride, #8)

When He Was Bad (Magnus Pack #3.5)

These books are utter crack and I adore them. The worldbuilding is slight, the plots are mostly vehicles for the snark, the characters are batshit awesome and the friendships and relationships are fantastic. And there are more than just the usual big cat and wolf shapeshifters - all kinds of bears, foxes, hyenas, wild dogs, jackals, etc, plus hybrids. And all have different social structures. That aspect of world building is excellent.

I gave an mostly impromptu mini-pimp for the series at SinpOz in June (start with Book #4!) Partly to encourage other people to read the books but mostly because I really, really want a Hockey RPF fusion or crossover fic. There's have a shapeshifter hockey league, okay?!?!
venetia_sassy: (MLP // shake it off)
Poor hounds are greatly unimpressed after suffering a bath today. But they are all clean and soft and silky now - and Mr Nosey's post-bath extended booty shake was his most magnificent yet!

Books of March

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.

Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts

Concealed in Death (In Death #38) by J.D. Robb

J.D. Robb rereads
I did my major reread and catch-up last year and continue to profess my deep love for the Dallas&Peabody friendship/partnership and the way these characters and relationships grow and change.

His Burial Too (Inspector Sloan #5) by Catherine Aird

Death by Darjeeling (A Tea Shop Mystery #1) by Laura Childs - DNF
The first chapter was so excruciatingly twee I couldn't read any further.

A Fever in the Heart: And Other True Cases (Crime Files #3) by Ann Rule

Notorious Australian Women by Kay Saunders

The Complete Book of Great Australian Women: Thirty-six women who changed the course of Australia by Susanna de Vries

The Ship Thieves: The True Tale Of James Porter, Colonial Pirate by Siân Rees
A frightening introduction to brutality of the Australian transportation system. My favourite part though, was about two pages worth a British official and a Chilean official going back and forth over legalities and logistics regarding the escapees. You could almost hear the British guy having apoplexy. I have to wonder if the Chileans a) really were that inefficient, b) just didn't give a shit or c) they enjoyed fucking with him. It was hilarious.

Tasmania's Convicts: How Felons Built a Free Society by Alison Alexander

The French Explorers and Sydney by Colin Dyer

Bound for Botany Bay: British Convict Voyages to Australia by Alan Brooke
venetia_sassy: (101 Dalmatians // woeful puppies)
My health has been utterly for shit this year and every time it seems to be getting better, something else goes wrong. I am Not Pleased. That is not say that everything this year has been awful, there have been a number of good things but I remain mostly incoherent with the brain fog so writing is difficult.

I have joined Tumblr - [ profile] venetia-sassy - and liking and reblogging is soothing and grants a (minimal) degree of fannish interaction at least. I've found several of you over there; if there's anyone else, let me know?

To try to get back to posting here again, month-by-month catch-ups for the Wednesday Reading Meme.

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.

Remaining books of February

The Balloonists: The History of the First Aeronauts by L.T.C Rolt
Did you know that during the Siege of Paris 1870-71, balloons were used to airlift people and mail out of Paris? I did not know that.

The Doctor Wore Petticoats: Women Physicians of the Old West by Chris Enss

The Women's West by Susan H. Armitage (Editor), Elizabeth Jameson

Rereads of Ngaio Marsh's Inspector Alleyn mysteries. I think I read most of them. I still don't have the last two omnibuses with the final five novels.
venetia_sassy: (Images // tea)
What I've just finished reading

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast by Lewis Wolpert

I nearly dropped this one when there was a mention of evolutionary psychology but I persevered. The author's ideas about beliefs, how they're formed, why science often seems so contrary to 'common sense', about causal beliefs being related to toolmaking, were all quite fascinating. After that, it all became quite messy as the author discussed beliefs in specific areas and I felt like I was getting a good look at the author's belief-set.

Nothing Like it in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-69 by Stephen E. Ambrose

Mediocre coverage of a fascinating subject. The transcontinental railroad was an incredible feat and the fact that it was all done by hand labour is breathtaking. I'd love to read a book that really looked at the men who built it rather than constantly talking about how much everything cost.

NB: According to reviews, the book contains a considerable number of errors so I really want to read a different book now.

Raffles and the Golden Opportunity by Victoria Glendinning

Raffles was a man born slightly too soon. He should have been born in Queen Victoria's age of empire-building. As it was, he had the ideas and the drive but minimal if any support and how the man did not have multiple nervous breakdowns, I have no idea. At the worst point, he and his second wife lost three of their four children in six months (a fifth would die in infancy.) The ship they boarded to take them back to England, where they would be reunited with their one remaining child, caught fire and sank. All of their possessions, including a collection of art and natural history specimens and all of Raffles' manuscripts, were destroyed.

The Ice Balloon: One Man's Dramatic Attempt to Discover the North Pole by Balloon by Alec Wilkinson

A fascinating story that was less preposterous - and more tragic - than it sounded. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for a whole book so the author included more information about the Artic and other expeditions. This can be done well but here it was very choppy. Still, I enjoyed it.

I reread Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded by Simon Winchester. My recollection was that I hadn't enjoyed the science parts very much and that was still the case. I was surprised, since I liked The Crack in the Edge of the World so much. I read some reviews that said Winchester had recycled Krakatoa's plate tectonics material for Edge but I don't think so. Both books do discuss plate tectonics and New Geology but in Krakatoa it's from the angle of volcanoes and in Edge, it's earthquakes. Rather different! I just didn't find the science parts as interesting for some reason. I also found Winchester's attitude towards modern Jakarta, Islam, Indonesian history, etc, somewhat patronising.

What I'm reading now

The Balloonists: The History of the First Aeronauts by L.T.C Rolt

What I'm reading next

No idea!
venetia_sassy: (Images // reading)
What I've just finished reading

The Skeptic's Guide to the Paranormal by Lynne Kelly

I enjoyed this. Good, steady look at various 'supernatural' and 'paranormal' phenomena and how they can/have been explained. Particularly liked the ones on UFOs, Roswell, cold-reading, numerology and walking on hot coals.

Poltergeists And The Paranormal by Reuben Stone

Reading this right after The Skeptic's Guide nearly gave me whiplash. Too sensationalist in tone for me take it seriously for the most part but the chapters on weird rains and timeslips were intriguing.

Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science by Jeff Meldrum

Oddly, Sasquatch et al. was the subject of one of the few short chapters in The Skeptic's Guide and was dismissed as being the result a few hoaxes and some misidentified footprints. That's all I ever thought of it as. After reading this book, I won't be surprised if a surviving or recently extinct great ape of some kind is discovered, whether in North America or somewhere else. The author is a scientist and while I did get rather tired of reading about all the implications of various kinds of footprints, that is his specialty. I would have been interested in a deeper look at the media reactions to reports of 'Bigfoot' and 'Sasquatch' and how they have influenced the scientific establishment's response to the idea.

Cowgirls, Cockroaches and Celebrity Lingerie: The World's Most Unusual Museums by Michelle Lovric

Very lightweight look at some of the unusual museums around the world. Fun but not memorable.

A Crack in the Edge of the World: The Great American Earthquake of 1906 by Simon Winchester

This book is done a disservice by its title and blurb. If you're looking for a social history of the San Francisco earthquake and the aftermath (which I would love to read!), you might think you've found it with this - but you haven't. A Crack in the Edge of the World is a history of New Geology, plate tectonics, the San Andreas fault, the settlement of California - all through the focus of the 1906 earthquake. It's absolutely fascinating and there is a good deal of social history as well (the gold rush, Angel Island and the Chinese settlers of San Francisco, the spin doctoring to keep San Francisco from being seen as earthquake-prone) but the book isn't focused on that. I still loved it. Although be warned, Winchester never met a thesaurus he didn't like. AT least he uses the words correctly ...

What I'm reading now

Nothing Like it in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-69 by Stephen E. Ambrose

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast by Lewis Wolpert

What I'm reading next

What's in the next meme!
venetia_sassy: (Images // tea)
What I've just finished reading

The Australian Book Of True Crime by Larry Writer

Really enjoyed this. Solid writing, a good range of cases including quite a few I'd never heard of (and why had I never heard of the Lesbian Vampire Killers?) although I was surprised Ivan Milat of the Backpacker Murders wasn't included.

The Museum of Hoaxes by Alex Boese

According to my Goodreads shelves I had read this before but I couldn't remember it. Entertaining light read covering hoaxes throughout history and looking at the differences in hoaxes from different periods.

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson

I usually enjoy Bryson's writing and I enjoyed this. America was in a time of amazing change and the way he shows it is well done. The personalities who come through the page all seem so real - Hoover was a very odd man; I kind of wanted to pat Coolidge on the head; I never knew anything about Babe Ruth besides 'baseball player' before this but pro sports is still throwing young guys in the deep end, isn't it?; whatever Charles Lindbergh later became, I felt so sorry for him by the end of the summer! Once a person becomes a 'celebrity', their treatment as a human being seems to go out the window.

Radio, movies, Hollywood, the seed of the Great Depression, the beginning of commercial aviation, Mount Rushmore, Prohibition, Al Capone ... it was quite a summer.

I did find the narrative a bit jumpy and hard to follow at times but my copy was an uncorrected proof and I'm not sure if it was the final text. It did have some obvious spelling and setting errors.

Ghosts of New York by Susan Blackhall

Light, chatty accounts of well-known New York ghosts. A couple were genuinely creepy, a few were intriguing enough to make me want to know more. Mostly for ghost or New York buffs.

13: The Story of the World's Most Popular Superstition by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer

Again, I 'shelved' this as read but I only remember the first chapter. Interesting look at how recent the unlucky 13 superstition really is and Friday the 13th, even more so. In this day and age, it's a little unnerving how widely a superstition can spread via mass media, even replacing local superstitions.

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach

I really enjoyed Stiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers but I was mostly 'meh' about this one. Too much of the author trying to be funny, not enough trying to sort out what was going on.

Will Storr Versus The Supernatural by Will Storr

Much better. Again, 'shelved' as read but I only remembered the first chapter. I was fascinated by Storr's journey from total skeptic to possible believer (but still skeptical.) He never seemed to be writing for effect. He was respectful of all those he met along the way, even when they seemed like utter lunatics to me. But I was left queasy by the final story - what happened to Denzel? Whatever was going on, it didn't sound like he'd be safe around his mother or priest.

Lily Dale: The True Story of the Town that Talks to the Dead by Christine Wicker

I wish she'd picked a timeline and stuck to it. Just when I'd be getting into someone's story, she'd abruptly end the chapter and switch to a totally different person or experience. By the time that person's story came around again, it would feel out of the blue. Lily Dale sounds like a fascinating place with a fascinating history but I found this book - which is really more of a memoir - quite muddled. Then again, maybe that suits Lily Dale.

Reread Affluenza by Oliver James. I remembered I'd read this as well as the Clive Hamilton book and got it out to skim again. Ah. That would be why I'd rated it two stars. Decent ideas but wrapped up in a whole lot of arrogant, self-satisfied, pompous ... go for the Clive Hamilton book. Far less annoying and a lot shorter.

What I'm reading now

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

I started this last week but haven't opened it again this week, just buried myself in the non-fiction.

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast by Lewis Wolpert

Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science by Jeff Meldrum

What I'm reading next

No idea!
venetia_sassy: (Images // tea)
What I've just finished reading

Fool's War by Sarah Zettel

I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. Cool female characters including a Muslim ship owner/engineer whose marriage is primarily long-distance. The plot, involving sentient AIs, does get very interesting - but it took so long to get there! I don't know if this is a hard SF thing but the endless descriptions and nit-picking details about How Everything Works - the space station, the ship, the next station, the information streams, the settlement - took so long and bogged the story down. I wound up flicking ahead to see if got interesting. I spoiled myself thoroughly but yep, it got interesting. I just had to wade through all the excess detail to find the story.

Reread of ridiculously charming The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer as palate cleanser after Burke and Hare. One of my Top 10 Heyers.

Burke & Hare by Owen Dudley Edwards

This took me days to slog through and I could rant about it for awhile but suffice to say the author is exceedingly verbose and thinks very highly of his own opinions. Biased is putting it mildly (but he accuses other historians of it and dismisses their conclusions on this basis!) I still feel like I know very little about Burke and Hare as they seemed to get lost in the author's side issues.

Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough by Clive Hamilton

Not the book by Oliver James but a book from 2005 with an Australian focus. Nothing really new to me but it confirmed how much we've shifted from the 'Aussie battler' to the 'Aussie whinger' - helped along by politicians playing up the former ideal. It would be interesting to see an update post-GFC. Try reminding Australians we are a wealthy country that weathered the GFC in remarkably good shape thanks to Labor. Hah.

Cold Cases: On The Trail Of Justice by Charlotte Greig

Lightweight coverage of cold cases solved by a variety of techniques, with cases reopened for different reasons. Sloppy editing.

What I'm reading now

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Gangsters Encyclopedia by Michael Newton

What I'm reading next

Fiction by a known author and a lighter non-fiction, I expect.


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December 2016

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