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What I'm reading, what I'm thinking of reading & what I've read. And stuff.

Currently reading

Dessert divas
Christine Manfield
A Man on the Moon
Andrew Chaikin
"You've got a good brain. With a free hand I could mould you into something special."
The Affair of the Mutiliated Mink (Burford Family Mysteries, #2) - James Anderson



Hugh, you are such a charmer. What woman could resist that offer?

Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Rising - Pam Muñoz Ryan, Trini Alvarado

What a beautiful book. I came across this in the library catalogue while looking for a HF set in North America for a reading challenge. The story tells of Esperanza's journey from a life of privilege as the daughter of a wealthy land owner in post-revolution Mexico to farm worker in California. It's a charming story, and while clearly aimed at young teen readers I enjoyed it very much, learning about a bit of history of which I was entirely ignorant.

The audio performance by Trini Alvarado was very good, and there was an Author's note - read by the author herself- at the end of the CD, where she described how the story was inspired by the life of her own grandmother.


The Food Truck cookbook #1: master post

The Food Truck Cookbook - Michael Van de Elzen

Overall conclusion: For food that is supposed to be replacing takeaways or fast food, the recipes in this book are too complicated, take too long & have too many ingredients that are expensive (almond butter) or difficult to find. I only tried a few recipes out, as most seemed not worth the effort, or just sounded horrible. Of the ones I tried the butter chicken was very good (but I simplified it by not making my own curry powder), and the chilli chicken was OK, but needed work (not hot enough, and some odd flavours). I think this book works well as a concept, but not so much as an actual recipe book, and I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone.


Earlier instalments of this review follow...

read more »
Flow Down Like Silver (Hypatia of Alexandria) - Ki Longfellow
"Students curve round me as a cat's tail curves round a seated cat. Half the Caesarium is filled."

slow reading week...

Flow Down Like Silver (Hypatia of Alexandria) - Ki Longfellow Esperanza Rising - Pam Muñoz Ryan, Trini Alvarado Playing Games (A Games Novel) (Volume 2) - Jessica Clare,  'Jill Myles'

Sigh, being back at work has really slowed the reading back down. Never mind. For some reason Flow Down Like Silver  has been slow going. I'm enjoying it very well, but I regularly find myself reading back over paragraphs to see what more I can get from them - close reading I guess rather than the usual casual flit through. I might have to post some quotes, as there have been some crackers. Still at least a couple of weeks reading here.


Esperanza Rising has been an unexpected treasure. I can't quite remember how I stumbled across it - the online version of browsing the library I think. I was looking for a Historical Fiction set in the Americas for a reading challenge and found this. A lovely story, and the audio performance is wonderful. It's an odd juxtaposition to be reading this so soon after The Road to Wigan Pier, and the similarities & contrasts between the Mexican & other migrant labourers in California's central valley with the mining communities in the north of England are most interesting.


And I finally got around to buying Playing Games, having read and enjoyed the first in the series - Wicked Games very much. Nice to see the main characters from Wicked Games feature in Playing Games.


Next up... no idea what's next up!

Mmmmm... Socialism.

The Road to Wigan Pier - George Orwell

Really interesting on a number of fronts - the first section, with the descriptions of the lives of the working & unemployed poor in 1930s north of England was beyond fascinating. It was also really interesting to hear Orwell's predictions for the future of the 20th century with the benefit knowing how it all turned out. I think some of what he says towards the end of the book about the way socialism alienates their natural allies in the middle classes still rings true. The right wing government currently persecuting beneficiaries, the unemployed and the working poor in my own countries is regularly supported by those who get no love from their policies.

I must mention the 3rd point of interest, which is the way writing has changed in 75 years. In particular I was amused by the casual inclusion for gender, cultural and racial stereotyping that would be unacceptable in a serious political discourse these days.


Audiobook performance from Jeremy Northam was extremely good.

Before page one.

What are you missing when your kindle automatically opens a new book to the first page of the first chapter?

Stumbled across this via FB. I only have a kindle reader on my phone rather than an actual kindle but thought this was pretty interesting.

Source: http://historicalfictionresearch.blogspot.co.nz/2013/10/readers-what-are-you-missing-thats-just.html

Arrgh! How did I get so many books in my currently reading pile?

Burning Up (Berkley Sensation) -  'Meljean Brook',  'Virginia Kantra', 'Angela Knight', Nalini Singh The Food Truck Cookbook - Michael Van de Elzen Flow Down Like Silver (Hypatia of Alexandria) - Ki Longfellow The Road to Wigan Pier - George Orwell The Keeper of Secrets - Julie  Thomas

So, 2nd week of the holidays, & I've been doing a few other things rather than just reading. I've been pretty good at starting books this week though. After finishing my previous audiobook, I have now started The Road to Wigan Pier, which has been pretty interesting. It got a bit confusing when I stuck the wrong CD into the player while driving home this evening, and I listened to 20 minutes of it before I realised what I'd done. Duh. I thought it had been a rather abrupt change of topic! Still, lacking much in the way of a plot it's not actually made much difference to the listening experience. Jeremy Northam is doing excellent work as the reader.

I started reading Flow Down Like Silver, then realised that the other novel I have out of the library has a long waiting list and therefore it would be more sensible to read it first... so FDLS is now on the back burner while I knock off The Keeper of Secrets. I'm about half way through, and the story has sucked me in to the extent that I'm no longer feeling as irritated by some aspects of the writing as I was in the early chapters. The story is about a violin that is looted from it's German-Jewish owner during the war, and its journey back to the family 70 years later.

 I started reading Burning Up for the first "Iron Seas" novella, which was OK, but nowhere near as good as The Iron Duke. I'm interested in the Angela Knight too, as I've not read anything of hers that wasn't Mageverse, so that could be interesting. Not going to bother with the Nalini Singh; she's too dark for my taste.


And then there's the cookbook, which I'm continuing to try out, though I've already decided I won't be buying a copy.


The Last Coyote - Harry Bosch #4

The Last Coyote - Michael Connelly, Dick Hill

This is the 5th Michael Connelly book I've read, and I'm starting to think he's a bit of a genius. I loved the portrayal of the post-earthquake LA, and the resonances I get with the ongoing situation in Christchurch (where 2 1/2 years later there are still ongoing conflicts over red-stickered homes, Govt forced acquisition of land, school closures and amalgamations, and so forth). I loved the journey he took us on with Harry, back into his past, and the fact that he wasn't scared to leave him in an uncertain place (tho given there's another 14 books after this one I figure Harry will not be hanging up his badge. This book seems full of emotion, full of relationship stuff as well as the standard danger, excitement, red herrings, dead ends and other real wild things.

The performance by Dick Hill as the reader for this audiobook is excellent as usual.

I'm going to have to start reading these a bit faster than one per year, or I'll never catch up...

Burning Up (Berkley Sensation) -  'Meljean Brook',  'Virginia Kantra', 'Angela Knight', Nalini Singh

Damnit. Yes, I've started another book - this one feeding my Iron Seas fever.

Flow Down Like Silver: master post

Flow Down Like Silver (Hypatia of Alexandria) - Ki Longfellow

Update 1: October 2nd.

So, I started reading this sitting in the sun of the porch this afternoon. Opening scene is a burning library, with numerous people desperately trying to rescue irreplaceable books. It is implied the tyrannical emperor is responsible (but I've only read a half-dozen pages, so I have no idea if this is true...)

... And I find myself thinking "Goodreads..."

The Iron Duke

Iron Duke - Meljean Brook

Wow, that was a bit of a ride - a great yarn set in a fabulously interesting alternate history. While steampunk is generally associated with the Victorian period, history has diverted so far from it's true course that it is difficult to know the exact time setting. I did squee with a bit of excitement when a navy ship named Endeavour - and an ex collier at that - was mentioned, but I doubt that's enough to pin the timeframe down to the 18th century.

It seemed that there was a lot of substance in this book for something that my library has catalogued as a romance... or perhaps my attitude insults the genre. It did feel that the romance was a sub-plot to the main mystery/adventure plot through most of the book.

I was pretty much totally in love with the book, from the cover (which I may have mentioned previously) onwards... right up until the last chapter, when I kinda crossed the Duke off my book boyfriends list (no, I don't actually have a book boyfriends list). If you have read it you'll know what I mean, if not... well, go read the book because it's worth it anyhow!


(Also very nice to get the little bonus at the end of a preview of the next book, which at least explained why Fox was behaving like such an ass when Yasmeen picked him up.)

Holiday time = reading time

The Weaver's Tale (Roger the chapman, #3) - Kate Sedley The Last Coyote - Michael Connelly, Dick Hill Iron Duke - Meljean Brook

It's the first weekend of a fortnight of school holidays, so like any self respecting teacher I am ignoring the schoolwork for a couple of days and spending my time with my nose in a book. 

First up, finishing "The Weaver's Tale" by Kate Sedley. I only had a couple of chapters left of this, so it was knocked off pretty early on this morning. The third in the "Roger the Chapman" series, this was a pretty lightweight volume. It felt as if I could just about read it with my eyes shut. Still, it gave us some background on our narrator, which will be of use in his ongoing story. My next challenge is to find the next in the series, which my stupid library doesn't appear to possess.

I had great intentions of carving a whacking great chunk out of "The Last Coyote" today, too, which I have on audiobook. But no, I ended up spending far too much of my time finding my way around BookLikes to be able to listen to a book.

Ah, sigh. I'm pretty much in love with "The Iron Duke". And I shamefully admit I'm so in love with this cover that it is currently my laptop wallpaper. *sigh*. Yep, totally does it for me. And I'm finding the story totally engrossing. Loving the setting, the humour, the characters. I'm less than halfway through so far, so not yet having to be torn between reading it as fast as I can, and making the goodness last!

Magic Rises

Magic Rises -  Ilona Andrews

Kate's world just keeps getting more interesting.

a single slice of foretold

Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy and Prediction - Diana Peterfreund, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Matt de la Pena, Simone Elkeles, Heather Brewer, Laini Taylor, Michael  Grant, Saundra Mitchell, Carrie Ryan, Lisa McMann, Malinda Lo, Richelle Mead

Only read the Richelle Mead in the end, which I really enjoyed, but don't think I can rate the entire volume on the basis of one story.

This Time

This Time - Joan Szechtman

Loved the idea. not so thrilled about where we ended up going. And totally not convinced by some of the time-frames. Man who has never seen motorised vehicles before learns to drive in... holy cow, I didn't actually stop to work it our, but it felt like about a week. Within a month of arriving in modern times, but given that he'd been on the run, shot & hospitalised, settled a court case, & travelled to the other side of the country in that time as well forgive me for being a bit sceptical. The inclusion of a love story in the book annoyed the pants off me, but I think I can understand at least part of the author's motivation for including it. Sadly, for me it did bring a saccharine flavour to the prose.
At times I struggled to keep reading, putting the book aside for several months at one point, and had to force myself to read the last 50 pages. But all in all it is an interesting idea, and I dare say I shall read the follow-up at some point.