Reading List 2018 – February

A short month, with a short reading list. I’ve been having daily headaches, thanks to a recurrence of my IIH (whiny post about that to come!) so my ability to read has been somewhat limited. Especially because unconsciousness seems to be the only way to relieve the pain. Ah, bless. Anyway!

There are a few books I need to give the double thumbs up to this month. The first is The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch. More post-apocalypse sci-fi (I don’t know how I end up reading so many of these sorts of books), this is an ecofeminist’s nerdy dream of a novel. I loved it. It was poetic and deep and moving and brutal. I think it would be an amazing movie. One day!

The second book I recommend is Bird Box by Josh Malerman. This one is post-apocalypse horror (ha!) and just the premise is SO CREEPY – a world where you can’t open your eyes because seeing the monster will kill you. Like, god. I didn’t know whether to sleep with the lights on, or a blindfold.

The third is a YA romance, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, that made me feel things. Nice things. For what it’s worth, my depression has been kicking my ass, so feeling nice things is amazing and wonderful. Also, this book is the best bits of being a teen in love juxtaposed with the worst bits of being a person dealing with other people. Plus, fat redhead weirdo poor girl falls in love with a skinny punk Korean rich boy in the ’80s? I’m here for it.

Modern Tarot by Michelle Tea
The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch
Burials by Mary Anna Evans
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning
Faefever by Karen Marie Moning
Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning
Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning
Woman Most Wild by Danielle Dulsky
Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole
American Witches by Susan Fair
For Real by Alexis Hall
Sacred Sins by Nora Roberts
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
The Darkest Corner by Liliana Hart
The Last Mile by David Baldacci
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
P is for Peril by Sue Grafton

18 in total. Thanks to Rebecca T. for the Fever series rec.

Reading List 2018 – January

In 2017, I finished 234 books. Let’s see if we can top that.

I got addicted to Sue Grafton, I admit it. Her Kinsey Millhone alphabet series is really enthralling; a female PI investigating all sorts of mysterious and murderous cases in ’80s South California. The writing style is easy, the characters are recognisably individual, and the plots for the most part flow fast and smooth. They make for a great read.

I also decided to dip my toes into the genre of romance. Primarily written by women for women, it’s a genre that’s often dismissed for reasons that are decidedly unfeminist, so I thought I’d seek some recommendations and give them a go. Certainly, I’ve enjoyed non-genre-specific romantic stuff in the past, as well as things like Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series, the classics by Austen and the Brontes, some YA stuff, and a couple of Anita Shreve novels. So I picked up Kresley Cole’s first book in her “Warlord” series, but it’s not my cup of tea… True to form, I enjoyed her Young Adult post-apocalypse/fantasy novel Poison Princess far more.

Aside from that, I’ve been picking up some tarot gems on Overdrive, especially the Jodorowsky which has made me long for a Tarot de Marseille deck, and then it’s my usual mix of whatever takes my fancy. I would like to especially recommend the sci-fi Hammerfall by C.J. Cherryh as it’s really diverse and colourful and dark.

So far this year, I’ve finished:

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole
Hammerfall by C.J. Cherryh
The River King by Alice Hoffman
Poison Princess by Kresley Cole
B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton
C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Eyes of the Tarot by Bruce Coville
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson
The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks
D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton
E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton
F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton
G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton
H is for Homicide by Sue Grafton
Who Are You in the Tarot? by Mary Greer
I is for Innocent by Sue Grafton
J is for Judgement by Sue Grafton
K is for Killer by Sue Grafton
L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton
M is for Malice by Sue Grafton
N is for Noose by Sue Grafton
O is for Outlaw by Sue Grafton
Blood Red Roses by Lin Anderson
Endless Knight by Kresley Cole
Driftnet by Lin Anderson
Torch by Lin Anderson
Deadly Code by Lin Anderson
Dark Flight by Lin Anderson
The Special Dead by Lin Anderson
The Way of Tarot by Alejandro Jodorowsky

33 in total. Thanks to Jinny for the Kresley Cole rec.


A Writers Group Prompt – Cafe Review

Coffee Club.

When we arrive at the Coffee Club, I’m tired, overheated and sweaty from a particularly hard session with my rehab physio – never an enjoyable experience, today’s workout was made worse by summer heat and lack of air-con.

I’ve stolen hubby away from work to have a quick lunch break, but I can tell by the deep V of a frown line that he’s doing his multi-tasking worrier trick; thinking about projects to be finished, clients to be billed, and packages to be sent, even as he decides on a coffee. I send him to the balcony outside to find us a table, and peruse the cabinet of food.

There’s a trolley parked almost blocking the till, piled high with cardboard and a black bag of trash. I edge away from it, revolted mostly because I’m cranky and therefore prone to revolting.

The barista greets me, but I still haven’t decided what I want, so I don’t reply. Then it registers how rude I’m being, and I remember those good ol’ days when I worked in a cafe and customers ignored me. Good is definitely a euphemism. I try to make up for it by forcing myself to smile as I order, but the smile disappears when my card is declined.

Blushing redder than the raspberry-topped muffins that sit in front of the till, I realise I’m using the wrong card – hubby has the correct one, and now he’s nowhere to be seen. I try the trick of struggling small business owners worldwide, and whip out my phone to transfer money across accounts, but the bank isn’t playing ball today, and my card declines again.

The patient barista takes pity on me, and gently suggests I pay on the way out. She hands me a table number, and I scurry outside, embarrassed but grateful, and trying not to make eye contact with anyone.

I nearly fall over a vacuum cleaner that someone has left in an aisle, so when I make it to our table, I’m short-tempered indeed. But it doesn’t take the staff long to brew up our trim no-whip mocha frappes and heat a couple of muffins, so my grumpiness is quickly turned into delight. The drinks are perfect: sweet and creamy and oh-so-cool. The muffins, one orange poppy seed and one apple & cinnamon, are fresh and delicious. Hubby and I go halves on each, so as I enjoy the feel of poppy seeds popping between my teeth, he drools over the oat crumble that tops the other muffin.

A staff member seems to appear from nowhere, smiling and nodding politely at us as he moves the vacuum cleaner out of the way.

These franchised cafes can be a bit hit and miss, but Albany’s Coffee Club has definitely scored a hit today. When we leave, I’m happy and refreshed, and thank the servers as we leave.

Best of all, hubby picks up the tab.

Written 3 February 2017 for a Writers Group.

A Writers Group Prompt – Matariki + Horoscope

The Little Eyes See All.

Sometimes she thinks that the inevitable end of her union with her husband was heralded by the birth of their children. It was unavoidable that her attention, mental and physical, would be drawn to the care and raising of those helpless babies.

She knows that, and yet in her depths she mourns the loss of that intense connection shared only by the two of them. They had been each other’s entire world, and now the aching distance between them is breached only by the demands of their offspring.

She worries sometimes about her stormy middle child, who loudly and violently expresses his anger over the separation. Alone of his siblings, he is blind to the necessity and benefits of the divorcement. When he throws those fierce tantrums, she soothes him as only a mother can. She knows that he too mourns for those days of closeness. But the others, auē! His brothers and sisters rejoiced when their father finally took his leave, and frequently reassure their mother that it was for the best.

At night she still dreams of her husband’s embrace, and in the morning as she watches the sun rise into the sky, she wonders whether he too reminisces fondly. Sometimes, when it rains, she imagines him weeping for her, and it is a comfort of sorts.

But during the day she works as she always has, and cares for their tamariki as best she can. In truth, she openly cherishes her children as her greatest joy and it is in her hidden heart that she laments the changes they have wrought. And if she never mentions that part of the reason she takes such delight in her children is that they often remind her of their father, it is because that is a blessing she is happy to hold close.

Sometimes she thinks that her children know her secrets anyway, and then Papatūānuku does not attempt to conceal her sighs as she yearns for her husband’s warmth, and the earth heaves and strains to reach the sky.

Inspired primarily by Matariki – the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades which rise in mid-winter. Matariki literally means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki). According to myth, when Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, were separated by their children, the god of the winds, Tāwhirimātea, became so angry that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens.

Inspired also by a Scorpio horoscope which warned of an interfering third partner between two people who were unlucky in love.