Saturday, February 23, 2013

Teddy Bears' Picnic 2013

Today I was volunteering for the National Trust at the Rippon Lea House and Garden's annual Teddy Bears' Picnic!

Here are some shots of the garden including the waterfall and fernery:

My husband was dutifully bear-sitting (and taking these photos) all day while I was working.

He also made sure Graduation Bear had a healthy lunch of...what else but Tiny Teddies!

Meanwhile my first job was minding the Ripplea Bear and making sure he got as many cuddles as possible.

There were lots of things for the kids to do...

...and Peppa Pig even came to visit!

My last job for the day was saying goodbye to all our picnic guests and stamping them with Ripplea Bear's paw-print.

A hot, but very fun day!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Since it has been awhile since my last post I thought I would supply a brief life update:

WORK: This year I have been very busy getting some valuable academic work experience. I have been guest editing an edition of Monash University's journal Colloquy: text theory critique, which should be hitting the presses within the next few months. I have also been teaching for various faculties at both Monash and Deakin Universities including the...

Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies
School of English, Communications and Performance Studies
Faculty of Science Core
School of Mathematical Sciences
School of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine
School of Biomedical Sciences
School of Life and Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Science and Technology

I completed a research assistant contract with the School of English, Communications and Performance Studies at the end of last year and have since been working as a research assistant for the Faculty of Business and Economics in the Centre for Health Economics at Monash. Both have been very valuable experiences.

Diversity is the spice of life and all that...

STUDY: I am currently finishing my last coursework unit for my Masters of Bioethics and have already been accepting into the PhD program in the Centre for Human Bioethics at Monash. My commencement date is December 10th, 2012. I also completed my Bachelor of Arts a few months ago and am just waiting for the additional piece of paper to add to my wall collection. My PhD will be focused on medical ethics in science fiction (thereby making it the most awesome PhD ever!)

TRAVEL: In about 6 weeks my husband and I are travelling to Toronto, Canada for the World Fantasy convention. After a month in Canada we will be headed to New York for a few days and then finishing up in Paris. I am already having great difficulty deciding which books to there will need to be many!

That's it for now...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Books I read in 2012 Part 1

January 1 - June 30

100 Quotations to make you think - Wolfgang Riebe

Exactly what it says on the box this book contains 100 quotations of varying lengths, all attempting to be very profound. They are not original but my favourite is definitely: "Before you judge someone you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you judge them they are a mile away and you have their shoes."

6 Geese a-laying - Sophie Kinsella

This tale contains the "Ghost of Babies Yet to Come" a dark-clad figure who visits an antenatal class and shows the women their futures. Not one lady among them has the labour she planned and overall the story is rather depressing with only one positive outcome. Perhaps it was going for realism rather than heartfelt Christmas cheer?

Diary of a Wombat - Jackie French

Hilarious children's picture book. Thoroughly recommend it to all.

101 tips for travelling with a vampire - Joleene Naylor

A funny little book containing travel hints for the undead. Really gets into the specifics of interspecies relationships and the kind of difficulties that can arise from cultural misunderstandings! Mostly it's just a travel guide that has been slightly altered to appeal to Twilight fans though.

Lady Susan - Jane Austen

Very humorous series of letters detailing the sordid intrigues of a seductress. Was surprised by how funny this short collection is. Thoroughly recommend it for any Austen fan that has overlooked it.

Utopia - Thomas More

Deeply disturbing utopian vision which includes lopping off the ears of slaves and bribing neighbouring citizens to risk death in battle. A lot of the tale was quite offensive but some parts did make sense.

Cupid Cats - anthology

Bought for the Katie MacAlister story but all three tales were good. MacAlister's tale is about a vampire who somehow becomes a were-jaguar, Connie Brockway's story involves a single dad finding love with a scientist possessing all the social skills of Dr "Bones" Brennan, and Vicki Lewis Thompson's story is about high school sweethearts reuniting. The common thread is a cat shelter, although each author paints a different picture of it.

Sayings of Confucius

Not exactly earth-shattering gems of wisdom but still vaguely interesting.

Third Class on Indian Railways - Mahatma Ghandi

Very eloquent appeal regarding the need to improve the poor conditions of third class passengers. Manages to cover aspects of unsanitary living conditions, corruption, overcrowding, unhygienic food preparation and disease while still sounding dignified.

35 tips on saving money - Wolfgang Riebe

Nothing particularly new here, although one interesting claim is made regarding credit card interest rates that I intend to verify. Contains numerous typographical errors which hinders reading.

Not a lot of people know that - Hailwood and Riley

A funny little book pretending to be a collection of trivia. Was surprised by how funny some of the "facts" are.

Fallen - Lauren Kate

* Review available in Dark Matter Fanzine

Torment - Lauren Kate

* as above

Passion - Lauren Kate

* as above

Fallen in Love - Lauren Kate

* as above

How to live safely in a science fictional universe - Charles Yu

A book that is almost impossible to review (you just have to read it) I will however state that the writing is very poignant. There is a depth to the emotional aspect of the novel that quite took me by surprise given the premise (a time machine repairman that kills his future self). Very interesting use of print material, including the arrangement of pages, typography etc. Highly recommended.

Soulless: Book 1 of the Parasol Protectorate - Gail Carringer

After having this book on the shelf for so long I finally got to read it! It was as hilarious as I was promised, particularly in the first few chapters. Quite an addictive read, this steam punk paranormal romance is definitely worth picking up. Unfortunately I will not be reading the rest of the series as it apparently commits the heinous crime of extending the primary couple's romantic narrative by introducing irritating obstacles and misunderstandings to drag out the story to fill multiple novels. Would have much preferred a new couple in each instalment just set in the same fictional universe.

The girl who circumnagivated fairyland in a ship of her own making - Cat Valente

After meeting Cat Valente at Aussiecon 4 I really wanted to read one of her stories and this one sounded amazing. A fairy story that is aimed at a mixed audience and contains beautiful artwork this book is highly recommended.

Blood Rights - Kristen Painter

* Review available in Dark Matter Fanzine

Gladiatrix - Rhonda Roberts

* as above

Nightshade - Andrea Cremer

* as above

Wolfsbane - Andrea Cremer

* as above

Monster High #3 - Lisi Harrison

* as above

Wanted: Undead or Alive - Kerrelyn Sparks

Always on the instabuy list this new instalment of the Love at Stake series is a step up in quality from some of the recent additions. Unfortunately there is a lot of racial stereotyping in this series though and this was particularly evident in this novel. There are some sensitive issues of sexual violence addressed in this book that are not articulated as well as they could have been but were still handled quite well. The ending leaves a lot hanging but in a good way - ensuring readers return for the next novel without denying them narrative closure.

The betrayal of Natalie Hargrove - Lauren Kate

An extraordinarily odd young adult novel full of teen angst, secrets, murder and corruption - but with no apparent moral and certainly no narrative satisfaction. Not entirely sure what the book was attempting to achieve.

Meditations on First Philosophy - Rene Descartes

Necessary for study this short collection of meditations was interesting to read and beautifully written. Was surprised with the similarities between Cartesian and Levinasian philosophy.

Not nearly as much read as I would have liked but it was a busy semester!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Books I read in 2011 PART 2

See previous for explanatory note...

Again, contains SPOILERS

Blood Promise - Richelle Mead

I was surprised by how long it took for this story to get going. I shouldn't have been surprised by the drug references (given the student-teacher sexual relationship earlier in the series) but it was still a little dark. The end of the novel was really interesting but the main plot not only went nowhere, but didn't make much sense to begin with. Am hoping that the next few novels abandon the original couple and explore the alternative match - but I doubt it...

War and Peace (Book I) - Leo Tolstoy

Decided to break this monster text down into individual books so I feel like I have achieved something! So far not a lot is happening and there is only one character that has attracted my interest at all. The names are difficult to follow and the story isn't very coherent at this stage but no doubt will tie everything together later.

The Idiot (Book I) - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

For the same reason as above I split this long text into individual sections. So far the story is really interesting and the Prince character is intriguing. The language is absolutely beautiful as well.

Steamed - Katie MacAlister

MacAlister's first steam-punk novel this book is on shaky ground but manages to pull through quite well. MacAlister appears to be playing around with the conventions, as usual, which I don't think works quite as well in this book as in some of her Dark Ones novels.

Dark Needs at Night's Edge - Kresley Cole

I read this book simply because I heard the author was one of the worst culprits for creating toxic romances that include elements of domestic violence and female disempowerment. As such, I was surprised that I didn't find it particularly offensive (although I have not read any others by the author). The male character was a little overbearing, but never actually violent, and the female was quite powerful in her own right.

Hourglass - Claudia Gray

Although this book took a long time to get going, and wasn't that spectacular even when it did, it has set the scene for what promises to be an interesting final chapter in the Evernight series. So far my fave of the series is still undoubtedly the first novel though.

Bad Moon Rising - Sherrilyn Kenyon

Rather disappointing novel that is repetitive and mildly confusing for fans. Not enough original material is presented and the novel drags as a result. The lead characters have already secured the sympathy of readers before the book starts, but their story moves too slow to sustain this interest through the long book. Would have much preferred a new Dark-Hunter story over a recap of a Were-Hunter narrative contained in several earlier texts.

Phantom of the Night - Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love

I was given this book as a gift by both the authors when I met them a couple of years ago - and being free it was obviously at an advantage. The characters were very interesting and the plot enticed me sufficiently to order the next book in the BAD series.

Dr Who and the Terraphiles - Michael Moorcock

A very confusing book that dragged quite a bit. The ending is very good, however.

Evolution and Ethics - Thomas Huxley

A very interesting read for a medical ethics student like me! The Huxley family are also well worth reading about (and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is one of my fave books).

Ethics - Aristotle

A very long work but contains many interesting theories on the nature of human virtue and vice. Structured well so you can choose which sections you want to read if you don't want to commit to the whole.

Uncle Vanya - Anton Chekhov

A good read, but would definitely be better performed. The characters are also a little difficult to follow at times.

Lover Unleashed - J.R. Ward

After writing my Honours thesis on Ward's BlackDagger Brotherhood series I put off reading this novel for several months. When I picked it up I remembered straight away why I chose Ward to study. The plotting is incredibly detailed and the narrative voice amazing! The only way to get into this series is at the beginning though and I only recommend it for people who don't offend easily.

Vampire Mine - Kerrelyn Sparks

Given the hype about the lead male character the story was a little disappointing in that it wasn't particularly consistent with the flavour of the rest of the Love at Stake series. 

Animal Farm - George Orwell

A short but brilliant piece. I am still too scared to read 1984 so this is all the Orwell I have read...and all I intend to at this point.

Tales of Beedle the Bard - J.K. Rowling

An obvious attempt to squeeze more money out of the Harry Potter franchise, although it is not directly relevant to the series. Some of the tales are quite cute though.

Mister Monday - Garth Nix

I highly recommend this children's series as the storyline is quite engaging and there is just enough absurdity to keep things funny. I met Nix at AussieCon 4 and he was hilarious so I expected the books to be too.

Where's my Jetpack? - Daniel Wilson

Although it tries too hard to be "scientific" there is actually a lot of interesting information contained in this book. Providing a run-down on which technologies from science fiction are current or near future realities, this book is directed at a niche audience.

The Magic Pudding - Norman Lindsay

Although I'd read it before it was well worth picking up again. The whole story is easy to knock out in one sitting and is really funny with many memorable lines. Saw several beautiful first editions of the book at an antiquarian book fair a few years ago - want!

Your Cat's Just Not That Into You - Richard Smith

A parody of He's Just Not That Into You this book teaches cat owners to give up their delusion that their cats feel genuine affection for them. Quite funny and since I love cats I was bound to enjoy it.

The Trouble With Harry - Katie MacAlister

While impatiently waiting for the next Dark Ones novel I decided to pick up one of MacAlister's historical romances and this one was quite funny. Anachronistic in a way that is clearly deliberate the story follows the plight of the anonymous author of a scandalous book called The Guide to the Connubial Calisthenics. Finished this book while in the airport in Dubai.

The Reluctant Vampire - Lynsay Sands

Although a little out of sync with other books in the series, this story is still quite good. The most interesting development does not involve the main characters but rather the teenager they are babysitting. Looking forward to seeing where this new development leads in future instalments.

The Heiress - Lynsay Sands

Decided to try out one of Sands' historical novels and found this one rather cute. The twists in the plot are quite implausible (even compared to her other series in which vampires were created after the fall of Atlantis!!). It would be much easier for a casual reader to pick up one of Sands' historicals than one of her Argeneau or Rogue Hunter books though.

The Books of Snobs - William Thackeray

Highly recommend this book to anyone with a sense of humour (particularly if this humour is often directed at the social elite). Thoroughly funny book with a lot of social critique.

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf - Molly Harper

So wishing I hadn't brought this particular book (complete with appropriately hilarious cover art) for reading on the train to Rome given the fact I had a nun seated next to me. Overall a good story but I found it unnecessarily long.

The Lover - Marguerite Duras

A thoroughly disturbing book about a young girl losing her virginity (while underage) to a much older foreign gentleman. Also very poorly written in my opinion.

Metamorphosis and other stories - Franz Kafka

Although I knew a lot about Metamorphosis before reading it I was still surprised at how engaging the narrative was (given the absurdity of the circumstances being narrated). I think it is best to read Kafka without trying to make sense of it! Also really enjoyed Report For An Academy and The Judgment. Saw a play of The Trial a few years ago and am hoping to make that the next Kafka I read.

The Metaphysics of Morals - Immanuel Kant

A very interesting text containing many useful quotes and theories.

Pinocchio - Carlo Collodi

So not the Disney tale we've all come to know! Much darker and far more preachy. Don't recommend it unless you want to do a comparative analysis with other versions.

The Path to the Spiders' Nests - Italo Calvino

A relatively short story and quite interesting. Some of the narrative logic is flawed, but the author admits this himself in the introduction (apparently it was his first book). Read this at the airport in Qatar.

Dr Faustus - Christopher Marlowe

A brilliant text full of quotable quotes and emotive language. I recommend reading the shorter version as it does not contain some of the more ridiculous or violent elements.

Vathek - William Beckford

Very engaging read, although many a baby is ritualistically sacrificed throughout. The names are difficult to keep straight at times and the supposed lead character does not exercise much agency throughout but this adds to the overall flavour.

The Vampyre - John Polodori

Containing many of the vampire tropes we see in vampire film and literature now (which makes it worth reading). Very brief and not particularly convincing in parts. Got to see a first edition of this book while in Italy!

A Hero of Our Time - Mikhail Lermontov

I was surprised with how much I liked this book considering how unusual it is. My favourite section was definitely the opening. The lead character is fascinating and clearly has issues!

On Friendship - Michel de Montaigne

A very suspicious piece in which only men can be friends (and apparently so close they can share wives?) Very fluffy with little actual substance. The language is pretty but the argument unconvincing.

Hellsing Volumes I - X - Kohta Hirano

I re-read the entirety of the Hellsing manga in one sitting and definitely recommend this method of consumption. A very engaging story with a lead vampire character that puts most others to shame.

Much Ado About Vampires - Katie MacAlister

As with all MacAlister's novels this one is a winner due to the humour.

Sexiest Vampire Alive - Kerrelyn Sparks

A guaranteed favourite just for focusing on one of my favourite characters from the series, this book is quite addictive and has a fairly decent plot. Certain obstacles are resolved a little too easily for satisfaction however.

F in Exams - Richard Benson

I read this in a bookstore and then purchased a copy for a colleague. Hilarious collection of exam answers (and whether or not they are real is irrelevant!)

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions - Thomas Kuhn

Unnecessarily long-winded given the fact Kuhn is only making one point (there is no need for 13 chapters and a postscript!) The theories are sound and the history of science quite fascinating to read about though.

Zac Power: Base Camp - H. Larry

A very short and not particularly brain-stimulating children's story. Unbelievably cliche in a way that is embarrassing. I think some children's authors think children are less intelligent than they really are!

Days of Reading - Marcel Proust

The beginning of this piece is adorable and so well phrased it is like poetry. The end is a little argumentative and not directly linked to the opening. 

An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? - Immanuel Kant

Definitely the most offensive piece of Kant's that I've read thus far - very misogynist. Disappointing since I like various of his other works.

The Bite Before Christmas - Lynsay Sands and Jeanienne Frost

The Sands short story is good, although the age difference between the romantic couple is a bit disturbing. The Frost story tweaked my interest for awhile but not enough for me to purchase her series.

Those are all the completed novels that I can remember reading last year. I am currently finishing off the following...

Covet - J.R. Ward
The City and the City - China Mieville
Galileo's Dream - Kim Stanley Robinson
A Tour Guide in Utopia - Lucy Sussex
Appleseed - John Clute
Timescape - Gregory Benford
Nana - Emile Zola
The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in  a Ship of Her Own Making - Cat Valente
Guardian of the Dead - Karen Healey

With the exceptions of Ward and Zola I have had the good fortune to meet all these authors! Having recently met Neil Gaiman and Alison Goodman I am also hoping to start new novels by both these authors soon too.

2012 is going to be a very good year (I hear it is the national year of reading...)

Books I read in 2011 PART 1

Since I only managed to blog once last year I thought I would try to put in a little more effort in 2012! To begin with this is a copy of the list of books I read in 2011...

A list (and some brief reviews) of the books I read in 2011. Of which there were many....and many of them were awesome!


The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde

Hilarious parody of Jane Eyre starring the remarkable agent Thursday Next. Fforde's writing is sometimes difficult to follow and I recommend not taking long breaks between chapters as it is easy to lose your place in the story (which becomes delightfully absurd in parts). The novel pokes fun at the academy while also remaining very consciously literary with many allusions to famous works of literature. Some meaning will be lost for readers unfamiliar with the texts being parodied but the detective story itself is interesting enough in its own right. For an easier introduction to Fforde I recommend The Fourth Bear (from the Nursery Crimes Division series).

Wired - Liz Maverick

If you read this book and understand it....please explain it to me. I did get to meet Maverick in 2009 and she was fascinating so I will probably attempt one of her other novels at some stage, but this one did my head in.

Dracula - Bram Stoker

If you haven't read it by now I would dissuade you from it. It is very long and not nearly as interesting as it should be given its status! Mina Harker and Van Hellsing are interesting characters but the rest don't inspire much sympathy. The letters at the start are the most interesting part, followed by the hunt at the end (basically it's safe to skip the majority of the middle!)

Eric - Sean Tan

A very short but absolutely gorgeous picture book. Managed to get it signed when we met Tan at Aussiecon 4 in 2010.

Dead After Dark - anthology

Good line up of authors with Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R. Ward, Susan Squires and Dianna Love. My favourite was the Kenyon short story (fits in her Were-Hunter series better than some of the other stories seem to fit in the fictional worlds of the other authors included). Effective way to try out a new author without committing to a whole novel or series from the start.

Sugarplums and Scandals - anthology

Contains stories by Lori Avocato, Dana Cameron, Mary Daheim, Cat London, Suzanne MacPherson and Kerrelyn Sparks. I only really bought it for Sparks and her story was the most memorable, however, when compared to the full novels of her series the story was a little over the top. 

You Never Know With Women - James Hadley Chase

One of those classic detective novels with a very beautiful (and very guilty) femme fatale. Theft, intrigue, murder etc. and still manages to be rather uninteresting. And then there's the rampant misogny to deal with... In the words of Bernard Black "It's dreadful but quite short"

Gothic Charm School - Jillian Venters

Very funny book teaching manners and life skills to goths. Contains many useful tips applicable to non-goths too (seamstress skills, table manners, dating etiquette etc.) A short read and very amusing. You can try out the writings of "The Lady of The Manners" online first if you like.

Tempting Evil - Keri Arthur

Contains a were-pony. Enough said. Regarding the author I got to meet her a few years ago as she is a Melbourne local. 

Paradise Lost - John Milton

Say what you will about the "canon" but this text is amazingly beautiful. The language is gorgeous and so passionate and the story is surprisingly engaging. Even if you don't want to commit to the whole epic I recommend at least reading the first 4 chapters. There is the added benefit that the full text is available free on iBooks etc.

Poetry of William Wordsworth

Pretty (and usually short) poems. Historically and politically very important so would recommend reading up on their history first for full impact. 

Book of the Long Sun Parts I & II - Gene Wolfe

A very clever science fictional series with a protagonist that secures your sympathy right from the start. I preferred the first book to the second (mostly due to more focus on said protagonist, Patera Silk). Be prepared to devote a lot of brain power to picking up subtle clues throughout. My husband wrote his thesis on Wolfe and was thrilled to receive a personalised letter from him (old-school method of contact!)

Lady of the Lake - Walter Scott

The language is pretty but the story not particularly exciting. Only really recommend this to people who like poetry for the sake of poetry.

Just One Sip - anthology

Contains stories by Katie MacAlister, Jennifer Ashley and Minda Webber. I bought it for MacAlister and her humour is the highlight, although there has been criticism that the short story is not accessible to "entry-level" readers (those not familiar with the Dark Ones series). I thought she summarised the pertinent details quite well, but would have to get an outside opinion from someone not familiar with her other titles to be sure.

The Atlantis Complex - Eoin Colfer

Although the Artemis Fowl children's series is one of my favourites, this novel defintely crosses into "preaching" territory. While all the other novels have environmental concerns as part of the plot, this one appears to have a plot that is almost entirely a lecture about climate change (and the story really suffers for it). Highly recommend reading the series as a whole (and Colfer's stand-alone novels, such as The Supernaturalist).

The Communist Manifesto - Karl Marx

Very interesting argument and well worth reading in its entirety. 

Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe

Contains some humour but is mostly just a long-winded and not particularly exciting narrative. Includes rather distressing racist sentiment.

The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling

Very different to what I expected but I enjoyed it. Quite short and some of the tales are rather adorable, particularly the earlier ones.

The Cat Dreamer - Isobelle Carmody

Brilliant, as all Carmody stories are. Belongs to a large network of stories written by different authors in a shared fictional universe. Had the good fortune of meeting Carmody a few years ago and her storytelling is amazing. I haven't read Obernewtyn so do not suffer the angst of having been strung along for years and years with no resolution (so my love of Carmody remains untainted).

Slaves of Quentaris - Paul Collins

From the same series as the Carmody above. I had this book signed by Collins at AussieCon 4 and he was very friendly and passionate about the series. 

Daddy Long Legs - Jean Webster

Decided to read this because I love the Fred Astaire film of the same name (even though there are some very disturbing elements). Do not recommend allowing children or teenagers to read due to the rather pedophilic undertones.

Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain

Very funny story (and far superior to Huck Finn). With the exception of the part that discusses a criminal being starved to death in a cave this book is fairly safe for all audiences. 

Odes to Anacreon - Thomas Moore

More canonical poetry. I'll confess that although I love the sound of poetry (particularly if it rhymes) I don't have enough experience deciphering it to really get a feel for such authors. 

Writings of the United Amateur - H.P. Lovecraft

I think I needed more context before reading this as not much of it made sense. Basically I wanted to read a Lovecraft that wasn't going to give me nightmares so I guess it succeeded in that goal.

Blue Fairy Book - Andrew Lang

Containing many classic fairytales I would recommend any of the Lang fairy books to those interested in fairytale narratives. Most are very clean and safe and the collection has a lot of variety.

Poetry of John Keats (including Lamia)

Very pretty poetry but I recommend researching the life of Keats before reading as a lot of meaning would be lost otherwise. I got to visit the house in which Keats died while in Italy and the collection of works there was amazing (also contained first editions of Shelley's works and Polodori).

Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne

Absolutely adorable book that everyone needs to read. The humour is classic and the tales very short and light. Recommend getting a nice illustrated version for full effect.

Poetry of Robert Burns

Very difficult to follow due to the language used but there are some funny passages that make it worth the effort. 

Ghosts - Henrik Ibsen

Pretty much what you would expect from an Ibsen play (although a little less subtle about the syphilis than I would have liked). Needs to be read all in one go (or, ideally, performed).

The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer

Given the author's status I was surprised to find this book was just a collection of fairytales (and some quite vulgar). Some tales are definitely better than others and the different narrative voices make the storytelling more interesting. 

Midnight Pleasures - anthology

Containing stories by Amanda Ashley, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Maggie Shayne and Ronda Thompson. I bought it for Kenyon's Dream-Hunter short story and was satisfied. 

Stroke of Midnight - anthology

Contains short stories by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Amanda Ashley, L.A. Banks and Lori Handeland. I remember being very impressed by the Banks story (I had not read any previously). Although I bought it for the Kenyon Were-Hunter story I was not as thrilled with it because I was hoping the lead male character would be the protagonist of a full novel instead.

Life, the Universe, and Everything - Douglas Adams

Although I'd read it before it was well worth picking up again. This novel was instrumental in cementing my love of reading while in secondary school so also has nostalgic value. I was very disappointed in the film adaptation, but on re-reading I realised it would not have been easy to try and convey the humour. 

Eat, Prey, Love - Kerrelyn Sparks

Not a typo - just a terrible book title! The story was decent but not one of my favourites for the series, partly because the main characters were not the ones I was hoping for. There are awkward domestic violence issues that are glossed over too. Started an email correspondence with Sparks a few years ago and she was very friendly. Discovered her favourite story is Beauty and the Beast!

Dead and Loving It - anthology by Mary Janice Davidson

This book was a little annoying for me since I only follow Davidson's Undead series (and this contains short stories from several of her other series). Clearly a marketing ploy to promote the other series, this collection contains very important developments in the Undead series that do not appear in any of the novels. I met Davidson in 2009 and found her very friendly.

Poetry of Goethe

Well worth reading if you are into poetry, but again I could feel many of the allusions were lost on me.

The Secret Rose - William Yeats

Another pretty piece for those so inclined. 

The Iliad - Homer

Long, as to be expected, but quite engaging and I would recommend it for anyone interested in mythology. It was particularly interesting to discover where certain phrases and tales originated that are alluded to in other works.

Love at first bite - anthology

Contains stories by Sherrilyn Kenyon, L.A. Banks, Susan Squires and Ronda Thompson. Both the Kenyon and Banks stories were particularly good, although the Kenyon one was possibly a little over the top in parts. 

Born to Bite - Lynsay Sands

By this stage the Sands series is becoming very repetitive, but the writing is good enough to justify continuing. The vampire mythology in this series is a little convoluted, however it avoids the necrophilia that plagues other vampire narratives so that is a definite advantage! Have exchanged a few emails with Sands and she was very informative about her writing influences etc.

In the Company of Vampires - Katie MacAlister

MacAlister's humour never fails to produce a fun novel, even though one cannot help but feel she is mocking her own audience at times! Often leaving the reader in suspense or setting up love triangles that take multiple novels to resolve I recommend reading MacAlister's books in bulk, rather than one at a time. Managed a brief email correspondence with MacAlister and her humour seems to be present in all her writing!

I'm the Vampire, That's Why - Michelle Bardsley

I read this book to get a taste of "mommy-lit" and was surprised at how interesting the story was. Set in a community of single parents the series is quite heartwarming.

Bitten by Cupid - anthology

Containing stories by Lynsay Sands, Pamela Palmer and Jaime Rush. I bought it for Sands and found the story quite good, particularly as it focused on relatively minor characters that the series didn't need to have as main characters of a full novel.

Moonstruck - Susan Grant

Although the story wasn't my type it was well written. I met Grant a couple of years ago and really liked her - particularly the fact she is an airforce pilot!

Diary of a Wimpy Vampire - Tim Collins

A parody of Diary of a Wimpy Kid this story is a little juvenile but contains some funny elements. Intended for a younger audience.

Diary 45 3/4 - Adrian Plass

Not as funny as the earlier Plass diaries but still contains some juicy bits. The highlights are always the notes Plass' son leaves for him.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - Stephenie Meyer

As dreadful as expected. 

Holidays are Hell - anthology

Containing stories by Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Majorie Liu and Vicki Petterson. All stories reasonably good.

Dates from Hell - anthology

Containing stories by Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Kelley Armstrong and Lori Handeland. Was expecting to be a little more engaged by some of the stories, given the premise, but it was ok.

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

Can't recommend this short tale highly enough. I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed it (I also love the Muppet's Christmas Carol!)

Gulliver's Travels - Jonathon Swift

Wished I'd just left it with reading the abridged version...