Books et al's Blog

All about books, reviews, thoughts and more

Book update – Mistborn Series December 1, 2012

Hi there.

I felt compelled to write a quick review on a book I am reading.

I read voraciously and rate books I have read on my twitter post @australis14 but have decided to only post reviews to my blog when I think the book is great or needs some kind of further mention.

The Final Empire: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson is just such a book. This is book one of the Mistborn series.

Sanderson has created a unique fantasy world that is bleak and dark in its scenery- the world had been under a cloud of continuous ash for 1000 years, and hopeless in its dark age feudal system, religions and classes but full of intrigue, magic and hope – the latter brought about by two of the main players Kelsier and Vin, who happen to be very good thieves and magic practitioners.

The development of a plan by their group of low born but intelligent thieves to win freedom against oppressive slavery and to bring down the evil ‘omnipotent’ god-king is at the core of the story. The key characters ( and some of their enemies) have the ability to create magic and power with the help of metals, either by ingesting them (something only the Mistborn or the Mistings can do to varying levels) or by using metals as storage for internal power. These types of magic are known as Allomancy and Ferromancy respectively. It’s a brilliant concept, particularly as each metal has distinctive properties which affect what the practitioner can do. I love the fact that each metal and alloy has a paired one which creates an equal and opposite reaction. The world of the Allomancers drew me in very quickly. I would love to be able to fly through the air using a pocketful of coins!

I have got to be honest I haven’t even finished the book, though I am almost at the end and desperately don’t want to leave the world of the Mistborn.

Imagine my excitement when I realised there were at least three more after this! I have already lined up the second book so there are no delays in continuing my Mistborn experience.

I am so glad I stumbled upon this book.
If you would like a meaty high fantasy book to get stuck into, that carries you along with excitement , intrigue, treachery, magic, hatred and love then this is the book for you! It certainly is for me.



Book review: Worms on Parachutes – mystical allies in my battle with cancer November 10, 2012

I have been meaning to blog for ages but life keeps getting in the way – work, part-time study, family commitments, travel and reading! My apologies readers – if I have any left!

In the end it took a very special book from a very special person to drive me to write again.

I love books and I am a huge reader, often reading more than one book at a time. Generally it’s fiction. I prefer the world of imagination  magic, discovery and wonder than the world of pampered celebrities or of real-life disturbing evil. As it’s my form of escapism from the stresses and strains of daily life, I never read what are condescendingly known as ‘Misery Memoirs’ either.

However when someone I knew, Sarah-Jane Phillips, offered me the chance to read the true story about her life and intimate struggle against her battle with two different types of cancer, in her youth and then as an adult, I was touched and resolved to read it immediately.

I was glad I did. Worms on Parachutes is a story of success and bravery through terrible adversity. Whilst it deals with struggles and familial issues as a result, during very scary and painful times, the reader is reminded throughout of the power of positive thinking.   I won’t lie, it’s a tear-jerker, but by the end you feel that even in reality, the good guys can and DO win. This is no spoiler, readers. I did say the author herself gave this to me to read. The story is not about the outcome, but about the experience Sarah went through, and how she has changed as a result.

It is an inspiring and moving personal journey fighting against a disease that sadly affects most of us, directly or indirectly.

Amazingly Sarah has written her story in order to raise money for the hospital team and the institution that got her through it all – the NHS. In Sarah’s opinion an undeservedly maligned healthcare system that we all depend upon.

Unfortunately you won’t be able to get this book in the stores yet. Sarah is still waiting on a publisher with vision and the understanding that many will want to read about the indomitable human spirit’s struggle against survival and what that teaches us. I am sure that it won’t be long before you see it on Amazon, Foyles and Waterstones. In the meantime you can hear more from Sarah-Jane Phillips herself on her Worms on Parachutes Facebook page.

I will let you know when this is available to purchase, and as always if you have been inspired by any personal memoirs or by people’s struggles, I would love to hear about them too.


Latest book news July 19, 2012

The craze for vamp related stories doesn’t seem to be dying down event through all the Shades of Grey madness.

I confess I am also partial to some vamp action! I have the latest Charlaine Harris sookie stackhouse book lined up to read and what I Iove about these books is Sookie herself and the mix of all the different ‘Supes’ , or Supernatural beings to the lay person, and the tension between them all. All very human dare I say?!

Now I hear about a series that’s being obviously going on for awhile it seems by Lynsay Sands called the Argeneau novels. Have you heard of them? The 17th in the series is coming out July 31st and is called #LadyIsAVamp. They sound interesting, though the covers I have seen make them look like trashy romance novels. Can anyone tell me if they are any good as I am thinking about buying them?

For the Argeneau fans out there there is a great contest on Lynsay’s website to help promote the book. It’s great to be able to help out authors we love, isn’t it?


What do you mean, its almost Easter 2012???! March 28, 2012

Filed under: General updates — Books et al @ 4:31 pm
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I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last post. I can only beg your humblest pardon and hope to post more frequently from now on.

My excuse, be it ever so poor, is that my time has been taken up with full time work, studying towards further qualifications in my personal time, learning to bake and then squeezing in as much reading as I can, interspersed with the odd bit of travel!

In the meantime I want to give my lovely niece a plug. She has started her own blog and is doing so well, she is even blogging and posting videos in another language. She has only just begun but it’s great and if you know Spanish, or want to practice it, please follow her and have conversations with her:

Hasta luego!



I have a new blog for my other passion- classic TV programmes! May 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Books et al @ 5:09 pm

It has been a while since you’ve heard from me, and mainly that’s because on top of my working day, and trying to squeeze in as much reading as I can, I have also been studying.

So actually I was asked to create a blog for my study. In particular a blog on classic television programmes and to tell you the truth I was more than happy to, as I love the subject matter. I have posted my first entry today!

It would be a great help to me, and hopefully is of interest to you, to take a look at the blog, and share your thoughts and comment on the subject matter. Would be great to hear from people from all over on the subject of classic television programmes and remakes. The blog address is

I hope to hear from you there!


I think my cat is cheating on me March 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Books et al @ 7:31 pm
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Harley, the culpritIt’s true, I can’t deny it any more. Harley, my black and white 4-year-old rescue cat,  is seeing another woman. The signs are all there. He goes out till all hours, comes home late,  is no longer interested in cuddles and won’t jump on my lap for naps and belly scratching as he used to do.

He used to follow me everywhere, constantly rubbing against my legs which at times was the cause of some near fatal mishaps. We used to curl up together on the sofa watching some great romantic movies while the husband was located upstairs watching football. Harley doesn’t do that anymore. When he is at home he sleeps curled up in his covered cat bed, choosing to spend time alone and in the dark rather than spending it with us.

The biggest sign though, the absolute proof that he is being unfaithful to us, came today. Today he came home later than usual,  needing encouragement to come inside (when normally he runs home like a speeding bullet as soon as the sun sets).

When I picked him up to give him a cuddle, which once upon a time he used to beg for by standing on his back legs and stretching his paws up my leg, it hit me. Tears sprang to my eyes. Harley’s medium long black coat was shiny and smooth and very recently groomed, but not by me. Even more indicting – he smelled strongly of a woman’s perfume. An older woman.

Yes, Harley is straying. There is nothing I can do. My cat is definitely cheating on me.



What’s your desert island book? March 8, 2011

During World Book Day I was asked what would be my desert island book. If I was to be whisked away to a tropical, exotic island without any external contact or communication, for an indefinite amount of time, what book would I take with me?

Books trigger memories for me, each one has a specific place, emotion or atmosphere associated with it that is evoked when I recall the story, or hold a copy in my hand… they have the same effect as music or scents. Each one is precious. (Well, most. I have read some duds with no value whatsoever!). Therefore leaving any behind is almost the same as leaving behind important parts of my life. I moved from Australia to the UK and I brought as many of my books with me as I could. I still mourn the ones I left behind.

I am a huge bibliophile and will devour most things put in front of me. When asked what my all-time favourite book is, I usually list about ten and my Top 10 book list usually has about one hundred books in it. With this in mind, I am sure you can understand how hard I found it to answer this question. I responded based on the idea that I had plenty of time to pack books. Being as my house is groaning from the weight of overloaded bookshelves it took me a little while to come up with books I couldn’t live without.

The list? It goes like this, in no particular order:

1. The Map of Love by Adhaf Soueif
2. Jane Eyre: the Complete Novels – Jane Austen
3. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (I would try to include all his books)
4. Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
5. Baghdad Without a Map – Tony Robinson
6. Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes (added bonus of also referencing 3 of my favourite poets: Keats, Shelley and Wordsworth)
7. Birth of Venus -Sarah Dunant
8. The Dragonrider series – Anne McCaffrey
9. The End of Mr Y – Scarlett Thomas
10. Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Nifenegger
11. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
12. Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
13. Out of Africa- Karen Blixen/ Isak Dinesen
14. Shadow of the Wind- Carlos Ruiz Zafon
15. Lost in a Good Book and all the Thursday Next series- Jasper FForde
16. Blackberry Wine- Joanne Harris
17. The Summer Tree (and the rest of the Fionavar Tapestry series) – Guy Gavriel Kay
18. 1984 – George Orwell
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres
20. The Shardlake series – C.J. Sansom
21. I would take my Amazon Kindle – its cheating, and it would only work for a few months with the wi-fi switched off, as that’s how long the battery lasts, (unless I can find a solar powered charger!)… but it means I could have 1000s more books at my disposal…and there are so many, many more!

As you see, I find it difficult to choose just one. I had to stop myself at twenty because it was in danger of becoming a list of every story that ever touched my life, which could end up being a very, very long list. I hadn’t even mentioned my childhood books.

So if I had to try and narrow it down to one? Well, it would have to be something that could keep my interest for a long time, so probably something that would teach me about the world around me, and which I would enjoy re-reading. Maybe something like Brian Cox’s “Why does e=mc2?” or Stephen Hawking’s “Grand Design”; Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything” could be a contender…Can I narrow it down to one?

I just couldn’t, it’s a horrifying notion.