The Versatile Blogger Award

I want to say a big thank you to Shannon at Simply Shan for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. I’m really honoured, thank you!  Shannon lives in the UK (can’t wait to go back there next year) and posts on a variety of topics.  She calls herself boring, but I find her quite interesting!  Her posts always seem well thought out, and she has a way of writing that comes across as bubbly and friendly, inviting you to join her in whatever she has planned for the day.

The name of the game here is to nominate fifteen bloggers who I think produce quality content, and share them with you.  That gives you the opportunity to explore some new content that you might find worthy of following.  Then I share seven fun or interesting facts about myself, and give you a glimpse at the girl behind the screen.  Or something like that.  Ha ha!  Right, here we go! In no particular order…

1. Amy at The Life of Amy N – a very versatile blogger, with DIY crafts, uplifting motivational posts, recipes, product reviews, travel, etc. There’s surely something for everyone! I know I’m biased, but I think you should check out her post NEW ZEALAND TRAVEL ROUTE.

2. The Feisty Pauper – a seemingly random collection of posts, that are often fascinating. You have to check out her post Don’t Fear the Reaper Or How a total coincidence made my kid think I’m insane. So funny.

3. KalifornicationX – self-described as ‘words of an unadulterated cesspool nature of disgust and sometimes amusing truths and observations’. I say irreverent and hilarious. If you’re wondering if you can call yourself a writer or not, the answer is in A Hooker’s Ambition & Depressed Millennials.

4. Rowena at made things – beautiful, poetic (but not always poems) observations of life. My favourite post is imaginary dramas because it speaks to a truth I know all too well, but you should also check out my xmas revelation for an insight to the way Rowena perceives the world and why her observations are so powerful and intriguing.

5. Rachel at The Writer In Me… – poetry, short stories, music and personal reflections. Some are humorous, some are heartbreaking. A recent poem of hers that I love is Reflections From A Coffee Shop.

6. Jess from Jess of Earth – her blog is full of positivity and encouragement. I guess you’d call it a lifestyle blog, with fashion, exercise, meditation, etc. She’s mad for yoga. Her New Year, New You: Vision Board Tour will give you insight into who she is and what she’s working on in her life.

7. Nic Starr – music, books and guest posts. Nic is a published author, so definitely keen an eye out for her publications. For an insight into one of Nic’s books, check out this post about Patrick’s Savior.

8. Abbey from An anonymous escape from life – she writes prose, poetry and personal blog entries. She provides a great intro to herself and her blog in this post – Opening up about my blogging journey.

9. Tiny Rubies – personal posts, poetry, photographs and … are there any other p words I’ve missed? I love this post about anonymous blogging.

10. Parichita Singh – she writes about writing and books, and her personal journey with both. In 2017 she did a series where she wrote an alphabet’s worth of posts about writing, then she rounded it off with this post about what she learned by doing the challenge.

11. Thompson Crowley – music, poetry, and musings… Dammit, I needed another m word for poetry! I enjoyed gaining some insight into Thompson when he discussed his influences.

12. Books and Opinions – obviously there are book reviews, but also personal posts, guest posts, and a general love of books that overflows on this blog. The books vary enormously, and I even stumbled across this review of a poetry book – Magic Realized: and Other Poems on the Human Spirit – Louis Alan Swartz.

13. R A Douglas – poetry and personal posts. I particularly love this entry about bullying – What would you do, when your kids are bullied?

14.  Sionna from Books In Her Eyes. Honest book reviews, reading challenges, and other book or reading related posts. Lots of variety in reading material, with a lean toward sci fi/fantasy/paranormal. If you check out her Monthly Wrap-Up: January, that’ll show you the kind of books she’s reading.

15. Lia from Lost In A Story. What makes her blog different from other blogs about books is that she shares a lot of guidance for other bloggers, in addition to the book reviews, tags and other content you’d expect. She’s got a great series on ARCs which starts with Emailing publishers, and I thought her discussion on negative reviews, authors, bloggers, and the book community was a really interesting post. See what you think.

Okay, so I think we’re up to seven facts about me.  Hmmm….

  1.   I have a pretty decent cookbook collection and I enjoy watching cooking shows.  My favourite chef is Gordon Ramsay.  I also love Nigella Lawson (who is not a chef).  I’ll watch anything with either of them in it.  I have several cookbooks by each.   I’ve met Gordon Ramsay once, and ate at one of his restaurants in London, but have not had the pleasure of meeting Nigella yet.  On the flip side, I can’t stand Jamie Oliver, although we do use a few of his recipes.
  2. Speaking of collecting, I can’t help myself.  As soon as I have a few of anything, it becomes a collection.  *FacePalm*  My oldest collection is my bookmarks.  I added substantially to this collection when we went to the UK in 2014, as I collected a souvenir leather bookmark from every historical place we visited.
  3. I don’t watch much TV or go to the movies often.  I find that I tend to miss details on the screen, and therefore I am often turning to my husband and saying ‘Wait, what did I miss?  Why is that happening?’  *Rolleyes*  It’s frustrating for both of us.  I prefer books, because if I do happen to miss something (and it’s pretty rare), I can just go back and re-read the pertinent section, then keep going.  My husband is the opposite and prefers to watch something on the screen rather than read it, although he does both.
  4. I played netball in primary school, then cricket and soccer in high school.  I continued to play soccer until I was pregnant with my son.  My favourite forms of exercise though are swimming and bush walking.
  5. I’m not a fan of American muscle cars.  I prefer sleek European cars.  In truth though, although I am comfortable driving (and yes, I can drive a stick-shift or a manual as they’re called here), I’d rather be the passenger.  So long as a car is reasonably comfortable to sit in, and it gets me from A to B, that’s all I really care about.  If it’s easy to park, even better.  Oh, and I can’t parallel park. Never learned how.
  6. I gave up caffeine a few years ago.  I used to drink a LOT of Coke Zero, and I always said that the caffeine never affected me.  I could have a glass before I went to bed, or not, it didn’t make any difference to me.  But my husband had some health issues related to stress and anxiety, and he was told to give up caffeine by the doctor.  He did, and so I did too.  I’ve never been a tea or coffee drinker, so Coke Zero was my one big weakness.  I haven’t had more than a mouthful or two in the last three or so years.  My sleeping habits changed considerably, to my surprise.  And interestingly, I went from never dreaming (or remembering my dreams at least) to dreaming often.  Weird.  I tried to switch to water, but I don’t find it as satisfying.  Now though, I drink water during my work day, five days a week, whereas I didn’t drink any water at all before.  When I’m at home, I now drink Sprite Zero.  My drink of choice if I’m out is a lemon, lime and bitters, which is a non-alcoholic cocktail that originated in Australia I think.  It’s lime cordial, lemonade and Angostura bitters.  Has to be freshly made though, not bottled.
  7. For years, my favourite chocolate was Cadbury Dairy Milk.  But Cadbury have changed the recipe for their Dairy Milk chocolate, I think, and I don’t like it anymore.  They have recently brought back Caramilk though (not a caramel filled chocolate like the bar of the same name in other parts of the world, but a caramelised white chocolate) and I really love that.  Which is weird, because I don’t like white chocolate.  *Rolleyes*  I don’t like dark chocolate either.  Just milk chocolate.

Anyway, I hope this has been somewhat interesting.  I know that these little blog awards are more just for us small-time bloggers, and not the hardcore bloggers with thousands of followers.  I guess that’s partly because the point of them is to network and interact, and that’s something that’s crucial when you’re still a small fry.  For that reason, I tried not to nominate anyone with thousands of followers, but I think at least one has more than 1,000.  I tried to keep it to smaller blogs that showed variety in what they posted.

Okay, that’s all from me today.  Did you check out any of the blogs?  Find a new favourite blogger to follow?  Did any of my facts about myself interest you?  Let me know!

A wee poem

I’ve got a few poems jotted down that need a second (or twelfth) look before they’re ready to share, but this one is unlikely to become any more than it is, so I’m just throwing it out there.

I was sitting in a rattan egg chair (I think they’re called egg chairs? Like a little cave of a chair, suspended from the ceiling? Anyway, moving on) on the porch/verandah/deck at my in-laws’ this afternoon, and as I half dozed in the sun, wondering if I should start a new book or if my husband and my mother-in-law were serious that work would only take ‘fifteen to twenty minutes’, my eyes were drawn to the patterns in the chair. And ta da, a poem was born. *shrugs* It’s not great, but I feel like there are a couple of people who followed me when I was posting poems every day and I’ve neglected them lately. This poem isn’t probably the best way to indulge them, but oh well. I do have a few more on the way, but I think they have potential to be stronger, so I’ll hold on to them for a little bit.

The rattan is woven around the sides
in such a way as to make
and the borders
are encircled with bands
that give a sense of
decorative purpose.

State of the Union

Even if I admit to wearing cold shoulder tops, this poem is still worth reading. A unique look at the ‘state of the nation’.

It Just Popped Into My Head

Jeggings have reached an all time

climax in quality and technology,

which only gives hope

in the world of athleisure

2018 has become.

and perhaps people

will finally come to their senses

and stop wearing those ridiculous

shirts with cutouts on the sleeves,

jesus christ, have some dignity.

Maybe they show off the toned

arms of the people

who drink butter in their coffee

and run the holiday k’s

5k 10k 100k

or care about Tom Brady

because snap chat

or facebook for the fogies like me

helps eliminate the terror

of sending our children to school

with bullies, armed gunmen, microwave burritos

while we sit in traffic,


because bills must be paid

and we should be so happy to have a job

and a brand new corolla

and one of those pink cat beanies

all the white women use to toast,


with their vente lattes or pumpkin…

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Auckland Anniversary Day

As promised, photos from the Auckland Anniversary Day celebrations, which was Monday 29 January.

Auckland Anniversary Day is a public holiday in Auckland, New Zealand.  The whole long weekend (because the holiday is Mondayised) is a celebration of Auckland, and that usually means a pretty heavy focus on the harbour.  After all, Auckland is ‘the city of sails’.  The Auckland Anniversary Regatta is the largest single-day boat regatta in the world (according to Wikipedia).

We started at the port, which was partially open to the public.  They had helicopter rides (which were a little beyond our budget), boat rides, etc.  They had water cannons spraying the crowd with water, which was very refreshing.  It was damn hot!  They also had free sunscreen and drinking water available, which was much appreciated and we made liberal use of.  I even ended up tipping water over my head just to cool down. Despite all the sunscreen I did a little burnt, but thankfully not too bad.

There were food stalls everywhere, with everything from seafood to hot dogs, to traditional Maori or Pacific Island food.  The kids got frozen ice treats with the little bit of spending money I gave them.

There were buskers everywhere, playing music, frozen still like statues or performing magic or acrobatic tricks to entertain the public.  My daughter and her friend liked the acrobatic ones best.

There were, of course, plenty of boats out on the harbour, including traditional Maori and Pacific Island canoes and boats.

So there you go.  Happy anniversary, Auckland!

A book review of Daring Fate by Megan Erickson

Daring Fate (Silver Tip Pack, #1)

This was a paranormal m/m romance. To explain the plot, I first have to explain the different species in this world. And the first of the two things that annoyed me about the book. But bear with me, it’s not all bad.

Humans used to exist in this world, but don’t anymore. Now there are just three main species. Werewolves can shift between human and wolf forms at will. Weres can shift between human, wolf and some kind of hybrid werewolf form that’s bigger and badder than either of their other two forms. And there are noweres, which are basically zombie weres, who are stuck in were form, and they’re undead zombies. *Rolleyes* I fucking hate zombies. I hate zombie books and I hate zombie movies. And what the fuck is up with naming all the species with such similar names? *Confused*

But anyway. The story starts with Reese, who is a werewolf. He awakens in a dungeon, chained to a wall, badly beaten. His brother is also in the dungeon. The last thing he remembers is trying to rescue his brother and sister from the small settlement they belonged to, as his sister was being forcibly mated to the leader of the settlement. He saved his brother, but was found before rescuing his sister, and beaten and left for death. His brother, with no other options, went to the weres for help.

Reese is hauled before Dane, the leader of the weres. Generally, werewolves and weres don’t get along. As it happens though, when they meet for the first time, Dane and Reese are shocked to realise they are Fated Mates. Don’t panic, it’s not insta-love so much as it is a knowledge that they’re destined to be together. They still have to go through the whole process of getting to know each other and falling in love.

Dare has to put his pack first, as he is their leader. Reese is still determined to rescue his sister. This is the major conflict between them. But there are also run-ins with zombie noweres, and weres that are trying to usurp Dare’s position, etc.

My only other niggle in the book was very minor. This is a romance between two males, which is fine. There are intimate scenes, also fine. But the author skips the whole concept of lube and just makes the male weres and werewolves ‘self lubricating’, much as human females self lubricate. *Think* I felt it was just that the author thought that it was too hard to figure out lube in a world where they live off the land, and so she just magically fixed the problem. No, no, no! *FacePalm*

But that was a very minor thing, and the book was a decent read. I rated it three stars, which means I liked it, but it wasn’t a stand-out for me.

A book review of In His Keeping by Maya Banks

If you’re following along with my reading challenge for 2018, this book was for ‘A book by your favourite author’.

It was hard to decide who my favourite author was.  So I went to my read books on Goodreads and reviewed all my five star books.  My top three authors were:
Maya Banks – 7
A M Arthur – 5
Nalini Singh – 5

So I went with Maya Banks, despite the fact that the last new book of hers I read was a pitiful one star disappointment, and the three before that were crappy two star reads.  Sigh.

So it was definitely with mixed feelings that I went with Maya Banks as my favourite author, but I couldn’t think of any better way to choose.

I went with the safety of re-reading one of her books that I’d enjoyed.  A safe bet, so to speak.

In His Keeping (Slow Burn, #2)

In His Keeping is the second book in the Slow Burn series.  It’s a modern paranormal romance series.  If you’re not familiar with Maya Banks, she also writes historical romance, modern military (or paramilitary) romance and menage romance.

There are five books in this series, with a sixth due to be released in March.  I rated the first one five stars, and the second and third I rated four stars.  I couldn’t finish the fourth one, and the fifth one was the one star read I’ve already mentioned.  So it started great, then seriously fizzled out.  But anyway, I enjoyed In His Keeping.

The series is based around the Devereaux family. Caleb and Beau Devereaux run a private security company.  Some of the men who work for them star in the later books.  This book, In His Keeping, is about Beau Devereaux.  A young lady comes to him for his help after her parents are kidnapped.  But she’s not an ordinary young lady.  Ari has paranormal powers.  For the most part I think she’s telekinetic.

The book moves really quickly.  I might be wrong, but I think there’s about a week from the beginning of the book to the end of the book.  Ari and Beau commit to ‘forever’ with each other by the third day I think.  It’s insta-love at its finest.  But the action is great, and the paranormal aspect keeps you wondering.  The plot kind of unfolds, revealing that it goes back to a long time before Beau and Ari were even born.

Ramie, from the first book, is the best secondary character in this book, but Zack definitely leaves us wanting to know more about him.  He’s the star of the third book, which is worth a read.

I haven’t done it justice, I don’t think, because a book is rarely as good on the second read through.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I guess I was less absorbed by it than the first time.

Anyway, the first three books in this series are a decent read if you like modern paranormal romance. Maya Banks typically tortures her characters, especially the women, and this series is no different, so they’re gritty. For me, I think the speed of Beau and Ari’s relationship was the only real negative. The rest was good. And I’m tempted to re-read Zack’s story. Maybe that’ll even inspire me to finally finish the fourth book. Or not. *Smirk*


Auckland City Walk

I did the Auckland City Walk today, with my mum, my daughter and my daughter’s friend.  It’s on the edge of the Waitakere Ranges, and is part of a bird sanctuary called Ark in the Park.  You don’t see many birds on the walk, as they’re spread out and tend to stay away from the public paths, but there is an abundance of native plants and trees.

It’s not a difficult walk.  The path is well maintained and it takes about an hour to walk the loop (if you don’t keep stopping to take photographs).  We took a detour and went uphill (and upstairs) for a better view, so we took a bit longer.  There are a few tracks that branch off the Auckland City Walk, and I’ve done some of them previously.  The Montana Heritage Trail takes about four hours, and I’ve done that before.  The detour we took was a small portion of that track.

It was so good to be out and about with my camera.  I’ve missed taking photos.  Been too long.

It was really too hot to be bush walking today (it’s New Zealand’s hottest January on record), but it was nice to be out and about, and good to be taking photographs.  It’s Auckland Anniversary Day tomorrow (yay, no work!) so we’re hoping to head into town to capture some of the festivities.