More [belated] book reviews

Way back in 2022, I wrote a post in which I reviewed 3 wonderful books. At the end of that post I promised to show you more of my reviews…and then I forgot. Actually, that’s not completely true. I kept remembering, but always at the wrong times – like during critical chores, or Christmas, or mowing etc etc. You know how it is…

Anyway, no more excuses. Here, for all my favourite bookworms, is the second lot of reviews!

The Steerswoman – Rosemary Kirstein

Innovative fantasy meets Rowan Holmes

Forgive the play on words in the title, but I absolutely loved how the female protagonist – Rowan – uses the power of deduction [like Sherlock Holmes] to solve the mysteries of her world.

And what a world. Technology is at a medieval level, and wizards do use true magic, but there is also a strong hint that this society DE-volved from a higher level. The Guidestars are a hint, as are some of the so-called magics that go booooom! So perhaps it’s no accident that Steerswomen like Rowan use a logic as their ‘super power’.

The scifi tragic in me loves this mix of elements, including the mysteries themselves, and I can hardly wait to read the next book in the series to find out more about this intriguing world.

Very highly recommended.

[Since leaving this review on Amazon, I have, in fact, read all of the books in the Steerswoman series to date, and my respect for the author has just gone up with each new book. Really a fabulous series!]

Tuyo – by Rachel Neumeier

Intriguing world, compelling characters

Tuyo is set in a strange world in which the summer lands are physically separated from the winter lands by a river, a wide river but still…just a river. The people of this strange world are radically different on opposite sides of the river.

I admit, I scratched my head a bit over this world, especially as everything else seems perfectly reasonable and right. Luckily my initial doubts were quickly put to rest by the story and the two main characters, who completely sucked me in. One is a summer man, the other is a winter man, but they find a point of mutual understanding in friendship. Along the way, they have to survive the machinations of an evil sorcerer who’s intent on taking over the minds and wills of those around it.

How the two protagonists survive is down to friendship and trust.

I really enjoyed this story and recommend it to lovers of fantasy with that ‘something more’.

The London Collection – by Jane Davis

A boxed set of 3 excellent novels

I first fell in love with Jane Davis’ work while reading ‘Smash All the Windows’ [one of the novels in this collection]. I enjoyed the other two novels as well – Davis really does know how to write! – but ‘Smash All the Windows’ remains my favourite and I’d buy the collection again, just for that one novel.

Very highly recommended

A new decade requires a new Meeka pic

I don’t advertise my birthdays, unless they’re the ones that end in zero, so here is an updated pic of me with Golli… at age 70 [me, not the cat!]:\

And before anyone asks, no, I have not gone blond in my old age. That’s white. Neither of my parents went completely white, but my paternal grandmother did. She had the softest, whitest hair imaginable, so I hope I’ve taken after her. There are still darker bits at the back but by next decade, I expect to be white all over!

Golli is getting on too. Despite being the runt of the litter and slightly brain damaged from a car accident when he was young, Golli has outlasted all of his siblings. He’s the last man standing.

I asked the Offspring to take this photo because Golli is notoriously hard to photograph – he blends in so much. Once I saw the photo, I realised it would do nicely for me too. 😀

For my birthday this year, the Offspring and I went to a huge, outdoor Trash & Treasure and picked up some gorgeous plants. It was the first real ‘outing’ we’ve had in a very long time, and despite being masked and using gallons of hand sanitiser, we had a wonderful time.

My 70th was not an amazing d-birthday like 40, 50 and 60, but it was still memorable because despite Covid, it was fun. We also departed from tradition on the food front: instead of cake, I asked for and demolished some hot jam donuts from a food van. That was enormous fun too. 🙂

Simple pleasures long denied. That’s all you can ask of a major milestone.

And now, back to work. After months of doing nothing but mowing and working on the odd video, I’ve started back into graphics again. I’m working on a ‘skeleton’ for the Vokh so I can do a more realistic image of them in different poses. I’m making the skeleton in Corel Draw rather than a 3D program because I don’t want to go down another rabbit hole so soon after emerging from the last one. Hopefully, my 2D efforts will be good enough to get the ‘physics’ of the pose right.

If it works, you’ll be the first to see. If not…you’ll know about that too. lol


Not good enough, Coles!

Every camel has a straw that breaks its back, and I’ve just had mine! It’s a small straw, but as with the camel, it’s the last in a long line. In fact, the line stretches all the way back to the beginning of the pandemic when the Offspring and I first started to self-isolate.

But first, for non-Australians, who or what is Coles?

Coles is one of the two major supermarket chains in Australia. The other one is Woolworths. When the pandemic struck, Woolworths was the first to provide online shopping. Coles scrambled to follow, but their service has never been quite as good. What Coles do offer is $2 home delivery at certain times of the day. As I’m on a fixed income [pension], cheap delivery is a huge selling point. But no more.

I am not going to be using Coles’ online shopping any more because I have NEVER had a delivery that was exactly what I ordered. Most of the time I shrug it off because the substitute item[s] is ‘close enough’. The substitution for this last order though, makes no sense.

This is what I ordered:

Click on the image to make it bigger.

Essentially, I ordered two different kinds of chilled cat food. Chilled cat food is fresh meat. One sort wasn’t supplied at all. For the second one – circled in red – the ‘Picker’ substituted ‘wet cat food’ – i.e. tinned cat food.

The wet cat food looks like this:

I never order that stuff because Golli won’t eat it, which makes the substitution doubly annoying because Golli isn’t eating much of anything at the moment, but he does seem to like the ones that weren’t ‘available’.

Knowing how many types of chilled cat food [fresh meat] there are to choose from, I logged in to the Coles website and went to the chilled cat food section, to see if everything was ‘out of stock’. This is what I found [about half an hour ago]:

As you can see, there are TEN kinds of chilled cat meat and only one of them is out of stock [the purple one bottom right]. Curiously, the cat food I ordered is still showing as available.

So this is my question: even if my chosen cat food were out of stock, why not substitute it with some other chilled cat meat? Why select something completely different?

I rang Coles and asked that very question but did not get any kind of an answer. The only thing the customer service person could offer was a refund. But to get the refund I have to send the unwanted cat food back with the driver. And that means:

  • sitting by the front door between 11 and 12 so I can catch the driver when he arrives, [contactless delivery]
  • masking up
  • putting on gloves
  • going through each bag
  • finding the cat food and explaining that he’s to take it back

And no, I’m not exaggerating. Being in protective self-isolation means we wash or ‘air’ [leave outside for 3 days] everything we buy before we bring it inside the house. So for me to go out and return the offending cat food is a big deal, but I can’t afford to waste $5 on something I’ll just throw away.

A $2 delivery fee is simply not worth this much angst. Just not good enough Coles. Not. Good. Enough.


Luna the Panthera, or life with a BIG cat

As I’m doing a lot of work on Youtube these days, I can’t avoid some of the fascinating videos presented to me, and the videos about Luna have become a daily addiction.

This one is a Q&A type video about Luna’s life with two humans. The language is Russian, and they all live in Siberia. Enjoy. 🙂


Old is New in battery storage

Renewables and battery storage have become mainstream topics in the last few years, and everyone knows about lithium ion batteries. Correction: everyone owns at least one, in their smartphones. But those batteries do have a number of downsides, including the fact that they can start fires .

On a more global scale, the concern is cost, so finding cheaper, safer forms of large scale storage is critical if we want to transition away from fossil fuels before we all turn into shish kebabs. Given the corporate obsession with profit at any cost, ‘cheap’ and ‘change’ seem to be joined at the hip, so I hope these new-old technologies become mainstream soon.

The video below describes one of the oldest and cheapest contenders for large scale battery storage:


#AtoZChallenge: Genres–Xperimental Fiction

I’ve just met a Kindred Spirit and her name is Sheri Kennedy a.k.a. Kennedy J Quinn. Like me, she studied Philosophy at uni, and like me, she thinks and writes outside the box.
In fact, the whole article is about Experimental Fiction, and I love it because for the first time ever, I know what to call Vokhtah. It’s not straight scifi. It’s not straight fantasy, and it doesn’t fit into any of the other sub-genres either. Until now. Vokhtah has a home, and I’m thrilled.
I’m off to check out Sheri’s novel ‘Feeling Human’!

The A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post 26 articles on a themed topic. It’s supposed to be every day except Sundays during the month of April but I find that too busy and decided to post mine ‘about’ once a month. Yes, it’ll take me a couple of years. Sigh.

My topic, like the last three times, will be writing genres.

This genre:


Xperimental Fiction

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Jacinda Ardern’s resignation and social media

As an Aussie, I would have welcomed New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, with open arms, especially back when the SmugMonster was PM. To hear that New Zealanders have hounded her from office is shocking to say the least. What’s more shocking still is the role social media has played in forcing her out.
Humans have always had the capacity to join a mob and wreak havoc, but social media has manipulated that trait by using algorithms that amplify ‘strong emotions’.
Anger, hate and fear are some of the most powerful and primitive emotions we humans share. It’s scary to think that pieces of code can turn us into mindless hate machines.
And for what?
To sell advertising.
At some point, governments are going to have to criminalise this abuse of power.

Matthew Wright

This week’s resignation of New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, was something of a surprise, but for me not too surprising. Her reasons – not enough in the tank for another three-year term – were sound enough. If you haven’t got the energy left for the job, it’s professional to step down, and with an election in 11 months her party needed stability at the top well before the run-up to the polls. But I can’t help thinking about how hard a run Ardern has had of late in any case, thanks to the explosive and often mysogynistic hatred relentlessly levelled at her on local social media. This must, surely, have been an energy-sapping experience.

I should explain for my international readers: Arden has an enormous international profile globally as a progressive world leader. But in New Zealand she has become the focus of an incredible vortex of hate, mostly…

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Pride’s Children PURGATORY, NETHERWORLD 0.99 or free

I’ve read both books and loved them, reviewed them too, and I only review books that I consider /special/.
Grab a copy while the price is right. 🙂


If you have ever wanted to read my novels – there’s a Kindle Countdown deal starting Jan. 12 at 8am (GMT in the UK, and PT in the US) at 0.99, and all the details are at the books’ blog.

There are also instructions for creating a free BookSprout account, downloading the ebooks for free – in exchange for writing a review. I have ZERO control over the review content, as it should be, and love to read what readers think.

I’m the worst marketer ever, in addition to one of the slowest, but I LOVE my blog readers to get a bargain.


A friend said you should consider a blogger’s fiction if you like their posts – makes sense.

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Top 2022 #BookReviews (and #Goodreads rundown)

What a great start to the day! I had no idea Jacqui Murray’s review of Innerscape was so popular. -dance-

I love reading. I prefer to do that than watch TV, go to the gym, floss my teeth, pay bills, or wash the laundry. I review a lot of the books I read, usually received from NetGalley, the library, Kindle Unlimited, or an Indie efriend, but I also buy quite a few. I collect my writing book reviews here and my education ones here. When I read, I choose thrillers, historical fiction, education (for my other passion), and then anything else.

Here are the top ten reviews–ranked by you–for 2022 (in alphabetic order):

  1. Hues of Hope by Balroop Singh
  2. Innerscape trilogy by acFlory
  3. Linda’s Midlife Crisis by Toni Pike
  4. The Necromancer’s Daughter by Diana Peach
  5. Searching for Home by Jill Weatherholt
  6. Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate series
  7. Sierra Six by Mark Greaney
  8. A Voice in the Silence by DL Finn
  9. Where Shall I Flee by Anne Clare
  10. The…

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A tree house that’s a work of art

Apologies for being so quiet lately, but I’ve been fighting a losing battle with grass. I mow it and move on to the next spot, but as soon as I turn my back, the spot I’ve just done grows a foot over night. By the time I’ve done as much as I can outside, I’m too pooped to do more than the necessities inside. When I stop, I look at videos of beautiful in-game houses. This one has become my all time favourite.

I feel rested and restored just looking at it. Hope it gives you the same sense of ‘time out’.


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