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29 April 2010

I am the #7th Top User at Goodreads! :D

Oh wow! I just logged into my goodreads account and noticed the status under my picture. I am ranked Number 7 in the top users!!! Hoooollllieee sshheeett! I am sure it is just in Australia, and I did add nearly 200 books to my shelves this week, but hot damn! I am excited anyway LOL

Add me on goodreads if you are a user! I used to have all the other book networking sites, but decided that I needed to focus on just one site. I like the streamline design of goodreads, which is what it came down to. Booktagger is just all over the place, and unfortunately that overwhelmed the fact that it is Australian based and has great Australian competitions. Shelfari was a near call, but their shelves are bulky, and do not look that great when integrated into blog designs. I had others, but Booktagger and Shelfari were the only contenders with Goodreads.

Anyway, my url is if you want to compare books!

Quotes from Tumblr

Some quotes from my tumblr:

“Sometimes fiction is a way of coping with the poison of the world in a way that lets us survive it.”
- Neil Gaiman

"I met a wonderful new man. He’s fictional, but you can’t have everything."
- The Purple Rose of Cairo

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”
- Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

"How I wished I lived in a Jane Austen novel!"
- Dodie Smith, I Capture The Castle

"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe."
- Neil Gaiman, A Game of You

“I like the stars. It’s the illusion of permanence, I think. I mean, they’re always flaring up and caving in and going out. But from here, I can pretend…I can pretend that things last. I can pretend that lives last longer than moments. Gods come, and gods go. Mortals flicker and flash and fade. Worlds don’t last; and stars and galaxies are transient, fleeting things that twinkle like fireflies and vanish into cold and dust. But I can pretend…”
- Neil Gaiman, The Sandman

"People that like to read are always a little fucked up."
- Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides

"Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise."
- Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“I like nonsense — it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope… and that enables you to laugh at all of life’s realities.”
- Dr. Seuss

“Life isn’t finding shelter in the storm. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
- Sherrilyn Kenyon

“Life is what you make it. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. You can’t change the past, but the future isn’t set in stone. You can effect a change there. Move forward not with hatred or love. Move forward with purpose.”
- Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dream Chaser

“It’s good to have mysteries. It reminds us that there’s more to the world than just making do and having a bit of fun.”
- Charles de Lint

22 April 2010

Sherrilyn Kenyon "Note to Dark-Hunter fans"

Thank god she explained this! It has been driving me mad! Especially as I just reread some books before reading Bad Moon Riding. BMR has a completely different timeline for Nick, and it was screwing with my mind! Lay on MacDuff!
Source: Sherrilyn Kenyon's Facebook Notes

The Chronicles of Nick *is* Nick’s real and true past. There is a huge surprise (several actually) in the book that I don’t want to spoil, but when you read the book, everything you think is an inconsistency will make perfect sense to you. More than that, you will understand exactly why Nick is the way he is and why he continues to hate Acheron the way he does. But you have to be patient. All will be clear on May 25, 2010.

Nick’s series will run until it intersects with Night Pleasures and then Nick will have his own novel in the Dark-Hunter world.

Book one, Infinity, begins when Nick meets Kyrian.
Book two will pick up the next day after Infinity ends and will be out Feb 2011.

Remember the one promise that I try to keep in every book: Just when you think you know the truth about a character or event, you find out that things are seldom what they seem. Nick is one of those characters. There’s a lot more to our little Cajun than what you’ve seen to date. That’s why it takes 12 books to tell his story.

There are many, many secrets you’ll learn about a lot of characters, including Cherise and especially Jaden and Jared. Just hold on... you ain’t seen nothing yet :)

20 April 2010

Book jackets - face savers or design elements?

The literary range of BCJ
There is a new face on the market! Well, not a face, a cover that saves face. There is a website that caters to the reading and interior design markets called Book City Jackets. They have created a range of covers to slip over your book if you are embarrassed about what you are reading. You can make it look like you are reading "serious books” while you are actually reading your beloved trashy paperbacks. Or you can cover up an unattractive cover (I personally hate the Penguin Classics' orange covers, but that is just me) or a tattered cover with something attractive. They have two basic types of covers. One has the title of a classic literature novel (such as Moby Dick, Ulysses, War & Peace) emblazoned across the cover, the other has line art.

I am a bit scornful of the “serious” titles, but I have to admit the first romance novel I owned, I painted an abstract design and covered the book with it. I still have that book somewhere… I was 11 and didn’t want my friends know that I was reading M&B. Silly, because I was reading Sweet Valley University and some fantasy that was more graphic and more embarrassing in my peer group LOL I have reached the stage these days that proudly proclaim the fact that I love trashy paperbacks. I like reading paranormal romance, dabbling in romance, and I have always loved trashy fantasy and pulp science fiction (you know the type – they normally have over sized mammaries and rippling eight-packs!). I used to be embarrassed when people perve on my books on the trains, now if they show particular interest I just tell them it is a good book, show them a closer look at the cover if they are interested, and ignore them if their eyes pop out as they read a sex scene over my shoulder. I can’t help it that they have hang ups! I read what I read, and I am not going to hide it.

But others might wish to, and that is where these products come into play. You can cover up the bindings, the cheesy or raunchy images, the embarrassing titles or author’s details with something that is less suggestive of your reading habits and something that says “I only read big books”. Does anyone else look at these and think of a Film Noir spy in a trench coat, fedora and dark glasses? Surely it is more suspicious if you are obscuring the cover than if you were blending in? Ask someone who knows. I am more embarrassed of the M&B novel I covered as an 11 year old now as an adult than I was then. Now it is obvious I was trying to hide what I was reading LOL And it looks so out of place on my bookshelf. I think these covers would have more play in the house of someone conscious of interior design ascetics. If you are reading your books frequently, covering the bindings with non-related covers does not make much sense (it makes them harder to find) but if you are designing a pretty lounge room, they would be ideal. I think this comes down to the question – What is a book to you? Function or design element? If you answered design element, consider buying these in bulk. They are quite attractive. Better yet if anyone wants something like this, just buy some brown paper and some permanent pens… It is a hell of a lot cheaper!!

The pretty line art of the artistic range of BCJ
One of the unwrapped book jackets - I do love the kraken!

Stylish, no?

I freely admit that I want this book jacket! Maybe I should use it to cover my copy of Portrait of an Artist of a Young Man?

Pretty, it reminds me of some vintage children's books I read in my youth...
The design element... I couldn't find any that had the literary covers, but viewing the above pictures, you should get the gist.

So what do you think? Would you use these? I would love to hear your thoughts.

19 April 2010

Tip for blogspot bloggers...

I have a tip for bloggers here on blogspot who want pretty blogs but don't have the design skills (or time) to make them.
  1. Head to
  2. Click on Layout
  3. Click on Template Designer
  4. Pick the template you like the best! You can then change the backgrounds and colour schemes quite easily
Blogger in Draft has a lot of interesting new templates, and it will help those who currently have plain blogs against their will to find a more interesting design without needing to know any coding, design or to take up valuable time fiddling with graphics and code.

Here are some quick examples for you:

It is something to think about, anyway. And if you click the little check box at the top of you will be able to use all the unreleased features every time you start a new blog from your home page. I am really liking the new Insert Picture function because it links up to my Picasa Web Album - with all the other pictures I have ever inserted into this blog :D

15 April 2010

Twilight ranks among 'most challenged' 2009 books in America


The bestselling vampire-themed Twilight book series has entered the top 10 list of books US schools and public libraries were asked to remove from their shelves in 2009.

The American Library Association (ALA) report rates Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series fifth on the 2009 list -- its first year in the annual compilation.

The books, which have been turned into a blockbuster film franchise, have been challenged for their religious views, and for being sexually explicit and unsuitable for their targeted age group.

But the ALA's worst offender is Lauren Myracle's young adult novel series, ttyl, written entirely in the style of instant messages.

The series, which came top of the 2009 list, was challenged for nudity, offensive language and drugs.

And although they are no longer in the top 10, JK Rowling's Harry Potter series landed atop the 100 most frequently challenged books of the 2000-2009 decade.

Objections to the bestselling tales of the boy wizard have been raised over perceived anti-family and occult themes.

The ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom defines a challenge as a formal written complaint filed with a library or a school's request for the removal of material from bookshelves or a school curriculum.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom's director, Barbara Jones, says it received 460 such reports from a variety of sources in 2009, although few were successful.

"Even though not every book will be right for every reader, the ability to read, speak, think and express ourselves freely are core American values," she said.

Harper Lee's 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning classic To Kill a Mockingbird came fourth because of challenges on the grounds of racism and language.

Other books in the top five included And Tango Makes Three by Pater Parnell and Justin Richardson, and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Edit (19/4/2010)
Here is the top ten, and their reasons for censorship:

1. ttyl, ttfn, l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs

2. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality

3. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide

4. “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

6. “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

7. “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence

8. “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

9. “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

10. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

13 April 2010

Dymocks Booklovers’ Best of 2010

I nabbed this from Kat at Book Thingo. Here is the top 101 books that Dymocks ascribes as Australia's favourites (I assume it is either voted or the top sales of 2009?), with my annotated notes if I read them (or nearly read them, or plan to read them etc).

1 The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer – I was obsessed with the first three books until the fourth came out. I had problems with feminist issues but still enjoyed the ride
2 The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling – Loved them!
3 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Favourite book
4 The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
5 The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien – Grandfather of fantasy. I love Tom Bombadil!
6 The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak - Got a free copy, couldn’t get into it
7 To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee – Watched the old movie, haven’t attempted the book
8 The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
9 My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
10 The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
11 The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
12 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – Love it
13 Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – Still trying to read it
14 The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – Considering it
15 Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead - Great YA vamp fiction
16 Magician by Raymond E. Feist – BEST FANTASY!
17 Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
18 The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
19 Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
20 The Host by Stephenie Meyer – It is better than Twilight, a great read, and more deserving of the hype.
21 Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin
22 Atonement by Ian McEwan
23 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – I love it. I also loved Alan Lee's illustrations
24 Angels and Demons by Dan Brown - I read one page and threw it down in disgust. This is why I am thinking of starting an account at eBay
25 A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
26 Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon
27 Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
28 The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
29 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell – I plan to read it one day
30 Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden – I loved the film, but it isn’t the type of book I would read
31 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - Must read
32 Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden - A defining novel of my teen years
33 Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody - A defining novel of my teen years
34 The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
35 The Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini – I got halfway through Eragon before I had to return the book. Plan to buy it second hand
36 The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
37 Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
38 The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - I bought the Vintage Classic imprint (awesome cover) but I lost it, and I haven’t been able to read it yet. Did I lend it to you? Or did the mutant dust bunnies eat it?
39 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Best book of 2009! Add Catching Fire, and it was the best series of 2009! Cannot wait for Mocking Jay!
40 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
41 Ice Station by Matthew Reilly
42 The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay – Read as a teen
43 Persuasion by Jane Austen - One of my favourites. My second favourite Austen novel
44 Tully by Paullina Simons
45 Seven Ancient Wonders by Matthew Reilly
46 Breath by Tim Winton
47 The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare - Started reading this series, but freaked out when it seemed like incest. My friend assured me it wasn’t, so I plan to reread them
48 Life of Pi by Yann Martel
49 A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
50 The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
51 Emma by Jane Austen – I kept thinking of the movie Clueless way too much, so I didn't enjoy it at all. When you start thinking of the protagonist of a Jane Austen film as a plastic Paris Hilton type, all is lost!
52 The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
53 The Bible - Still haven’t finished it. I am maybe not the good little Christian girl I was as a child? I can still recite the names of the New Testament. Does that count?
54 Six Sacred Stones by Matthew Reilly
55 A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey
56 We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
57 The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – I love the imagery. Currently reading (along with 9 other novels - Sofia, don’t hit me! will finish it one day...)
58 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – Loved it!! It is very indicative of my childhood reading
59 The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
60 The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
61 People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
62 The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
63 The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
64 Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice - Hated it. Read it for uni, wasn't impressed, mostly because of the interview styling. Currently reading The Vampire Lestat, and enjoying that more.
65 Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky - It is on my unread shelf. One day....
66 The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris - I love the Sookie Stackhouse series. I also love the Harper Connelly series!
67 Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
68 Five Greatest Warriors by Matthew Reilly
69 On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta – I haven’t read it, but I love Melina Marchetta. I met her at the Italian Film festival a few years ago.
70 The Princess Bride by William Goldman – I love the movie, should read the book.
71 The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
72 Wicked by Gregory Maguire
73 Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
74 Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
75 Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
76 Dewey by Vicki Myron
77 Dirt Music by Tim Winton
78 Marley and Me by John Grogan
79 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
80 Dune by Frank Herbert – One of my favourite science fiction novels of all time
81 The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
82 The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
83 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - Read it
84 War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
85 The Road by Cormac McCarthy – Read ir
86 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
87 The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – I loved it as a chid. Still think The Horse's Boy is the best in the series
88 The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
89 Possession by AS Byatt
90 Finnikin of The Rock by Melina Marchetta – I want to read it
91 No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
92 Graceling by Kristin Cashore
93 The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
94 The Secret History by Donna Tartt
95 Silent Country by Di Morrissey
96 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
97 Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
98 The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
99 Still Alice by Lisa Genova
100 The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
101 Gallipoli by Les Carlyon

Read 22
Reading or have attempted reading 7
Want or plan to read 8

When the budget doesn't match the desire...

I have a dilemma! I think I worked out a solution, but it wasn't easy. I give myself a budget of $AU30 a fortnight to spend on books. I don't always stick to it, as I have also translated it into a max of three books if they total more than that budget. Hell, I don’t even always stick to that when I need to feed my addiction! But when I have a tight budget, I be a good little girl and stick to my budget. The problem is that I had ordered a number of books, and by chance, they have all arrived at the same time! So I need to try and decide what I should buy.

The Desert Spear - Peter V Brett $29.99
The Riven Kingdom - Karen Miller $22.99
Silver Borne - Patricia Briggs $19.99

That is more than $70! There are others out that I want, but they can wait. Both Brett and Miller are special orders, and had a 14 day period before they get taken off hold - both came in last week, so I need to get them ASAP. Silver Borne isn't, but I need a light read as well. Both The Desert Spear and The Riven Kingdom, if their predecessors are any indicator, are likely to be lovely thick novels, so I will need something light to break up all that epic fantasy (so I keep telling myself LOL). So I am torn. Do I buy two amazing books or three?! I am meant to be going to the zoo on the weekend because Kelley is moving back to Brisbane, and I will need money for that. I also need money because my mum should be coming down towards the end of my pay period. So I can't splurge like I have been lately (like I said, I try to be good, but it creeps up over $50 a lot lately). But I really really really REALLY want to read Silver Borne! I love the Mercy Thompson series, and this is the newest, just released, book in the series.... *must read*

I HATE DILEMMAS! I hate fighting myself and being sensible. Someone buy me a book?! Or a lottery ticket LOL

Tshirt design available at

12 April 2010

Q and A: The First Installment

I use formspring for both tumblr (1 & 2) and twitter. As most of my friends know I am a certified bookwyrm, I have been asked a lot of book related questions (although I haven't answered them all yet). I thought that I would share any book related questions and answers here.

Whats your favourite thing to do on a rainy day?
Stay in bed _all_ day, reading, snoozing and listening to the rain. The idea that I would't be at work on a rainy day is pure bliss! We had a gorgeous rainy day today, but I was in the office... Rain creates a morose type of day when you can't snuggle or dance in the rain!

You find $1000 (Don't ask where it came from, you just get $1000). What do you do with it?
I would buy a new bed and spend whatever was left over at Galaxy Bookstore!

What are 5 things you absolutely cannot live without?
Books, music, my loved ones, sleep (but doing a pretty good job of it) and the interwebs.

What is your idea of heaven?
To be a lady of leisure where I can spend all my time reading, going on archaeology digs and time to dedicate to my art (currently archaeology and art have sadly been put on the backburner - they don't fit in with my work schedule). My house would be renovated by myself, and I would have a large library room with wall to wall, ceiling to floor shelving, filled with all my favourite novels and non-fiction. I would also have an art studio that looked onto my veggie garden. My deerhound/wolfhound/dane Akasha would have run of the place and be plonked at the end of my reading couch whilst I spent hours and hours reading each day, and curled up on her own couch when I was working my studio. My friend Linda would get to baby-sit Akasha while I was travelling around Southeast Asia on archaeology excavations. I just sent myself to heaven thinking about all this and am now blissed out LOL

You can ask me more questions here:

07 April 2010

Review: Empress of Mijak by Karen Miller

Last week I finished reading Karen Miller's Empress of Mijak (Godspeaker #1). I haven't taken that long to read a book in years. I was reading it every chance I got, and it still took me 10 days to read it. The syntax in conversations is different from Modern English. It is very blunt and forthright, without any flowery language and sometimes drops prepositions (but with no discernable pattern). The actual bones of the story (everything that isn't a conversation) is very well written, so it was the need to  jump backwards and forwards in my thinking patterns which slowed my reading down. The book is just over 500 pages which, whilst on the long side, would normally not take too long to read. I was finding that discouraging to start with, because I REALLY wanted to find out what happened. I am not used to waiting so long for the ending, but the book was fascinating and well written, it kept me reading. I never peek at the last pages of books I am reading, but I was seriously tempted with the Empress of Mijak.

The book starts out with an unwanted, unschooled, unwashed, unnamed, untamed “she-brat” who is sold by her father to slavers. She decides to name herself as Hekat at that moment. The head slaver, Abajai, continuously says “Hekat is precious and beautiful, she is god-touched.” A phrase which is repeated throughout the book, both by others and by Hekat herself. From that moment when she is lead to the camel instead of being chained with the other slaves for the walk through the wastelands she thinks she is better than all others, that she is somehow above them. The way she treats the other slaves is with contempt, and her behaviour and attitudes to everyone but Abajai is full of pride, contempt and pettiness. I found her to be a spoilt little brat. To start you think it is just because for the first time in her life someone is treating her as a human, as something of worth, as special. But in this matter Hekat never grows up. Throughout the entire novel you see Hekat acting with both pride and contempt. I still cannot work out is she is god-touched or demon-touched, or just pain insane. She is an utter sociopath with no true social or emotional attachments until she has her son Zandakar. She says earlier in the novel that she loved Abajai, but I think she liked him because he thought she was special. The second her scorns her she lashes out at him remorselessly. Hekat seems so solely focused on the god, but at the same time, she ultimately one of the most self-focused characters I have ever came across. And whenever she does something, she says continues it was the god. “I didn’t kill that man who shamed me, the god did it” despite she was the one with the blade in her hand (or hand holding the pendant etc). And she seems to get away with it, because she sees herself as the instrument of the god’s will (as do those close to her), hearing his voice in her mind whenever she needs to justify her actions. But at the same time, outside factors also seem to indicate her motivations. She is self important, selfish, vain and unfeeling. She is not an admirable protagonist, like you usually find in the majority of fiction, but one that you cannot love nor find anything admirable in her personality or actions (aside from the whole knife dancer component, and you KNOW how I love my weaponry!). Even the love of Zandakar is inherently selfish, as she sees him as an extension of herself. Reading Empress of Mijaki was confusing and frustrating as all hell, as I was constantly internally debating her sanity and motivations. Yet at the same time, I enjoyed the ride!

I personally am not sure if Hekat and the others are led by the god or a demon. I was given to even more suspicion of their influences in the last quarter of the novel when Zandakar becomes the Hammer and goes off to do war. I am convinced that Hekat is unstable, whether she is god-touched or demon-touched is another matter of debate. In the first part of the novel I thought she might be a sociopath, but despite it being an unhealthy relationship, she does love her eldest son. Whether this is because she sees him as an extension of herself or for his own person is debatable. Regardless of which you choose, I do think it is an extremely unhealthy relationship, and I cannot say that love is true and unselfish. I liked the other characters, especially Raklion Vortka and Zandakar. You could see how Hekat was constantly manipulating them, and yet hadn’t truly broken their spirits. They chose to love her, and only one did so blindly. Dmitrak was a product of his upbringing. I could say that I was surprised at his actions in the last chapter or so, but I would be lying.

The novel was so seductive despite the fact that I abhorred the main character and her machinations.  The Mijaki world is so fascinating and the characters and plots are so detailed and mysterious. It is very barren, very primal, very arid and desolate. The culture is rich and colourful, with a very strict socio-economic tiered system, ranging from slaves up to the warlord elite. Normally when I read fiction the cultures are so obviously harking back to societies in our past or present. An author can try to create a completely new culture, but they very often fail and just give a new name to the people, land, customs and artefacts. Karen Miller was successful. Whilst the culture seems vaguely reminiscent of a Middle Eastern culture, or perhaps one from the Steppes, the Gobi, even perhaps Medieval Himalayan cultures, there is no one thing that ties it into ANY culture I have ever come across. Myself having a background in both archaeology and anthropology means I normally can notice such things, and I am having trouble doing so with the Mijaki world. If I compare it to anything, I keep coming back to the Dune series, but I think that is because the lifestyle is so basic; nothing is taken for granted, life is harsh, and they deal with it. I read a review where the reader was positive that it was based on Assyrian cultures whilst at a city-state stage, but I would personally disagree with that assumption. Yes, the Assyrians were a bloody waring nation that celebrated the strength and might of their warriors, but a lot of cultures have these aspects. Other examples of this are the Spartans and the Mongols and I wouldn’t say that the Mijaki are wholly reminiscent of these either. If I was to make any parallel of Middle Eastern cultures, I would have said the Majaki had more in common with the Persians or Scythians, and not just for their attitudes towards war. However, I find just as many parallels in the Steppes, the Gobi Desert and Himalayan cultures as I do the Middle Eastern ones. The religion in this novel is also completely alien to me which was extremely refreshing. I keep scanning my memory banks for comparable religions, and all I can think of are some of the earliest religions, solely due to the iconography. I am seriously impressed with this book! The religion of the Mijaki god is filled full of iconography of the scorpion, as well as other deadly or scavenging desert creatures. The religion is based on a monotheic god who requires utter devotion and placating with blood and sacrifice. Important individuals (chosen ones) have personal relationships with the god, where he talks to them and gives them divine powers. He is seen as a guiding deity, but one which allows no lapse in behaviour, no matter how seemingly trivial. One lapse can result in a divine smiting (without human intervention) or, if lucky, harsh penance in the godhouses. The religious dogma also contains demons, which seduce people into sinning against the god. This is a major theme, as when ever a people or individual go against the Et-Raklion (or other Mijaki city-state) diarchy, that individual or group is seen as possessed by demons and is either killed by “divine” proclamation or “smitten” (brutal penance meted out by the godspeakers).  I would say the Mijaki culture is a diarchy, not a stratocracy, despite the warlord having absolute rulership over the people, I would also argue that the head godspeaker is the other half of the ruling party, he controls the religious aspects of the society, which is also arguably also an absolute rulership over the people. There is a lot of tension between the warlord and the head godspeaker when they perceive their roles overlap. An example of this is when they go to raze the first city, and the political/martial and religious realms have overlapped to the extent that they cannot decide whose task it is to raze the city. Despite this, they work in harmony, or at least with only personal tension, to govern first their city state, and later on, their Mijaki empire. You may think I have gotten too in depth with cultural, religious and political discussions, but this book is just so detailed that I had to delve into those waters. I think this is one of the reasons I found this book so fascinating! I haven't been this engrossed since I discovered Suzanne Collins!!

This is the first novel for the Aussie Reading Challenge, and one of the books of the Oceanic component of the Global Reading Challenge. I ordered the second book in the trilogy, The Riven Kingdom, as soon as I finished Empress of Mijak.
5/5 Stars 
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