Friday, 10 December 2010

Let Narnia be Narnia

I keep reading articles that make me want to voice an opinion, but the fact of the matter is I'm too lazy to do so. Well, I have nothing to do at the moment, so I thought I'd comment on this article about the new Narnia movie, The voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Disclaimer: I am not Christian. Or Buddhist. Or Muslim.

The article discusses who Aslan is, and the role of Christianity in the Narnia books.

"Aslan symbolises a Christlike figure, but he also symbolises for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries," says Liam Neeson, who voices Aslan (all italicised quotes are from the stuff.co.nz article).

C S Lewis, who wrote the books the movies are based on, said that Aslan is based on Jesus. But you know what? We all interpret things differently, and it makes sense that to Neeson, Aslan means something different than it would to, say, a fundamental Christian. No problems there.

Aslan, wrote Lewis, "is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question: 'What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia?'"
But Dawn Treader producer Mark Johnson agrees with the, shall we say, more inclusive analysis from Neeson.

Excuse me? Are you complaining about an author's explanation of his own book? He wrote it with a specific meaning in mind, but he didn't make that meaning explicit so readers could still read it as a secular book. He allowed people to interpret it how they wanted to (like Neeson did), and then he explained in a separate piece of writing, for those interested, the meaning behind the book.

"We don't want to favour one group over another ... whether these books are Christian, I don't know," Johnson added.

Well. C S Lewis specifically says they are Christian. But whether the author's right, who knows?

It makes me angry that an author is now, apparently, not allowed to have his own subtextual religious meanings in a book. The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe is a retelling of Jesus' life: that's what it was based on. If a similar author wrote a book with a character based on Buddha or Mohammed, I hope no-one would suggest the character should represent Jesus as well. Because that would be disrespectful.

Allow the author to believe what he believes, and allow the book to mean what it means. Re-interpret it in any way you want; any character can symbolise anything you want, to you; but don't call the author non-inclusive for putting his personal beliefs into his creative work.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Comments

Due to a recent influx of spam by anonymous users, comments have now been closed to anonymous users. You can still leave a comment with an Open ID or other type of account, though.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

RIP Pike River miners

I hope they were killed in the initial explosion.

I hope they didn't suffer.

My heart goes out to the families and the community.

RIP, Pike River miners.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

10 of 30: Short skirt on a windy day

I've worn this dress before a few times, but always with leggings or jeans underneath. Today I decided to go outside my comfort zone (again) and try this dress on its own with tights.

I like the look, but I've discovered the dress has a bad tendency to bunch up in the front when I'm walking — not a good look when it's already got as short a skirt as this does! And when the day has any wind in it — as today did — I keep instinctively pulling my skirt down, even if it didn't need it. The skirt is so loose and light I barely feel it, which is a bad thing — I was paranoid all day that my skirt had ridden up/flown up in front of/behind me and I just couldn't feel it!

I do still like the dress — it's warm and bright — but I think I'll look for a new way to wear it.

And please, ignore my hair — Dan took this photo of me at the end of the day, by which time my hair seems to have gone rogue.

30 for 30

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

9 of 30: Broken button

What do you do when you put on a shirt and the bottom button breaks off?

You hide it. A use for my high-waisted skirt — plus I get to wear my new skirt ("new" = bought a couple of weeks ago). I think the overall effect looks similar to a dress. It's a bit short for my comfort — but I'm trying to get out of my comfort zone lately! Another way this worries my comfort zone is the extreme brightness of the orange shirt. I am not a bright colours person — they don't suit me at all, I'm far too pale. But as I say, trying to branch out... and wearing the high-waisted skirt (and a black blazer) hid nearly all that orange!

30 for 30

Thursday, 11 November 2010

4 of 30: Dinner with the in-laws

Well, they technically aren't in-laws, but Dan and I went out for dinner with his mum and sister.

Dress: Pagani; heels: Overland.

I look really angry — at the sun, for shining in my eyes and blinding me!

This was the first time I've worn this dress, which I got a few weeks ago — and also the first time I've worn those footless tights properly. Granted, I have technically worn them before, but usually with socks under boots; I was never quite brave enough to wear them as footless. I'm not quite sure why not.

I've been wanting to wear this dress for a while, but couldn't find a necklace to go with them. I found a necklace a few days ago and tried it on with the dress - it's not perfect, but it'll do!

Oh, and Dan's mum commented on my outfit and said I looked very sophisticated. (The photo does not reflect any sophistication, but it does show you shouldn't take photos staring into the morning sun.)

My normal clothes are safer (and cover more leg), but my 30 for 30 outfits have just attracted a couple more comments, and compliments. It's nice — for someone who doesn't usually take much interest in what I wear, I like it.

30 for 30

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

3 of 30: Day at the office

I know this may seem like I've skipped straight from 1 to 3, but trust me, there was a 2 in there. There were even photos, but I took them myself, and the photos were all so dark and fuzzy — and I looked, for some reason, so angry in all of them — that I couldn't face putting them online.

Just a nice simple professional look for work today. I don't think my trouser-legs are quite as wide as they look in this photo, though! It's not a beautiful photo, but I did like the outfit.


Top: Pagani; trousers: Glassons; jacket: Ezibuy; sandals: Hannahs.

It was a beautiful warm day today, and tomorrow's meant to be even hotter. Yay summer!

30 for 30

Monday, 8 November 2010

1 of 30: Visiting the aunts

Today I was excited to be going round to visit two of my aunts — my mother's two sisters — whom I don't see very often. It's a couple of months since I've seen the one; a couple of years since I've seen the other.

As I also had to go to work today, I wanted a look that was professional enough for work, but which also looked attractive. My trousers were too boring; my high-waisted skirt too formal; my mini too mini; my jeans too casual. That left me with my charcoal skirt, which was warm enough for a semi-cold day and still looks nice, but has (I feel) a bit of character in it as well — maybe it's the asymmetrical belt. I actually wanted my sleeveless white shirt for this outfit, but it was in the wash, so I remixed the skirt with my red and black shirt — a mix I was really dubious about, but which I loved in the end. It's such a simple mix! Yet it's not something I would have done if I had had more choice.

Top: Pagani; skirt: Ezibuy; boots: Number One Shoes; singlet: no idea.

I had a great time with my aunts, and one of them commented I looked very sophisticated.

"Oh, I just came straight from work," I laughed. Entirely true.

But also nice to get the compliment. :)

30 for 30

Sunday, 7 November 2010

30 for 30

It's been a little while since I've done a challenge (apart from the New Authors Challenge, which I'm still doing), and when I saw this one, I couldn't resist. The difference is that it isn't a reading or writing challenge!

30 for 30

The rules are: choose 30 items of clothing from your wardrobe (including shoes; not including underwear, jewellery and accessories), and remix those items into 30 different outfits over the following 30 days. No shopping allowed; no other items allowed.

It's an unwritten expectation that you also photograph yourself in each of these outfits and post them on the blog, and to be honest it's this that's the sticking point for me. I'm not too much of a photo person, I barely ever wear makeup, and I never do anything with my hair. Most of the other people who have signed up for this have style/clothes blogs; most of them are, I assume, stylish people. I... am not. I love clothes, but I'm unimaginative with the way I dress, and I want to change that.

I've expanded the rules a bit for myself. I'm counting scarfs, tights and belts as accessories; I'm counting socks and singlets as underwear. I'm also not including gym clothes in the count, because I have no particular desire to jazz up the shorts and old tees I wear to the gym.

But I've chosen my 30 items — and wow, are my clothes unremixable!

Three skirts
Three skirts
Two pairs of trousers, a pair of leggings, and jeans
Two pairs of trousers, a pair of leggings, and jeans
Two jackets, a dress and a tunic
Two jackets, a dress and a tunic
Heels for work, three pairs of sandals and two boots
Shoeses! (Also bootses)
Three shirts for work
Three shirts for work
Four knitwear tops
Four knitwear tops
Black and white: reliable fallbacks
Black and white: reliable fallbacks
A bit of colour for the wardrobe
A bit of colour

Friday, 29 October 2010

Half a loaf

I'm so sick of people complaining.

In my email, on Facebook, at work, in the news. All the time.

Guess what? Things are actually pretty good. We have comfortable lives where we can afford to be sheltered and fed and clothed; we have friends and partners; we have so much spare time we don't know what to do with it all. And we can say we don't have enough money, but if we have enough for alcohol, smokes, chocolate and takeaways, we have enough money.

I liked the fact that on the front page of the Dominion Post today there was a really positive article about The Hobbit, after a few days where everyone's been complaining non-stop.

First an actors' union was complaining; then people started blaming unions for Warner Brothers potentially going overseas with The Hobbit; and once John Key met with executives to secure its filming here, people complained about the tax break he agreed to, and about John Key using it as an excuse to "sell human rights" — in other words, effect a law which will mean people working on the film will be contractors instead of employees.

1. As far as I can tell, this just means they'll just have a different contract — a way of working that painters, electricians and so on have no problem being on already.

2. Most of the tax break would have been provided anyway, and the total is still far less than the money the film is expected to bring in.

People complain about an issue; and once it's fixed, it feels like people just find an issue with the fix to complain about.

Can't we just be happy the movie's staying here, which is what we wanted? Can't we look at how much it will bring in as well as how much is being spent? It seems so one-sided.

I'm normally a pretty happy person, and I do try to find the positive, but it's starting to bring me down.

It's not like I can stop reading the news — that is actually my job.

But the news isn't the problem. It's people's attitude: constantly complaining, or being mean about others behind their backs, or being ungrateful for half a loaf from the government because you feel you should have got a whole one. If you're getting something for nothing, be happy with half a loaf.

I feel like declaring a Positivity Day; but probably no-one would join in. I feel like listing everything good with the world; but I'd be mocked for being cheesy.

But I do feel lucky. I have a job I love; my boyfriend is moving down here next week; I have a beautiful house and a cuddly cat; I work in a city I love. And it's nearly summer.

Maybe everyone doesn't have as good a life as mine. But most of the people I've been listening to whine and complain are people who have lives just as good.

I wish we'd think about what we do have, not what we don't.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Author guest post: Looking on the Write Side (Janice Hardy)

Just over a year ago, I interviewed debut author Janice Hardy about her new book The Shifter (aka The pain merchants). Barely a year later, Janice is doing another blog tour for her new book, Blue fire, sequel to The shifter. Janice stopped by here for a guest post about some occupational hazards of writing:

Looking on the Write Side
One of the things I’ve noticed over the last few years is that it’s getting harder to turn off my inner editor when I read for fun. Things I never would have noticed before jump out at me. Sometimes this is good, as I’ve noticed subtleties in work I might have missed, but other times it hurts my enjoyment of the story because I see things that I feel someone should have caught and fixed, or see things that I would have done differently.

I’ve accepted this as an occupational hazard of being a writer. I know too much about the inner workings of crafting a story, so I’m naturally more critical of what I read. But I have found a few ways to help counteract my writerly nature.

Don’t read on the computer
For me, computer = work. Either I’m working on my own manuscript or critiquing one for a friend. This is one reason why I’ve been resisting e-books, because a screen makes me look at the words with a more critical eye.

Don’t read right after an editing session
I’ve found that when I’m in editor mode and working on revisions, I can’t get out of that mindset right away. I need time to let the brain spin down.

Read something different from what I’m working on
A different genre, market, or even POV made it easier to see the story and not the text. It’s clearly "not my work" so my inner editor could sit back and relax.

Turning off my writer’s brain isn’t as easy as flipping a switch, but most days I can usually find a way to lose myself in the story and not look at how it was created.

More about Blue Fire:

Part fugitive, part hero, 15-year-old Nya is barely staying ahead of the Duke of Baseer’s trackers. Wanted for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, she risks capture to protect every Taker she can find, determined to prevent the Duke from using them in his fiendish experiments. But resolve isn’t enough to protect any of them, and Nya soon realizes that the only way to keep them all out of the Duke’s clutches is to flee Geveg. Unfortunately, the Duke’s best tracker has other ideas.

Nya finds herself trapped in the last place she ever wanted to be, forced to trust the last people she ever thought she could. More is at stake than just the people of Geveg, and the closer she gets to uncovering the Duke’s plan, the more she discovers how critical she is to his victory. To save Geveg, she just might have to save Baseer — if she doesn’t destroy it first.

You can find out more about Janice through her blog, or buy Blue Fire online at Barnes & Noble or The book depository.

Hiatus over

So, I'm coming out of my unofficial hiatus! My first post back will not actually be mine, but will be a guest post by Janice Hardy, author of The shifter (aka The pain merchants), and now with a second book out, Blue fire.

Life's been a little busy lately as I get settled in with new house, new job and now Dan moving down here next week — yay — but hopefully things will become somewhat settled again now.

So... watch this space.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Review: The personal shopper (Carmen Reid)

The personal shopper is the first book in Carmen Reid's series about Annie Valentine, a single mum in London with two kids. Annie's a personal shopper, helping other people shop for a living, and it makes sense that with her fantastic discount she'll snag a couple of bargains for herself....

But unlike the heroine in the Shopaholic books (which I like and own), Annie's shopping isn't what lands her in a mess. It was surprising for me to read a book where the heroine is so mature and responsible, actually. Sure, she probably buys a bit (a lot) too much, and she has plenty of faults, but she works 24/7 to pay for her kids' private school; she's determined to give them the best of everything, and to me that's really admirable. Sure, she screws up, but she tries hard.

Let's be fair here. I don't like the writing style. For starters, I'm not a big fan of triple exclamation marks all over the place!!! I feel the words and quality of the writing should convey the emotion — not the exclamation points. Also, the writing style seemed obvious — it spelled things out that didn't need to be. I like when authors give me credit for a little intelligence.

It was pretty obvious who the hero would be, too, but I did like that he didn't tick all her superficial checkboxes. I liked that Mr Wrong wasn't evil in any way. He was an OK guy; he was just wrong for her. That seemed more realistic to me, instead of hauling in drama for the sake of drama.

I really liked Annie. She was down-to-earth, cheeky, loving and independent. I loved that independent streak — while she dreamed of having a man to provide for her, it's not what she'd actually choose: she'd rather be able to support herself. I didn't like her parenting, but I'm not a parent, so shouldn't judge.

The best thing about Annie was her honesty. She never lied, and she didn't put up with anyone else lying to her. Annie was beautifully honest and lovely with people; her London charm shone through the book and charmed me.

The book wasn't as funny as the Shopaholic series, and I didn't like Annie's fashion sense hugely, and it didn't make me feel like I was shopping, or make me want to go shopping, like the Shopaholic series does.

But The personal shopper was far more realistic. Everything felt completely believable, and I guess that's the subtle part of a writer's skill. If she can do that and make me love her characters — even the annoying ones — then despite annoyances like triple exclamation marks, I'm looking forward to buying and reading the next Annie Valentine book.

(And by Book 2 she might be down to single punctuation marks. I can but hope.)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Why you do work experience

"What's that you say? You have review books lying around you don't want? In that huge box over there? Well, let me just have a look through and see if there are any I can help you get rid of... for your sake, obviously."

This is why you do work experience at a newspaper.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Train station romance

It's interesting seeing life unfolding around you, little stories and life adventures beginning everywhere, romances, partners for life enjoying their time together.

I see so many friendships, romances, reunions at the train station. This morning, a curly-haired blonde woman, wheeled suitcase in hand, a smile on her face as she walks up to her boyfriend or partner. The two talk for a minute, standing intimately close, smiling, and then she stands up on her tiptoes and he lowers his head and they kiss, brief but tender. There's something so romantic about it, so loving.

I feel like I should be resentful of them, bitter that they can be together and that I can't be with my boyfriend during the week, but I'm not. It's just happy to see couples together and in love, not making a display of it but not hiding it, just happy to be together.

And then I feel lucky because I feel that is what I have with my boyfriend, and I'm lucky I only live a couple of hours from him, I see him every weekend, and I'm so lucky to have the life I have.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Making old friends

I'm on a mission. Its objective? Make old friends.

New friends are easy to make. Old friends live in different cities or even countries. Old friends have different interests, have grown apart, have new friends and partners and careers. It's harder to start a conversation with old friends, because once you've got the "big" stuff out of the way, it's somehow harder to just do the small talk thing.

We're old friends, you think. What happened? We used to talk so easily about everything and anything.

But life happened. Life got in the way. Some people — like Old Friend Angela — are fantastic at keeping up with people. But more people are like me. I get lazy. I get busy. I get so bogged down in living life that I forget my old friends.

I'll be honest: I'm not a very nice person. I can be cold. If I don't care enough about an Old Friend, or they try my patience too hard — I'll drop them.

It's selfish, isn't it? I don't like this about me.

But that doesn't apply to some friends. I realise years after losing touch with some friends that I've done so, and I feel really, deeply sad. I want to meet up with them, do coffee, go shopping, hang out, talk about stupid little things. I want to have an awkward conversation where we move past the big things and have no small talk to fill in the gaps, the kind of conversation before you start to become real friends again.

And I'm on a mission to try to reclaim some of my Old Friends. Two, in particular.

The first is my best friend from childhood, Rachel, whose family lived overseas with my family. We were best friends — until my family moved back to New Zealand, and then we lost touch purely because I was lazy.

The other makes me really sad: my sister. I've only talked to her once this year. Life keeps getting in the way for both of us, but I don't want to let that be a reason any longer: my sister is far too important to me. I know what happens in her life, the big things, but we don't have that awesome sisterly bond any more, where we could discuss anything, where we acted stupid, where conversations ranged from the deep to the ridiculous to the awkwardly personal.

New friends are easy to make. But I want my old friends back.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Review: Play dirty (Sandra Brown)

Play DirtyI really wasn't sure what to expect from this book. While I don't normally read crime/thriller/mystery books, I couldn't put this down.

I wasn't sucked in by the book immediately, but pretty soon I was caught up in its world, mentally begging a character not to make a move that you know he's going to make, and gradually growing to like the "good" guys and really hate the "bad" guys.

I didn't entirely accept all of the story — the romance and the villain's motivations were somewhat unbelievable — but all in all, the book was well told, with details that brought it to life and made the characters seem believable.

And while I don't usually like secrets about the main character being kept from the reader, it worked very well in this instance. This is the first book I've read by Sandra Brown, but it's clear she's a talented author who knows exactly what she's doing, and she revealed the extra clues and final story perfectly, I thought.

And there were a couple of little twists in there that I liked.

Parental warning? Not really needed. Very little description of any violence, and while there are a couple of sex scenes, they are (except for the last one) actually necessary to the story's development. Just trust me on this one.

In fact, read the book. You'll see what I mean.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Vampires suck

Vampires, I think, are best to stick to the odd horror flick, although comedies with them can be pretty good as well. But romance? Doesn't do it for me. I gotta agree with these guys: I'm sick of the modern vampire-romance genre.

But today I saw this: Vampires suck. (Technically I wonder if they would suck, since they're more famous for biting, but I suppose they need to draw the blood out somehow. Yes, I know it's meant to be a pun, but it's a stupid pun and I just like these things to be accurate as well as, y'know, punny.)

I thought the trailer was awesome when I thought it was just a spoof, like the Minesweeper movie. But apparently it's going to be an actual movie, which will no doubt be terrible.

But I still like the trailer.

Friday, 16 July 2010

I'll tell you a secret

I'll tell you a secret: I wish I could be Christian.

I wish I knew there was a god out there. I wish I thought there was life after death. I wish there was some cosmic plan out there, a being looking after us all, some sense of right and wrong in the world. I wish there was some hope, some eternal scheme for this world, some purpose in us all being here. I wish there really was a god who listened to me and cared about me and loved me no matter what, even if I don't feel the need for one. But it would be nice, to think there was a god like that out there. It's a nice fantasy, I think.

I'll tell you a secret: I wouldn't want to be a Christian.

I'd struggle with the restrictions, the theological contradictions, the hypocrisy of modern Christians, the corruption of the church. I'd feel guilty, because as a Christian you're more aware of "sin" you commit, and I'd worry and stress out about everything I did wrong, always feeling I didn't measure up, even though part of the point of Christianity is that you don't need to measure up. If I'm to be honest, when I was a Christian I was emotionally pretty screwed up, and I hated myself for always feeling I didn't measure up to the Bible's standards. I wouldn't want to live according to the Bible's ethics and morals instead of mine. I wouldn't know how to talk to people, whether to talk about it and be condemned by everyone as a freak and a traditional, backwards-thinking fundamentalist, or to not say anything and feel I'm betraying what I believe in.

I'll tell you a secret: I don't think I'm being contradictory. Not at all.

I'm just being human.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

What are you looking forward to?

I was cruising some book blogs the other day, when I came across a blog where people were invited to list the upcoming book that you were most looking forward to. Out of curiosity (and to see if I was right — I banked on Mockingjay being an easy winner), I wrote down the rough results. Besides, I figure if everyone's looking forward to Book X, as long as Book X isn't about vegetarian vampires, maybe there's something I'm missing out on that I should be checking out.

The clear winner of the event was: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. I was right! Go me. This book definitely deserves its place; it's the third in the Hunger Games trilogy, and it seems like pretty much every YA book blogger has read the first two books and can't wait for the third. I'm not quite sure what dystopian means, but I think this book is it. I do know what thrilling and fast-paced mean, and this book is those things, too.
Release date: 24 August 2010

Mockingjay had a very close runner-up: Matched by Allyson Condie. There's been a lot of hype about this book, which isn't even released till November. For one thing, it has a beautiful cover. For another thing, it has forbidden love and stretching society's rules, and that's gotta appeal to most YA readers. The plot reminds me a little of Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, which I really liked. I'm not sure how good this book will be, but I have to admit I'll probably be pre-ordering it anyway.
Release date: 30 November 2010

Beautiful darkness by Kami Garcia was third on the list, although some way behind the two top ones. I was quite surprised at this entry, since I hadn't previous heard of either the book or the author. It's a sequel to Beautiful creatures, which I also hadn't heard of — seems like I'll have to do some ferreting.
Release date: 12 October 2010

The DUFF ("designated ugly fat friend") by Kody Keplinger was, unsurprisingly, fourth on the list. I have to say, this book doesn't appeal to me at all, although it seems to rival Matched in terms of hype. While I like the attitude the book seems to have about challenging bookish heroines and cliches, I read a thoughtfully written bad review by Good Books & Good Wine, which has utterly put me off it. I didn't even enter a contest I saw to win a free copy. That's how much it turned me off.
Release date: 7 September 2010

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White was next, which I was pleasantly surprised to see. I've been reading Kiersten's blog for a while, and she seems like such a sweetie — which makes me wonder how many people have heard about the book due to her online presence. I'm definitely not saying that in a negative way: good on her for smart marketing. I can't remember offhand what the book's about, although the title hints at its theme and it has a cool cover. But as I've said, she does seem to be a sweetie, and I may well fall for the smart marketing ploy and buy it based partly on that, too.
Release date: 30 September 2010

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater was no surprise (I really need to read Shiver; I may not like vampires, but the jury's still out on werewolves); and nor was Clockwork angel by Cassandra Clare (which sounds like a good series, although I read part of the first book and it was just a bit young for me). And in the eighth and final place was Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick, which I hadn't heard of but should have, since it's the sequel to the slightly-too-popular Hush, hush. Actually, I shouldn't judge, since I haven't read Hush, hush; I'm just sick of immortal heroes being the one true destiny for high school girls. But everyone seems to like Hush, hush: maybe I should give it a chance.
Release dates: 5 July 2010 (Linger), 31 August 2010 (Clockwork angel), 14 October 2010 (Crescendo)

What do you think? Did your favourite make the list? Have you had a chance to sneak a read of any of the ARCs yet? What upcoming book are you most looking forward to?

Friday, 2 July 2010

Haiku away the blues

Last Friday in the sub-editing office
It's near the end of the week. You're starting to get sick of work. You've been sub-editing trivial community story after trivial community story all week, you're sick of the inanity, and you just want your weekend. What do you do?

In the case of my esteemed colleague Tobias Brockie, you write haiku:

i wish i could stop
caring for tense and grammar
but i never will

i always think of
headlines for things that happen
to me every day

i think that's a sign
that i am dangerously
near losing my mind

...

The worst thing is that the complete lack of caps and punctuation bugs me. My fingers are itching to fix it....

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

House

So, Dan and I bought a new house today.

It is bee-autiful. Great condition, three bedrooms, rumpus room, double garage, big lounge, big kitchen, outside deck, two separate toilets, spa bath — not bad for a first home! I know, technically Dan already owns his house so it's his second home — but it's my first. And man, I love it already.

The offer hasn't gone unconditional yet, but we've offered and they've counter-offered and we've accepted, so as long as the builder's report and LIM report don't show anything untoward, it's all go.

Settlement isn't till September, and in a way that makes me sad because, dammit, I want to move in to my beautiful new house already! But it's good really because I'm still studying until October, so until then Dan and I are a one-income couple (unless you count my student allowance, which is barely worth counting — certainly not able to maintain a mortgage).

We spent a lot more than we'd originally planned to, but I don't regret it. We were looking at another house, which could have been about $30,000 cheaper, but if we had bought it and spent $30,000 doing it up, there's still no way it would have been as nice as the house we have now.

So overall: happy. Still lots of stuff to sort out, moving to do, insurance to get, documents to check. But I have confidence it'll be fine. Now that the initial offer worry is over, I'm not concerned. September will no doubt be here before we know it, although the wait may feel interminable.

But none of that matters.

We have a new house.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

In my mailbox (6)

OK, I didn't actually get any books this week. Nada. Not a one.

But I did get some the previous two weeks, and didn't get around to doing an In my mailbox then... so I figured this can be a combined one.

To be fair, I'm looking forward to Moon called a lot more than the other. Strike zone looks somewhat sportsy, which is not particularly me. But it'll be good to read something outside fantasy, a genre I don't normally read, so I'm still looking forward to both. I won both these books from about happy books.

I splurged on Mistwood by debut author Leah Cypess. Normally I wait for books to come out in paperback, but this one just sounded too good. The book begins with a prince capturing the heroine; she has no memory, and gradually finds out she is a supernatural creature and shape-shifter, bound to protect the prince of the land with her life. Already finished it; while it isn't fantastic, I definitely enjoyed it, and it had a few twists.

I won a copy of Play dirty by Sandra Brown from GoodReads; and when it turned up, I found they'd also enclosed a copy of 22 Indigo Place, first published in 1986, with a very Gone-with-the-wind, Mills&Boon-type cover on the edition they sent me.

Speaking of books I wait for in paperback... I've had my eye on The season by Sarah MacLean for a while. I enjoy good Regency-era romances, but many I've seen tend to be quite vapid and — what's worse — are simply modern heroines with modern world-views being put in a world which superficially resembles the Regency era, but doesn't reflect how people then actually talked and thought and acted. How do I know what it was really like? I time-travelled, of course.

Another one I waited for in paperback! I'm a little dubious about Unseen academicals, because it's meant to be about football or something. On the other hand, it's still Terry Pratchett, and his Discworld books are consistently funny, good-quality books (except for Monstrous regiment, which was just embarrassingly bad).

All in all, a good haul of books. I'm never going to get through all these books I keep buying....

In my mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Guess what I found at the gym

I was at the gym a couple of days ago, doing a cable lat pulldown, when I rested my head briefly against my left arm and... you'll never guess what I felt. Muscle! Hard, flexed muscle!

It's like going to the gym pays off. No, that can't be right.

So I tried it again, with my right arm and you'll never guess what I felt.

Soft, flabby, fatty arm.

Wait, that didn't seem right.

Oh, maybe I should have flexed my right arm. Flexed it... and... muscle!

I have muscles! I'm already in the healthy range for my weight, so losing weight has never been my goal at the gym; I just want to get healthy, get fit, and maybe get a little toned as a nice side-result.

And, y'know, I look at my arms in the big wall mirror at the gym as I'm lifting weights, and I can definitely see my tiny little muscles straining out of my skinny little arms. I'm not anyone's strongwoman, but hey, I'm better than I used to be.

And even better, after starting to do crunches recently (I upped the weights this whole week, and from Tuesday on, my stomach has hurt every time I cough or laugh), Dan now reckons I have abs. Or at least, the beginning of ab definition.

It's nice when you've been going to the gym for a few months, to see some results. It makes me wish I'd started to do crunches earlier!

But lately, I'd started to get pretty slack with going to the gym... this just energises me all over again.

Muscles! Abs! Definition! It's such a good feeling.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The voyage of the Dawn Treader

Liked the first movie, although I didn't like a couple of liberties they took with the plot (yeah, I'm a purist); but have been looking forward to the next one since I saw The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Loving the look of this. I don't go much to the movies these days, but I'll make an exception for this one!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

An awesome day

10am this morning:

8pm this evening:

Ye gods it's good having a new kitchen/oven/sink/cupboards/bench.

Dan did so much work today. There is no other word for it: he is Awesome.

I mean, really. Look at that new kitchen. Ee!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

In my mailbox (5)

Wow, I don't think I've ever got this many books in a week before! It's so exciting for me. At the moment, life is busy enough that I'm barely getting through one book a week, so these should keep me busy for a while.

(My theme for this week's In my mailbox: how many times can I use "presumably" and "apparently"? Apparently (ha!), far, far too much.)

Goodreads summary: Once upon a time, a fairy is born. She lives in an old oak tree at the bottom of a garden with the rest of the fairy folk. Never has she known a time when life hasn't been hard, with many dangers and much adversity. But when she becomes the Hunter of the group and learns to do battle in the outside world, her adventures really take off.

Read an excerpt of Knife at Amazon.com.

Goodreads summary: In nineteenth-century England, a powerful sorcerer and King of the Goblins chooses Kate, the elder of two orphan girls recently arrived at their ancestral home, Hallow Hill, to be his bride and queen.

Read an excerpt from author Clare B Dunkle's website or at Amazon.com.

I won One for the money from Geeky Blogger's Book Blog.

From GoodReads: Stephanie Plum's Miata has been repossessed and she's so poor that she just drank her last bottle of beer for breakfast. Her only chance out of her rut is her repugnant cousin Vinnie and his bail-bond business. She's blackmailed Vinnie into giving her a bail-bond recovery job worth $10,000 (for a murder suspect), even though she doesn't own a gun and has never apprehended a person in her life. And the guy she has to get, Joe Morelli, is the same creep who charmed away her teenage virginity behind the pastry case in the Trenton bakery where she worked after school.

Incarceron sounds really interesting — and unusual — to me. It's a fantasy book about a guy who lives in a prison that was sealed up centuries — so everyone living there now is descended from those long-dead criminals. The book's also about a girl Outside the prison (presumably a spoilt little rich girl who feels imprisoned in her society of finery). (Presumably the guy escapes and falls in love with the girl.) (Presumably it's the first book in a trilogy.) But sounds an interesting premise for a book.

I feel a little guilty about this one! I won Monsters of men from Good Golly Miss Holly, and apparently it's the third in a trilogy. So I figure I'd better order the first two books in the series so I know what I'm reading about in this one!

The cover, by the way, is much more awesome than it looks from the picture - the dust jacket is clear and has a bunch of pictures on it that complete the hardcover's picture underneath.

Books 2 and 3 in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series. At first I wasn't sure I'd like Kushiel's dart, the first one in the series, but it definitely grew on me. I also love that on the cover of Kushiel's chosen you can see Ph├Ędre's full marque (the tattoo down her back that was completed when she finished her apprenticeship and became free).

Lynette’s Two Cents I won The personal shopper from Lynette's Two Cents. I really like Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series, and these look pretty similar — light-hearted chick lit with insane shopping sprees. It's all about living vicariously!

I pre-ordered The demon's covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan a while ago — the sequel to The demon's lexicon, it moves on from Nick's point of view to pink-haired Mae's. Apparently, this book is about Mae trying to convince Alan and Nick to help her brother out.

Wait... wasn't that the plot of the first one?

In my mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Thought blogging

I don't thought-blog any more.

Sure, I talk about books, and do the occasional review, or make some comment about some event that's happened in my life; but I don't tend to talk about my thoughts — except for the occasional rant about Christianity.

It's not that I don't think about issues any more; it's not that my life is perfect. It's not that I have any other outlet for discussing deeper issues.

At university, I tend to be quiet; I'm generally content to listen to other people. And my friends and family and I discuss events in life, not things we think about life.

As far as this blog goes, the only people that generally read it are those interested in the book side, not the personal side; my friends tend to rely more on Facebook for my "updates", and I'm disinclined to sum up my musings on life in such a short and public space.

I know a blog is more public in that anyone can read it; but it's less public in that most people won't care enough to.

I think one reason I stopped blogging is that I'm now happy. I'm in a good relationship, I'm heading for a future I want, and I like the person I am.

But I've been feeling a little lonely lately. It's not for lack of friends or people to talk to; it's just that I don't have a friend I can sit down and talk with for hours about random theoretical rubbish that will never matter.

I might start to write down my feelings and thoughts here again. I don't want or expect an audience for my thoughts, but it's nice to be able to express them somewhere.

So while this blog will remain book-focussed, there might be a bit more of me in it, too.

Monday, 24 May 2010

In my mailbox (4)

Books! I have new books! And so, time for another round of In my mailbox, hosted by The Story Siren.

I actually received The red tent by Anita Diamant last week, but didn't end up doing an "In my mailbox" last week — so figured I'd add it to this week's stash, with a thanks to Helen at Helen's Book Blog, whom I won it off!

I don't know a lot about what the book's about, but apparently it's a re-telling of Dinah, one of Jacob's daughters from the Bible. Never heard of Dinah before — don't even know if she actually existed — but that background on its own makes me want to read the book!

(I'm not sure what the title refers to, but my money's going on whatever the woman on the cover is wearing.)

I read this book years ago, along with a lot of George MacDonald's books. I loved them then for their fairytale qualities (and ignored their blatant overmoralising). I loved his books like A light princess (about a princess who is always happy and laughing, never cries, and weighs nothing, and her kingdom is in great peril as the lake begins to drain away to nothing. Those things may not sound related, but I think they are in the book. My summary makes it sound weird, but it was an awesome book) and of course this one, The day boy and the night girl, about a girl who's never seen light (literally) and a boy who's only ever seen the day. And, of course, about how the two meet and fall in love.... I don't remember anything else about the book other than those bare basics, so I'm looking forward to rediscovering the book!

My brother sent me a copy of The princess and the goblin for my birthday! (I may have dropped a hint that I was rediscovering George MacDonald.) This is a story about young Princess Irene, who discovers a secret stair to the top turret of her castle which, according to the back cover of the book, leads to a wonderful revelation. I have no idea what the revelation is, although I read and re-read this book many times about ten years ago. I do remember a miner's son called Curdie who saves Irene from goblins, who I think kidnap Irene to marry their king, or something of the sort.

George MacDonald was one of the granddaddies of fantasy, and influenced J R R Tolkein, C S Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle and G K Chesterton (according to wikipedia).

An anthology! I haven't actually bought one before. But I saw Elemental advertised on author Juliet Marillier's website, and learned that she and several other fantasy authors have all contributed stories to the anthology. Best of all, proceeds from the book go toward the Save the Children Fund — when the book originally came out in 2006 the proceeds all went to helping people in the aftermath of the Christmas Day Tsunami, which is such a good cause. And as I say, I haven't bought an anthology before — I don't generally read a lot of short stories, but why limit yourself? I'm looking forward to discovering a few new authors in this book.

Authors who have written stories for the book: Brian Aldiss, Jacqueline Carey, William C Dietz, David Drake, Lynn Flewelling, Esther M Friesner, David Gerrold, Joe Haldeman, Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Sherrilyn Kenyon writing as Kinley MacGregor, Tim Lebbon, Juliet Marillier, Syne Mitchell, Larry Niven, Eric Nylund, Stel Pavlou, Adam Roberts, Sharon Shinn, Michael Marshall Smith, Martha Wells, Sean Williams and Shane Dix, and Janny Wurts.