Tuesday, 19 January 2010


Tonight was my final meeting at the committee of a local charity, where I've been secretary for a little while. I resigned late last year, once I found out I got my internship, and it was good to hand over the position to someone else today. There were nice comments about big shoes to fill, and a card that people signed for me with little messages — and they gave me flowers! I've been on this board for several years, and I don't remember anyone else ever being given flowers, so it felt like a really big deal to me. I was so touched — it was just such a nice gesture.

Totally made my day. Flowers!

Saturday, 16 January 2010


I have a confession to make.

I watched Hairspray today, and while I didn't love it, I did fall a teeny bit in love with the character played by... wait for it... Zac Efron.

It's not Efron himself. I've watching all three High school musicals (come on, the movies were cheesy but they were cute), and most of 17 again, and... well, he's a cute kid.

I think it was more the situation. The main character, Tracy Turnblad (poor girl never stood a chance), is plump, and therefore something of a social outcast. She's always had a huge crush on Efron's character, Link Larkin (I want to know who made up these characters' names — Tracy's best friend is Penny Pingleton), and when one day he brushes up against her accidentally and actually looks and smiles at her, her cup is full to overflowing.

I remember so well being that girl in high school. Rather than being plump, I was all skinny and pimply and knobbly-kneed, but I can remember feeling so unattractive and when my huge crush at the time not only smiled at me but tackled me (for no particular reason) in a field... I was just so happy. So full of joy. So happy I can't describe it.

I guess watching the romance between Link and Tracy just brought me back to that feeling. I never ended up going out with my Link, but I love the character just a little bit for being that boy that gave a girl that same joyful feeling. It doesn't matter that he never knew — but he paid her attention and he smiled at her. He was kind to someone who knew she wasn't seen as attractive; he made her feel special. And for that, I fell a teeny bit in love with him.

(OK, spying on him in the men's toilets is somewhat creepy. But I like the first couple minutes of the song.)

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

New author challenge 2010

Because I don't have enough challenges already, I decided on one more: The new author challenge (2010).

The rules, in brief, are as follows:

1. Between 1 Jan 2010 and 31 Dec 2010, read works by a certain number of new authors.

2. You can choose to read 15, 25 or 50 new authors.

3. A maximum of a third of the new authors can be from anthologies.

I'm going to aim for 25 new authors this year — and if I can get to 25 by August (or thereabouts) I might aim for 50 for the whole year. We'll see. (Update on 11 August: OK, I hit 26! I'm going for 50.)

  1. The name of the wind by Patrick Rothfuss*
  2. The hunger games by Suzanne Collins*
  3. Poison study by Maria V Snyder*
  4. The final empire by Brandon Sanderson
  5. *
  6. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  7. Ash by Malinda Lo
  8. The thief by Megan Whalen Turner
  9. Girls like funny boys by Dave Franklin
  10. Sasha by Joel Shepherd
  11. Mystic and rider by Sharon Shinn
  12. Mira, mirror by Mette Ivie Harrison
  13. Kushiel's dart by Jacqueline Carey
  14. What my mother doesn't know by Sonya Sones
  15. The poison throne by Celine Kiernan
  16. The blue by Mary McCallum
  17. Knife by R J Anderson
  18. The hollow kingdom by Clare B Dunkle
  19. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher*
  20. Girls in trucks by Katie Crouch
  21. Kitty by Deborah Challinor
  22. Mistwood by Leah Cypess
  23. Soulless by Gail Carriger
  24. Play dirty by Sandra Brown
  25. Crossing over by Anna Kendall
  26. Tsunami blue by Gayle Ann Williams
  27. The maze runner by James Dashner
  28. Mansfield by C K Stead
  29. My way to hell by Dakota Cassidy
  30. Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
  31. The personal shopper by Carmen Reid
  32. Stillwater Creek by Alison Booth
  33. Candor by Pam Bachorz
  34. Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri
  35. Cecelia Holland in The dragon book anthology
  36. Homeland by Clare Francis
  37. The chocolate run by Dorothy Koomson

* Great author — would highly recommend.
† Would not recommend this author.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Review: Wildwood dancing (Juliet Marillier)

Whoa, found this mini-review I wrote back on 10th October... not sure why I never published it, but here it is now, anyway!

Loved this book. I think this is Juliet Marillier's first Young Adult book, so I wasn't sure I'd like it, at first. I was even less sure when I found out the characters live in Transylvania, in a place called Piscul Dracului. (I'm so sick of vampires.)

But I loved this book. Juliet Marillier is already my favourite author, but I noticed some differences between this YA book and her adult books: it's much shorter, for one. I wanted the book to last longer, just because I was enjoying the characters so much. The romance is very sweet, as well, even if it's not exactly difficult to guess who the heroine ends up with, and even if the hero was a tad passive for my taste.

It isn't my favourite Juliet Marillier book; but I really enjoyed both the plot and the characters, and as I say — my main problem was that it ended too soon.

I'd recommend this book to any YA readers, as well as any women just looking for a good read.

...And then move on to everything else Juliet Marillier has written.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

RIP Marion Ellis

When someone dies, all you want to do is honour their memory, and yet the last thing you want to do is write about them.

Rest in peace, Marion. You were a beautiful, strong, intelligent woman, and your death will be mourned by all who knew you.

I'm glad we visited her in December. We knew then it couldn't be much longer. It was just over two weeks ago.

I'd wanted to visit since we first heard she had pancreatic cancer, in August 2008. I should have gone sooner. I'm glad I went in the end.

My thoughts and sympathies are with her family — they've lost an amazing person.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Review: The ice child (Elizabeth McGregor)

Jo Harper, a successful young journalist, has only her adored two-year-old son, Sam, to remind her of her late partner. When Sam falls ill, there is only one silm hope — that his half-brother may hold the key to his survival. But his half-brother has disappeared...[having] set out alone against impossible odds...to uncover the last traces of the Franklin expedition, which vanished in the Arctic in 1847 while searching for the North-west Passage.

Thus reads the blurb of The ice child, plus a little bit that I haven't printed here as I think it spoils the plot too much. Honestly, even the above blurb spoils the plot, because for the first half of the book Jo doesn't have a late partner, let alone a two-year-old son.

I found the narrative style of this book unusual, as it follows three main plot arcs. There's a mother polar bear with her cub; a based-on-the-true-story Franklin expedition (which I found incredibly sad because you're told, before you even get introduced to the characters, that they all die); and Jo Harper, main character and mother-to-be of dying child.

I didn't like the book initially, which becomes, at times, bogged down in details to the point of boring me; I skim-read a fair few sections at the beginning.

Author Elizabeth McGregor's casual narrative approach to timelines completely confused me at times. On one page, we're told that Jo enjoys her garden; then we're taken back to when her son was born; then we're shown her cutting grass at eight months pregnant; and in the next sentence the author describes a scene where Jo sits with her son in her arms. Seriously, what? There was no transition at all between any of the timeline-hopping; I had to re-read that page twice.

But after the first half of the novel, I became a lot more drawn in. I found the part showing the Franklin expedition both fascinating and thoroughly depressing. I wasn't enthralled with all of the characters, and found some (modern-day) characters' behaviours to be utterly unlikely; but the Franklin expedition was much more moving, much sadder, much more heroic and human and ultimately futile.

That isn't to say that the modern-day story wasn't touching; it was, and I couldn't put the book down towards the end for wanting to know whether the little boy survived (it's not the kind of book that guarantees any happy endings); but since the Franklin storyline showed real characters and what happened to them (to some degree), I found it so much more moving.

I can't say I enjoyed this book, in the end. Not because it was bad; because I just found it all so depressing. I think the depression was intensified by having three (or, at the end, four) interwoven storylines, none of which showed any sign of having a happy ending.

All in all, while it was difficult to get into, I'm glad I read this book. The author's note at the end added some more interesting details about the Franklin expedition, and highlighted some of the true and some of the fictional elements of her plot; and while I found the modern-day story less realistic, both storylines were still absorbing. But don't read this book if you're having a bad day; I don't think it'll help.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Looking back on 2009, and forward to the rest of my life

So, it's that time of year again.

As I try to think of New Year's Resolutions to make, really all I think of is how lucky I am. I have a wonderful boyfriend, I'm starting a job in my dream career, I'm moving to a city I love, and I and all my family are healthy.

The saddest thing that's happened to me last year was my beautiful cat Mitsi dying, which I'm still so sad about — she was only one and a half, and was the most affectionate, cute, obedient little cat.

The best thing that happened to me, no question, was me getting my internship. It still seems unreal, but I can't wait to move to Wellington and start studying! While I'm a little nervous about the study — some of it sounds pretty full-on, and I have very little idea of what to expect — I can't wait to start the job itself. (Quick run-down: they're paying for me to get my graduate diploma, which is one year's study, while working for them during semester breaks. Once I've got the diploma, I'm bonded to them for two years. A minimum of two years in my dream job? I'm OK with that!)

The best new book I've read this year would have to be either Graceling by Kristin Cashore, or Wildwood dancing or Cybele's secret by Juliet Marillier. Two very talented authors there. None were actually 2009 releases, but still the best new books I read this year. I'm still looking forward to reading several 2009 releases, though, such as Magpie Hall by NZ author Rachael King, Cleopatra's daughter by Michelle Moran, Ash by Malinda Lo, and Rampant by Diana Peterfreund.

Inevitably, at the end of a year, regardless of whether or not you "do" New Year's resolutions, you look back at what this year has been, and look forward to the potential of next year.

This year hasn't been what I'd expected or hoped it to be. But with getting my internship, I think next year — and following years — will be so much better. While I didn't accomplish what I'd hoped to, this year — earning lots of money — my feet are now set firmly on the track I want them to be on. And in all ways, as I look forward to what my future's likely to be — I feel so lucky, and I just can't wait.