Friday, August 1, 2014

Bout of Books 11

Remember back in May when I participated in Bout of Books and read nine books in a week? Yeah, Bout of Books is happening again in a couple of weeks, and I figured that even though I'm going to be spending a ton of time on Youtube this month with VEDA, I'd join in again!

I'm fairly certain that my goals are going to be a lot more low key this time around, because I pretty much burnt myself out last time and only read about 200 pages in the week that followed - over 3,000 pages in a week was clearly too many pages. But I'm still going to join in the fun!



Anyway, here's the official blurb:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Will you be joining Bout of Books? If so, head here to sign up!

K xx

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vlog ALL the vlogs!

That's right, kids. Tomorrow is 1 August, and that means precisely one thing: It's VEDA time!!

For those of you who weren't around these parts this time last year, VEDA is Vlog Every Day in August, and it has a tendency to take over my entire life. And it's been even worse this year because Emily and I ended up organising it, which means that we've spent the past few weeks developing forms and spreadsheets and topic ideas and liaising with our truly fabulous web development team to reboot the website.

All of this probably makes VEDA sound far more big and important than it really is, because there's only about fifty people involved. But still, we've put a fair whack of work into it already and it's not even August yet!

ANYWAY.

All of this is a really long-winded way of saying that I may be a little absent around these parts over the next month. But it's not because I don't love you guys. It'll just be because I've fallen into the Youtube black hole and I can't get out.

If you want to join us, it's not too late! You can read more about VEDA and/or sign up here. Or if you want to subscribe and watch all the ridiculous videos I'll be making over the next month, you can do that here. And if you want to see me writing stuff, you should probably know that I'll still be posting at least twice a week over on Snark Squad, so you should check that out too. Because of reasons.

Otherwise? Things should get back to something resembling normality in September.

K xx

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Throw another Iced Vovo on the barbie. Or something.

As you guys know, Nikki came to stay a little while back. And one of the things we did while she was here? Was to make a vlog together. We originally planned this like forever ago, and the idea was that it would be a weekly series. I'd talk about the history of a product and its significance in Australian culture, then the following week, Nikki would sample it and tell the internet what she thought.

Given that she leaves Australia next Tuesday, we had to cram the process into a much shorter space of time. This video is hella long, but considering I had 59 minutes and 30 seconds worth of footage to work with, I think I did pretty well to get it down to a hair under 15 minutes.

Please enjoy us eating all the foods and generally being ridiculous. You're welcome, internet. And yes, those facial expressions in the thumbnail are totally indicative of our feelings towards several of the foods we tried.


If you are Australian and actually like Chico Babies, please let me know immediately. Because I need to know.

K xx

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TTT - Authors I own the most books from

It's time to link up with the Broke and the Bookish again!

This week's topic is fairly self explanatory - the ten authors we own the most books from. And I was kiiiiiind of shocked by how this list turned out, at least partly because a lot of these now live in cupboards or in boxes under my bed...

1. Janet Evanovich - 42 books
Holy mackerel, I was not expecting this. I went through a big obsession with the Stephanie Plum books during university, and a good friend sent me a lot of Evanovich's early novels when they were republished about ten years ago. Somehow, all of that adds up to 42 books. And I don't even have the five most recent Stephanie Plum books........ O.o

2. Terry Pratchett - 35 books
Technically, a couple of these are my little brother's books. But he moved to England and left them in my room, and possession is nine-tenths of the law, therefore I think they count as mine. MWAHAHAHA. Ahem. One day, I'll own the full Discworld series. One day... 

3. Kelley Armstrong - 22 books
I have the full Women of the Otherworld series, including the two short story volumes (I *think* there was a third one published earlier this year that I don't have and must track down immediately), as well as The Darkest Powers trilogy, two of the Nadia Stafford books, Sea of Shadows, and the first book in The Darkness Rising trilogy.

4. Charles Dickens - 12 books
For some reason, I expected this number to be higher. Maybe it's because I have Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend, David Copperfield, and Nicholas Nickleby, which could be about twelve individual books if you split them into 300 page blocks! 

5. James Rollins - 11 books
I'm really not sure how I ended up with this many James Rollins books, because they're generally pretty ridiculous and highly implausible. Oh well. 

6. Charlaine Harris - 11 books
I'm missing the last two books in the Sookie Stackhouse series, but I'm honestly not sure I'll ever bother buying them because they just got so awful by the end...

7. Bill Bryson - 10 books
I'm only missing a couple of Bryson books - 1927, for one. And I still haven't read At Home. I started it a year or so ago and got distracted about fifty pages in. Whoops??? I might take it with me to England later in the year in the hopes of getting it read on some long haul flight or another.

8. Donna Andrews - 10 books
I have a weird soft spot for the Meg Langslow books. A lot of them are kind of same-same-but-different these days, but they're so much fun. Someday I'll end up with the full series... 

9. J.K. Rowling - 9 books
All the Harry Potter books, plus The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm, which I still haven't read. I borrowed The Casual Vacancy from the library, and I can't decide if I want to reread it enough that it's worth buying it someday... 

10. Jasper Fforde - 9 books
I stopped buying his books when the Thursday Next series went downhill. I think I have the first six books, plus the Nursery Crimes series and Shades of Grey

What authors do you own the most books from?

K xx

Monday, July 28, 2014

Movie Monday: To Catch a Thief


It's been a while since I've talked about an older movie, so it seemed about time that I rectify the situation with a little dose of Hitchcock!

Reasons why To Catch a Thief is awesome:
1. It's Hitchcock, but not the murdery kind.
2. Car chases of Bond-esque proportions.
3. Cary Grant. He's fabulous as the retired cat burglar trying to clear his name.

Source
4. Ridiculous meet-cutes.
5. Grace Kelly. She's amazing.
6. The costumes. They're fantastic.
7. The scenery. GORGEOUS.
Source
8. Hilariously low-key escapes from the police (ON THE BUS, for crying out loud!)
9. Cary Grant's ridiculous facial expressions, much like in North by Northwest.
10. Danielle, queen of sass.
Source
11. John Robie, nervous passenger.
12. Jessie. She's absolutely hilarious.
13. The over-the-top bonkers costumes at the gala. I can't even.
LOOK AT THIS THING. Also, source.
14. The big plot twist.
15. Being pinned to a tree by an old lady.

Plus, the following quotes:
- "Did you kill many people?" "Seventy two. But I know something that'll please you: none of them were insured."
- "You're somewhat egotistical." "Fighting fire with fire!"
- "Don't let the robbery spoil your day. It's only money and not even yours at that!"
- "Mother, the book you're reading is upside down..."
- "The pastry's as light as air!" "Germaine has very sensitive hands and an exceedingly light touch. She strangled a German general once, without a sound."
- "This is better than anything we have back in Portland, Oregon!" "Almost anything is..."
- "Mrs. Stevens, would you kindly keep your jewellery in the hotel safe?" "And what would I do when I go out? Wear the safe around my neck?!"
- "You're a jackpot of admirable character traits."
-" I only stole from people who wouldn't go hungry!"
- "Why do you think we moved so often? Your father was a swindler, dear, but a lovable one. If you ask me, this one's a bigger operator on every level." "Thank you, madam."
- "Say something nice to her, Danielle." "She looks a lot older up close."
- "Not only did I enjoy that kiss last night, I was awed by its efficiency."

Have you seen it? What did you think??

K xx

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The idiot's guide to attending the theatre

As I said in my post yesterday, Nikki and I went to see Les Miserables over the weekend. And we had some incredibly fidgety people in front of us. Admittedly, we didn't say anything to them, so we're kind of to blame for how irritated we were by it all, but I still came out of the performance with a big list of things running through my head. And I figured that I'd put them in writing, so I can hand it out to people in the future*.

*I totally won't do that, but it would be pretty nifty.

So here, have a list of stuff:

1. Don't sing along. 
Seriously, this shouldn't even be something that needs to be on this list. And yet... People have paid (in Australia, at least) somewhere between $60 and $150 to see the professionals do their thing. It is not karaoke shower time. Stop. Singing. Along.

2. Put your phone away.
If you're waiting on an important call, then you probably shouldn't be at the theatre. If it's suuuuuuuuuuper important, put your phone screendown on your leg - ON SILENT - and let the usher know that you'll need to duck out at some point. Unless you're in the middle of a row. Then suck it up and deal with it at interval/when the show finishes. Do not, under any circumstances, check the time on your phone. You will blind the people in the surrounding five rows.

3. Seriously? You're trying to record this?
This happened at Les Mis, and my thought process was pretty much along these lines: "Are you actually serious? You're in the fourth back row of the grand circle. In the dark. Trying to film Javert's Suicide, which is a really dark scene. On your phone. Which is blinding everyone. AND attracting the usher's attention. Good work, girl. Good work."

4. Don't lean forward in your chair.
If you sit properly in your chair, everyone can see. If you lean forward? The person behind you gets annoyed because your head is blocking 75% of the stage. The person behind THEM is annoyed because the person in front of them is leaning from side to side trying to see the stage. And so on. You are creating a chain of perpetual annoyance. Sit like a grown up.

5. Don't eat things in noisy packets.
Yes, the snacks at the theatre require a second mortgage. But that doesn't mean you should smuggle in bags of THE NOISIEST VARIETY EVER. If you're going to smuggle stuff in, at least transfer it to a Tupperware first. What is this, amateur hour?!

6. Beware of taking selfies.
You WILL end up with total strangers looking awkward in the background of your photo. And that's the best possible scenario. Worst? Said total strangers decide to photobomb you.

7. Don't bob your head from side to side in time with the music. 
Congratulations, you have a decent sense of rhythm. Meanwhile, the person sitting behind you wants to punch you in the face for being an asshat.

8. Whisper, don't talk. 
This one is especially for the guy who was sitting next to me, who'd clearly never seen the show before. We all know the Thénardiers are hilarious. But you don't have to announce it every time they're on stage. And especially not at normal speaking volume. If you MUST say something, say it quietly.

9. Don't put your arms behind your head. 
You are not at home in your living room. Don't sit like you are. Going to the theatre is a lot like being on a three hour flight - keep your hands to yourself, don't hog the armrests, and be courteous of the people behind you. No one wants your head in their lap during dinner on a flight, and no one wants their entire view of the stage blocked by your arms.

10. Be careful of what you text. Half a dozen people behind you can read it.
Yes, OMG-I'm-so-hungover-right-now-and-I've-already-had-a-fight-with-Mum guy. I'm talking about you. We all know precisely how bored you were by the whole show and how much you'd had to drink the night before. Thanks.

And, as a special added bonus:

11. If you're going to wear a strapless maxi dress, make sure it doesn't match your skin tone.
When you're sitting down, everyone around you will think you're naked at first glance. And they will be terrified.

What would you add to this list?

K xx

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bloggy friend shenanigans

So Nikki came down from Sydney to stay for a few days, which explains my absence of late. She's about to leave Australia, so it seemed only appropriate that I insist upon her visiting me before she does so.

ANYWAY.

We did a bunch of stuff together, and I figured I'd tell you about it in no particular order:

  • Played a LOT of Lego Hobbit on the XBox. Obviously, it involved accidentally killing each other a lot and generally being quite confused about what was happening.
  • Went to the zoo. It was absolutely freezing, and the red panda was awake but lurking at the top of the highest tree in his enclosure, the jerk. BUT there weren't many people there, and the rest of the animals were in a far more obliging mood, no zoom lens necessary:
  • Went down to Docklands to the Peruvian festival, which was being spruiked all over the newspaper. It turned out to be like five sad stalls at the side of the little theme park-y bit, which was rather disappointing, so we went out for lunch instead. 
  • Made a vlog. When I manage to edit it from just under AN HOUR LONG to something people will actually watch, I'll let y'all know about it. 
  • Went to see Les Miserables on stage. It was FANTASTIC, even though our seats were suuuuuuuuuuuuuper nosebleed-y and the people in front of us fidgeted for the entire three hours... I even enjoyed Bring Him Home, which is absolutely unheard of.
  • Made a friend on the tram due to the following conversation:
Nikki: The ticket inspectors in Sydney are really aggressive. One of them once asked me "Why are you here?"Me: Maybe he was just being existential and wondering about the meaning of life?Random girl: *snorts with laughter* I'm so sorry. I'm not eavesdropping, but you guys are hilarious.Me: Don't sweat it. I once spent an entire bus trip messaging my friends about the fact that the girl opposite me was excited to see an IHOP because "OMG CHRISTIAN GREY!!!"Random girl: YOU HATE THAT BOOK TOO???????? Nikki: You have no idea. [insert 15 minute conversation about everything wrong with Fifty Shades of Grey here]
  • Discovered that Kinder Surprise currently have a limited edition range of Marvel toys called Twistheads that require you to effectively remove the top of the toy's head, connect it to another toy, and then twist their bodies. It's as weird as it sounds, and they're all really creepy-looking. See?
Source
  • Ate far too much. 
  • Spent a lot of time on public transport. 
  • Got to hang out for longer than anticipated because Melbourne decided that immense amounts of fog were necessary yesterday, and that resulted in Nikki's flight being cancelled. YAY!
So. That's what I did when I wasn't here. What's news with you guys?

K xx

Friday, July 18, 2014

The best books of 2014 to date

So last night, the lovely Cait from The Notebook Sisters wrote a post about her best books that have been published in 2014 to date. I contemplated writing a thesis length comment in response, but ultimately decided that it was easier just to write a blog post of my own!

So here you have my published-so-far-in-2014 top ten!

1. Fairwil - Alysia Gray Painter

Okay, this one is kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind of cheating because it hasn't officially been published yet. But I beta-read it for Alysia, and OH MY GOD IT WAS SO FREAKING GOOD THAT I HAVE NO WORDS. It was the cutest, most squee-worthy thing ever, and I actually reached the point where my comments on the manuscript stopped being creative or helpful and were just links to gifs of Jeremy Renner bouncing excitedly in his chair.
Yup. That's the one.

2. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet - Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

Okay, as a fan of the Youtube series, I was always going to love this book. And I think that it works very much as a companion to the videos, rather than as a stand-alone thing. But oh my God, I just loved it so much. There were so many little moments that we didn't get to see on camera that we got in the book, and so many characters - particularly Mr and Mrs Bennet - came into their own on the page.

3. The Assassin's Blade - Sarah J. Maas

I was honestly surprised that I loved a collection of short stories/novellas as much as I loved this. The stories all flowed together really wonderfully, and Celaena's backstory was incredible even when the reader knows exactly how things are going to end from the very first page.

4. Pointe - Brandy Colbert

This book was so dark and so creepy in a totally realistic way. It was really hard to read because of all the ick-tastic implications of the story, but it was so brilliantly written and Theo is such a wonderfully flawed character that despite how difficult it was to read, I couldn't put it down.

5. Since You've Been Gone - Morgan Matson

Admittedly, this one will leave you singing that irritating Kelly Clarkson song on an endless loop every single time you look at the cover, but it's totally worth it. The lists and the playlists and the best friend feels and the general adorableness of it all made it the perfect summer read. Even though I read it in the middle of winter. WHATEVER, I DO WHAT I WANT.

6. Cop Town - Karin Slaughter

I talked in depth about this one earlier in the week, so I won't go into too much detail here. It's hard to read at times because of the incredible amounts of prejudice shown towards pretty much EVERYONE EVER. But it's such a compelling story and features two awesome protagonists. Totally worth the read.

7. We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

I guessed the big plot twist in this story really early on in the piece, because I'm just that good. (I'm kidding. Mostly...) But it was still an incredible story. It's a really quick read, and the writing is quite choppy which I know has turned a lot of people off. But even if you guess the big twist, you don't know the how or the when or the why. Plus, how often do you get a book where the protagonist is totally unreliable and you know it from the get go??

8. The Impossible Knife of Memory - Laurie Halse Anderson

2014 seems to be my year for Reading Books About Real Life Problems. I read this one back in January, and it's stuck with me pretty well to date. It's such a heart-wrenching story and you can't help but have All The Feels for Hayley and her deeply problematic homelife. Definitely not one to read if you're in the mood for light and fluffy happy things, but still well worth reading.

9. Cress - Marissa Meyer

I love The Lunar Chronicles so much, I really do. The way Meyer ties the three stories together is really fantastic, and the relationship between Cress and Thorne is possibly my favourite to date. I read this in February, and I'm STILL not okay with how long I have to wait for the final installment of the series. I JUST WANT IT NOW, DAMMIT!!

10. The Gospel of Loki - Joanne Harris

How can you not love a retelling of the Norse legends from the perspective of a sassy yet massively unreliable narrator?? Loki is a fabulous character, and I loved everything about him in this delightful series of tales. The writing was gorgeous, and despite the fact that I'm totally not the type to highlight passages to go back to, I found myself doing so time and time again in this book (on my Kindle, it's okay).

What are the best books you've read that have been published this year?

K xx

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Let go of my pumpkin

In the hopes of actually remembering more of what the hell I was talking about the better part of six months ago, I'm going to endeavour to do a Charmed post every week for the next month. YOU'RE WELCOME. Or not. Whichever.
Source

Anyway, here are my thoughts on Charmed season 5:

  • AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, MERMAIDS. 
  • "You must be Paige. You have a big underwater fanbase." What. 
  • Oh my God. Phoebe's Cinderella dress is the opposite of classy. I can't even.
  • MARK SHEPPARD. Is there any paranormal/sci-fi show this man isn't in?! 
Source
  • ...........Paige just orbed in the middle of sex and her boyfriend didn't notice. I...what.
  • EYEBALLS. WHY DID THERE HAVE TO BE EYEBALLS. 
  • Ugh. Haven't they vanquished Barbas like three times already? WHY IS HE BACK??
  • Ew, Cole. A demonic stripper who can shapeshift into Phoebe? GROSS. 
  • Wow. This 100th episode is a LOT like the episode of Buffy where Cordelia wishes Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. 
  • Okay, a creepy old man who walks into your room and delivers nightmares? NOPE.
  • Ahahaha, Piper's watching Passions
  • HARRY POTTER REFERENCES, YESSSSSSSSSSSS.
  • Phoebe is wearing a snood. A SNOOD. 
SNOOD. Also, source.
  • Right, because Piper would totally be wearing hipster jeans and a midriff top a week after giving birth. Okay, show. Whatever.
  • ERIC DANE. HOW HAD I FORGOTTEN ABOUT ERIC DANE?! 
  • Oh my God. Is that Pat Benatar??? IT IS. And a leprechaun just told her husband "I've already given you my best shot!". No. Just...no.
  • Ahahahaha, Zachary Quinto is a warlord!! And he's getting attacked by millions of cats. AMAZING.
WHAT. Also, source.
  • ........wood nymphs. Really?? And Susan May Pratt with blonde hair. I can't even.
  • Oh my God, Paige's boyfriend is Darryl from The Walking Dead
  • Okay, why is Paige doing charades when she could just WRITE THINGS DOWN??
  • Paige, honey. Don't walk out of the bathroom at your new boyfriend's house fanning the air, even if you DID just orb in from vanquishing a stinky demon...
"Yeah, I'd stay out of there for a while..." Source.
  • ..........Jason just gave Phoebe a Chinese-American dictionary. Did you know American is a language? BECAUSE APPARENTLY IT IS.
  • Ahahahahaha, it's Pintel from Pirates of the Caribbean!
  • Oh my God. The Alien Bounty Hunter from The X-Files is playing Chronos. Awesome.
  • CHRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS!!!!!!! 
And more Phoebe snood. Source.
So apparently a lot of my thoughts had to do with guest stars this season. At least I was less baffled by the costume choices??? 

Do you get ridiculously excited over the guest stars of 15 year old TV shows?? Or is it just me?

K xx

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review - Cop Town


Cop Town
Karin Slaughter
2014
Random House Australia

4 stars

I first picked up one of Karin Slaughter's books at the library on a whim, and it was basically love at first sight. First read? First something, anyway. While her books always have an element of the icky or disturbing about them, they're always massively compelling and filled with fascinating and deeply flawed characters, and I've yet to read one of her books that I haven't absolutely loved. So I was pretty freaking excited when I got an email saying I'd been approved for an ARC of this one.

About the book:
Cop Town is quite different to Slaughter's other books to date. For starters, it's a stand-alone which is pretty exciting because it means I won't be frantically refreshing her Goodreads page hoping for news of a release date for the next installment! But there's also more of an emphasis on police work in general than there is in any of her other books, which always seem to focus exclusively on one particular case.

Cop Town is set in Atlanta in the mid-1970s, and takes place over the course of about a week. Our protagonists are two female cops - Maggie Lawson, who's from a cop family and joined the force about five years earlier, and Kate Murphy, who's about to start her first day on the job, and who's woefully unprepared for it. Five police officers have been shot dead on patrol in recent months, including Maggie's older brother's partner, and it's believed a murderer known as "The Shooter" is responsible. Maggie's uncle planted evidence on a suspect months earlier which led to the suspect being found not guilty at trial, so the police are desperate to find the man responsible.

My thoughts:
It's not an easy book to read. As one might expect of a book set in the South during the 1970s, it's riddled with just about every type of offensive statement you could imagine. The female police officers - of whom there are only a handful - are treated with extreme misogyny by their male counterparts and, often, by members of the public. Despite the Civil Rights movement, the police force is effectively still segregated, and racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic remarks and epithets are par for the course. So it's not an easy book to read, despite its historical accuracy.

Where the ick factor in Slaughter's other books comes from the way in which the victims are murdered, here it's from the way anyone who's not a straight white man is treated. In addition to all the racist and sexist comments, we add a dose of police brutality. Every character has their own prejudices and every character is flawed, even if they have redeeming characteristics. As Kate asks her father and grandmother at one point, "How can they be so awful, yet they do these good things?". Because these characters, just like the real world, are massively complex.

Though the story is often difficult to read, it's also enormously compelling and I found myself unable to put the book down. The writing is incredible, bringing the world and the characters to life with ease. There were plenty of twists and turns, and a surprising amount of character development considering the story takes place over the course of only a few days. I could have done with a couple less chapters from the killer's point of view, because they became a little same-same-but-different after a while. But on the whole? It was a fabulous, if dark and gritty read.

Have you read any of Karin Slaughter's books? Does this sound like something you'd be interested in?

K xx

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Cop Town is available now.
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