Monday, November 25, 2013

Technical difficulties

So I had every intention of doing a Movie Monday post today. It's sitting in drafts and everything, just waiting on a couple of images.

But my plans have been foiled by the super sucky wifi at our B&B in Waitomo, which is refusing to even load my emails on my laptop. So I'm resorting to the app and hoping like hell that it will actually work...

Basically, apart from the crap wifi, New Zealand is awesome, and this time in just over 15 hours, I'll be in Wellington with Kim, flailing all over the place with excitement.

Proper updates to follow...

K xx

Monday, November 18, 2013

Movie Monday: Thor: The Dark World


Last week, on a freezing cold and very rainy afternoon, I took myself off to the movies to see Thor: TDW. Obviously, it was bound to turn up on Movie Monday at the first possible opportunity.

Due to the fact that this one's still out at the movies and people may not have seen it yet, my thoughts are under a jump cut. No one wants to be the asshat who delivers spoilers all over the place...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

#readWilkie - the half way mark

Half way through November already? WHAT????

Anyway, it's time to give you guys an update on The Moonstone. I haven't read any of it in the last few days - too busy working and packing and trying to finish Sense and Sensibility before I had to leave for the airport at 5.30 this morning (I succeeded).

But I have three and a half hours of flying time ahead of me, so I have no doubt that I can fit a little Wilkie time in en route to Auckland! (You know, when I'm done abusing the free wifi at Melbourne Airport...)

As for the book itself, I'm loving it. I've just finished Miss Clack's narrative, which was fabulous. I adored Betteredge's narrative - he was the perfect rambling old man, constantly going off on tangents and making hilarious statements and generally being a good egg. Miss Clack, on the other hand, was a completely different kettle of fish. She's a brilliantly crafted character who clearly means well, but she goes about it all wrong. You can practically taste the exasperation from those around her. Her plan for providing Lady Verinder with pamphlets - or excerpts thereof - was hilarious. I kept expecting a stack of pamphlets to pop out of the chimney, like Hogwarts letters.

I'm fairly certain that I remember from my previous readings (which were probably ten years ago) the basic details of the remainder of the story from this point on, so I'm excited to see if I'm right.

I was a little surprised to find how much I've enjoyed taking my time with a book and only reading a couple of chapters per day. I usually plough my way through three or more books a week, so to have 200 pages left of a book when I've been working on it for two weeks is highly unusual for me. But I'm loving it, and may be forced to do it more often!

And on that note, I'm off to board a plane to Auckland.

K xx

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm going on an adventure

I know I've mentioned this on Twitter and in the comments sections on a few posts, and probably in passing a couple of times, but I realised today that I've never actually properly told you guys something pretty big. And that something is this:
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Yes, my friends. At stupid o'clock on Saturday morning, I will be heading to the airport to board a plane to the land of the long white cloud. (The stupid o'clock part is not an exaggeration - my plane is at 8.10am, so I have to be at the airport by like 6am. URGH)

I'm flying into Auckland, where Ness and I will be staying with our BFF Kat for a few days. Then we're hitting the road. We'll head down to Matamata to go here:
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Hobbiton, more precisely. BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY. Then it's on to Rotorua, which apparently smells a lot like fart, but which is full of awesome geysers and hot springs as well as places to see kiwis and keas, and learn about Maori culture.

From there, we hit the road again and head south for Tongariro National Park, home to a ton of waterfalls and rainforests and three volcanoes. One of which you may know better as Mount Doom! We plan on doing a couple of bushwalks (known in New Zealand as "tramps". LOLOLOLOLOL). Plus, we're staying in a schmantzy hotel that looks a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittle bit like the hotel in The Shining... O.o

A couple of days later, it's back on the road time, and we're heading across to Waitomo to check out the glow worm caves of awesomeness:
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Aaaaaaand then it's back to Auckland and the airport. Ness is heading Christchurch, and I'm heading To Wellington. Why? TO SEE KIM, OF COURSE. We have been all caps emailing about it for months. There will be museum-ing and Marvel-ing and generally having All The Fun, and it will be MAGICAL.

So there you have it. If I'm not around much over the next couple of weeks? That's why.

Wish me good weather?

K xx

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

TTT: Top ten covers I wish I could redesign


Time to link up with the Broke and the Bookish again!

I found this topic really hard. Covers play a big part in whether or not I read a book, so the awful ones tend to go back on the shelf. My general approach is "If I would be embarrassed to read this book in public, NOPE". So there are a few generalisations in here, because there are some books that sound really interesting but I just can't bring myself to read them based on the covers.

1. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
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WHYYYYYYYYYYYY??? The cover of The Diviners was so gorgeous and simplistic. This is just awful from the font to the illustration to the weird glowy title. Ugh.

2. Polymer by Sally Rogers-Davidson
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I loved this book as a teenager. But the giant creepy stalker head in a field of wheat is just bizarre. Especially with the receding hairline...

3. The US covers of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
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In my opinion, the US gets some really really awful covers, especially on trade paperbacks. The Discworld books are some of the worst. The rest of the world gets the gorgeous Josh Kirby or Paul Kidby covers. You guys get this crap. The font (and its colour) is just as bad as the cover art.

4. Any movie tie-in cover
Look, I get that it helps sell the book, because people go and see the movie and then when they see the book with the matching cover they decide to read it. But in my opinion? It has a serious impact on your enjoyment of the book, because the cover forces you to constantly compare it to the movie, the way the characters were portrayed and the actors who played them. 

5. Android Karenina by Ben H. Winters
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I'm pretty sure this cover is completely deceptive because (from memory) the android mentioned in the title is Anna Karenina's servant, rather than Anna having robot parts. So it's a cool cover. But it doesn't really fit the story. 

6. Pretty much anything by Simon R. Green (except the Nightside series)
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The Nightside books have completely awesome covers. The rest of Simon R. Green's books get stuck with these completely generic looking fantasy covers. It's no surprise that they seem to always end up in the discount bin at the bookstore. I mean, come on. A kickass title like "From Hell With Love" and they give it that snoretastic cover? Sigh. (In contrast, check out the awesome cover of the German edition)

7. Broken by Kelley Armstrong
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Ugh. Another terrible US cover. Why the hell is Elena naked? Plus, her giant pregnant belly is weirdly shaped and kind of looks like she's got her leg pulled up in front of her... Meanwhile, the rest of the world gets this far less awkward cover.

9. Any cover featuring a shirtless man whose head has been chopped off at the top. 
You know the ones I mean. They're often black and white, and about 90% abs. They're increasingly prevalent in chick lit and new adult books, especially in the e-book editions. You may as well just write "SEXY TIMES AHOY!!" in giant letters on the cover and be done with it. The same goes for the Two People Almost Kissing covers.

10. The Ellie Chronicles by John Marsden
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The covers of the Tomorrow series are so fabulous, but these are just meh. The font is boring, the circles of barbed wire are confusing more than anything, and the images are pretty blah. Sigh.

Which covers would you redesign?

K xx

Monday, November 11, 2013

Movie Monday: Sense and Sensibility


While we were Dessert Day-ing last week, Deidre and I decided that we were going to watch Four Weddings and a Funeral, which is even more horrifically dated than you'd imagine. Somewhere along the way, we decided that we desperately needed to rewatch every Hugh Grant movie that I own. Sorry, Deidre - I accidentally on purpose started without you...

Reasons why Sense and Sensibility is awesome:
1. Emma Thompson. She not only acted in it, she wrote the screenplay. Because she's a BAMF.
2. Edward covering for Margaret's indignation while hiding in the library. Shortly followed by coaxing Margaret out by listing ridiculous geographical inaccuracies.
3. Kate Winslet. She. Is. Fabulous.
4. Ridiculously oversized hats.
LOOK AT THESE THINGS. Also, source.
5. Alan Rickman.
6. The costumes.
7. Hugh Grant.
8. Marianne grumpily playing depressing music.
9. Blubbery proposal responses. Especially as it led to this (apologies for the shitty quality):


10. It was directed by Ang Lee. Who apparently swore afterwards that he was never going to work with sheep again. Which worked out great for him until Brokeback Mountain happened...
11. Playing "Spot who's going to be in Harry Potter in 5+ years time". (There are at least six)
12. Hugh Laurie. Oh my God, he is MAGICAL.
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13. Awkward ballroom scenes.
14. Imelda Staunton. Fabulous from start to finish.
15. Sisterly bonding.
16. Gemma Jones.
17. The houses. So pretty.
I MEAN, LOOK. Also, source.
18. Marianne sketching Willoughby's silhouette.
19. Mass crying sessions.
20. Apparently they had all kinds of problems onset with horses farting in the middle of takes, and it got to the point where the horses ruined every take and they had to edit them out afterwards. Ahahahahaha.
21. The music.

Plus, the following quotes:
- "At least she can escape Fanny, which is more than I can say for any of us." "You do your best. You have not said a word to her all week." "I have! I have said 'yes' and 'no'."
- "Oh, Miss Dashwood! Forgive me. Do you by any chance have such a thing as a reliable atlas?" "I believe so." "Excellent. I wish to check the position of the Nile. My sister tells me it is in South America." "Oh! No, no. She is quite wrong. For I believe it is in-- Belgium." 'Belgium? Surely not. You must be thinking of the Volga." "The Volga?" "Of course. The Volga, which, as you know, starts in..." "Vladivostok, and ends in..." "Wimbledon." "Precisely. Where the coffee beans come from."
- "Perhaps Margaret is right." "Right?" "Piracy is our only option."
- "Does she care for olives?"
- "Your feet are cold."
- "I do not think she drew breath from the moment we left London..."
- "I like her. She talks about things. We NEVER talk about things."
- "If Colonel Brandon is infirm, then I am at death's door..."
- "What care I for colds when there is such a man?" "You will care very much when your nose swells up..." "You are right. Help me, Elinor."
- "Mr. Palmer, are they not the very creatures she described?" "Nothing like."
- "He is the sort of man whom everyone thinks well of, but no one remembers to talk to."
- "You talk of feeling idle and useless. Imagine how that is compounded when one has no hope and no choice of any occupation whatsoever."
- "No, no. It will not rain." "You always say that and then it always does."
- "Are you asleep?" "With you in the room??"
- "VIPER IN MY BOSOM!!"
- "To think! We can see his insufferable house from the top of our hill. I shall ask Jackson to plant some very tall trees." "You will do nothing of the sort."

So. Do you prefer this or the 2008 miniseries?

K xx

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Saturn for a Mars. In Neptune!

Yeah yeah, I'm a giant slacker. I finished watching VMars season 3 months ago, but never got around to writing up all my feelings about it until now. Womp womp. Better late than never, right? RIGHT. Let's get on with the show!
  • Having this many Neptune High graduates who are good friends all attending the same university is suuuuuuuuuuuper contrivancey.
  • Oh, Veronica. Only the first week of class, and you're already pissing off the TAs. Don't ever change.
  • Ugh, Dick. 
  • Are there ANY non-murdery parents in Neptune besides Keith???
  • Aaaaah, Tessa from Supernatural!
  • OH MY GOD, LAURA SAN GIACOMO. I AM DEAD.
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  • Logan Huntzburger is bonding with Logan Echolls. Awesome.
  • Dianna Agron? WHAT IS HAPPENING THIS SEASON?!
  • Oh, Wallace. What did you do?
  • Oh, honey. You *NEVER* leave your drink unattended.
  • YOU FUCKING RUN TO HER, LOGAN ECHOLLS. YOU RUN LIKE THE WIND.
  • Mr Sheffield from The Nanny ahahahaha.
  • Oh my God, Dick. You did not just call that a keister egg. Ahahahahaha.
  • BRB, having Logan feels.
  • Ahahahaha, only Mac would go to a party wearing a t-shirt that says "Ask me about my STD".
  • Dick throwing dick pictures off the balcony is oddly hilarious.
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  • I kind of love Piz when he's not being all desperate puppy dog eyes...
  • I'm so torn on Logan right now. Like, I adore him. But he's the king of fucking things up, and desperately needs some therapy to sort his shit out.
  • BACKUP!!!! I wish Backup had been a more regular character. Because of all the reasons.
  • Keith, what even is this?? 
  • Oh my God, Dick locking Logan on the balcony so that the hotel staff can clean is PHENOMENAL. 
  • Veronica in jail is magical.
  • Logan is fangirling over Melville Dewey, and I want to hug him so much.
  • SHERIFF LAMB. WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED OMG WHAT I CAN'T EVEN.
  • Parker and Logan = nope.
  • Paul Rudd. PAUL RUDD. AND HE IS SINGING. THIS IS THE GREATEST THING EVER.
  • LaFayette from True Blood? Uh, AWESOME.
  • Mac. You did not just make a joke about Piz-neyland. OMG. I love you.
  • "Rob Thomas is a whore". LOLOLOLOL.
  • Can we talk about how much I adore Veronica and Weevil's friendship?
  • Okay, that ending SUCKED. I mean, as a season ending, it was fine. But as a series ending?? Thank God for the movie, that's all I'm saying.
Seriously, what is this? Also, source.

Is it March yet, you guys? Because I want it to be March...

K xx

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dessert Day - the Australian edition

700 posts, whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat??????

Ahem. On Monday, Deidre came over for another installment of Dessert Day. It ended up being a day of creating somewhat stereotypical Australian desserts, in the form of caramel slice and chocolate ripple cake. Sure, the second isn't exactly a difficult task - you take a packet of chocolate ripple biscuits, you smoosh them together with cream, you cover the whole thing in more cream, and then you wait 24 hours and eat it. But considering you can't buy gluten free chocolate ripple biscuits, things got a little more complicated!

We used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, with the full amount of sugar because chocolate ripple biscuits are quite sweet. We used my cookie scoop to ensure they were evenly sized (and bigger than the recipe called for), but I think in the future I'd probably roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter instead. Keep a close eye on them while baking, because we accidentally let the first batch get a liiiiiiittle too brown. WHOOPS. Let the biscuits cool completely.

Then, whip 300mL of cream with some vanilla and some icing sugar. Smear a little of the cream along the plate you want to serve it on, then cover one side of a cookie in a thin layer of cream and sandwich it to another cookie. Cover that in cream as well, then place them vertically on the plate. Continue smooshing cookies together until it's as long as you want it to be. Then cover the whole lot in cream, ensuring there are no ugly holes, and chuck the whole thing in the fridge overnight. When you're ready to serve, cut it on the diagonal so you can see all the pretty layers, and shove it in your face.
Before

And after!
In case you're wondering, the time in the fridge lets the cream make the cookies go soft and cake-like. It basically tastes like cookies and cream ice cream, but without the melting! And, according to my mum, you can add a slug of some kind of liqueur to the cream if you want to. It's not pretty, but it sure is delicious.

The caramel slice was Kat's mum's recipe, and the original included the fabulous instruction "Melt butt". Obviously, we had to make it.

For the base:
1 cup self raising flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup brown sugar
125g butter, melted

Mix everything together, then press into a greased and lined slice tin. Bake at 190 degrees for 10 minutes.

For the caramel:
440mL tin of condensed milk
2 tablespoons golden syrup
30g butter

Mix together in a saucepan over low heat until mixture thickens. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Pour over the base, smooth, and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the tin.

For the topping:
125g dark chocolate
30g copha/butter

Melt together in a double boiler, then pour over the slice. Smooth. When cool, cut into squares and serve.

We ran into a small problem in that we didn't quite cook the base enough (stupid gluten free, always requiring more cooking time...), which meant that the caramel mostly soaked in, forming a thin layer of caramel, and then a base that was half base, half caramel. So...that wasn't exactly ideal. That said, it was still completely and utterly delicious and I'd make it again in a heartbeat.

Will you be trying out either of these recipes?

K xx

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

TTT - Top ten sequels I can't wait to get my hands on


Time to link up with the Broke and the Bookish again!

It's Cup Day in Melbourne today, which means a public holiday for a three minute horse race. I spent a good chunk of the afternoon at a family barbeque, eating far too much and paying very little attention to the races. WHEEEEEEEEE. 

ANYWAY. Let's get on to the top ten sequels I'm fangirling like a lunatic over:

1. Curtsies and Conspiracies - Gail Carriger
I literally JUST got an email from Amazon saying that my Kindle edition is now available to download. However, I'm currently hoarding e-books (including this and Alligient) for my trip to New Zealand at the end of the month, so I won't be reading it for a couple of weeks yet. Womp womp.

2. Fairwil - Alysia Gray Painter
OH MY GOD, ALYSIA. YOU HAVE TO WRITE FASTER BECAUSE I WANT THIS BOOK, LIKE, YESTERDAY. I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DIVING BOARD RELATED THINGS. Kthxbai <3

3. Cress - Marissa Meyer
I've loved both Cinder and Scarlet, so I'm really looking forward to this one.

4. Raising Steam - Terry Pratchett
Another one that comes out this week, and another one that I probably won't be reading for a little while. If the price is right, I might buy it at the airport because I *have* to have Discworld books in physical form. The covers are too brilliant not to!

5. Isla and the Happily Ever After - Stephanie Perkins
Oh my goodness, I need this book immediately, because Perkins writes such completely adorable books. I only hope it lives up to the fabulousness of its predecessors.

6. Clariel - Garth Nix
THERE'S A NEW ABHORSEN BOOK COMING OUT OH MY GOD I AM SO EXCITED YOU HAVE NO IDEA. One of my friends in high school and I were OBSESSED with Sabriel, and I've loved both Lirael and Abhorsen, so I can't WAIT for this one.

7. Lair of Dreams - Libba Bray
The Diviners was long, but fabulous. And I can't wait to see where Bray takes the series next! 

8. The Infinite Sea - Rick Yancey
If you haven't read The Fifth Wave, you really really should. Because it was incredible. Obviously, I'm excited about the sequel.

9. Dreams of Gods and Monsters - Laini Taylor
I LOVED Daughter of Smoke and Bone. While I didn't enjoy Days of Blood and Starlight *quite* as much (and don't ask me why - apparently I finished it, wrote "Review to follow" on Goodreads, and then never actually wrote the review. That was in March. Whoops??), I'm still really intrigued to find out what happens next.

10. Sisters' Fate - Jessica Spotswood
I finished the second book in this series - Star Cursed - only a week or so ago, and it was fabulous. After that ending though? I NEED THE THIRD BOOK IMMEDIATELY OMG I CAN'T EVEN. 

What sequels are you jumping up and down with excitement over? (Also, what does it say about me that so many of these books are YA?!)

K xx

Monday, November 4, 2013

Movie Monday: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


I honestly can't believe it's taken me this long to cover today's installment. Because it's made of pure, unadulterated fabulous and has a truly amazing cast.

Reasons why The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is awesome:
1. Martin Freeman. I mean, Martin's pretty much always awesome, not matter what he's in. And he's perfect here as the British everyman, Arthur Dent, even if he DOES have to spend the entire film in a dressing gown and pyjamas.
2. So Long And Thanks For All The Fish. Best movie opening ever.


3. Mos Def. He's fabulous.
4. Evil genius mice.
5. Stephen Fry as narrator. You really can't go wrong with Stephen Fry.
6. Getting slapped in the face every time you have an idea.
Source
7. Zooey Deschenel.
8. The Point of View gun.
9. Alan Rickman and Warwick Davies as Marvin.
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10. Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast.
11. A whale and a bowl of petunias falling from the sky.
12. John Malkovich. Oh my God.
13. Planet construction. Fabulousness.
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14. Vogon poetry.
15. Anna Chancellor.
16. Zaphod's costumes. Hell, Zaphod in general.
17. Helen Mirren as the voice of Deep Thought.
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Plus, the following quotes:
- "In the beginning the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move."
- "Freeze? I'm a robot, not a refrigerator."
- "Okay, leave this to me - I'm British, I know how to queue."
- "Go with the hunch of a man whose brain is fueled by LEMONS?!"
- "I could calculate your chances of survival, but you won't like it."
- "All my life I've had this strange feeling that there's something big and sinister going on in the world." "No, that's perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the universe gets that."
- "It is most gratifying that your enthusiasm for our planet continues unabated. As a token of our appreciation, we hope you will enjoy the two thermonuclear missiles we've just sent to converge with your craft. To ensure ongoing quality of service, your death may be monitored for training purposes. Thank you."
- "I don't see what all the fuss is about, Vogons are the worst marksmen in the galaxy."
- "I think I'm a sofa."
- "A man who no more knows his destiny than a tea leaf knows the history of the East India company."
- "It must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays."
- "Okay. The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is...42."


Friday, November 1, 2013

#readWilkie

It's the 1st of November, and usually that would mean NaBloPoMo around these parts. But given that I'm going to be out of the country for the last two weeks of November, and will be too busy chasing hobbits having fun to blog every day, I figured that I'd do something else instead - a read-along of Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone with LitNerd!

I've been a big fan of Wilkie Collins since I had to read The Woman in White for a class on the classic Victorian novel in first year uni. I loved it so much that I immediately went out and read The Moonstone, No Name, Armadale, and whatever else my university library had lurking in the 823.8 C713 section of the library.

It's been a long time since I last read The Moonstone, and a couple of days ago I added it to a list of books I need to re-read, so it was kind of perfect that I stumbled across #readWilkie later that same day! I might end up switching to the free Kindle edition half way through the month when I go to New Zealand, but for the meantime, I'm reading the 1998 Penguin Classics edition:
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It's not the prettiest edition out there, but it DOES have a multitude of end notes, and I'm a sucker for a good end note. (I learnt the hard way after buying one of those $2 editions of Emma when I was 15 and struggling through it)

It's not too late to join in - you can grab a e-book copy for free from Amazon or Project Gutenberg and start reading! And don't forget to check out #readWilkie on Twitter.

K xx
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