Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - Year in Review

And so we come to New Year's Eve. Another year over, as John Lennon would say in one of the most depressing Christmas songs of ever. And I honestly have no idea what I've done with this year. Other than reading 275 books, that is.

It's been a pretty mixed year for me. Yes, I travelled and read and hung out with my niece. But I also spent a lot of time feeling useless and rudderless and getting absolutely nowhere with my quest to find a job in my field.

But let's focus on the good stuff, because even I don't want to think about the bad stuff. I went to England and Portugal and Canberra (one of these things is not like the others). I not only completed but coordinated (along with Emily) VEDA. I gave up on Vlogmas half way through because other things got in the way, but I coordinated that too.

I successfully completed NaNoWriMo, although I have yet to actually finish the novel I wrote 52,000 words of during November.

I got to spend a couple of weeks with my little brother, several days with my BFF Sara, and I got to meet Willie and hang out together in London. And yes, I will eventually get around to telling you about the rest of my trip.

I cemented some fabulous friendships with wonderful people that I've never met before.

We finally finished recapping Buffy and Angel over on Snark Squad. We started recapping Dawson's Creek and Doctor Who. And I convinced Anna to join me in recapping Supernatural, a thankless task that I'm regularly on the struggle bus with.

I learnt that Phantom Eye is a thing, and that Alice In Wonderland syndrome is oddly fascinating. And I survived without seeing any pictures of eyeballs with pencils/arrows/whatever hanging out of them, for which I am eternally grateful.

I saw Les Miserables and The Book of Mormon live on stage.

I finished (sort of) my 101 in 1001.

I joined Mediavengers (which I promise I'll write more content for in the new year).

I hung out with this dork a lot, and it was fabulous.


And I had a job, albeit part time, for the entire year when I was expecting it to only last for first term. Plus, I'll be back there next year, which was unexpected but pretty exciting.

So it wasn't the best year ever. But it still had plenty of highlights. Here's to a 2015 that features lots of fun and good times, at least a little bit of a travel, and the end to my job hunting woes.

Happy New Year, friends.

K xx

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

TTT - Bookish goals for 2015

Another Tuesday already? Must be time to talk about books and link up with the Broke and the Bookish!

I did pretty well on my bookish goals for this year. I wanted to read more books than last year, and I've read more than 100 books than I did in 2013. Uh, whoops? I've reread a lot, tracked my page counts, participated in two Bout of Books, reviewed every book I read, read more non-fiction than last year, and read two classics that I hadn't read before. I didn't do so great on DNFing (it's hard to persuade myself to DNF something I paid money for) or reading outside my comfort zone, but you can't win them all... 

On to my goals for 2015!

1. To read at least 200 books
Interestingly, I think the reading strategy I adopted this year - which I'll talk about next week - helped me read WAY more books than last year. So where in the past I've been able to get to between 160 and 175 books in a year, I think my new strategy can help me smash 200 again. It's such a nice round number...

2. To complete the 2015 reading challenge
Popsugar has a printable version
Honestly, I don't even remember where I originally found this. Tumblr, maybe?? But it's a pretty great way to force myself to read outside my comfort zone, so I'm going to give it a shot! 

3. To DNF when required
Seriously, I've read so many books this year that have been downright terrible and/or rage-causing. Next year, I should really just...not bother to finish them. 

4. To track my reading statistics
My original plan for this year was just to track my page numbers, but I've since started tracking a whole stack of other information that I'll talk about (probably in more detail than you ever wanted) next week. It's been really interesting to see how things pan out in terms of various things, and I want to keep tracking all of that next year.

5. To read outside my comfort zone
Hopefully between Classics Club and that reading challenge up in #2, I'll do better at this next year. Because yeah. I really sucked at it this year.

6. To participate in at least one Bout of Books
I don't think I'll be participating in the January one, simply because it's in like five minutes time and I'm not quite ready for that just yet. But later in the year, when things are a little calmer, I'll join in. 

7. Try to balance my new reads and rereads
Just shy of 40% of my books this year were rereads, so I didn't do TOO badly on this one. But next year, I'd like to try and get it closer to 50%, because I have a LOT of rereads that still need to be reviewed.

8. To review every book I read
The main challenge on this one is when I finish a book just before I go to sleep. I have a tendency to write "review to follow" on Goodreads and then totally forget to go back and actually write a review. See also: Daughter of Blood and Starlight, which I read in early 2013 and still haven't reviewed. Whoops? 

9. To reread mostly books I haven't reviewed
There are some obvious exceptions here in the form of books that I want to reread before the movie comes out (Paper Towns) or books I need to reread because the sequel has just been released and I have no idea what happened in the previous books (pretty much anything ever, to be honest). But for the most part, I'd like my rereads to be books that need reviewing, because otherwise I tend to just reread the same books over and over again (*cough* Persuasion *cough*).

10. To read at least twelve non-fiction books
This shouldn't be TOO difficult, I hope. I managed more than that this year. But then again, I only managed 3 non-fiction books in 2013... One a month shouldn't be too much of a challenge though. Surely... 

What are your bookish goals for the year ahead?

K xx

Monday, December 29, 2014

Best of 2014: The worst of everything

We've already talked about my favourite books, movies, TV shows, and music for 2014. Now it's time for the opposite end of the scale: the stuff that brought nothing but pain and suffering, the stuff that months later, you still wish would go and die in a fire. Thankfully, there was nothing on the music side of things as horrific as last year's Blurred Lines (or at least nothing that gained as much hype), and the worst thing I could think of on the music spectrum this year was the Frozen soundtrack, and that's mostly because I work in a primary school and so I had to hear it on a NEVER ENDING LOOP FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. Anyway, on with the rest of the terrible things that should die in a fire.

I Know Who Killed Me
Oh, God, this film. This film was hands down the worst thing I've ever seen in my life. For starters, it features double Lindsay Lohan. And not in a The Parent Trap kind of a way. It was basically non-stop torture porn, and at one point she tries to duct-tape her severed fingers back on. I'm really not sure who picked it for #snarkathon, but they should be banished to the Shame Corner forever. Worst. Worst worst worst.

Platoon
Sweet mother of Jeebus, I hated this film. I actually stopped watching part way through because I was crying and fighting the urge to throw up, and life is too short for that. But the parts I did see? Were either incredibly brutal or incredibly boring. Probably a lot like the Vietnam War itself, if the truth be told, but I just couldn't take it any more.

The True Believers series
I'd heard good things about these books on Goodreads and at an industry event I went to. So when I found that they were only like $2 each, I bought all four of them on a whim, figuring I'd need books to read on the plane to London. Instead, what they brought me was rage and the desire to reach into my Kindle and punch fictional characters in the face. Rape is thrown around like it's nothing, all the main characters are in possession of magic vaginas that cure bad boys of their badness, there were non-stop cliches, and it made me want to throw things. Avoid at all costs. (Although they DID prove to be excellent #stupidbookisstupid fodder, so...there's that)

The Selection
This book seems to be pretty polarising. People either love it or they hate it, and I fell into the latter camp because it made me rage like nothing else. It's billed as a dystopian novel, but it's essentially the teenage girl version of The Bachelor in which you get to marry a prince. The writing was clunky, the characters were two dimensional, America Singer is possibly the dumbest girl to ever walk the pages of fiction, and don't even get me started on the fact that the "contestants" are made property of the state and have to prove their virginity in order to compete for the prince's heart. Basically, the world in which the book is set (which was poorly created) is riddled with misogyny and uuuuuuuuuugh.

Her
Reviewers have been raving about this movie all year, but I mostly thought it was gross. I mean, a guy falling in love with his computer operating system and ending up IN A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH IT?!?!?! What the hell even is that? It was just...no. No no no no no.

Charmed season 8
I didn't see this when it aired (and I have yet to post my thoughts on it. Or several of the previous seasons, for that matter...), but I'd heard that it wasn't great. Yeah, people really weren't kidding about how not great it was. It seemed to drag on forever, and then suddenly the show wasn't getting renewed and they had to try and tie everything up in a handful of episodes, and it just........ugh. Snore.

Get Him to the Greek
I really liked Russell Brand's character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. So I thought that him reprising the role here would be a good thing. Yeah, no. The added Jonah Hill factor was too much for me to deal with, and I gave up on the movie about 20 minutes in. Which, given that I made it through the whole of I Know Who Killed Me, is really saying something.

Winter Be My Shield
I bought this book in a Kindle sale for $1.99. And it may only be me who had problems with it, because the vast majority of reviewers on Goodreads seemed to love it. But for me? It was indescribably boring and dragged on for a thousand years. Seriously. I'd hit the "next page" button about fifty times on my Kindle and have only read about five pages. There's endless rape and torture, paedophilia and slavery. There's an incredibly complex society that's never properly explained, and very little world building. Essentially, it was about 350 pages of people wandering about in the snow and making big plans, and just over 100 pages of stuff that wasn't mind-numbingly boring but WAS kind of squicky.

In short, these things caused me to have one of two reactions:
Source
Source
Sometimes both at once, now that I think about it...

And there we have it. What things are on your WORST OF EVER list from this year?

K xx

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Best of 2014 - Music edition

I've covered off books, movies, and TV shows, so now it's time to talk about the best music I've discovered in 2014!

I probably say this every year, but I'm not really much of a music person. I can't stand the radio 99% of the time, and I basically only listen to music when I'm on public transport and want to block out the world. Still, there are a number of stand-out songs and albums for me this year.

Taylor Swift - Blank Space and Shake It Off

One of these days, I'll get enough iTunes credit to download the whole of 1989, but for now I've been obsessed with these two songs for the past few months. They're both absolutely amazing, and I'm kind of astonished (as are, it seems, many others) to find myself a big fan of Taylor Swift and the growth she seems to have undergone this year. And nothing shows this growth more strongly that songs like Blank Space.

Original Broadway Cast - The Book of Mormon Soundtrack

Eventually, I'll get around to telling you guys about the rest of my trip. For now, I'll simply say that C and I went to see Book of Mormon, and it was absolutely amazing from start to finish and the soundtrack never fails to make me ridiculously happy. Also, I'm kind of proud of my new life skill - listening to Book of Mormon on public transport with a total poker face.

The Basics - The Lucky Country

Technically, I heard them perform this song live last year, but it wasn't released until late this year, and it's pretty damned spectacular. It's a return to the great Aussie protest songs brought out by the likes of Paul Kelly and Midnight Oil, and I'm so glad I can finally listen to it over and over again.

Billy Boyd - The Last Goodbye

Excuse me while I ugly cry forever. I have yet to see The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, simply because it doesn't come out in Australia until Boxing Day. But I LOVE that they got Billy Boyd to sing the song for the end credits. Because Billy Boyd singing in Return of the King is such a huge part of what I love about that movie, and so it adds a nice sense of having come full circle to include him in the final part of The Hobbit, especially seeing as the video includes footage from all six films and behind the scenes.

Original Soundtrack - Guardians of the Galaxy

Seriously, there are no words for how much I adore this soundtrack. It's absolutely fabulous from start to finish. 10/10 would recommend.

Fall Out Boy - My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark

I know, I'm late to the party on this one. But I've heard it A LOT this year at the gym, and it just keeps growing on me to the point where I finally downloaded it and listen to it on an endless loop because it's just so stinking good.

What songs/bands/musicians have you discovered this year?

Merry Christmas, y'all. I'll be back on the 29th with my Worst of 2014.

K xx

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Best of 2014 - TV edition

I've already talked about books and movies, so now let's talk about the TV shows I discovered this year and promptly began binge-watching, because obviously nothing I started watching was a brand new, currently airing, wait-a-week-between-episodes sort of a thing.

Orange Is The New Black
Source
Holy hell, this show is solid gold awesome. Though Piper is ostensibly the main character, she's also possibly the least interesting (besides Larry. Go die in a fire, Larry). The multitude of supporting characters are all deep and nuanced and well developed and funny and generally fascinating, and it's just SO FREAKING GOOD WHY AREN'T YOU WATCHING IT YOU SHOULD GO WATCH IT. Literally my only gripe (besides the existence of Larry, who's the actual worst) is that the theme song - while fabulous - goes for far too long. Ain't nobody got time to sit through a theme song that goes for over a minute...

The Office
Source
I know, I know. I'm totally late to the party on this one. And yes, we're talking about the US version. I'd always meant to watch it, I was just...putting it off because I'd seen some of the UK version and hated Ricky Gervais so much that I had to turn it off after about 10 minutes. Plus, I'm not a fan of Steve Carrell, so I was hesitant to watch like a million episodes of a show starring him. But then I saw the CPR clip on Tumblr and was like "OH MY GOD I NEED TO WATCH THIS SHOW IMMEDIATELY".

And so I go hold of season 1. And the second Jim looked longingly at Pam, I was like "Well, shit..." because I was firmly on the shipper train. It only took me a few months to get through the entire show, and it was fabulous. Sure, some seasons were rougher than others, and in those seasons, it was basically only Pam and Jim that kept me watching. But the finale was literally everything I ever wanted from a finale.

Friday Night Lights
Source
I'm only up to season 2 of this, because EVERYONE wants to watch it and Quickflix only has a couple of sets of it on DVD for the whole of Australia (or at least that's what I suspect) so I haven't seen it in several months, but it's pretty damned great. I was on the "why the hell am I watching a show about American football??" train for the first half a dozen episodes, but once it became less about football and more about the town, I was sold.

Criminal Minds
I don't care that the quality is terrible, this scene was AMAZING.
Source.
This one is totally Ashlea's fault, and I take great delight in blaming her when I freak myself out. Considering it's essentially a show in which they hunt down murderers and rapists and psychopaths over and over again, you'd think it would feel formulaic and repetitive after a while. But I'm half way through season 3, and NOPE. Still great. The characters are all fabulous and have well developed backstories and specific reasons behind why they ended up in such a horrific line of work, and Garcia will always and forever be my favourite because she's amazing.

The 100
Source
I honestly can't decide where I stand on this show. On the one hand, it has AMAZING female characters and it's really compelling viewing, and I love the idea of what's basically teenage Lost. But on the other hand, I have SO MANY ISSUES WITH IT. I mean, for starters the population size makes literally zero sense. And how the hell did they get water to keep the Ark running all those years? And wow this is really colonialist and kind of icky and oh my God please stop torturing people for information and why does everyone ship Clarke and Bellamy they're both horrible people and CHARLOTTE OH MY GOD NO STOP.

So I love it. But it makes me ranty. But it's so stinking good, and I have to know what happens and did I mention Octavia Biggest BAMF On The Planet Blake? Yeah... Plus, I tweeted about not liking Bellamy, and the writers retweeted it and that's basically my 15 minutes of internet fame right there.

I also watched Bitten and Siberia this year, but they haven't stuck in my mind quite as much as these ones have, though they were definitely worth the watch!

What shows have you discovered this year?

K xx

Monday, December 22, 2014

Best of 2014 - Movie edition


Yes, it's the one-off return of Movie Monday! It's the pointy end of the year, which means it's time to talk about all the best and worst things I've discovered this year. I've already done my best books, courtesy of last week's Top Ten Tuesday topic, and I'll get to best TV shows, best music, and worst of everything ever in the next few days.

Many of these aren't movies that were released this year. But they are movies that I *saw* for the first time this year, so it totally counts and if you haven't seen them you should rectify that immediately.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Source
It's no secret that I loved the absolute crap out of this movie. I've seen it twice more (I think??) since I shared my thoughts when it first came out, and I still love it just as much. It's got amazing female characters, amazing POC characters, and it manages to be surprisingly funny given the dark subject matter. And, perhaps most importantly, it feels a lot more like a political thriller than a superhero movie. 10/10 would recommend.

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner
Source
Nearly forty years after it was released, this movie still drops truth bombs left, right and centre. The performances are brilliant, especially from Spencer Tracey, and it's full of absolutely phenomenal quotes. And it's - sadly - still applicable today in an awful lot of ways.

Chef
Source
I watched this movie on the flight to London, not having heard anything about it beforehand other than knowing that Robert Downey Jr was involved somehow. So I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be pretty damned fabulous, even if it did make me really hungry. Seriously, don't watch it on a plane. You'll be devastated when they present you with a meal that looks like it's already been half eaten and then regurgitated...

Gone Girl
Source
I'm not sure I could say I enjoyed this movie, because it's indescribably disturbing in so many ways. But as a psychological thriller of "OMG NO MAKE IT STOP" proportions? It was utterly amazing. And Rosamund Pike, who I know best as Lady Harriet Cumnor from the 1999 adaptation of Wives & Daughters (closely followed by her turn as Jane Bennet in my least favourite version of Pride & Prejudice) was absolutely brilliant (and kind of terrifying) from start to finish.

The Fault in Our Stars
Source
Feels from start to finish. Shailene Woodley was fabulous as Hazel, and this is probably the most true-to-the-book adaptation I've ever seen. Plus, it was a hell of a lot funnier than I thought it was going to be, though when it delivered feels, they came in spades. It didn't hurt that the soundtrack is pretty damned fabulous either.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Source
Speaking of amazing soundtracks, this one is possibly the greatest movie soundtrack of EVER. The music fitted perfectly with the (more than a little ridiculous) film, and while it kind of proves that Marvel could make a movie about practically anything and we'd still turn out in our millions to watch it (as long as its cast is headed by a white dude named Chris), it was a hell of a lot of fun, and I loved how it tied in with the existing MCU.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Source
Look, this one is a surprise even to me. With the exception of There's Something About Mary, I've disliked basically every Ben Stiller movie I've ever seen. But this one? This one was pretty astonishing. The blending of imagination and reality was great, and considering Ben Stiller acted, produced AND directed it, the level of seriousness was fairly surprising. Add in some gorgeous settings and you've got yourself a winner. Basically, it was amazing and you should see it even if you don't like Ben Stiller.

12 Angry Men
Source
Holy hell, is this movie amazing. It feels a lot more like a play than a movie. The shots are incredibly long, which is practically unheard of in cinema today. And it's pretty staggering that they managed to produce such an engaging movie given how long the shots are, and given that basically the entire film is just a bunch of dudes sitting around a table.

Veronica Mars
Source
Given that it was created thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, it's perhaps not surprising that this movie is full of sneaky little hints and cameos and Easter eggs for fans. To be honest, it felt a little like an extra long episode of a TV show that hasn't been on the air in a number of years, but I really didn't care. I loved the series, and rejoining the characters we know and love "ten" years on was amazing. Plus, Veronica is a total sass explosion from start to finish.

The Way, Way Back
Source
I really loved this movie. It's really feelsy, but it was a hell of a lot of fun. Sam Rockwell is absolutely brilliant from start to finish, as is Toni Collette. And you can never go wrong with Allison Janney. It's fabulously written and pretty damned great. Basically.

What are the best movies you've seen this year?

K xx

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien

Source
Over the course of this reread, I've seen a lot of reviews of Lord of the Rings where people have been all "PHEW, I FINALLY FINISHED [insert book here]." I've never felt that way. For me, the books never felt like they dragged, they never felt like a chore to read. Perhaps it was because I only ever read one chapter a night, but even at the end I was looking forward to picking up the book at the end of the day and seeing what would happen next.

ANYWAY.

I found The Return of the King quite a surprising book. After years of watching the films, I thought I knew exactly where things were going at each point, but the book surprised me time and time again. The first surprise was that the book opens with the Beacons of Gondor being lit before Gandalf and Pippin even arrive in Minas Tirith. This essentially made me see Denethor in a completely different light. Yes, he still makes some terrible decisions and is determined to burn to death with (totally not dead) Faramir. But he doesn't seem nearly as stubborn and selfish as he's made out to be in Jackson's film.

I adored Eowyn before, but rereading the book made me love her so much more. Her passion and strength and determination shine through time and time again. Merry and the reader are in the dark about Dernhelm's true identity until the moment that's been giffed a million times:
Source
We see her fears and feelings of uselessness come through a couple of times, and it makes her character that much stronger. When Aragorn asks her what she fears, she replies "A cage... To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire." (p. 63) She loves Aragorn, but he tells her that she has to stay behind for the good of Rohan. She feels similarly trapped in the House of Healing following the Battle of Pelennor Fields, but instead of Aragorn telling her to stay behind, she has Faramir by her side, telling her that he understands because he feels the same way. It's pretty fabulous.

Honestly, though? I think my favourite part was Frodo and Sam and Merry and Pippin returning to the Shire to find that it's not the place they left behind. Their fight isn't over, because there's an unexpected and unwelcome guest there, destroying their home. It's such a great homecoming for things to NOT be perfect and idyllic, as they are in Jackson's films. It shows just how far the four of them have come, seeing how the rest of the Shire reacted, in contrast to the reactions of the stand-up-and-fight attitudes of the four characters we know and love so much.

I'll admit, I skim-read most of the appendices. Tolkien created a terrifying amount of detail about Middle Earth, from language rules to histories for entire dynasties of royalty to full chronologies for the events in the trilogy and thereafter. So the world building is second to none, but it felt somewhat anti-climactic to finish this absolutely amazing story and then be thrown into 200 pages of history. That said, I adored the history of Aragorn and Arwen, if only because it reminded me of this piece of amazingness.

In short, it was fabulous and I loved it, but the appendices were a little too much.

Have you read it? What did you think?

K xx

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TTT - Top Ten Books I Read In 2014

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

Well hello, pointy end of the year. You've come around FAR too quickly and I was 100% not prepared for it to be nearly the end of December already. I mean, seriously. I swear it was July about five minutes ago... 

Anyway, I'm limiting my list to new reads, because including rereads would be far too complicated. So here, without further ado, are the ten best books I've read for the first time in 2014:

1. Heir of Fire - Sarah J. Maas

This book was FLAWLESS. Abso-freaking-lutely flawless. I loved everything about it from start to finish, and I want to make everyone on earth read it. 

2. Fairwil - Alysia Gray Painter

Admittedly, I've still only read a draft version of this (you bet your sweet ass I'll be reading the ARC that Alysia sent me once the new year rolls around and it can count towards my 2015 Goodreads challenge!!), but it was SO FREAKING GOOD OMG. I just love the characters so much, and this final volume of the Wilfair series was everything I wanted and more. 

3. Every Breath - Ellie Marney
Melbourne + Sherlock Holmes inspired mystery + characters that I ship so stinking hard it's not even funny = YES OH MY GOD. I loved the characters, the diversity, the setting, the writing, and the parents who were actually present and concerned about their kid. Utterly magical. 

4. Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia - David Hunt
I was in fits of hysterical laughter the whole way through this book. It's the perfect non-fiction mix of humour and fact, and if you're even remotely interested in Australian colonial history, you should go and find a copy immediately. 

5. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This book was ridiculously beautiful and filled with feels from start to finish. It's a book about secrets and discovering who you are and the importance of friendship and talking about things. 

6. Dangerous Girls - Abigail Haas
Okay, this one just flat out blew my mind. YA thrillers are pretty rare, and this one delivered in spectacular form.

7. The Once series - Morris Gleitzman
Surely I'm allowed one cheat where I can't decide between books?? This series (with the exception of Now, which was good but not great) was an astonishingly deep middle grade read. After, in particular, had me ugly crying for days. 

8. Waistcoats and Weaponry - Gail Carriger
This was pretty damned fabulous, but it's mostly in my top ten because OH MY GOD, MY SHIP IS SAILING WHY DO I HAVE TO WAIT A YEAR FOR THE NEXT BOOK. 

9. Whisper the Dead - Alyxandra Harvey
This series is absolutely phenomenal and I loved everything about this book (except the cliffhanger ending, dammit). Despite being a middle book, it most definitely didn't suffer from middle book syndrome, and the characters were totally adorable together. 

10. Pushing the Limits - Katie McGarry
Okay, this was easily my favourite Katie McGarry book. The characters were amazing, the story was feelsy, and the problems were real-world-y without feeling like they were over the top and created for the sake of additional drama. 

What's on your list?

K xx

Thursday, December 11, 2014

'Bout This Blogger tag

You've probably noticed that I've not been around much in the past two months. Between NaNoWriMo last month and Vlogmas this month, my desire to write blog posts has pretty much disappeared recently. Which is unfortunate. I promise, someday soon I'll sort my shit out and start blogging regularly again!!

In the meantime, the lovely Cait recently switched her blog name from Notebook Sisters to Paper Fury, and she's throwing a little party to celebrate. Said party included this tag, which seemed like a pretty damned good idea to me. So. Yeah. Words and stuff.



‘BOUT THIS BLOGGER

1. Why did you start blogging?
This one I've actually answered at various times in the past, but whatever. I started blogging because I was living in Canberra and spent large chunks of my time telling the same stories to half a dozen people by phone and email. And it just seemed easier to put everything in one place and direct people to that rather than telling the same stories over and over! In short: I am lazy and hate the phone.

2. What’s the story behind your blog's name?
I was living in Canberra, and Melbourne was on my mind a lot. Hence the Melbourne on my mind part. I thought about changing it when I moved back to Melbourne in 2011, but I couldn't think of anything better, and it seemed weird to change my user name. A Quick Succession of Busy Nothings? That's courtesy of Jane Austen in Mansfield Park. It seemed appropriate, and I love Jane Austen, so...yeah.

3. How many designs have you been through since you started blogging? (Pictures! We demand pictures!)
Oh God, I have no idea. Three, I think? Four, maybe?? I used generic Blogger templates for a long time. I think one of them involved lemons?!?! And then I switched to a free template that I found online, which was blue and sort of paisley patterned, I think?! I swear, I have the worst memory about this stuff, and I totally should have taken screencaps before I changed anything. My current design is courtesy of Kim, and I still love it.

4. Have you ever switched blog platforms? What made you move? If you haven’t ever changed…why?
Nope. I've used Wordpress and Blogger, and as far as I can see it, unless you want to do a ton of customisation (which I don't), there aren't really any huge differences between the two. Plus, switching means importing nearly a thousand posts and over six thousand comments. And yeah, see also that whole me being lazy thing. Maybe I'll change my mind in the future, but at this point in time, I'm comfortable with Blogger.

5. How long does it take you to write a post? What’s your postly process like?
It depends on the post. Top Ten Tuesday posts usually take about 15 minutes, but I make the lists ahead of time by hand, and then just need to type them up and explain my choices. Travel posts usually take more like an hour, because half the time I've forgotten what happened and have to dig into the depths of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram to refresh my memory! Reviews take anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour, depending on the book. And recipe posts take foreeeeeeever because they require uploading a crapton of photos.

My post writing process? That basically goes like this:
1. Pick topic.
2. Vomit words onto screen.
3. Get distracted by Tumblr/Goodreads.
4. Forget about post.
5. Remember three hours later, and finish writing.
6. Skim read for typos.
7. Hit publish.

Yeah. It's not exactly ideal, and I should probably edit more than I do, but pffff. Effort.

6. Have you ever been super nervous about a post? Why?! What was it?
I've been nervous about a few posts over the past five years. This post featuring a ton of rebuttal about an anti-YA article was one. This one about my hate for between-the-numbers novellas was another. I was pretty nervous about this post following the great J.K. Rowling said she regretting Romione debacle. I was terrified of posting this vlog about how fandom can impact on your love of a book/TV show/movie, mostly because it may have been the result of some stuff that went down on Snark Squad. Oh, this one about why I prefer Elementary to Sherlock. But the one that I was most nervous about was this post about feminism.

7. Do you have a blogging schedule?
Hahahahaha, nope. I've tried a couple of times and failed dismally.

8. Do you tell people In-Real-Life about your blog? Their reactions?
Yep. I mean, I started my blog for people in real life, so it only makes sense than I tell them about it! I'm not convinced any of them but my mum read it though...

9. Top ten blogs you read/comment on the most! Go! Go!
I'm totally terrible at commenting. I used to be great at it, and then I started reading posts on my phone and saving the ones I wanted to comment on, and then TOTALLY FORGETTING ABOUT THEM FOR THE NEXT SIX MONTHS.

That said, here are ten of my favourites reads that I try to be better than usual at commenting on (not including Snark Squad because it feels like cheating, even though it's the blog I comment on most):
1. Paper Fury || 2. The Democracy Diva || 3. Sweeney Says || 4. My Name Is Marines || 5. Love Woke Me Up This Morning || 6. Lazy Happy Bored Happy Sad || 7. This Is Not Your Blog || 8. The Engineer's Other Life || 9. Disquietus Reads || 10. Wilfair

10. If you could change/improve things about your blog, what would they be?
I'd blog in a more balanced way - more recipes and ridiculous life stories and TV stuff, rather than the book blog I've increasingly ended up writing this year. And I'd be better at replying to comments. I'm terrible at replying to comments...

So there you have it! If you want to join in the fun, Cait's got a linky up on her blog. And a giveaway that's open for another couple of weeks!

K xx

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

TTT - New to Me Authors in 2014

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

I discovered a TON of authors this year. And I've read multiple books by all of these, except two. One of those I have another book waiting on my Kindle. And I really need to track down more books by the other one, because I adored the one book of his I did read. 

1. Sarah J. Maas
I know, I know. I've taken the Kool-Aid and I'm never ever ever getting over my love for Sarah J. Maas' books. I've read all four of her currently published books this year, and I'm dying to get my hands on more. MORE, GIVE ME MORE. 

2. Katie McGarry
I'm not quite sure how I went so long without knowing about Katie McGarry's books, but I've loved every single one of them that I've read this year. Which is seven. (Although two were novellas)

3. Ellie Marney
There are literally no words for how much I loved Every Breath. And as I said a few weeks ago, I'm physically retraining myself over Every Word because I know I won't survive until the final book in the trilogy is released in March otherwise... 

4. Alex Scarrow
I've merrily ploughed my way through the TimeRiders series this year, and for some reason we don't have the last two books in the series at work. So I need to track them down at my local library so I can finish it off and find out what happens because OMG I NEED TO KNOW. 

5. Morgan Matson
Honestly, I don't know how I went so long without reading a Morgan Matson book because I've LOVED both the ones I read. I really need to find a copy of Second Chance Summer. Like, now. 

6. Alyxandra Harvey
I've absolutely adored both of the Lovegrove Legacy books this year, and I suspect I'll be tracking down The Drake Chronicles pretty damned soon to tide me over until book 3 comes out.

7. Abigail Haas
OH MY GOD, DANGEROUS GIRLS. There are no words for how mindblowing that book was. Dangerous Boys I was less fond of, but I think it was partly because I'd read Dangerous Girls not long before, and so was comparing the two of them throughout. 

8. Laurie Halse Anderson
Excuse me, I'm not sure I requested this dagger to the feels, but I got it anyway. LHA's characters are amazing and dealing with all manner of real world stuff that gave me approximately a million feels. 

9. Huntley Fitzpatrick
Oh, the squees I squeed while reading My Life Next Door. So. Many. Squees. I didn't enjoy What I Thought Was True quiiiiiiiiite as much, because the pacing felt a little off, but it was still pretty adorable. 

10. Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was basically instant five star territory for me. Seriously. Such an amazingly beautiful book. And I really want to read more of his work, although I'm a little bit afraid that my expectations will be too high now....... 

Which authors are on your list this year?

K xx

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tag, you're it!

Two of my favourite people, Ashlea and Angie over at Disquietus Reads, have tagged me in the Sisterhood of the World award. Thank you, you fabulous creatures!

Guidelines:
1. Thank the blogger that nominated you and link back to their website.
2. Post the award’s logo on your blog.
3. Answer the ten questions you have been asked.
4. Nominator ten other bloggers and ask them ten other questions.



The Questions:

1. What is one book or series that you would make everyone read if you could?
WILFAIR. Always and forever the Wilfair series. I just love it so much. So, so much. Also the Throne of Glass series. But mostly Wilfair. Have I mentioned how much I love it??

2. Who is your favourite book boyfriend/girlfriend?
I don't really do book boyfriends/girlfriends. I can never manage to turn off my critical side, so I always end up seeing the flaws in the characters that everyone else flails about. That said, Gomery Overbove from the Wilfair series has a special place in my heart.

3. What are your favourite book covers?
I tend to like really simple, minimalist book covers, like The Fault in Our Stars or Eleanor & Park. I prefer covers that don't feature people, solely because then I can imagine the characters for myself. That said, I LOVE the covers for Throne of Glass, These Broken Stars, and The Lollipop Shoes. I mean, LOOK:

4. Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat.
Can I say Hogwarts three times? No? Okay, fine. Hogwarts, the Wilfair Hotel, and the Discworld.

5. What books are you looking forward to most in 2015?
Ellie Marnie's Every Move, Gail Carriger's Prudence, and anything that Sarah J. Maas deigns to grant us with, even if it's just a post-it note. Also Libba Bray's Lair of Dreams, solely because it was meant to come out early this year and IT STILL HASN'T.

6. Name your favourite and least favourite books of 2014.
Favourite? Probably Heir of Fire. Holy crap, I loved that book so hard. Closely followed by Fairwil. My least favourite? Possibly The Selection, which made me indescribably angry. Or Erin McCarthy's entire True Believers series, which was utter tripe from start to finish.

7. Who is your most owned author?
Somewhat embarrassingly, it's Janet Evanovich. I have 42 of her books, even though I very rarely read her stuff any more. After that, it's Terry Pratchett, which is somewhere in the mid 20s.

8. When and why did you start blogging?
I started blogging in October 2009. I was living in Canberra, all my friends and family were in Melbourne, and I found myself telling the same stories over and over and over again every week in emails and phone calls. So I decided that I should set up a blog, direct everyone to it, and save myself hours of talking on the phone, which is one of my least favourite things to do. Except I ended up spending all that time blogging instead. OH WELL.

9. What is your favourite thing about blogging?
Getting to know amazing people and having friends all over the world. Coincidentally, my least favourite thing about blogging is getting to know amazing people and having friends all over the world BUT NEVER GETTING TO SEE THEM BECAUSE THEY LIVE REALLY FAR AWAY.

10. What hobbies do you have besides reading?
Recapping ten year old TV shows for Snark Squad. Baking. The occasional bit of photography. Sporadic obsessions with the Lego games for XBox...

I tag the following people:

- Cait @ Paper Fury
- Willie @ Lazy Happy Bored Happy Sad
- Alysia @ Wilfair
- Kelley @ Diva Booknerd
- Emily @ Love Woke Me Up This Morning
- Gina @ This Is Not Your Blog

Aaaaand anyone else who wants to do this tag.

Your questions are as follows:
1. What's your favourite Harry Potter book? (Come on, everyone has one)
2. What's the book/series that everyone raves about but you just didn't get?
3. Which real world places do you want to visit because of a book?
4. What bookish merchandise are you dying to get your hands on?
5. What's your most anticipated book of 2015?
6. Which book character do you wish you could be best friends with?
7. What's the last book you gave five stars to?
8. Which secondary character do you wish would get their own book?
9. Which author, alive or dead, do you wish you could meet in person?
10. How many books do you own?

K xx

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

TTT - Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2015

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

There's going to be quite a lot of overlap with this list and some of my lists for recent weeks. I don't really pay that much attention to books that are coming up, unless they've been written by my favourite authors. I tend to discover books much closer to their release date, so there are really only a handful of upcoming books that I'm really excited about reading. 

1. Throne of Glass #4 - Sarah J. Maas
I NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED IT. Even though it doesn't have a title. 

2. Every Move - Ellie Marney
I still haven't read Every Word, but I'm already dying to get my hands on book 3. 

3. Black Dove, White Raven - Elizabeth Wein
Is it another historical fiction book about teenage girls who fly planes? Yes. Will it inevitably tear my heart into tiny pieces and jump on them? Highly likely. Do I want to read it immediately? DEAR GOD, YES, GIVE IT TO ME.

4. Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard
I saw a review of this that said it was like X-Men stuck in a dystopian fantasy world. Uh, yes please.

5. Prudence - Gail Carriger
I've been excited about this book ever since it was announced, and nothing will change that. *grabby hands*

6. Winter - Marissa Meyer
I cannot WAIT to see how this series wraps up. Every single book in it has been phenomenal.

7. Lair of Dreams - Libba Bray
As I said last week, I've been waiting for this book to come out since I read The Diviners in late 2012. It better actually come out next year, or I will cry.

8. All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven
There's been a fair amount of hype about this one, and I can't wait to see if it lives up to said hype.

9. A Court of Thrones and Roses - Sarah J. Maas
TWO Sarah J. Maas books in one year? YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

10. Manners and Mutiny - Gail Carriger
My ship is finally sailing and I cannot wait to see how everything pans out OMG. 

What's on your list?

K xx

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien

Source
I was originally planning on taking my time with this one, maintaining my one-book-a-month-for-Classics-Club routine. But then I worked out that by reading a chapter a day, I can finish the whole trilogy before the end of the year. And that seemed like a pretty fabulous plan, especially seeing as it will put me a month ahead of schedule in case any of my remaining Classics Club books are a major struggle. WIN.

Anyway, onto The Two Towers. I enjoyed this a lot more than I did The Fellowship of the Ring. Which isn't to say that Fellowship wasn't brilliant. It is. But where Fellowship has a lot of set up and introduction of characters and getting the adventure under way, The Two Towers was basically non-stop action.

When I started reading, I was a little surprised to discover that the book is effectively two completely different stories, rather than the two stories being woven together as they probably would be in a book published today. But it worked brilliantly, as it allowed the pace of the story to be maintained without it feeling like suspense was being artificially created by switching points of view.

There were a few surprising moments too, after seeing the movie about a dozen times. Some scenes that were minor in the movie were much more significant in the book, and vice versa. Probably the most unexpected for me was how...insignificant??...the Battle of Helm's Deep is in the book. I mean, yes, it's a major battle. But it's nowhere near the size of the battle in the movie, with the elves turning up from Lothlorien to help fight and the walls exploding and the entire population of Edoras hiding out in the caves underneath the citadel. Everything - from them leaving Edoras to them winning the battle - takes place in the course of a chapter. A mere twenty one pages, to be exact.

The second half of the book, featuring Frodo and Sam on the road to Mordor, is definitely a little slower going than the first half. But it's still action packed and much more interesting than the section of their story that we get in the film. I'd forgotten that Shelob appears in this book, that there's far more to their story here than the endless hours in the Dead Marshes that we get in the film.

I think my favourite part of the book was Legolas and his ridiculous sassiness. The character depicted by Orlando Bloom spends a lot of time stating the obvious or staring off into the distance looking regal (or making ridiculous faces in the background of scenes he's not in). But in the book? Legolas is a sassy little shit, and I love him. I mean, Aragorn spends ages lying on the ground, listening to distant orc footsteps when he works out that there are a bunch of riders coming towards them. And then this happens:
"Riders!" cried Aragorn, springing to his feet. "Many riders on swift steeds are coming towards us!"
"Yes," said Legolas. "There are one hundred and five. Yellow is their hair and bright are their spears. Their leader is very tall."
(p. 33, 1993 Harper Collins edition)
I mean, come on. Aragorn spends all this time and effort being the amazing tracker that he is. And Legolas just lets him do his thing, and then is all "Yeah, I know. And here's a bunch more detail. I've been able to see them for ages. NBD." Sassy. Little. Shit. I love him.

So on the whole, it was a pretty great reading experience for me. Especially seeing as Tolkien backed right off on the songs this time around!

I'm one chapter into The Return of the King, and I'm pretty damned excited about seeing how Tolkien wraps everything up, even though I know the general gist of how things work courtesy of the films!

Have you read it? What did you think?

K xx
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...