Tuesday, March 31, 2015

TTT - Books I've recently added to my TBR

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

I have a confession to make, you guys. Compared to most book blogging types, my TBR list is tiny. It takes a LOT for me to add something to my TBR, mostly because I have a tendency to forget to check it when I'm looking for new things to read... My TBR shelf on Goodreads is currently at 84 books, and even having that many on there makes me a little nervous. And yet, I know people who have 1500 books on their TBR. Nope. Nope nope nope nope nope. 

ANYWAY. On with my list! 

1. We All Looked Up - Tommy Wallach
I have an ARC of this from Simon & Schuster sitting upstairs on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I just have to finish one more library book, and then I'll be diving into it as soon as possible! 

2. Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel
Everyone seems to be reading this one right now and every review I've seen has absolutely raved about it, so I'm desperate to get my hands on it as soon as possible. 

3. A Darker Shade of Magic - V.E. Schwab
I'm pretty sure at least half the people I follow on Twitter and Goodreads have spent the past month flailing about this book. I finally caved and added it to my TBR, and now it's just hanging out on my Kindle waiting for me to get around to it. 

4. The Stranger You Seek - Amanda Kyle Williams
I love a good thriller/crime novel from time to time, so when Ashlea - the queen of thrillers - recommended this one to me, I immediately went and added it to my shelf. 

5. Magic Shifts - Ilona Andrews
The Kate Daniels series is definitely one of my favourite urban fantasy series, and I'm stupidly excited that the next book comes out in August. I'm not entirely sure how this wasn't on my TBR shelf until a week or so ago, but there we have it... 

6. Their Fractured Light - Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
It took me ages to get around to reading This Shattered World, the second book in this series. And it wasn't until I finished it that I got around to adding book 3 to my TBR list. 

7. Not Otherwise Specified - Hannah Moskowitz
A black bisexual teenage ballerina narrator? That sounds pretty damned fabulous to me, and it's a perfect addition to my Diverse Books Project. 

8. Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story - David Levithan
I love David Levithan's writing, and Tiny Cooper was definitely my favourite part of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I honestly have no idea how I didn't know about this book earlier, but I'm pretty excited about reading it, so obviously it's on my TBR. 

9. Happy Again - Jennifer E. Smith
I really liked This Is What Happy Looks Like, and actually gave it to a friend's teenaged sister for Christmas a few years ago. So I'm pretty excited about this novella and getting to see what happens next for these characters.

10. Summer Days and Summer Nights - Stephanie Perkins (and half the damn universe)
I need this like I need air. I LOVED My True Love Gave to Me, so I'm pretty damned excited to see what Perkins (and others) come up with for a series of short stories about summer love, even if that title does make me think of Grease... 

What's on your list this week? 

K xx

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Museums and musical theatre

Previously, I saw the Mary Rose and then spent a ton of time on trains... 

The day after I got back from Portsmouth, I decided that it was about time I took myself to the British Museum. So I took the Tube to Holborn and then promptly got lost getting the whopping 500 metres from the Tube station to the museum.

It really shouldn't have been that difficult. There were sign posts pointing in the right direction, and I had Google Maps on my phone. AND YET. In the end, it took me the better part of half an hour and several "HOW IS THIS SO DIFFICULT WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME???" moments to eventually get in the door.

Well done, Kirsti. Well done.

Eventually I got there, though, and promptly headed into see the Egyptian collections, because that's what you do at the British Museum, yes?

Unfortunately, everyone else who visits the British Museum has basically the same idea, so the Egyptian section was horribly crowded. I made my way pretty quickly to the Assyrian collection, then through the Greek and Roman sections.

By the time I'd done all of that, my feet were pretty sore and it was basically lunchtime, so I headed to the cafeteria for a nice sit down. After a couscous salad and a Portuguese custard tart, I pressed on. Because the problem with the British Museum is that there's always more to see.

I made my way through the old library, which is now dedicated to displays about discovery and object collection through history, and which was easily the highlight for me. I think it's because it was such an eclectic mish-mash of stuff. You could wander up to any showcase and have absolutely no idea what it would contain. The books certainly didn't hurt!

Then it was on through the South and Central American collections to see some of my favourite objects (which I used in a mock exhibition at university in 2008!) before heading upstairs to the Anglo Saxon collections, especially the Sutton Hoo objects.

Next stop was the Lewis Chessmen, then through the displays of clocks and money - both of which were oddly fascinating - before heading into some of the newer Egyptian stuff. By the time I got there, I'd realised that I was basically going through the motions and wasn't really paying all that much attention to what I was seeing.

So I checked out the gift shops (obviously), bought precisely nothing because I decided that I had enough bookmarks, and made my way back to the Tube station - WITHOUT getting lost this time around. I headed to one of the numerous Prets for a hot chocolate and a sit down, then caught the train across to London Bridge to wait for C at his office. The view wasn't too shabby:

When C finished work, we caught the train around to Leicester Square and headed to a random Italian restaurant for an early dinner. I had lasagne because I'll basically always choose pasta if given the option, while C had a FREAKING ENORMOUS pizza. I wasn't convinced he could eat the whole thing by himself, but he was determined to prove me wrong...

What a dork.

Dinner over, it was on to our activity for the evening: The Book of Mormon.

And let me tell you, it was the most freaking magical thing I have ever seen in my life. I laughed basically non-stop from the time the curtain went up. I laughed so hard I ended up with a headache. And it's entirely possible that we spent an hour watching bits of it on YouTube when we got home. I loved literally every single second of it, and I would go and see it again in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it's coming to Melbourne any time soon, so I guess I'll just have to go back to London to see it again!

Next up, I head to Greenwich which contains a sad lack of Thor. 

K xx

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

TTT - Books to revisit from my childhood/teen years

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

It seems very appropriate to be discussing the books we want to visit from our childhoods this week, seeing as last month I fiiiiiiiiinally got around to sorting out the cupboard where a bunch of books that I haven't read in approximately a million years are stored. And now that there's some actual order in there and I can actually FIND things, there's a reasonable chance that I may actually get around to rereading some of the books on this list one of these days! 

I've seen a lot of Babysitter's Club, Sweet Valley High, and Goosebumps on lists today. My list will not contain any of those for one simple reason: Snark Squad. Those books are so much worse than you remember, guys... 

Anyway, without further ado, let's get on with my list! 

1. Pagan's Crusade by Catherine Jinks

I was OBSESSED with these books in my early years of high school. Totally, totally obsessed. But I haven't read any of the original trilogy since about 1999. I have the second book - Pagan in Exile - on my shelf, so one of these days I really should remember to pilfer Pagan's Crusade from work and reread the entire series. (But preferably not with this totally nonsensical cover...)

2. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

I LOVED this book when I was about 10 or 11. It was probably my first introduction to World War II, and I really need to revisit it one of these days. Especially seeing as I have the whole series in the aforementioned cupboard.

3. Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park

This one's an Australian classic, and I read it several times as a kid. But apparently I've totally forgotten everything about the plot over the past 20 years because all I remember is that it possibly involves time travel?? Or ghosts?? Or both?????? Clearly, it's time to revisit it. 

4. Redwall by Brian Jacques

Oh my God, I loved these books as a kid. I had all the books that were published up to about 1997, and I read them all multiple times. I reread Mossflower a couple of years ago for a uni assignment, and failed to see what it was that I loved about the books so much. But Redwall was always my favourite of the series, so maybe I need to revisit it and see if I can discover the magic again...

5. The Boggart by Susan Cooper

This book is sadly dated now - I read it about 5 years ago, and laughed hysterically over a computer with a full colour screen and 250MB hard drive costing $10,000 - but it was such a fabulous story that I want to reread it again. 

6. Matilda by Roald Dahl

It's been YEARS since I read this, but I remember absolutely loving it as a kid. Having introduced Little Miss A to Roald Dahl a few weeks ago, the idea of rereading this one has been lingering in the back of my mind ever since. 

7. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

I read this when I was ten. Yeah. I was kind of a weird kid... I remember almost nothing about it, and I'm pretty sure 10 Year Old Kirsti had literally no idea what was happening for most of the story so it's DEFINITELY time to pick it up and read it again. 

8. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I have a box set of the full series in my cupboard that I got for my sixth or seventh birthday. And they're falling apart because I read them so much. I'm not sure I'd love them on reread, but I feel like I should give them the chance. 

9. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett 

This was the first book that we read for English in year 7, and I remember really enjoying it despite the odd character throwing a screaming fit over literally nothing. I should probably revisit it one of these days. 

10. The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard

YA didn't really exist when I was a teenager, so I spent most of my teen years reading crime and historical fiction. This series - a Downton Abbey sort of a thing set during World War II - was one of the ones that I read more than once. I haven't read them in years, though I DID see the BBC series that was made in 2001. Just don't mention how awful the covers are... 

What's on your list this week?

K xx

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Lost World and Other Thrilling Tales - Arthur Conan Doyle

My first encounter with The Lost World came in the form of the 2001 BBC miniseries, starring Bob Hoskins and Matthew Rhys. I loved it instantly. It's full of adventure and silliness and awesome dinosaurs, courtesy of the Walking With Dinosaurs team. And it also features Tom Ward sporting very Hugh Grant hair and a truly hilarious moustache.
I mean, really. Source.
So obviously, I decided that I should read the book soon after, and I remember enjoying it. I haven't revisited the book since, though I've seen the miniseries numerous times. So I was somewhat surprised to see this time around how different the book is to the series. The gist of things is the same - a mysterious plateau somewhere in South America where prehistoric life has survived unchecked, and an expedition to confirm its existence. Through a series of unfortunate events, the expedition find themselves trapped on top of the plateau, unable to get down again, and must fight for survival in a world filled with allosaurs, hostile natives, and some kind of missing link between apes and humans.

The story is a LOT of fun, I must say. The biggest change in the miniseries is the addition of Agnes and her religious uncle. I'd totally forgotten that she wasn't in the book, and I was slightly disappointed by her absence because she's pretty great. There were also some relatively minor changes to the ending that weren't as big of a deal for me. Still, there was plenty to entertain, and it's an action packed story.

Sure, there are moments when you're like "Wow, that's kind of racist...", but it's set in 1912, and when it comes to the classics, you just have to shudder over the racism and misogyny and press on regardless. Doyle created some fabulous characters, and while parts of the story - allosaurs hopping like kangaroos and killing their prey by falling over on them - may be more funny than anything, it's an enjoyable and action packed story, topped off nicely with illustrations and photographs.

My volume also contained three other, much shorter stories. The first of these, The Poison Belt, features the same characters as The Lost World. It's fun to see them on another adventure, and The Poison Belt is definitely a fast-paced read. The gist of it is that the earth is passing through a band of ether that's killing every living thing on the planet. Professor Challenger and the others obtain a bunch of oxygen cylinders and lock themselves in a sealed room to see if they can survive it. It's got a very H.G. Wells feel about it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I was less taken with The Terror of Blue John Gap, which is a 20 page story in which an invalid goes to the country to take the air and decides to investigate why a bunch of sheep have gone missing, only to find a mysterious cave system inhabited by a giant beastie. It was so short that it felt more like an outline than a fully fleshed out story, and the narrator, James Hardcastle, is kind of a pain.

The final story was very much early fantasy, and though it dragged a bit at times, I thoroughly enjoyed The Horror of the Heights. Written in a time when aviation was just starting to find its feet and was essentially taking over from nineteenth century explorers, it makes perfect sense to set an adventure story up in the sky where who-knows-what could happen. I kind of wish this had been a fully fleshed out novel rather than a short story, but a short story is better than nothing!

If you've read and enjoyed any of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, I'd definitely recommend picking up The Lost World, because it really is a lot of fun. (If you'd prefer the slightly more modern interpretation, I really would recommend the miniseries. It's got some great actors in it, and the changes to the story made it even better)

Have you read it? WOULD you read it based on this??

K xx

Friday, March 20, 2015

Five days down...

I'm five days into the 12 Week Body Transformation, and so far? I'm kind of surprised about how easy it's been.

Which isn't to say that working out for an hour every day has been easy. I've sweated like a pig, and during today's yoga video, I spent a lot of time going "What in the how the hell did she just do oh dear God my shoulder hurts what do you mean I should breathe deeply I can't breathe at all because my damned boobs are in the way".

And sticking to the approved menu hasn't been easy. I haven't had chocolate since Sunday. I WENT THROUGH PMS WITHOUT CHOCOLATE, YOU GUYS. And I miss cheese. Like, so much. I think I'd murder someone for a toasted cheese sandwich right about now.

That said, the food has - for the most part - been really tasty and surprisingly filling given that it's calorie controlled. There've only been two recipes all week that I wouldn't bother to make again, which is a pretty damned good indication of things, right?

I even survived attending the book launch for Every Move - where Ellie Marney signed all three of my books and I totally forgot to take photos - without stuffing my face with cheese and crackers. Or drinking a litre of orange juice just because I could.

Tomorrow is my first Super Saturday, where I'm supposed to burn 1000+ calories, and I'm a LITTLE bit terrified. Because that is a crapton of calories, yo. BUT. Tomorrow night, I get to have a treat meal. A TREAT MEAL!!!! I may even lash out and use some of my 700 calorie treat meal on chocolate. Because obviously.

79 days to go...

K xx

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

TTT - Things on my autumn TBR

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

This week's topic is the books that we've got on our spring TBR lists. Except that, you know, I live in the Southern Hemisphere, so spring is six months away. Instead, the days are getting shorter and cooler, the leaves are starting to change colour, and while I hate the fact that I'll have to start wearing longer sleeves again, I'm pretty damned excited about getting to wear my awesome ankle boots again. 

So. Autumn TBR. 

1. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli
Everyone seems to be getting ARCs of this at the moment except meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee *cries*. I WANT IT. 

2. The Wrath and the Dawn - Renee Ahdieh
A fantasy YA retelling of The Arabian Nights? GIVE IT TO ME IMMEDIATELY *grabby hands* No, seriously. I'm stupidly excited about this one. 

3. Scarlett Undercover - Jennifer Latham
A Muslim American Veronica Mars? Hand over the book right this second and no one gets hurt. (Please let it have an Australian publisher. Please please please please please.)

4. Black Dove, White Raven - Elizabeth Wein
Obviously, this will tear my heart into little pieces and stomp on them, because that's what Elizabeth Wein does best. And obviously, it will involve teenage girls who fly planes, because that's what she does SECOND best. Either way, I need it.

5. Prudence - Gail Carriger
Honestly? I would read Gail Carriger's shopping lists. And this one's been a long time coming, so I'm pretty damned excited about it. 

6. 99 Days - Katie Cotugno
This isn't one I'm excited about so much as it's one I'm really intrigued by. I mean, it seems like the whole premise of the book is a love triangle. And cheating. And ordinarily, these are things that I would really hate as a secondary plot in any book. But when they're the PRIMARY plot? I'm oddly intrigued to see how things turn out. 

7. An Ember In the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir 
Based on the synopsis on Goodreads, this sounds kiiiiiiiiind of like The Winner's Curse, which I didn't really care for. So I'm slightly nervous. But so many people are raving about this and the cover is so gorgeous that I have to get my hands on it anyway. 

8. None of the Above - I.W. Gregorio
After reading Alex As Well back in January, I'm really interested to see how the two books about intersex teenagers compare! 

9. We All Looked Up - Tommy Wallach
This one sounds REALLY intriguing, and it's highly likely that when I eventually get my hands on a copy, I'll be singing REM's "It's the End of the World as We Know It" the whole time I'm reading it. 

10. The Royal We - Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
I LOVE the Fug Girls, and I've really enjoyed their previous books. This sounds a little bit chick lit-y for my liking, but I'm still really excited to read it. You know, in a million years when it's finally released in Australia. Sigh... 

What's on your [insert appropriate season here] TBR list?

K xx
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