Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The end of an era

When I first started blogging back in 2009, I did so with the intention that only my family and real life friends would be reading it. I figured blogging was an easy way to avoid having the exact same "So, how's Canberra?" conversation five times a week.

As is usually the way, writing a blog leads to reading dozens and dozens of other blogs. Somewhere along the way, I stumbled across Rachael King's blog. And that led to a whole group of other blogs. And they all had one thing on common: they were all members of a website called 20Something Bloggers.

So, after some further investigation and a small case of "oh God, what am I doing??", I signed up. And it changed my life forever. The forums were equal parts hilarious, feelsy and ridiculous. The chat was...usually pretty dead at times I was able to hang out in there, but it was still hilarious and over the top and brilliant.

When 20SB announced that they were holding a summit in Chicago about two weeks before I was planning on going to the US in 2011, I made the rather rash and spontaneous decision to change my plans and go. To a city where I knew no one. To attend a summit with a bunch of people I'd never met before. I didn't even know if anyone I knew was actually going to go, but I took the chance anyway.

And sure, it was nerve wracking. And sure, I basically spent half of the cocktail party sitting in a corner in terror. But it was so, so worth it.

So many of my best friends came out of the 20SB community. People that I talk to every day. People that I collaborate with every day. People whose faces I get to see on a daily basis every August. People who understand. People who are there when I need someone to talk to. People who send me ridiculous emails and text messages and tweets. People in countries all over the world who I can't live without.

Tomorrow, the 20SB community is closing down. And though I haven't been active there since I turned 30, I'll miss it enormously. So here's to us, 20SBers. Life may not have always been easy, but we've had each other's backs the whole way. And I'm grateful for each and every one of you.

Except that girl who cheated me out of a chicken trophy. I hope she stands on a Lego*.

K xx

*What? No, I'm not even remotely bitter about something that happened three years ago........

Monday, June 29, 2015

Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

Totally not the edition I read. Mine doesn't even
have an ISBN because it's from like 1965.
I've loved Vanity Fair for a long time now. My introduction to it came in the form of the BBC's 1998 mini-series, which I immediately fell in love with. Natasha Little was perfect as Becky Sharp, and everything about it was basically brilliant.

At some point, I studied it?? I'm not sure if it was for Literature in year 11 or 12, or if it was first year university. Honestly, the only reason I remember that I studied it is because my copy (which is technically my mum's copy) still has some of my incredibly helpful notes in it:

I've read the book three or four times now, and I love it a little bit more every time I read it. Becky is a fabulous anti-heroine. Despite being incredibly manipulative and conniving and out to get whatever she can for herself, she somehow manages to be almost likeable and you find yourself appreciating the somewhat insane lengths that she'll go to. That said, the way she treats her son is fairly horrific, and it's understandable that a lot of people find that unforgivable.

The story that would traditionally be the centre of any classic novel - that of Emmy and Dobbin - is, in Thackeray's hands, somewhat foolish. Dobbin spends fifteen years pining away over his dead best friend's widow, rushing from India to England when a letter from his sister says that Emmy might marry someone else. And yet, it still takes another three years for anything to happen.

Emmy, similarly, is portrayed as simpering and ridiculous, seeing George as an angel, a martyr in Heaven. She prays before his picture every night, when in reality George was a philandering, gambling scumbag who only thought of himself and only married Emmy because Dobbin pushed him into it.

Thackeray is incredibly cynical and sarcastic throughout, with the authorial voice cutting into the story time and time again. And it's BRILLIANT. He mocks society throughout the whole eight hundred odd pages, He mocks the elite and how easily they fall from grace. He mocks polite society for refusing to see what's right in front of its face. He mocks poor Jos Sedley from start to finish. He mocks practically every character he created, and I loved every single second of it.

It's definitely one of my favourite classic novels, and I'm incredibly glad I took the time to reread it. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to rewatch the mini-series.

Have you read it? What did you think??

K xx

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

TTT - Favourite Top Ten Tuesday Topics

It's been a while since I've participated in Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish. Because, you know, work and the commuting that goes along with it takes up like all of my time ever. 

This week marks the fifth anniversary of Top Ten Tuesday, so we're talking about our ten favourite topics! 

I loved looking back at everything I've read over the past three years and picking out my favourite things. 

Okay, fine. Mostly I loved this one because it let me pick out utterly ridiculous reaction gifs.

I still need the vast majority of these like I need air. Thankfully, most of them come out in the next few months, so I don't have TOO long to wait! 

Kirsti + travel = YES PLEASE. Obviously, books make me want to visit places. Lots of places. 

There's nothing I like more than pushing YA books at people and demanding that they read them. I mean, it's basically my job. 

Obviously, the classics are my jam, because I'm reading 60 of them for fun. So sharing my favourites - some of which are a little unusual - was awesome. 

There's a few things I'd change on this list, but that's mostly because there've been some totally glorious covers come out since May 2014. 

Let's just call this list "people I want to be" and be done with it. 

Seriously, these books were pretty damned great. 

I still want all of these things. Like, a lot. 

What are your favourite topics from the past five years?

K xx

Monday, June 15, 2015

Movie Monday - Jurassic World

So it seems that Movie Monday has turned into a "Kirsti periodically goes to the movies and has a lots of thoughts" series of ad hoc proportions rather than a regular thing, but OH WELL. It's my blog and I do what I want.

On Friday night, I roped Ness and her boyfriend into seeing Jurassic World. Neither of them had seen The Lost World or Jurassic Park III, so the fact that the movie is intended as a direct sequel to Jurassic Park rather than a fourth movie probably worked well for them.

So the first problem I had was nothing to do with the film itself and everything to do with the fact that it was a packed cinema and the air conditioning was broken. It was at least 32 degrees (that's 90 to you, America) in there, and I was stupidly grateful that I chose to wear a million layers yesterday rather than a jumper because it meant I could strip off back to short sleeves and only half die of heat stroke.

On the plus side, the movie theatre gave us all free tickets to make up for it, so we effectively saw the movie for free. SCORE!

The rest of this is going to get spoilery, so I'm gonna go ahead and put it under a jump cut. Join me there, friends. We'll discuss dinosaurs!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Twelve weeks on...

Remember back in March how I signed up for the 12 Week Body Transformation?


It finished on Sunday, and I'm pleasantly surprised with how it went. Sure, it wasn't always easy to get home and do an hour-long workout. And it wasn't always easy to eat within my calories sand make sure I followed the recipes exactly even when it involved a truly sarcastic amount of rice.
I mean, really.

But it paid off. I lost 7.5kg over the 12 weeks. My fitness score went from 25 to 75. Which probably means precisely nothing to you, but it means I've gone from being able to "run" a kilometre in just under 10 minutes to being able to RUN a kilometre in about five and a half minutes (although admittedly, doing so totally massacred my lungs and I coughed for the next three days...). I can do a wall sit for nearly a minute longer than I could before. My flexibility has improved by 7cm. I can do planks and push ups on my toes. The 12WBT recommended that I sign up for the advanced program next time around (hahaha ohgod).
A photo posted by Melbourne on my mind (@melbsonmymind) on

And for the most part, the food was totally delicious. Sure, there were times when something was ridiculously time consuming or it just wasn't my cup of tea. But on the whole? It was really tasty and really filling and a pretty big serving considering it was part of a calorie controlled menu.

I'm trying things on my own for a while, to see if I can keep up the exercise and keep eating smaller servings and healthy options as much as possible. But it will be nice not to have to push myself to burn 1000 calories every Saturday or do a full hour's workout if I'm exhausted/sick/just in need of a night off.

I'm hoping to lose another 5kg. But we'll see how it goes... Slow and steady wins the race, right?

K xx

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne

I read the free Kindle edition, not the Penguin one but the cover on the Kindle edition is boring. So.

Literally all I knew about this book going in was that it's set in a Puritan community, and that there's a movie version starring Demi Moore. Oh, and it led to the creation of Easy A, something I will forever be grateful for.

It's a really short book and a surprisingly easy read, given all the "thou"-ing and "doth"-ing. It tells the story of Hester Prynne, a widow in a Puritan town who falls pregnant and refuses to say who the father of her child is. As a result, the super judgey townsfolk make her wear a red "A" on her dress at all time, indicating that she's an adulterer.

Hester goes and lives outside the town with her child, Pearl, and continues to be judged over the years. As the story progresses, it becomes obvious who the father of her child is, and that he's eaten up with guilt about the fact that she's being punished while he walks around town without judgement and without comment. And eventually, his guilt leads him to speak to Hester and confess to the townspeople.

This book was...fine. I'm not convinced it's quite worthy of the praise that's continually heaped upon it, but it's fine. I think it's probably one of those classic books that's easy to read but hard to deal with in the twenty-first century because so much of the story is essentially caught up in slut shaming.

Hester, on the surface, doesn't seem like a particularly strong female character. I mean, she goes and lives in the woods for seven years, still wearing the "A" on her dress at all times. But she never complains, she never cowers away from her punishment. While she doesn't deserve the treatment that she receives, she's strong enough to take it without flinching because that's what her child needs. In contrast, Pearl's father is eaten away by his sin and the guilt he has over keeping silent for so long.

Speaking of Pearl, I found her a little on the creepy side. She's often referred to in the book as "elfish" or "impish". Mostly I thought she was slightly disturbing. She's essentially the personification of sin, but given all the talk of devils and demons that goes on, pretty much all I could think of was all the creepy little girls that have featured in Supernatural over the years and how Pearl would fit in with them very nicely...

I'm not sure it's a book I'd reread in a hurry. But I'm still glad I read it for myself.

Have you read it? What did you think??

K xx

Monday, June 1, 2015

May reading wrap up

I'm sorry, how the HELL is it June already?!

Books read: 34. I'm kind of surprised by this, to be honest. But then again, given that my commute to work is 90 minutes each way it probably shouldn't surprise me that much!
New vs rereads: 19 new books versus 15 rereads. It could be worse.
Most read genre: Contemporary. Again. But crime wasn't far behind!

Favourite book: Wild Justice by Kelley Armstrong. I'd been waiting a long time to read it, and it didn't disappoint.
Least favourite book: Black Iris by Leah Raeder. It was really dark and disturbing, and I had to DNF it because it was squicking me out so much.
Favourite cover: Ms Marvel: No Normal. It's glorious.

Diverse Books Project: It's going pretty well at the moment! Although I do really need to branch out and read more books with male protagonists...

In May, I ended up reading 3 graphic novels, 3 non-fiction books, and 28 novels. There are links to all my Goodreads reviews below!

Wild Justice (Nadia Stafford, #3)When Will There Be Good News? (Jackson Brodie, #3)Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal
4.5 stars: Wild Justice | When Will There Be Good News? | Ms Marvel: No Normal

The Curse of the Pharaohs (Amelia Peabody, #2)A Darker Shade of MagicHappy AgainThe Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Island of Lost Maps A True Story of Cartographic CrimeNight Watch (Discworld, #29)Station ElevenHawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a WeaponNot Otherwise SpecifiedA Little In LoveNowhere but Here (Thunder Road, #1)
4 stars: The Curse of the Pharaohs | A Darker Shade of Magic | Happy Again | The Miseducation of Cameron Post | The Island of Lost Maps | Night Watch | Station Eleven | Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon | Not Otherwise Specified | A Little In Love | Nowhere But Here

3.75 stars: Transparent

I Am JHot Six (Stephanie Plum, #6)
3.5 stars: I Am J | Hot Six | Masquerade

No Nest for the Wicket (Meg Langslow, #7)Dead as a Doornail (Sookie Stackhouse, #5)The Woman In BlackBuffy the Vampire Slayer: Retreat (Season 8, #6)The IliadEmmaThe Judas Strain (Sigma Force, #4)The Amber RoomA Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly, #2)The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime, #2)Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves (Shane Schofield, #5)Shakespeare
3 stars: No Nest for the Wicket | Dead as a Doornail | The Woman in Black | Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8: Retreat | The Iliad | Emma | The Judas Strain | The Amber Room | A Darkness Strange and Lovely | The Fourth Bear | Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves | Shakespeare | The Scarlet Letter

Back to the Bedroom (Elsie Hawkins #1)
2.5 stars: Back to the Bedroom

Amour AmourBlack Iris
2 stars: Amour Amour | Black Iris (DNF)

What did you read in May?

K xx
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