29 July 2009

Up And Down

Last Thursday (23 July) was my first dance lesson for the term. I wasn't expecting my Advanced I dance exam results (they don't usually appear until 2-3 weeks into the term), but appear they did...and I passed. I received the grade of Commended, which was the same as last year (although my actual marks were a little lower). And yes, I'm happy (although I would like to do better next year).

If you're wondering why I am not dancing around with glee over passing there is a reason. When I arrived home from the class I realised that I had missed a call from one of my grandmother's cousins. (Thursday being the first anniversary of my grandmother's passing.) I immediately rang her back and apologised for missing her call. Her response: 'I was shocked that you might be out.' I still don't know how I feel about that comment. I'm sure she meant well, but... And I'm confused (and concerned) - should I have stayed home and not gone to dance class? Have my slighted my grandmother and various family members for doing so? And how is one meant to remember family members?

Kreativ Blogger Award

I am very honoured to have been awarded the Kreativ Blogger Award by the lovely Kati of Katidom. Thank you Kati!

The Kreativ rules state that: once you receive this award you are to list seven of your favorite things and then nominate seven other blogs. I'm actually going to be incredibly naughty and not list seven favourite things...I started to do so and all that sprang to mind was reading...and not being harassed by my family. At that point I decided to stop and move right on to the blog nominations *grin*

Seven nominated blogs (in no particular order):

- Ana & Thea from The Book Smugglers

- Azteclady (who I think delurks at Karen Knows Best)

- Bridget Locke from Reading, Writing, and Life...Oh My!

- Heidenkind from Heidenkind's Hideaway

- Kristen of Fantasy Cafe

- Kris of Kris 'n' Good Books

- Renee from Renee's Book Addiction

Because you all deserve it!

27 July 2009

Shaymless Aymless' Romance Book Club

This is pure, unadultered advertising at its finest! The lovely Aymless has, following the success of the Broken Wing Challenge *looks at calendar* *realises a summary post of the Broken Wing reviews hasn't been compiled* *panics* *taken deep breath, makes note on very long 'to do' list and gets back on topic* decided to start a book club. Called? What else but the Shaymless Aymless' Romance Book Club!

Don't worry, for those of us who can't source the book, aren't entralled by a particular month's book selection or are just plain overwhelmed with books, there is a month-by-month membership. Aymless, you're very considerate *grin*

And the book for the month of August is: *drum roll*

* Practice Makes Perfect (Julie James)


22 July 2009

Your (You're) Joking

No, I'm not. There is method to my title madness *grin* Please bear with me. Your Joking is actually the title of a book (and of a [now retired] New Zealand racehorse), but more on that later.

I was lighting the fire last night, as you do in the middle of winter, and perusing the paper as I scrunched it. (Because you never know what tidbit you'll happen upon when scrunching paper IMO.) What I found was a book review:

"Excepted" instead of "accepted"? As in "no excuse excepted". I can't bear the use of "invite" instead of "invitation" - to have someone say to me, "I can't except your invite" would, I believe, provoke justifiable homicide. In fact, I'd probably kill myself for having the bad taste to invite them in the first place.

The title of the book? Your Joking. And yes, the error is deliberate.

So, I was wondering - what have you seen lately (in a book, magazine, newspaper and/or advertisement) that required a judicious serving of grammar? And, more importantly, does a lack of grammar in a book bug you?

Updated to run a spell check. Only I could write a post about grammar and misspell the word! *hides head in shame*

19 July 2009

Thoughts on Twilight (The Movie)

So, I finished reading Twilight yesterday and I watched the movie today. Where to start? WRT the book - I liked it. I think once I got over the whole infatuation 'issue' and started seeing Bella and Edward more as soul mates, the whole situation worked far better for me.
As for the movie - I loved it, I really did! Edward definitely didn't seem as stalker-like, but that may have been because I could see his facial expressions. There was also far less redundancy - things moved a lot faster in the movie. And I find the Cullens very fascinating *grin* I'm not sure why...maybe because even though they are insular, once part of the family you belong. (Yes, I have thing about belonging, what can I say?) Oh, and Edward's face after Bella met his family - that look of 'OMG I can't believe my family just acted in that OTT embarrassing way' - had me in hysterics.
So, will I be reading the next book? Yes. I want to know what happens. It won't be for a while though...unless I ask one of the local librarians nicely *grin* Not to queue jump the hold list (because I would never do that) , but because one of them has offered to let me borrow the books...and considering I'm 955th on the hold list for New Moon I might take her up on her very kind offer so I can at least read the book before I go and see the movie ;) Because yes, I definitely want to go and see New Moon. I'll probably have to take myself - 'Nigel No-Mates' in the flesh - but...c'est la vie *grin*

16 July 2009

Thoughts on Twilight

This post is inspired by Carolyn Crane's (The Thrillionth Page) 'Great Moments from Last Night's Reading' posts, Kati's (Katidom) recent post on Bound By Your Touch and Kris' (Kris 'n' Good Books) 'Maybe It's Me' posts!

Caveat: I don't mean any disrespect to either the author or her work, so I apologise in advance if I cause offence - it is not my intention to do so.

So, yesterday I reached the halfway point of Twilight (Stephanie Meyer) and I'll just burst if I don't talk about what I've read so far....so I will (talk about it that is, not burst) *grin* And yes there are spoilers in this post for anyone out there who, like me, has avoided the Twilight phenonomen to date!
Ummmm. Where to start? Not sure... Edward sparkles...sparkles...in the sun! All I can think of is one of those globes that you shake so the glitter flies everywhere. Do you know the ones I mean? If I shook him (Edward), do you think the sparkles will move? *realises post is going wildly off tangent and attempts to correct course* And I'm sure I remember people mentioning that he broods and stares at Bella...a lot! But I don't remember anyone saying that brooding is all he does... I can't understand why Bella is so enthralled by him. Yes Bella *looks at Bella* I get that Edward has the looks of a fallen angel:
I couldn't imagine how an angel could be any more glorious. There was nothing about him that could be improved upon.
But I don't think that is love IMO - it's a full-blown infatuation. And yes, I believe that is a symptom of being a teenager, although I wasn't a normal teenager by any stretch of the imagination so I've never really experienced an infatuation *grin* And I will freely admit, the rest of the book could prove me completely wrong but...what part of Edward telling you he is dangerous do you not get Bella? *realises 'the finger' is up and promptly puts it down* When did I become all parental?
Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying the book. I loved Jacob up until the point that I realised I was old enough to be his mother (has anyone else felt parental reading this book or is it just me?). But I do think it is rather....verbose (if I may be so bold). But, there are some passages that have left me beyond incredulous:
I don't mind. Please don't worry about offending me, or frightening me, or whichever. That's the way you think. I can understand, or I can try to at least. Just explain however you can.
This is a teenager? Aren't teenagers by definition never meant to understand anything? Plus, that's a very calm acceptance of the rather large purple elephant in the room! *looks back at post* Infatuation 101. Got it! Which leads too:
"You spied on me?". But somehow I couldn't infuse my voice with the proper outrage. I was flattered.
Flattered? He is spying on you, watching you sleep (and thus invading your private space? And he's done it more than once. *heads towards Oxford English Dictionary to read the definition of 'stalker' in case it has been amended recently* And then we have:
And I was filled with compassion for his suffering, even now, as he confessed his craving to take my life.
Say what? Compassion? Maybe this is just me *nods at Kris* but...WTF?

I have requested the DVD from my local library to watch tonight (or perhaps this weekend) [yes, I am insane, but I want to see 'the hair'....] and am planning to collect it after I have visited the blood suckers (I mean the Blood Donation Service) this afternoon. I find it rather amusing that I'm going to donate blood this afternoon at the same time I'm reading about vampires. And I have remembered the advice of all of you who suggested I read the book before I watch the movie - I'm hoping half an hour hooked up to an IV will see me finish it. Plus I really want to see the nurses' faces when they realise I'm reading a vampire book *grin* I'm such a rebel!

So, have you read/seen Twilight? Thoughts? And if so...should I continue with New Moon at some point?

14 July 2009

Do You Remember?



And The Karate Kid?

What do they all have in common? (Apart from being released in the early 1980s of course). I have heard rumours that they are all being....remade! I have but one question: WHY?

12 July 2009

Broken Wing (Judith James)

In early May I threw down the gauntlet to those of us who had not read the much lauded Broken Wing (Judith James).
Abandoned as a child and raised in a brothel, Gabriel St Croix has never know tenderness, friendship, or affection. Although fluent in sex, he knows nothing of love. Lost and alone inside a nightmare world, all he's ever wanted is companionship and a place to belong. Hiding physical and emotional scars behind an icy facade, his only relationship is with a young boy he has spent the last five years protecting from the brutal reality of their environment. But all that is about to change. The boy's family has found him, and they are coming to take him home.

Sarah Munroe blames herself for her brother's disappearance. When he's located, safe and unharmed, despite where he has been living, Sarah vows to help the man who rescued and protected him in any way she can. With loving patience she helps Gabriel face his demons and teaches him to trust in friendship and love. But when the past catches up with him, Gabriel must face it on his own.

Becoming a mercenary pirate and a professional gambler, Gabriel travels to London, France and the Barbary Coast in a desperate attempt to find Sarah again and all he knows of love. On the way, however, he will discover the most dangerous journey, and the greatest gamble of all, is within the darkest reaches of his own heart.
I finished reading the book at the end of last month and have attempted to cobble together a few of my wayward thoughts. Where to start? Firstly, did the book work for me? Yes and no. I know I appear to be fence sitting, so I will try to explain. Broken Wing is at its heart Gabriel's story; the story of his path from darkness, despair and hopelessness. The writing is beautifully descriptive, creating a world at once alien and yet at the same time not:
Gabriel crouched on bended knee, hunched against cold stone above an ancient alley fetid with the smell of piss and vomit and cooked sausage. A door slammed in the distance. The sound of cursing, a man's and a woman's, was followed by slaps, screams, and then silence. Far away, the sound of a guitar drifted to him, melancholy in the cold night air.
The world described in Broken Wing I connected too; unfortunately, for the most part, the characters I did not. When we first meet Gabriel, he is simply marking time:
Again and again steel kissed flesh. Not too deep. Now now. Not yet. Dead inside, lifeless and empty, the crimson bracelets offered a needed proof that for now, at least, he was still of this world.
Yet he still attempts to save a child from the fate he himself met:
Then the child had come, and something inside him, something weak and treacherous, had betrayed him. He'd wanted...needed...to protect the boy, to keep him safe and innocent.
As hard as I tried though, I couldn't completely connect with Gabriel...there were fleeting moments, but it was as Font sizethough I experiencing echos filtered and reflected, not the raw emotion I wanted, I needed:
'Gabe? Gabriel'?' Her voice floated above the water, insistent, concerned'. 'Gabe?', a little sharper now, cutting clearly through the hiss and swoosh of surf on sand. He turned slowly in her direction, swaying with the force of the water, confused, as if he didn't recognise her.
I discussed this with Kerry, concerned that somehow I was obviously missing what was right in front of me. We hypothesized that perhaps the author was aware of the target audience and had deliberately not taken that step into detailing the true darkness haunting Gabriel, the darkness that I felt so strongly when I read Melusine (Sarah Monette). Then again, it may be that, this being the author's first book, such detail will be apparent in future novels. I don't know. All I know is that I didn't have the intimate connection with Gabriel that I longed for. The story was fascinating, but...I wanted to reach Gabriel's heart, and I wasn't able too. And I fully accept that it was more than likely me than the book..
There were parts though that tugged at my heartstrings:
He'd even started to believe that maybe she was right. Maybe he deserved to love and be loved as much as anyone else did, but he couldn't believe it anymore.
The second half of the book I enjoyed immensely. I found at times that Gabriel and Sarah were too sweet (for me) when together, so the straight historical feel of the second half was a welcome relief. I loved the rich descriptions, the vividly drawn secondary characters. But I have to admit that Gabriel himself did have (dare I say it? ) Mary Sue tendencies. He was brilliant with horses, languages, musical instruments, tactics...the list is endless. Not that that is a bad thing, but something I noticed.

And I know many have queried why Gabriel stayed away so long - two sentence for me explained it beautifully:
'I couldn't return to you mignonne. I didn't know how'.
However, IMO Sarah was very quick to understand and forgive. Humanity just isn't that patient or forgiving.

Will I read another book by this author? *nods* I think Judith James writes very well...I just don't think I connected with this book as well as others have. FYI -KristieJ has written a wonderful review of Broken Wing here!

The Broken Wing Challenge still runs until the end of July, so you still have *checks calendar* 18 days to go!

08 July 2009

Let Me Entertain You

Yes, that is a title to a Robbie Williams song *grin*

There are books out there *waves hand wildly* that make you think, books that wring every drop of emotion from you and leave you exhausted...and then there are books that simply say 'Let Me Entertain You'. These are books that you don't actually require conscious thought to read. Like those movies that have the unwritten subtext: 'To fully enjoy this movie, please disengage your brain at the door'.I like those movies, especially when my brain has been over thinking (which is most of the time I will grant you) and I just want to sit and vegetate and...be entertained. And I concur, when you're not in the mood to vegetate, such movies strip you of a number of hours of your life that you will never get back, but they have their place *grin* And so too do their book 'brothers'.

I was talking to a friend this morning about Twilight, which is current 'In Transit' to my local library. I've heard many and varied things about Twilight and I think I've come to the conclusion that it is a 'Let Me Entertain You' book. Now, I could be completely wrong; I'm more than happy for the book to prove me wrong.

But, I'm curious - have you ever read a book that screams out 'Let Me Entertain You'? (Not literally though, because that would be slightly scary.)

04 July 2009

So You Think You Can Dance? (Part II)

So You Think You Can Dance? When I asked myself this question in February I prevaricated. Yesterday (Friday) I sat my Advanced I dance exam (Jazz Addict syllabus). As to whether or not I passed...I think so. I say think because we did have the toughest examiner in Australasia examining the school, and when she examined me two years ago she was very tough.

For those of you who are curious, my exam consisted of 11 exercises:
1. Classical
2. Jazz Arms and Strength
3. Floorwork
4. Travelling Progression
5. Turns
6. Leaps (on the right and the left)
7. Jazz Amalgamatation
8. Lyrical or Contemporary Amalgamatation (we learnt the contemporary)
9. Musical Theatre
10. Student Choreography
11. Dance
Yes, it was exhausting. And if I pass, I move into the Advanced 2 class - and yes, if I pass I'm planning on sitting it next year. Me, mad? Why of course *grin* Oh, and my answer to the original question: I think so. (Me, give a definitive answer? Not likely.)
OT: I've been AWOL over the past two days attempting to weed my vegetable garden during a break in the bad weather. Oh, and stacking two cubic metres of firewood. However, even though I now have my hands on Branded By Fire *happy dance* I will be back online tomorrow.

02 July 2009

Reading Slump?

Is there such a thing as a reading slump? The reason I ask is that last year (the first year on record) I averaged just under eight books per month. This year? Just over six books per month (with the results from earlier this year skewing the total IMO). My friend Kerry appears to be in a similar predicament. It's just that I'm finding that whatever book I'm currently reading isn't holding my interest. It requires effort to read....anything. My concentration just ends up wandering from the book at hand to the next on the TBR pile. A classic case of unsatisfieditis! So, is it me or is it the books I'm currently reading? (Personally, I'm more than inclined to lay the blame squarely on me because the books I've been reading aren't bad by any stretch of the imagination.)

I love to read but I just feel like the zing has gone... (And yes, this post is all about my relationship with books, not with a male.) Have you ever been in a reading slump? Any ideas on how to cure this gratefully received *grin* I did think about re-reading a keeper, although I'm worried that my opinion of the book will irrevocably change) or perhaps reading a new book from a series that I love. Oh! *acts surprised and fails miserably* What a coincidence! The latest book (Branded By Fire) from one of my favourite series will be released in *checks watch* five days! Oh, and FYI - Nalini is holding a countdown party for Branded by Fire at her blog (with lots of book giveaways).

01 July 2009

Books 2009: June Update

Total to date: 38 books (5 books this month) [I honestly think I'm getting slower at reading]

The 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge total to date: 31 books (3 books this month)

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2008) can be found at Library Thing

Favourite book of the month? Actually I don't have one...

Books I 'did not finish':

* Imaginary Friends (Anthology) [However, I did read one short story from the anthology - Stands a God Within the Shadows (Anne Bishop)]

* Love Is Hell (Anthology) [However, I did read one short story from the anthology - Love Struck (Melissa Marr)]

Currently reading: Gale Force (Rachel Caine)

And the book I'm most looking forward too next month is: Branded By Fire (Nalini Singh)

What have you read in the past month?