30 November 2010

Concert

I am a creature of habit. Anyone who knows me will be laughing hysterically at that comment, because it is such an understatement it's not funny. Because I am...attached to my schedule, I find it hard to...do something outside the box, even if it is something I have planned. Last week I did just that...I went to a concert. And not just any concert - U2's 360 Degrees Tour!
And it (the music, the special effects...the show) was...mind-blowingly amazing. I still would like to see U2 just with one amplifier though...almost unplugged. Because their music speaks for itself.
So, what was the last and/or best concert you went to?
Computer update: I'm still on a go slow and my service provider is...investigating. So, no YouTube for me until it is sorted. However, I seem to be able to browse, albeit v e r y slowly!

29 November 2010

Go Slow

According to Wikipedia:

A slowdown is an industrial action in which employees perform their duties but seek to reduce productivity or efficiency in their performance of these duties. A slowdown may be used as either a prelude or an alternative to a strike, as it is seen as less disruptive as well as less risky and costly for workers and their union.
The short story: At one point on Friday I was seriously beginning to think that my computer and/or modem had instigated a go slow! (I was very tired on Friday.) Now...now I don't think this 'go slow' is deliberate.

The long story: Technomoron that I am, this 'go slow' has been occurring for at least a week - watching YouTube videos is like pulling teeth - and I kept thinking it was just a glitch! Finally, on Friday, while attempting (and failing miserably) to watch an episode of Project Runway (I won't say which season but FYI we are behind) I gave in and called my service provider. We chatted and I, at their suggestion, ran a speed test. According to my service provider, I should have one of the best broadband speeds in the country. (They wondered if I was 'sitting' on the exchange for it to be that fast :) But...according to the speed test my download speed is...one-fortieth what it should be. *GULP* So, they suggested I run a diagnostic. I had to download it twice (the first time the download timed out) and as of this morning said diagnostic had been running for almost 18 hours! I'll see what it says when I get home, but I'm hoping it's the modem and not my telephone line... *envisions large holes in the lawn*

In an effort to 1) discuss the issue; 2) download the diagnostic and 3) run the diagnostic I've been offline for *checks watch* TOO LONG! WARNING! WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS IMMINENT! Hopefully...someone will have it fixed (I'm a technomoron so that someone probably won't be me :) soon and I'll be back online in two shakes of a lamb's tail *grin*

So, I'm curious, when was the last time you had computer/modem/internet access issues and...how did you cope? (Luckily I've been reading the third Nicky & Brandon eBook, but I'm too close to the end and then what will I do?)

Edited to add: In case you are wondering how this post came to be considering I have no internet access I wrote it offline and posted it during my lunch break. Desperate, what?

24 November 2010

Absence Makes The Heart...Lose Interest?

I know the saying should be 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder'. But...does it? Grow fonder that is?

I was thinking about this the other night in relation to books. Writing a book takes time (among other things). And authors aren't chained to their computers (even though, secretly, in deep, dark places in the corner of our minds that we don't like to talk about let alone think of, we want them to be...or perhaps that is just me :) and have lives outside of writing *shock horror* so are unlikely to churn out books like a production line. (And would we like the results if they did?)

As a consequence of the time factor, there are often gaps between the release of books in a series (unless the author has the whole series written before publication of the first book :) But, I'm curious...what size gap is 'acceptable' (for want of a better word) and what is too long? Because, even though I don't like to tar us (humanity) with this brush, we do to all intents and purposes live in a society of instant gratification. We want more, faster and bigger than before. And, if we don't get it, we move on to something else. The next big thing. Anticipation eventually...dies.

So, if you have to wait 6 months for the next book in a series are you still anticipating its release? Do you want to pick it up? What if that wait was 1 year? Or 2 years?

22 November 2010

Inner Beauty

I had my hair cut this weekend. I vacillate between two extremes when I get my hair cut - I either tell my long-suffering (and very talented) hairdresser to do 'whatever' (because regardless of how brilliant the haircut is I'm never going to look any good) or I take along a photo (invariably of someone 'famous'). Does anyone else do that? On Saturday I took along a photo...this photo actually. (Ten points if you came name the person in the photo :)
 
And yes, I know I'm taking along a photo of someone half my age, but... I'm s l o w l y coming to terms with the fact that my hair is never going to be long and luscious :) See, like I mentioned in a previous post (Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow) I (for whatever reason) equate long hair with beauty. (Having that reinforced by a [male] work colleague hasn't helped this belief.) Unfortunately, I can't fight genetics. My hair is just not built to be long...or luscious.

I commented to my hairdresser that Emma Watson carries off the short hair beautifully - she looks gorgeous...and feminine. I just can't say the same about me. I look in the mirror and see...flaws. And that's the problem. I don't believe people - didn't believe my hairdresser on Saturday - when they (she) tell(s) me I'm beautiful. (*thinks* I think I've felt beautiful twice in my life.) Interestingly, that's one of the items on the list of the heroine from Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Sarah MacLean). The thing is, I think you have to feel beautiful (internally) before you can accept that you are beautiful...and that someone else believes that you are. And maybe that equates to love as well. You have to learn to love yourself before you can truly believe that someone else will love you. And to love yourself you have to know who you really are...flaws and all..and accept yourself as you really are. And maybe I'm wrong, but that seems to be the journey the heroine from Nine Rules is on. Thoughts?

18 November 2010

This Week

Earlier this week I discovered that Sony had FINALLY (apologies for the yelling, but it really has taken them far too long IMHO) released the Sony eReader in New Zealand. Only in black and silver mind....I mean why have a lovely brochure with lots of different colours of eReader but limit the actual colour choices available to two? 'You can have any colour as long as it's black!' My lovely friend, the very talented Meredith Shayne, lent me her Sony eReader (thank you Meredith!) so I could see what I thought. However, I think I prefer my iPhone. *ducks* I know! All the ranting about it not being available...it becomes available and I don't like it. Actually, I sort of did. The downside is that the touch option isn't very responsive and the buttons hard to push...not a good combination with my wrists as weak as they are... It is exciting though that Kindle, Kobo and the Sony eReader are now available here...just wish those pesky geographical restrictions would go away!

Last week while reading a post by the lovely Katiebabs from Babbling About Books, And More entitled Amazon's Top 10 of 2010 and RT Nominations I discovered Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Sarah MacLean). Katiebabs loved it:
Rules has one of the best wallflower ugly duckling heroines I ever read. Also verra steamy as well.
And this was echoed in the comments. Now, the wallflower ugly duckling heroine calls to me. I'm always...let's be honest here...whining about wanting more of this type of heroine. Wanting more of a heroine that I can relate to :) So, I threw caution (and my TBR list :) to the wind and borrowed it from the library. And I love it! The scary thing is...sometimes you get what you wish for. And I almost relate to the heroine too well...this morning the book made me cry:
She did not want to be that woman - the one of whom they spoke. She had never planned to be that woman. Somehow, it had happened, however...somehow she had lost her way and, without realizing it, she had chosen this staid, boring life instead of a different, more adventurous one.
I am so loving this book!

So, what's been happening in your world this week?

15 November 2010

Spring Cleaning

So, yesterday I sat down at my computer to commence a little (late) spring cleaning of my TBR list. *cue scary music* For someone who is rather OCD about, well, everything *grin* my TBR list has become rather messy. (Do I have to turn in my lifelong OCD membership?) You see, every time I read a review at various blogs or on GoodReads and think 'Yes! I want to read that book' I write the title and author on a post-it note. These post-it notes are then placed next to my computer, for eventual transfer to either my library hold list or my written TBR (library or eBook) list. Unfortunately, the post-it notes have been accumulating and accumulating and accumulating...

Therefore, instead of visiting blogs yesterday (apologies for being AWOL) I went through...the majority of the post-it notes (I still have some left - I swear they've been breeding when I wasn't looking) and added them to the relevant TBR list or not, depending on what I thought of each book's premise. What was interesting with this process was how things have changed. I'm currently in a YA 'no fly' zone ATM, so the majority of the YA books listed on various post-it notes were culled. It got me thinking about how a TBR list/pile/tower is in a way a living thing, reflecting our current likes and dislikes. And, yes, maybe I will be kicking myself in a few months when I suddenly go on a YA bender and have none listed in my TBR list, but...it seems silly to keep listing books that don't currently interest me. Doesn't it?

So, do you revise your TBR list/pile/tower regularly and, if so, do books fall by the wayside depending on which genres you are currently enjoying and which you are not?

13 November 2010

Villainy

I was blog hopping yesterday and swung by KristieJ's place (Rambling on Romance) just to check if she had written a new post. (Yes, I should really learn how to use Google Reader :) Re-reading KristieJ's last post entitled The Voices In My Head got me to thinking about villains...about the different types of villains and about which types work and which just don't. Previous to...I don't know when...it felt all villains were just that. Villains. The line drawn in the sand was very clear and they were all on the wrong side of it! But now...now I don't think all villains are created equal. Let's see...

* You have the truly evil villains who ooze pure evil. No 'why' about it. They are just EVHUL because they are. A good example would perhaps be the El Mages from CL Wilson's Tairen Soul series. Or the Sith from Star Wars. Hmmm. Maybe it's me, but the truly evil villains seem to crop up a lot in fantasy. Oh, and into this category falls the ever so frequent stalker who makes an appearance in just about every contemporary romance novel I pick up...and a few historical romance novels :) They stalk because they are obsessed and they are obsessed because....let's not detail that, let's just obsess and stalk the heroine, shall we? (Can you tell I'm not a fan of that particular plot device?) I'm becoming less of a fan of the truly evil villain. They feel....I don't know, rather one dimensional in their evilness.

* Then you have the villains with a reason (if one can call it that) behind their evilness. Greed mostly - greed for power, greed for money, etc. Greed. Revenge. Jealously. All those 'wonderful' human traits. I can understand them, but understanding does not mean condoning. The villain in His At Night (Sherry Thomas) falls into this category I think (although I'm only just over halfway through the book so he may move into the previous category as the book progresses).

* And that leads me to villains that aren't...or villains that are, but cross that line in the sand. Nope, I haven't gone mad (well, no more than usual :) Is it possible? Can a villain be redeemed? Such a cataclysmic shift depends completely on the author, whether he/she can pull it off enough that the reader can believe the redemption path. I think perhaps CL Wilson's Gaelen falls into this category. And maybe JR Ward's Zsadist? And can we forgot Darth Vader?

* And last but not least is the pretend villain. For example the (eventual) hero of a historical revenge novel who seeks revenge on the unsuspecting heroine, even though she herself has done nothing to the hero, it was actually her many-times removed uncle by marriage :) Or something to that effect. He's not really the villain, he's just...misinformed....and stupid. As for examples, I can't think of one...but there are many :)

So, have I missed any villain categories? What type of villain do you love to loathe?

09 November 2010

Hesitating

I've madly expounded on peeking and flitting and...now it's the turn of hesitating. I didn't start out to write a series of...whatever this is...but I guess it has kind of turned into that...somehow :)

This post has come about because I am hesitating (for want of a better word) in reading The Fugitive Prince (Janny Wurts). Janny Wurts is not an author to sugar-coat...well, anything. Her characters go through...hell. She is also, thank goodness, not an author who dismisses hope, so I know that everything isn't going to go pear-shaped. The. End. But, I've reached a point in the book where I just want to skip to the end. The tension has been tightening and tightening with each chapter and everything is about to blow sky high and...I don't know if I have the strength to keep reading :( I'm....afraid of what will happen to the characters and of my reaction to the events to come. And I'm not even talking about the main characters - I was reading a scene this morning in which the characters' names weren't even mentioned...and I was almost in tears. And, what's worse is, I've read this book before. I just didn't discover the layers, the nuances, the first time, which means I wasn't as emotionally invested as I am now.

This is rather different to how I felt while reading Keeping Promise Rock (Amy Lane). I wanted to peek because I didn't know the outcome - with The Fugitive Prince I know the outcome, I'm just not sure if I can successfully make the journey to the end unscathed. But...maybe reading a book unscathed isn't the point? After all, a good book will touch us emotionally, draw us in...

So, have you ever..hesitated while reading a book?

05 November 2010

Almost Heaven

At the beginning of this week my library system, comprising 14 libraries, amalgamated with the six other library systems in the greater city area. So, I now belong to a library system with...wait for it...55 libraries and ~3.5 million library items, including fiction (very important) and non-fiction books...oh, and CDs, DVDs, console games, audio books, foreign language and reference materials, plus 100+ eResources! Now, heaven for me would be being able to walk into a room in my house and pick up whatever book I wanted. *thinks* I don't think I'll ever have a big enough house for that...or enough money *grin* But...this seems pretty close :)

So, when it comes to books, what is your idea of heaven?

02 November 2010

Books 2010: October Update

Total to date: 105 books (13 books this month: fantasy [one book]; historical suspense [one book]; manga [nine books]; m/m romance [one book]; urban fantasy [one book])

The 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: 35 books (two books this month)

The 2010 Big Book Challenge total to date: one book (I'm still aiming to read my chosen book - Kushiel's Dart (Jacqueline Carey) - before the end of the year!]

The M/M Romance Challenge 2010 total to date: 18 books (one book this month)

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2010) can be found at GoodReads.

Favourite book of the month?

* Banana Fish (Akimi Yoshida)

* Making Promises (Amy Lane)

Currently reading:

* The Fugitive Prince (Janny Wurts)

And the books I'm most looking forward to reading next month: Lord of the White Hell (Book II) [Ginn Hale]

So, what did you read last month?