Sunday, 30 August 2015
I'm just going to answer Greg's questions, because I'm doing this at work so I don't forget, but you're all great and all that jazz :)
On to the questions!
1) Do you have a favorite book to share?
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel is my favourite read of 2015. I've read it twice this year
2) If you could go back in time, what era would you goto?
Oh ... that's a hard one. I love the fashion and movies of the 1950s but then rampant sexims and racism .... hmmmmmm. Early 1800s, maybe. Just because of Jane Austen.
3) If you've read Divergent, which faction are you? If not, skip this one.
4) What is your favorite game?
Dragon Age: Origins. For mobile games, Midnight Castle, which is a hidden objects game.
5) What fairy tale setting would you visit if you could?
The Snow Queen. Not bloody Frozen, but the original fairytale.
6) Do you have a favorite movie?
All About Eve.
7) TV or movies?
8) Do you share your blog with family or do you keep it on the down low?
I don't share with them as such but if they asked me about it I'd tell them. There's nothing on here that they couldn't read.
9) What is your favorite food?
Chocolate. Roast chicken. Salty, salty potato chips. Chocolate covered pretzels. Salty, salty fries.
10) If you had an all expenses paid visit to anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?
Paris. Paris has always been my dream destination.
Saturday, 29 August 2015
As you can see by the back-to-back Sunday posts, I got no blogging done at all last week. But I also only just finished Bad Feminist today, and The Winter Soldier on Friday night, and chose to spend my Saturday playing Dragon Age and hanging out with spawn.
Oh, and finally starting season three of Hannibal. :)
The upshot is of course, no posts. (Also I'm very very very lazy. Have I mentioned that?)
My supervisor returned from Raratonga so my work week was far less fraught than the one before. Coming up - my very last week of work before redundancy kicks in.
I had a meeting with a job search consultant last week (aside: I had no idea that was a thing). The company is paying for six sessions and basically what they do is help you identify your strengths, update your CV and, hopefully, ultimately, get a job.
The guy I spoke to was very nice - approachable and optimistic about my chances to find another job, which is nice to hear. I have a bit of "homework" and another session on Thursday morning.
Let's see. ... what else.
Oh, that's the other thing. I spent yesterday morning dealing with a charming infestation of nits, which meant showers and baths and an absolute truckload of washing. *Sigh*. So by last night I was really only fit for gaming or watching TV - lol.
I finished Bad Feminist, as I said, and found it very thought-provoking. I'll do a review some time this week, but I am nowhere near as eloquent as Ms Gay, so we'll just see how that goes.
I'll also try and do a review of The Winter Solider. Well .... review/rant probably about how it's so much better than Age of Ultron and - wait, never mind.
I've been picking away at Dragon Age; Inquisition and it mostly highlights to me how absolutely terrible I am at games. But. There's a new DLC coming out on September 8 and even though I'm like, 10 minutes into Inquisition, I'm super super excited. Just. Because.
Friday is my last day - and effectively the last day for two other workmates who also took the redundancy offered, so there will probably be awkward speeches and then everyone will decamp to the pub. The pub normally isn't my thing, but I'll make an exception just this once.
Before that, on Thursday, we have spawn's school's production of Red Riding Hood, which should be hilariously entertaining.
Other than that, I'm going to keep working through Hannibal, The Sunne in Splendour, and I also started Our Endless Numbered Days, which looks like a very promising read.
How's your week looking?
Sunday, 23 August 2015
Anyway. The Sunday post is a chance to share the week that was - both blogging and real life - and share what's coming up. Your inimitable host is Kimberley at http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/
Also, I'm typing this with a large black and white cat between me and the keyboard. She's watching my fingers with dubious fascination. Cats.
Anyway. I actually managed to get a couple of reviews done last week, for My Cousin Rachel: http://lifetheuniverseandcats.blogspot.co.nz/2015/08/my-cousin-rachel-review.html
and for The Duchess War: http://lifetheuniverseandcats.blogspot.co.nz/2015/08/the-duchess-wars-review.html
So I'm Quite Pleased about that.
I finally made it to page 100 in The Sunne in Splendour, which feels like a proper achievement, given the size of the book. I'm really enjoying it - it's so .... immersive.
Also on the go, I have Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, a series of essays. I'm about half way through and it's a clever, well-observed collection.
(The cat is now digging her claws into the back of my hand. Ow. Ow. Ow.)
I just need to choose my next iBook for lunchtime at work, while I still have a lunchtime at work, which is for about another two weeks.
What else. I killed the Archdemon in Origins and started my second playthrough of the Awakenings DLC which I like a lot. I like the companions and there's lots of banter. I love banter.
(Look, cat, this is the battlefield you chose. Either stop digging your claws in and flicking your tail, or find somewhere else to repose. Honestly.)
The work week was marginally more annoying because my immediate supervisor was on holiday in Raratonga (the jammy bastard) so I was working with someone who only fills in occasionally. It was frustrating but we got there as always.
My brother and sister in law travelled to the bustling metrop for a friend's birthday on Saturday and so - apart from my oldest sister who was working - we had a family reunion of sorts. We all don't see much of each other; not for any particular reason, we're not estranged or anything. We're just fractured and lazy about keeping in touch.'
Spawn loved it because two of his cousins - one of whom is only a year or so older than him - were there, so he had a blast.
Here is a photo of my siblings and I, a couple of years ago, I think, when we all went "gosh, we should have a get together or something". I'm the short one in the blue shirt and grey hair in the middle. ;)
(Cat!! Seriously, I love you but this is NONSENSE!)
Anyway, it was good to catch up again, and we made vague Christmas mutterings, but who knows really?
For this week coming up, I'm hoping to finish Bad Feminist, and then I have the Watchmen graphic novel waiting for me. The movie is on netflix and I haven't seen it, but I want to read the graphic novel first.
I started watching (re-watching) The Winter Soldier on Friday night but it got a bit late to finish, so if I finish that this week, I'll write a review. Which will mostly consist of STEEEEEEEEEVE and SAMMMM and THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN AGE OF ULTRON WE COULD HAVE HAD IT ALL WHYYYYY so, you know, look out for that.
How's your week looking?
(Here is the cat:) As you can see, she's very used to using her looks to get what she wants. I tried to get a picture of her now, but I can't find my camera. :(
(Her name is Sophie. Or, when she's being particularly diva-ish, Sophia Loren)
Wednesday, 19 August 2015
I realise, of course, that I'm generalising, and I'm basing my bias entirely on the Mills & Boon reading phase I had in my first year of university.
So when a friend recommended The Duchess War to me, I was somewhat apprehensive. But, as she herself said, she wouldn't steer me wrong so I thought well, what could go wrong?
Also, it was free on iBooks so obviously, it was fate.
This is a very roundabout way of saying I absolutely loved it. It's great, everything is great and I'm a heartbeat away from handing out flowers on streetcorners.
Anyway. Miss Minerva Lane lives a very quiet life with her two maiden aunts, Eliza and Caro (who are not actually related in any way, but share a deep affection, IFYOUKNOWWHATIMEAN).
Minerva, of course, has A Past, and living the sedentary life of genteel poverty that she does now, is one that she's chosen on purpose, so that she might marry a somewhat respectable man, and then quietly disappear.
Or ... not.
The night Minnie meets the Duke of Clermont, Robert Blaisdell, is the night Minnie's life changes forever. Because as try as she might, she cannot seem to escape the Duke.
Okay, gosh, I don't know. This was SO GOOD. Minnie is so great and well-rounded and Robert!! That's what won me over, I think. He's a) Not a massive dick and 2) He has such REGARD for Minnie. Like, from moment one, he just ... pays so much attention to her, but not in the hahahaaa you will love me because I'm rich and handsome way but in the GOSH KEEP TALKING I WANT TO HEAR YOU TALK FOREVER AND ALSO BANG LOTS AND HAVE BABIES kind of way.
Right from the start I wanted to know what Minnie's secret was, that she was so reluctant to tell Robert and that hint of mystery as well as the unashamed gosh-darn romance of it all, kept me invested.
Also: Ms Milan goes IN for the sex scenes and honestly you might need to loosen a stay or three.
Also also: There's a found family theme with Robert's story that made me want to pet his hair and tell him everything would be okay and maybe also give him a puppy.
Plus also also: Female friendship with Minnie and Lydia. If I wanted to see more of anything, it was that.
Plus also also also: It's the first book in a series, so I am well pleased.
Tuesday, 18 August 2015
I'm possibly posting early but it is Tuesday here, and I do live in the future.
I actually just finished the book itself a little while ago, in a race against myself to see if I would.
I had started it before the tour was planned, and it seemed like a good chance to pick it up and box on, but suddenly EVERY OTHER BOOK EVER started falling out of the sky.
Philip Ambrose is an orphan with means, of a sort. He's adopted by his older cousin Ambrose, who takes him into his household and rasies him as his own son.
Philip's early life is nothing but idyllic. He worships Ambrose, and they live a life of genteel privilege in 19th century Cornwall. Even being sent away to school is barely a blip on Philip's radar, as he always comes home to Ambrose.
Or, he does, until Ambrose himself fails to return from his annual holiday in Italy.
DUN DUN DUN ........
His letters home to Philip become patchy and increasingly more cryptic, especially after he marries a woman Philip only knows as Rachel. When Ambrose sends a letter home accusing Rachel of poisoning him, Philip sets out for Italy.
He doesn't encounter Rachel there, but returns home grieving and confused about what really happened to Ambrose.
Then, of course, Rachel - who Philip refers to as "My cousin Rachel" announces that she is coming to visit ...
I read Rebecca a few years ago, and I absolutely loved it. There was something about the atmosphere of the book, and of Ms du Maurier's deft touch with words that I found truly compelling.
The same holds true here, though I found My Cousin Rachel a bit less compelling than Rebecca.
It does take a writer of let's say uncommon skill to keep a reader's attention for 300 pages where essentially nothing happens. Everything is under the surface, and our narrator - a spoilt, self-indulged man-child - is hardly the most reliable. Every single thing we learn of Rachel is filtered through his less than worldly vision and so the questions soon come thick and fast.
What's happening? What really happened to Ambrose? WHY ARE YOU SUCH A PILL PHILIP, GOSH.
It's hard to say that the tension builds,because tension bleeds through every single page of the book until you feel exhausted and exhilarated in equal measure.
It's definitely a haunting read, and one I think that will revisit me frequently.
Saturday, 15 August 2015
I actually managed to sort of get my act together this past week, and I've posted two reviews.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making here:
And I'll Give You the Sun, here: http://lifetheuniverseandcats.blogspot.co.nz/2015/08/the-girl-who-circumnavigated-fairyland.html
I have to say, for anyone unfamiliar with my ... style, I'm not the most insightful reviewer ever. I'm enthusiastic about the books I'm enthusiastic about, and I will get my rant on about the books I don't like. Beyond that ... Well, if I can make you smile or laugh, then job done :D
(I'm also lazy. But let's not get into that.)
Let's see, what else ...
I have a little less than three weeks to go at work, and I'm sure my last day will be emotional or something, but right now - having made the big grown-up decision - I'm ready to move on, and every week day is just that much more irritating right now.
I'm trying to get through My Cousin Rachel by Tuesday - a 300 page book that's taken me something like a month to read, between losing Morgana, getting sick, and picking up books that are decidedly NOT My Cousin Rachel, but I'm nearly halfway through now and I'm optimistic I'll have a post up in time for the book tour.
With Aarti's More Diverse Universe challenge coming up: http://www.aartichapati.com/2015/08/sign-up-post-diversiverse-is-coming.html and with recent world events, I've been musing in my own quiet, non-intellectual way about how I can better educate myself.
One way, of course, as always, is reading. I think my reading does tend to skew/default to white writers, something I'm sort-of conscious of but then it sinks below the surface again.
So, with Aarti's challenge on the horizon, and with this post that popped up on tumblr: http://catagator.tumblr.com/post/126007994444/committing-to-diversity-when-youre-white-a I'm going to ... try and diversify my reading. Because it's important.
That post suggests setting a challenge for yourself, and so I'm going for every third book I read will be by a non-white writer. I haven't chosen a book for A More Diverse Universe yet but between now and then, I'm hoping to expand my horizon.
So, after My Cousin Rachel, I'm diving into Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.
Also, today, I burned my arm on my lamp. Riiiiight where it rests against things.
How was your week? What's coming up?
Friday, 14 August 2015
But then. Then, Jude starts acting - in her mother's words - like that girl, and Noah meets a boy who makes his heart race but who pulls back from Noah and confuses him terribly.
Then. The twins' mother is killed in a car crash and both of their lives break apart in different ways.
It looks like the cracks that had formed are on their way to becoming permanent, deep fissures, but when Jude is accepted by an eccentric sculptor as a student, things start going in unexpected directions.
Told from alternating points-of-view - Noah at 13 and Jude at 16 - I'll Give You the Sun doesn't hold back at all. It does the opposite of holding back. It comes for your heart and then decides that's not enough, so returns for your kidneys, liver and pancreas as well.
I read I'll Give You the Sun in a day. I honestly couldn't stop myself. Noah and Jude's journeys - as individuals and as twins learning how to be individuals - are as exhilarating as they are heartbreaking.
Tuesday, 11 August 2015
WHO is this girl? Why is she in Fairyland? What did she build her ship out of?
The girl is 12-year-old September, who lives with her mother in Omaha, Nebraska. September's father is off to war, and her mother works in a munitions factory.
When The Green Wind - riding the Leopard of Little Breezes - appears and asks September if she would like to go to Fairyland, she doesn't hesitate.
Gosh, I liked this. I liked this a lot and I can only imagine how much 10-year-old me would have LOVED this. This would have been the book that I read over and over again, wore a path to its place in the library and discovered Fairyland with September all over again and again.
Reading it now, as an alleged adult, there's still a lot to love. September herself. Her companions in Fairyland. The Green Wind and his smoking jacket.
It's whimisical without tipping over into twee, and Ms Valente handles the whole thing with a delicate touch that never, ever talks down to the reader. Instead she invites you in. She talks to you and you are as drawn into Fairyland as much as September is.
If I had nieces the right age, this is the book I would give them for their birthdays and Christmas.
Saturday, 8 August 2015
Well, clearly my last week was a bust from go to woe. I was sick last Saturday, and we lost a beloved cat last Sunday, so the week itself was spent convincing myself that yes, I really did have to get out of bed, get spawn to school and go to work myself.
It sort of worked. I was feeling progressively better but still had some digestive issues until Tuesday, and I missed Morgana so very much. I still do. Losing a cat is always hard, but losing a cat like that - that's there 30 seconds after you sit down because she was the lap cat's lap cat - well, I'm still upset.
I ended up taking Friday off work, because I was sad, and tired and just ... used up. If that even makes sense. I feel like I'm veering into the melodramatic.
Anyway. I finished two books - one on Friday, and one on Saturday.
They were The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherine M Valente, and I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.
They were both great in their own way, and honestly I'd recommend The Girl Who ... to anyone with a daughter aged between about 8 and 12. So, so magical.
I finished I'll Give You the Sun in a day, and it's just that kind of book. I honestly could not stop reading it. Hopefully I'll have my act together a bit better this week, and will be posting reviews.
For what I'm reading now, I'm still picking through The Duchess War by Courtney Milan, which I'm really, really enjoying. It's such an engaging story. It's slow going because it's my lunchtime iBook read, and I don't always have time for a lunch break.
I'm also diving back in to My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier, for this book tour: http://she-is-too-fond-of-books.blogspot.co.nz/2015/07/explore-classics-in-august-daphne-du.html#more my review is due to go up on August 18, so keep an eye out. I've only read Rebecca, but I loved it a lot so I have high hopes for this one!
I'm also hoping to get back into The Sunne in Splendour this Thursday. Last week I wasn't much good for anything so spent a lot of time doing very much of nothing.
This post is getting long. I know I hinted at blogging about a major life-changing event last time and that post - like every other post last week - just didn't happen.
The short version is this:
I work as a layout/copy-editor. At least, I do, until September 4. My major life-changing event is redundancy. I could have applied for another position, or re-applied for my position - my department is being cut in half, and those interested could re-apply but the whole idea of it made me .... tired.
I'll have enough of a payout to pay off our debts, and a year's grace to find something else. I'm equally terrified and elated, to be honest. The what-ifs are piling up fast, but on balance, I'm thinking of all the things I can do - be home when spawn gets home from school. Read more. Tackle a really large cross-stitch project. Maybe do some volunteer work. Maybe write a book and accidentally become world-famous. Who knows?
I'm wary of getting all navel-gazey and saying I'm trusting in the universe because that's not really my thing, but .... I'm rolling the dice for sure. If this hadn't happened, I would have held on to that job for as long as I could, and perhaps that's not healthy either.
Change and growth are good, right?
Saturday, 1 August 2015
Hosted by http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ the Sunday Post is a chance to chat about the week - and blog - that was, and talk about what's coming up in both, also.
It has been ... a week. Well, really a weekend.
I haven't blogged much this week but I did do a "review" of Station Eleven: http://lifetheuniverseandcats.blogspot.co.nz/2015/07/station-eleven-review.html and also of Lady Knight, a book I ended up wanting to like more than I did: http://lifetheuniverseandcats.blogspot.co.nz/2015/07/lady-knight-review.html
Now I'm reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which is really, really charming so far; The Duchess Wars on ibooks which was recommended to me, and for my Thursday night chunkster I started The Sunne In Splendor by Sharon Kay Penman. I compiled a shelf for Thursday night's reading and here is what it looks like so far:
My only criteria so far for Thursday night reads is that the book has to be over 400 pages. I was able to cull this lot from my own shelves. The only thing I want to change about it is that it is rather lacking diversity. So if anyone has suggestions for books by non-white writers - same criteria applies - I'm open for suggestions!
Now. On to the less fun stuff. There is one major life event that I'll blog about next week. I'm not deliberately trying to be cryptic, I just need to know it's set in stone before I talk about it here.
As for the weekend ... On Saturday morning I woke up at 4am with *ahem* digestive issues. Luckily the traffic was all one way, so I spent a lot of time sleeping and a lot of time in the loo. I think it was something I ate, but I can't be sure.
Fast forward to just before midnight. I get woken up by spawn, saying he doesn't feel well.
Me: "The bathroom! The bathroom!"
Spawn *Hurls all over my bedroom floor and THEN the bathroom floor.*
So J and I cleaned that up and got him back into bed.
We''re both feeling ... tentatively better today.
Now. Today. We have lost two cats this year, because of age and infirmity. I expect that. But today ...
This is Morgana, the tabby on the left. The tortie on the right is Freya.
Sure enough, it was Morgana. We'd never known her to even go on the road, but there she was, bowled, and gone. She was the sweetest, most loving cat, and I was never without her on my lap of a night watching TV.
So. It's not been the most stellar of weekends.
Coming up this week ... I'll blog about the life change I spoke of so obliquely, and hopefully have a couple of reviews.
I hope your week has been better than mine :-)