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So it is with a heavy heart that I write this post. The universe is forcing my hand. Forcing it to drop my beloved flip phone 

And to pick up a smart phone. 

I’ve resisted for a long time. I’ve always been a strictly texting type of person and didn’t need to be on the internet on my phone or take pictures or anything else really. But the world is moving on and apparently I have to move on with it.

And honestly, I didn’t know what I was missing.

I spent all yesterday glued to my new screen. So much so that o almost made myself car sick because I was looking at it so much.
I’m not sure if having the internet in my hands 24/7 is going to be the best thing. Every thought or question I have I turn straight to the phone to fact check and research.

It’s possible I’ll never look up again.

The Flipside

Then there is the not so great fantasy.

  
I just don’t think I can do high fantasy anymore. And this isn’t even it in its most purest form because there are portals from the fantasy land to the world as we know it.

I must have like the first story in this series though, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, because I did by this sequel. Though it has been sitting in my shelf for about a year I think. And I won’t be buying the third in the trilogy to see how it all ends because I just don’t care.

Some of the concepts in this series are good. I like the resurrecting, and the mysterious far off land they introduced in this book, but overall there is just too much gore. And not enough explaining. I don’t get why the two different peoples are fighting so much, I don’t get why they want to take over earth, I don’t really see where it could be headed, there doesn’t seem to be a solution to the problem the author has posed. Or at least not one I want to read about.

What is good about these books though is that the love story is not the focus as it is in so much fantasy. It’s important, but more important are the ideas of hope and peace. But that is also one of the problems with the series. I don’t really care about the peace because I haven’t been given enough information/back story to care and so without romance, there is nothing tying me to the characters. I guess it’s just really hard to empathise with them. Perhaps because they are not human.

And that’s another problem with high fantasy, it’s mostly just doom and gloom and nobody gets what they want. Including the reader.

In case you didn’t know, Garth Nix is the greatest writer of all time

  

I could totally live in the Old Kingdom. Well, except for all the dead and demonic beings wandering around. 

The new cover art for The Old Kingdom books is not the best but really, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. So don’t go judging this one by its cover. They are too old school fantasy for my liking, I wish they’d stuck to the versions that were black with the symbols, but perhaps that was a different publisher.

This new novel comes after Clariel, and I think before Sabriel, but I am going to reread them all anyway, that is the power of Nix’s prose. It’s got all the best bits of fantasy; a little magic, a little romance, a very well thought out history and lore. And none of the bad bits; no overly long descriptions of scenery, no overly long journeying sequences and everything turns out right in the end.

Nothing I could write here though would do any of his novels justice. You just really, really, really have to read them.

The Removalist

So I did say to myself, and you, that the plan was to start blogging again regularly. And you may have noticed that that didn’t quite happen. This is for a few reasons:

  1. I rediscovered my Veronica Mars DVDs. She is the best. And I can’t watch TV and write, I’m just no good at multitasking. So she won out.
  2. I was reading awesome books. If you didn’t know Garth Nix had another Old Kingdom novel out and if you haven’t read it already, shame on you.
  3. I decided to rearrange the furniture in the lounge. I am currently house hunting (and watching a lot of House Hunters) and this has put me in an antsy mood re: my own living situation. So I did some heavy lifting.

   
 

It’s only half done and you probably needed some before shots to be truly wowed but it is what it is.

Electronica

Sometimes I wonder if I’m truly a Luddite at heart. I have no problem turning my phone off overnight, I don’t need to be able to access the Internet 24/7, and I only feel truly naked if I leave my house without my watch – analog of course.

I am very suspicious of electronic copies of things. Give me a hard copy any day. I still buy CDs. I still buy books. And while I can see the benefits of google docs, I can’t think properly without a pen in my hand.

But I do not stick solely to the physical, hold in your hand version of things. Yes, I have an iTunes account. It’s the only way to buy ‘singles’ these days. And I will read the occasional ebook.

Every so often there is the apocalyptic article about how one or other traditional form of entertainment or media consumption is dying. This week it was books.

  
The tweet links to an article in the Chicago Tribune that says Americans are reading books, paper based page turners, just as much as ever. That ebooks haven’t taken over yet. All I can say to that is 

Der

This year I have read one series of ebook, five books in total. Normally I would read none.

  
I started with Not Famous in Hollywood by Leonie Gant because my read harder challenge dictated that I read a book by an author with the same first name as me. And boy are there slim pickings for someone named Leonie. But once I’d read that first one I had to read them all. I even had to go out and buy an iTunes card because I ran out of money by the third book.

These books are what I consider perfect ebooks.

They are interesting, funny, have a decent romantic plot line, and cost less than five dollars each.

I read ebooks when I want something light. They weigh nothing in the hand and should weigh little on my brain. If I’m reading something heavy I want to feel that physical weight too. It seems silly to cry into a screen, it doesn’t soak up tears as well as paper pages do. Nor does it make that satisfying thwack on the bed or ground if you grow your device down in disgust at a character’s actions. More likely than not you’re just going to be doubly mad as not only did something terrible happen in the boo, but you also cracked your screen.

Anyway.

This series by Gant follows an Australian (though she hardly acts like it) personal assistant in Hollywood as she sees to her clients needs and becomes entangled in murders that happen around them. The main character Trudie is the perfect balance of funny, needy and friendly. And the love interest, a cop is the right mix of condescending, confused and conscientious. The mysteries themselves are not overly predictable and all the supporting characters make this series really readable.

Now if only she would write more.

Survivors Ready?

  
I both love and loathe Australian Survivor. 

I only manage to watch about one in three episodes, because really Channel 10, who wants to watch the same formulaic plot three nights in a row. I don’t care about the people enough to see them outwitting and outplaying over multiple nights. At the beginning, when it was only two nights back to back, that was ok. As personalities emerged I didn’t mind seeing them undo themselves. Though tribal council is always the most cringeworthy part and therefore the worst of any episode.

There have been a lot of problems this season. 

Three tribes is too many for starters. Kind of has the same problem as the three episode a week format; I don’t care by the time we get to the last one. Swapping people from tribe to tribe so many times is also daft. You want some of the favourites to get through, so many changes makes that almost impossible.

How many hidden immunity idols can there be? One per tribe, fine. One every second week, not fine. 

The thing that most bothers me is the pretty girl clique that has formed and seems to be running the show. It’s like a really bad version of Mean Girls. The sheer joy they seem to derive from the manipulating and plotting is particularly nasty. It makes me mad that they are getting ahead and if they win it will ruin the whole series.

What has made survivor a worthwhile watch this time is Twitter. I don’t know how I managed to watch TV like this before its invention (though survivor was a lot less gimmicky (and less produced) back in its beginnings and therefore I didn’t need the commentary of complete strangers). What I need is a TV that can have the show playing on the left hand side of the screen and the Twitter hashtag feed down the right. Could someone get on inventing that please?

The tribe has spoken.

Take out the trash

Now that I’m spending a lot of time at home again, mostly on the couch, I’ve come up wi a plan for TV viewing. It’s pretty simple really. Instead of watching trashy movies all the time, I alternate between trashy movies and those a bit more high brow. Or basically I watch a rom com and then something not a rom com.

I started with The Intern which was a lot better than I expected, then The Queen, Bride Wars followed by The Iron Lady and then I was up to another rom come. So I started watching Life Happens.

  
But I couldn’t stick with it.

Now, I love a good trashy movie. Predictable plot, stereotypical characters, a happy ending. Win, win, win. But it shouldn’t be cliche or boring. And if I could have written it, it can’t be good.

And so it is with Life Happens.

I probably only watched about half an hour. Just enough to get to the complication and be mad enough at the characters that I didn’t care about what happened to them. Kristen Ritter annoys me anyway, I don’t think she can carry a film, the only things I’ve really liked her in were those where she was a supporting character, Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars spring to mind. Perhaps she is only good on TV. And the whole problem that the film is based around is Kate Bosworth’s fault and so she just annoyed me from the start. 

I think what rom com filmmakers need to learn is that you need more than dramatic irony to carry a plot. 

I guess I’ll just have to try and find a better one.

29. A favourite book from your past

 I can’t remember why I picked up this book originally, or how many of the four books I have actually read

   
But I’ve chosen the following

 
As a favourite book from my past, not so much for the novel itself, but rather for the time that I read it.

Now, A Wizard of Earthsea is your pretty basic fantasy novel that deals with good and evil and how they balance in the self. It’s got a pretty good demon metaphor that at the end makes you go “oh, that’s deep”, but other than that there’s not much to write home about.

In year 9 my English was given this book to read. We had an enthusiastic new (young) teacher so along with all the normal things you do with novel study – character analysis, themes, literary techniques – we also did some of the most fun activities that I can still remember and think fondly of today.

One of the things about the novel is that, like many fantasy stories, the protagonist goes on a journey. He sails around a bunch of islands fleeing this demon. So as part of our study our teacher asked us to create a travel guide for the world of the novel. It was perhaps one of the most fun activities I have ever done. My friend and I partnered up and we raided the local travel agents for old brochures to cut out pictures from . We embellished on the descriptions of some of the settings and made up five day itineraries for potential travellers. Like I said, it was so much fun. It’s those activities, rather than the novel itself, that make me think back fondly about this text.

I recently found my workbook from this class, obviously I had loved it so much that I kept my book for more than a decade. Flipping through it reminded me of so many good times with my friends in this class (even being forced to watch Schindler’s List) and of the amazing teacher I had (who pretty much chose my career path for me).

When I re read the book I felt like a lot of plot was missing which makes me think that perhaps I did read some of the others as well. Or perhaps it’s just easier for me to read now that I’m twenty eight and not fourteen.

It’s not my favourite book from my childhood, nor is it even a favourite book that I have read this year, but it reminds me of such a happy and creative and formative time in my life that it fulfills this category perfectly.
Coming up on my next blog: It’s practically Christmas.

29. A favourite book from your past

 I can’t remember why I picked up this book originally, or how many of the four books I have actually read

   
But I’ve chosen the following

 
As a favourite book from my past, not so much for the novel itself, but rather for the time that I read it.

Now, A Wizard of Earthsea is your pretty basic fantasy novel that deals with good and evil and how they balance in the self. It’s got a pretty good demon metaphor that at the end makes you go “oh, that’s deep”, but other than that there’s not much to write home about.

In year 9 my English was given this book to read. We had an enthusiastic new (young) teacher so along with all the normal things you do with novel study – character analysis, themes, literary techniques – we also did some of the most fun activities that I can still remember and think fondly of today.

One of the things about the novel is that, like many fantasy stories, the protagonist goes on a journey. He sails around a bunch of islands fleeing this demon. So as part of our study our teacher asked us to create a travel guide for the world of the novel. It was perhaps one of the most fun activities I have ever done. My friend and I partnered up and we raided the local travel agents for old brochures to cut out pictures from . We embellished on the descriptions of some of the settings and made up five day itineraries for potential travellers. Like I said, it was so much fun. It’s those activities, rather than the novel itself, that make me think back fondly about this text.

I recently found my workbook from this class, obviously I had loved it so much that I kept my book for more than a decade. Flipping through it reminded me of so many good times with my friends in this class (even being forced to watch Schindler’s List) and of the amazing teacher I had (who pretty much chose my career path for me).

When I re read the book I felt like a lot of plot was missing which makes me think that perhaps I did read some of the others as well. Or perhaps it’s just easier for me to read now that I’m twenty eight and not fourteen.

It’s not my favourite book from my childhood, nor is it even a favourite book that I have read this year, but it reminds me of such a happy and creative and formative time in my life that it fulfills this category perfectly.
Coming up on my next blog: It’s practically Christmas.