Thursday, December 30, 2010

that thing girlfriends do

Forgive the crappy resolution/quality; am inexperienced at camwhoring solo.



Li May knows how to build me up again...

wrap me warm when I'm down


cosy up my ups


gimme lots of words <3 can't get enough


okay just one more faux poser photo with my big nose and big grins



...And Su Ping knows what I like ;)


hey the roses tinkle!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

a spot of sunshine

I'm starting to retreat into my usual break-hiatus again. But since it was my birthday yesterday, I figure this little space of mine could do with something on it.

I...don't know what to say. I wish I could make this a happy post. I had a fabulous time with friends :D and it was lovely. A whole bunch of new books (most of them from myself lol; but thank you for the ones that aren't). Reminders from absent beloved friends of how beloved I still am. But I don't think those are the biggest things I'll be taking away from today, and even if it's not my birthday anymore, today was pretty much yesterday and I will probably forever behold my 20th in a sober light. I'm not down or sad (not much, anyway), but it's been...sobering. Ironic choice of words considering what I was doing the night before ;)

Yeah, if only I read books as fast as I got them.

I started this post earlier yesterday and was going to say something relentlessly optimistic about how good times could be had anytime and birthdays are just an excuse for one. How I was going to take that excuse and run away with it, that bad times don't have to mean the end of it. Well, it's today already, so the persistent cheer is quite unnecessary. I had a good time, despite everything, and because of everything, I can pick up the pieces of my shattered confidence and continue on. (the alternative does not bear considering)  
Mmmm all in all, it was a decently awesome birthday :) Thank you again to all the people who made it so.



"I'll send her a spot of sunshine," he said. "Sometimes a spot of sunshine will show people how dusty and dirty things are, when nothing else will."
-- 'Dame Crabby's Surprise Packet' in The Enchanted Bellows and Other Stories, Enid Blyton

Monday, December 06, 2010

the nights are lonely here,

everywhere. There's something about the quiet the world around you goes into in the hours after midnight, and it tastes a little like being...left behind. Straggling as everyone else joins the world of slumber; the half of a new day begun for them, and you a day behind. The nights accumulate, and you accumulate days.

(scared of ineffectiveness but you're even more terrified you won't be and still, nothing. is it rock bottom yet?)

The whirring of the fan in the dark, humid hallway. Mechanical, like you. For tomorrows, disappointment like a bad taste in your mouth, in their eyes, in the mirror as you try to brushbrushbrush it away. Summer nights are just as bad as winter nights, wherever you are.

   the nights are so lonely everywhere.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Hunger Games

Book(s): The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins


When I finished Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy (thank you, Su Ping!), my first thought was: it's not a romance. I suppose you can say it's not meant to be anyway, what with it being dystopian YA and people concentrating on staying alive and everything. But adventure fiction often incorporates romantic elements into its plot (there's nothing more universal for readers than love and sex and the pursuit thereof after all), so it's not impossible, and they always do it when there's a female lead. Plus, it's YA. How can you not have romance in YA, where you have hormone-riddled teenagers for your characters AND your target audience? So whether it's realistic is debatable, but it's been done.

Decades ago, the thirteen Districts of Panem rose up in rebellion against the Capitol and lost, with the Capitol completely obliterating one of them. The Hunger Games were then created. The Hunger Games is an entertainment held by the Capitol each year, in which every District has to send two tributes aged 12-18 to battle it out in an arena on a nation-wide broadcast. The prize is untold glory and wealth, and the winner is the last person alive. When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen from District 12 sees her younger, gentle sister get picked out of a lottery of names to participate in the Hunger Games, the logical thing to do, the only thing to do, is to volunteer to take her place. That's the basic premise. Aren't you feeling all warm and fuzzy already?

Back to the not-romance in the series. Featuring a love triangle notwithstanding -- an actual one, not a faux one that only serves to divide up its fanbase (looking at you Twilight), Katniss goes through much of the books being pretty much romantically indifferent to both of the guys, and I was half-convinced she would end up not picking anyone at all (now wouldn't that be one hell of a subversion). Of course this being YA, she has to. But when she does, her final decision is just as rooted in practicality as all her dealings with the two love interests in the past three books have been. I thought that was actually quite in character for her, as Katniss has never been sentimental. It's not that she doesn't care, because she does. She just doesn't love passionately or irrationally, which is the stuff starry-eyed romances are made of.

In a lot of romance in fiction, there needs to be conflict for there to be a story, so you often see heroes and heroines falling for each other despite the occasionally frequent hostile reception they get. Katniss just doesn't deal with that sort of drama. If someone (a guy) dislikes her, then she's just not going to like him either. I personally think that's more realistic. After all, we associate people with how they make us feel. But of course, I haven't factored in sexual attraction, which was barely examined in the Hunger Games. I also wondered if maybe Katniss isn't the victim of an attempt to create a 'strong' female, to the point of burying her emotions (in addition to being stupidly reckless, but let's stick to the topic at hand) -- the same pitfalls that face so many Urban Fantasy heroines. But despite being part of a common character archetype, Katniss came off as a genuine enough personality and she never made me roll my eyes, so I guess it worked.

I had my reservations about this series after the first book, because I didn't think it delivered on the angst and psychological ramifications its premise offered, and I wasn't too enchanted with Katniss (although I really liked Peeta). I wasn't a fan of Katniss's voice, but the characters were engaging enough and Katniss grew on me. That kind of sums up my reaction to the entire series -- it grew on me. As for the angst, boy, the last book more than makes up for it. There are so many things in these books I could talk about; this rambling is really just a small offshoot at the forefront of my mind, and even then I couldn't do it justice because the problem with delay between books is that I forget a lot of the smaller details and miss out on subsequent ones. Ah well, that's what re-reads are for.

Still not very partial to the world-building though. It's not that there wasn't any, because there was plenty, but I just didn't fall in love with it (I attribute this to the author's voice). It didn't engender any sense of fascination in me like 1984 or Bujold does. I'm not sure if that's a question of ideas or execution, so feel free to take this with a grain of salt. Of course, while I didn't love it, it was entertaining and I liked it a lot. I liked Katniss eventually. Hence, if you're looking for nothing too psychologically thrilling or littered with he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not angst, you might like this one.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

today I talk about Twilight

Twilight, oh Twilight. You either love it or hate it, right? At least, that's what most people seem to think they have to do, even if they haven't read the books (the default reaction is then hatehatehate! even if I haven't read it! but I've read snippets! so I must unleash all the distaste at my disposal for the five minutes it forced out of me to decide I hated it! or my friend told me what happened! so I must hate it because shehe seems to have good reason to and even though it hasn't affected my time in any way except to hear it from my friend -- but okay that's hisher fault -- MUST. HAVE. OPINION.)

It's a bandwagon thing. I own three of the four books in the series, so go figure. I did have the luxury of reading the first three before the frenzy of opinions abounded, but I read the fourth in the midst of it. Here's my reaction to the first book: mmm. Meh. Here girls, try this. Second book: whatthehell why is she so spiritless and silly I don't like this book. Third book: er...what happened again?

Then BAM the circus started. Fourth book: OMG so campy and ridiculous! Did she just XXX?? (but honestly it was reminiscent of some of the worser fanfiction I've read -- I think Meyer went a little over the top after the success got to her head). So apart from the fourth (where I was possibly and probably biased) and maybe the second, I didn't love them, but I didn't hate them either. Here's the question: would most of you have, before the circus?


P.S. Not saying that Twilight doesn't deserve its negative publicity, but I really think it's mostly a reaction to the positive publicity. The karmic balance of opinions, or something, idk.

P.P.S. If you're wondering why I continue to buy books I am merely 'meh' with, I am a completist. I finish series. That explains why I own six books of Trudi Canavan's even though I didn't much like any of it. Yes, it took me six books to finally decide. Shut up.

EDIT: I fleshed this post out a little more in the comments section.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

longing

On Persephone's pomegranates, and seeing each other again:

"I got to one thousand and forty-three seeds last night," she said. "In the bath. So it's absolutely all right."
A Company of Swans, Eva Ibbotson

Friday, November 12, 2010

restart

Sometimes I think I let myself sink because I'm looking for rock bottom to give me that extra boost when I (finally) push myself up again.

Home in five days :)  can't wait.


Conversations with the bff/mpf :-
Me: It's kind of like a 'screw you, world! I don't care what you think', you know?
Sara: Well, that explains some of your clothes.
Me: ...

Sara: At the interview, they asked who was the one person I'd bring to a party. Everyone else mentioned a celebrity I think, but I said 'my best friend'.
Me: Awww.
Sara: Yeah I didn't get it.
Me: Ouch.

Monday, November 01, 2010

this is a post about a skirt

I have a skirt. It isn't a very nice skirt. I'm fairly certain Sara would hate it when she sees it, actually. It's a bit long, in an odd shade of green with a flower print, and hemmed with black lace. I don't like it, and in fact positively detested it when I first bought it (don't ask why I got it in the first place), but...it's grown on me.

I still don't like it. Thought I wouldn't wear it at all after the first blush from my retail high faded (quickly), but I've worn it pretty often since, more so than other skirts in my acquaintance. I'd never wear it for anyone I wanted to impress (ahem) but as there's no one I care to impress right now anyway, that's fine. This skirt is like a mood ring. Not that it changes colours (although that would be neat! or not.), but it appears to be a gauge of my self-esteem through its appearance. Succinctly put, the better I feel about myself, the more often you see it on me.

It's an odd relationship, to say the least, but there you have it. It's my happy skirt.

I haven't worn it very much lately.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I love you one thousand times, li may!

Yes, VERY!


I swear this postcard made me laugh and want to cry at the same time. You and your ineffable sense of timing had this meet me at one of the lowest points of my year...I really do love you, you know? :') Good ol' li may. It's amazing how we've lasted through the years and miles and timezones -- except it didn't feel amazing, it just felt like the way things should be. Of course special friends have that special immediate connection upon meeting! Of course friendships hold strong no matter the obstacles! You've spoiled me for life, I say.

Thank you for reminding me that people care; that you care. Thank you for sticking around when I'm being difficult (form 1 days, anyone?). Thank you for letting me be who I am in front of you, flaws and weaknesses and all, without feeling lesser, somehow. Thank you for being in my life. 

Sniffles. And I was trying not to get too sappy. Just this once then, 'kay? 


P.S.  I tried belly dancing once too, and YES the shimmy is bloody difficult. I commiserate with "How come they look so hot and we look...like this?" HAHAHAHAH 

P.P.S.  This is also a <3 shoutout to some unnamed persons who have stuck around, so to speak :) you know who you are. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On rakish heroes and faithful heroines


Something that might be jarring in romance novels (and this is purely preferential) - sex scenes, or at least sexually-charged ones, between the hero and another woman. This is usually to showcase the hero's rakishness, or if he isn't a rake, his sexual prowess and desirability as a mate, or something. I don't know. I also think it's an acknowledgement of the fact that lust is not love. That's alright, it's not, and showing just why things are different with the heroine is part of the journey. 

And then it hit me. I have never seen a heroine portrayed the same way.* And by that I mean, in a sexually-charged scene with a man other than the hero. You might say it is because I read mostly historicals, and (unmarried) women of times past are understandably constrained in their sexuality. But I'm not even talking about acting on it, I'm talking about sexual attraction, straight up. I find it unrealistic that these women with (almost always) repressed/unawakened passionate natures have some sort of lock to said nature, for which only The One (hero) has the key, and that all previous attempts to pick it by Not The One's have been bungled because...well, they are not the ones.

But it's romaaantic that way! Really? I didn't think it romantic to depict the hero with some other woman mere pages away from his meet-cute with the heroine, but I understood that these things happened. Also, sexual attraction is not love. I find it incredible that we can recognize that in the hero, but not in the heroine. If a heroine, on the first page, walks into a roomful of strangers and her sensual senses alight on a particular man, then the reader knows he is to be our hero, no question. Apparently the heroine's sex-o-meter is also a love compass. Every other man, even when observed to be attractive, is usually tagged with a but-in-an-aesthetic-way! qualification, thus stripping him of his sexuality (in the heroine's eyes anyway). 

I honestly don't get the reluctance to allow romance heroines to fall in lust (however briefly) with men other than the hero. It happens, yo. This brings me back to the theory of the heroine's love-sex compass (with North pointing to Love of My Life and South to Sex Me Up Now). What bothers me, is that it is built on the assumption of the tired old stereotype that women are incapable of separating love from lust but men do it all the time. Which is complete and utter bullshit.

So blahblahblah deeply entrenched double standards in romance genre blahblah okay this post seemed more well thought-out in my head. And more coherent too. My apologies. Blame it on the time of the year.

I need to find some new authors.


*Edit: Upon reflection, I can think of a few, but probably on one hand.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

finnikin of the rock

Last Read: Finnikin of the Rock, Melina Marchetta

I've heard about Melina Marchetta for awhile now, so when I saw two of her books on the Dymocks shelf for the 3-for-2 sale, I grabbed them. Marchetta writes Young Adult, which I don't read much of. That probably accounts for my hesitation with her contemporary YA On the Jellicoe Road; I was much more willing to try Finnikin of the Rock because of its fantasy setting. So it's a bit ironic that I ended up liking the former more than the latter.

This is not a proper book review. If you want to know more about the book, I've linked to the author's webpage at the start of this entry. Moving on...

There's a lot to like about Finnikin. Evanjalin -- a main character whose POV we never get in the book -- is one of the more kickass women I've read, and we all know how much I love a strong female lead. There aren't any overtly Crowning Moments of Awesome (not like a certain Cordelia Naismith I've also read recently - oh my, so much to fangirl over <3), but the way she's manipulated people and events into falling into place around her throughout the book (with a little divine assistance), leaves no doubt as to who is really in charge -- titular Finnikin's character arc notwithstanding.

I suppose I like the characters in Finnikin, but not as much I'd liked them in Jellicoe Road. Maybe having an overarching plot inevitably detracts away from character development, as opposed to a book in which nothing happens much of the time. If so, Finnikin should make up for it with its setting. But it doesn't. The worldbuilding in it is nothing spectacular. In fact, the kingdom of Lumatere initially reads like a classic fairy tale with its black-and-white morality and its perfect rulers and perfect inhabitants. It's as if Marchetta then came along with this thought experiment: 'What is the worst possible thing I could have happen to these people?' And thus Finnikin was born.

So the world of Finnikin came off to me reminiscent of the Grimm tales in its setting and atmosphere, except it's...well, grimmer. I feel that Marchetta only really used the fantasy setting as a backdrop, to spur her what-if scenario. Hence, while it was a pretty good read, I cannot commend Finnikin of the Rock as a fantasy novel. I definitely think it better than a lot of the (admittedly little) YA I've read, but even then it loses out to her other books.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

omphaloskepsis

WARNING: Uninteresting shit ahead. More navel-gazing yay.


(Personal) reasons I stopped with the Mercy Thompson series after Moon Called

Friday, August 06, 2010

On victim-blaming

The other day, a friend Zoey shared a link on facebook to an article about people's tendency to find a relationship between rape victims and how they dress. This got me talking to Young about the oft-cited pedestrian analogy that people bandy about to justify their victim-blaming and/or give themselves a sense of security against the idea of it happening close to home.

You've probably heard it all before - that women should watch how they dress to avoid getting raped. That it's a sensible precaution, being realistic; same as how pedestrians should look both ways before crossing the road, whether or not there's a zebra crossing.

This is a stupid analogy. It's stupid because it's not even representative of how rape occurs. What would be more apt is this: You want to cross the road. There's an overhead bridge a mile down the road but you figure it's not worth the extra walk. There aren't many cars on the road anyway. Before you step out, you look both ways. No cars. Or maybe you're a little careless and don't look both ways, because you didn't glimpse any headlights from your peripheral vision. You walk. And as you're in the middle of the road, a car zips out from around the corner where it has presumably been lying in wait, guns the accelerator and - this is important - does everything they can to run you down.

Oh, and most of the time, you know the driver. Hell, there might even be a split second where you wave and smile in recognition before you realize they want to hit you.

The victim-blamers ask, Why didn't you pay attention to your surroundings - you might've heard the low hum of an engine in wait. Why didn't you go for the overhead bridge? Why cross the road at all?

I suppose we should treat all cars on the road as potential maniacs who want to run down pedestrians. Or never ever cross roads.

There is nothing wrong with wanting someone you love to be careful, but people should realize that saying things like these, especially after a rape has happened, reinforces all those views that have been expressed in the article I linked above, and really, do you not find that harmful? Everyone who's crossed roads in Australia and Malaysia should know the difference that putting the onus of prevention on a pedestrian/victim makes.

Here's to demonstrate how pervasive this idea of 'what you wear causes you to get raped' is. My parents were telling me about a friend whose house got robbed one night, when everyone except the niece was out. The niece was in the shower when she heard something, and stepped out to investigate. She came downstairs wrapped in only a towel to find five Malay men in the midst of burgling the place. What do you think happened next?

Okay before your cynicism consumes you, this is what happened: They tied her up, finished burgling the place, and left.

Now, I am just as grateful as the next person that nothing happened to her, but what puzzled me was how everyone, my parents and their friends included, kept emphasizing on her lack of dress. Of how amazingly ethical the robbers must've been to refrain. I thought it should have been apparent to anyone then, that what she wore didn't mean anything. Clearly, they were men who'd decided not to rape, and the only effect of her being wrapped in a wet towel should have on the situation was that it probably made her feel horribly vulnerable (I'd hate to be her). She could've been wearing a burqa and they, outnumbering her five to one in an empty house in the middle of the night, would still rape her if they had a mind to. What is cloth to a sharp knife?

Note that this is not a victim-blaming situation. I'm just pointing out that people are so ridiculously hung-up on what (potential) victims wear when they should be focusing on what the (potential) rapist did (or didn't do).


tl;dr Rapists don't fucking care what you do or do not wear.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Five Stages of Grief

The five stages of grief by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, as experienced by me (upon finding out about the launch of kindle 3, after a mere three weeks with my beloved new kindle 2):



Denial
"wtf this can't be happening"
"I would've read about this when I did my research on the kindle!"
"EVERYONE SAID CHRISTMAS"

Anger
"FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU UUUUUUUUUU UUUUUUWATBLAGHTEMPURAMOTHERFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU"

Bargaining
"Maybe there's some exchange policy in place for recent purchases..." [Nope there isn't]
"Return this one since it's within the 30-day period? :D" [Shipping costs, friend.]

Depression
"Now I feel so dumb. I would've found out about this if I'd thought to look for it, or if I'd waited until I came back to Perth first I might've..."
STUPID :(

Acceptance
"It's okay, I still love my kindle 2."
"I was already prepared for this. It just came...a lot sooner than expected"
"Nothing special about kindle 3 anyway, other than minor improvements."


I have thus come to terms with the mortality of my retail (therapy) high.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

News from Sydney: Impulse Buys

First things first I GOT A KINDLE I GOT A KINDLE I'M GETTING A KIIIIIINDLEEEE



Honestly, Sara brings out the shopaholic in me. I swore I wouldn't shop while I was in Sydney (except for boots. boots and nothing else) and despite having no problems refraining in Perth, I shopped. For more than just boots.

Aaand I bought a kindle. Online. It isn't even on retail here so I have no real excuse, except that being in proximity with Sara apparently short-circuits my frugal switch. Also, I was so gung-ho about my new purchase that I'm having it shipped right here, to Sydney. Yes, I don't have it yet. Yes, I am banking on Amazon's potentially-unreliable delivery date estimates. Yes, I am leaving in two weeks. Yes, I am aware that if it arrives after I leave I will have to rely on Sara to send it to me and that it probably won't come to me unopened. On the bright side, Sara will pay for postage since she's the one who convinced me not to wait anyway.

...I don't know why I listen to her.

STILL. KINDLE. I'M GETTING IT :D In other news, Sydney is awesome. Food is awesome. I've been having lots of that. Busting my budget on it, actually : / and I'm only halfway through my vacation. George is currently here, though he's itching to leave in a day or so. Methinks the boy has had his annual dose of us. Too much oestrogen, perhaps?

Been doing some...other stuff too, but I'll save that for more intimate environments ;)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

murphy's law is the drama tv series law, only catchier.

...Turns out frequent update is not frequent at all :D I have set a low bar for myself. Oh well, a post today read six months later will give no less indication of what my life has been like than if it were read today anyway (i.e. none at all).

So about a week ago, when I read Lisa Kleypas's Married By Morning, I came across this passage and LOLed:
“Good God,” Leo growled, tossing the folded paper to the table, “the drama in this household is more than a man can tolerate. I would have assumed that we could have had a reasonable discussion in the comfort of Ramsay House, but instead she flees in the dark of night and leaves a letter filled with sentimental twaddle.”
This. This completely sums up my reaction to most situations contrived solely for the purpose of extending The Angst. I had to laugh at this small bit of self-awareness in a romance novel character. Granted, when it's done well, it's more than fine, but when it's not...head-banging ensues. This is why I have problems keeping with tv drama series that span several seasons of unresolved sexual tension and angst and good god they just go on FOREVER. At least with romance novels you know it'll be resolved (happily) by the last page. So I stay away from the likes of One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl (but I make an exception for Grey's Anatomy, simply because they have beautiful lines. Even then, I don't care for the characters as much if only so I can bring myself to watch them being put through the wringers again and again. Damn our cultural obsession with schadenfreude).

In any case, this book isn't a head-banger. I have a few opinions that are largely unrelated to my mini ramble above on unnecessary angst, but since I've already mentioned the book here I'll just go on.

NOTE: INDIFFERENT PERSONS CAN STOP READING RIGHT ABOUT NOW. I've generally liked Kleypas's work, but this isn't one of her best. This is part of a series on a family and its members, and the characters in this novel were already introduced at least two books before, yet their story in this one seemed to run at a pace too fast for me. I'm not sure if it is because of the contrast between the slow development of their character introductions (over two books) and the rate at which their relationship moved forward, since it might seem fast only in comparison but in actual reality be your standard romance fare. I might feel differently if I'd read this without any prior knowledge of the series.

As it is now though, so much attention has been paid to the development of their less-than-pleasant relationship and interactions (again, TWO books), that coming to this one and having them have a sudden turnabout in their personal regard for each other gave me whiplash. Admittedly, they were only secondary characters in the previous books, but if I were to read this as a series (which I did), I'd have preferred that their relationship turn for the positive in equal pacing with their premise (i.e. start developing it before this novel). But then novels like this need to be stand-alone, so people can just jump into it. So. I don't know. I can only say I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd like.


P.S. YES I know my exams are in less than a week and omg what am I doing reading romance novels and did I have to update NOW of all times and I am lacking in Vitamin D and...all the other letters too actually but this is what I like to call PRODUCTIVE PROCRASTINATION.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Fishing...

I'm a sucker for compliments. My mind simply cannot wrap itself around the idea that anyone who would like me - any part of me - could possibly be less than awesome. As you can imagine, this tends to impair my judgement. Which is not to say you guys aren't also truly awesome, please don't stop loving me D:

Anyway, been a long hiatus, which is a good thing. A lack of online presence indicates a social life. Which I had, for 3 months :D am now rejuvenated again for the semester. I really needed that.

You can be expecting more frequent updates now (: Well, as frequent as they were before, at any rate.