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.