Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Links! Links! And more links!

   So in my last post for 2013 I wanted to link to a lot of things that I found interesting and good.

   First up the blog Black Girl Dangerous, all the stuff that she writes is amazing and thought provoking. You can find it here: http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/

   The 8 tracks site for Bitch media, their mixtapes are all worth checking out, but I really liked their country one as well as their hip hopers. The have done I think 200 and it worth having a look at something that might interest you. You can find the 200 mixes here: http://8tracks.com/bitchtapes

   Lesley Kinzel. I am a huge fan girl of her, I love her writing, her politics, her fashion, her fat positivism, just really her. She writes a lot for xo jane (the us site), I have my problems with the site but never her, and her articles I always find interesting. I am going to link to a list of just her articles. Here is the link: http://www.xojane.com/author/lesley/allArticles?query=date 

   The interview between bell hooks and Melissa Harris-Perry. It is fucking amazing, that is all. I am going to post the whole thing including the questions because I also think their answers are really good. You can find the whole thing here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OmgqXao1ng

   I have also been obsessed with over the past month the song I Did it All by Tracy Chapman. There is something about her voice that gets to me in this song. You can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KB6pcjAityU

   I am also going to link to some articles by Flavorwire, I find them problematic a lot of the time. They however do some great lists of things that I would never have found without them. The 10 best young adult books for Grownups, here: http://flavorwire.com/77501/top-10-young-adult-lit-picks/

   And the top 20 Great Works of Latin American Fiction (That Aren't Gabriel GarcĂ­a Marquez), here: http://flavorwire.com/409886/20-great-works-of-latin-american-fiction-that-arent-by-gabriel-garcia-marquez/view-all/

   I also just want to link to one of their movie posts, 25 Movies by Female Directors Every Aspiring Film Maker Should See, here: http://flavorwire.com/410962/25-movies-by-female-directors-every-aspiring-filmmaker-should-see/view-all/ I still haven't seen Orlando or Fire both of which looks super great and interesting.

   Talking of movies I want to link to a post via the xo jane com site that I found interesting titled Sick Of The Hollywood Boys' Club? AREN'T WE ALL -- So Check Out These 10 Female Filmmakers Ruling Indie Cinema, you can find it here: http://www.xojane.com/entertainment/10-female-filmmakers-ruling-indie-cinema
      
   I also this year found a website that did a Read a Romance Month. They did short interviews with romance novelists about why they write it and they also did recommendations which were great, three authors per day in the month of August. It is always great to see romance novelists being proud of what they do and all of them I found really interesting. You can find the website here: http://www.readaromancemonth.com/

   I also want to link to the podcast Black Girls Talking, which I absolutely fell in love with this year. I get it from ITunes but you can find it their website as well and would strongly recommend their tumblr which you can find on their website as well. You can find it here: http://www.blackgirlstalking.com/  

  So that is 2013 done with, lows and highs but it's nearly over, time to look to the future. It always comforts me to say, nothing but good times ahead!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Bookclub! A Review

   I am going to do a review of all this years books that I did for this bookclub.

  January: Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. I absolutely really liked this book. The world building alone makes this a great book. There are some problems with it, but overall a wonderful novel.

   April: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. As previously discussed I had major problems with this, that led me to not finishing it. What I did find really illuminating was the discussion we all had about this book. I picked this because it had great reviews and knew nothing about it (which is what prompted me to read Ready Player One), I am not doing that again!

   May: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger. This is a really great light hearted book, and if you are a fan of Soulless her first book (which I was and still am) I think this will be your cup of tea.

    June: Quiet by Susan Cain. This is a really great at explaining introverts. Cain did a TED talk which made me think this was a good book for this. It has it's problems but overall I think it is worth reading and illuminating.

   July: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong. This is a great introduction for me into the world of paranormal romance, there is still a problem with consent in the book however, which clouds my enjoyment of how well the werewolf aspect of the book is done.

   August: The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine. I think I picked this for a bookclub in the past, but had forgotten almost everything about it. There is a charm and a humour in this book that it pulls off, but there are quite a lot of constraints that cannot really translate in the modern day (as this is an adaption of Sense and Sensibility). I would say that it is a really fun book. I am glad I read it again. Oh and in other news Joanna Trollope has done a modern reimagining of Sense and Sensibility (same title) and what I've read of it so far it's pretty good.

   October: Anywhere but Here by Jenny Gardiner. I really liked how fun this book, and it is a road trip at it's heart which always appeals to me.

   December: The Bake Off by Beth Kendrick. I really enjoyed this book, especially the baking aspect of it. I am a sucker for that kind of thing. I thought that the relationship between the two sisters was really movingly done as well.

   That is a my bookclub review.

   A few things, this is my bookclub (that I am now naming Bossy Boots Bookclub, as I am the person doing the picking and writing the posts here in my blog). 

   Also I am going to post a list of potential books for February which is when I am going to start this in the new year, on the last Friday of that month. One has everyone is recovering from Christmas in January and it gives me a little time to think of some books in advance.   

   I have really enjoyed doing this so I am going to continue doing it, and hopefully you still enjoy it too!



   This week I am going to recommend the animated movie Howl's Moving Castle. I think that I have talked about this before but it's still a great film. The visuals alone are  fantastic. I have to confess unless you are familiar with the story it's pretty confusing but it's a great film with a great premise. I also really like that this is not a Princess Movie so already I am in.

   I would also heartily recommend the book that this is based on, same name by Diana Wynne Jones. It's really charming and really engaging. They are very different animals and in this case I don't think one is better than the other as they are so different, but both are very much worth your time.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Decency Should Not Be Given Points



   There is a trope in movies and TV that makes me mad. That is the idea of men being decent given points. I am talking about there is a big deal made of at the end of the pilot of The Newsroom, of Will McAvoy remembering his assistants name. That should be the level that we expect people to treat us, regardless of gender.

   I am talking about this idea that men being nice in media isn't really niceness at all, it is how we should expect everyone to behave. There should not be given points for acting like you give a shit about people.

   There are a lot of examples of simple respect being given to women as a thing to be celebrated, I am looking at you Sex and the City, Friends and Grey's Anatomy. Just stop it.

   I also really hate this thing in movies where a woman is with a guy that treats her badly and ignores the nice guy. Again just stop it. It's lazy story telling for one thing, and no one looks good in that situation.

    I say create people who are flawed but actually respect and care about the people they are with. Some romantic comedies get this right and a lot of them don't, but that is similar to all films really. I just don't want to see or read about another guy who remembers your Birthday or gives you a gift being put on a pedestal, it is what we should expect from the people in our lives.

   This week I am going to recommend Homoground - queer music radio on ITunes. This is a podcast that highlights music done by queer artists. I really like it, some episodes more than others but I found a lot of music that I would not have found otherwise including Sea of Bees which is an amazing band.  
 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Bookclub! The Bake Off by Beth Kendrick

   For this month's bookclub I choose The Bake Off by Beth Kendrick.



   So I really liked this book, what I really liked the most was this idea of perfection, that it sets you up to fail from the beginning. The two sisters in the book have reasons for not liking each other. I also really liked the reveal of the betrayal of what Linnie does to Amy. I also liked Amy's reaction.

   The bake off itself I liked and the characterisation of the people surrounding the competition. This book is about the sisters that it portrays and it was believable to me, and moving towards the end.

   I am going to do an end of year review on here, and talk about the books that I want to do next year, probably by next week. Anyone who wants to comment on The Bake Off feel free to so.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Some Things

   There are a couple of things that I have watched and read this week that I am going to talk about.



   Let's begin with the stuff that I didn't connect to. The Great Gatsby is up first I am afraid. What threw me off was how highly praised this book is, and my reaction to it really didn't match up with this.

   I think it's interesting to have a discussion about what doesn't work about books, but here I found it so difficult to even find a thread to understand. I just didn't understand what was so great about Gatsby, or why Nick finds him so interesting. I kept my promise of 100 pages, but I have to be honest I was hate reading the last 50.

   So two things, one Gatsby mentions St Olaf's which immediately made me think of The Golden Girls. Which at least made me smile. Also I was talking about this with someone who mentioned that it has homoerotic overtones, that Nick finds Gatsby sexually attractive which at least made it slightly interesting to read about these people.

   If the whole point of the book is to show how shallow these people are, I kind of understand it, but there has to be something else other than contempt surely? If it's the romance with Daisy I didn't care at all.

   I'm glad though that I got to read it, and have an opinion.


   Second up in my bid to watch all romantic comedies, I watched A New Kind of Love (made in 1963) with Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. I have Netflix, so that was the only reason I knew this film existed. I didn't even know the premise. So SPOILERS AHEAD is you even want to watch it.

   So Joanne Woodward is a head clothing ideas woman for a company, and is I guess kind of down on her luck with her love life. She and Paul Newman meet in Paris where he mistakes her for a call girl (which is still a high class prostitute, but never mind). Crazy mistakes ensue.

   This movie has no idea I think what it wants to say, it pretty bad from the beginning, including comparing women to cows. It really makes Paul Newman look like a douche by the way including I can't remember if he actually sleeps with his bosses wife or just flirts with her. He's pretty scathing of women in general. It has a weird song sequence that has nothing to do with anything.

   The whole thing was just strange. There was a couple of interesting things that I found about it though. Thelma Ritter is in it, and really good which is saying something for this movie. If you ever watch it, I think the scene between her and Woodward before her transformation is interesting. Ritter says 'Married? Who's talking married? I was married once, it just convinced me that there must be something more to sex than that.' Which is pretty daring for 1963, but they still make out marriage is the thing that everyone wants.

   The other thing that the clothes are amazing. I think I actually like more Woodward's clothes before she tries to be a call girl, there Is something very charming about her in her short hair and trousers.

   Now that I think about it this film is a lot like Pretty Woman which has got a similar icky premise. Prostitution isn't cute, sexy or fun. Trivialising it is a serious issue as well.

   Thelma Ritter though is amazing in this film, she's got something in this film, also this is Paul Newman in his prime, and what a prime it is. Joanne Woodward is also gorgeous and really wears those outfits well. So I wouldn't bother watching it but it has some things that are interesting to ponder on.



   The other thing that I read this week was Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster. I found myself really charmed by this book. You have to be with the narrator from the beginning, it reminded me of Anne of Green Gables actually, if you don't find Anne charming I don't think you can hook onto the book. The heroine of this though I really liked, and her humour and charm comes across in this. I think the book is helped by the fact it is in letters, the reveal of who is makes it less weird, and it is helped that it was written in 1912, but I really liked it.

   A couple of things that I wanted to mention in connection to the book, there are a lot of adaptions of it that I found on YouTube. I also bought on my kindle a reimaging of it called Thank you Mrs. M by Kate Rothwell, with the genders reversed, it's interesting and charming in it's own way.

   There is the film with Leslie Caron and Fred Astaire on YouTube. The dancing in the movie is amazing especially the ballet stuff. The costumes in this are all pretty cool as well. The premise of the movie come across as slightly icky, they do make reasons as to why he doesn't tell her who he is, but it's pretty thin. Lying the heroine doesn't make me think they should be together, it comes across as manipulative. It happens in the book too, but is softened by it being in one voice. It's a sticking point in the movie.

   I think though Leslie Caron is charming, it made me remember Lili that was made just two years earlier. The reason why I mention it, is that she has that innocent wonder about her in that too. She dances really well in Daddy Long Legs as well. The book is great and would encourage everyone to read it and Thank you Mrs. M as well. 

   On a very long post I am going to recommend Lesley Gore's You Don't Own Me. Such an amazing song and I still love it. Everyone should listen to an amazing song about a woman wanting to be herself. Here is a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNb-8gLcXLs&list=FLM-m5e8_2pMgMF9Hy-o-jdg

  

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

A Very Short Post

   So it's quite late here in the UK, and my muse is not in the building at the moment. I did have a pretty bad week last week, but this week seems to be shaping up to much better, so there is that.

   I am going to link to two songs I found this week that I really liked.

   One is There's a Girl by The Ditty Bops. There is something super catchy. There is something dark and sharp about this song that I really like. Here is the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiS7SYOK_CM (ignore that there is a picture of Grey's Anatomy on it, it's the only version that I could find on YouTube but it's a really great track)

   The other song is Nothing to Say by Carla Ulbrich (which is something I have listened to before but I rediscovered it this week). I like this live version that I found, you can also find this on her website. This is the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwIUqDWJC4I

   That song seems like an appropriate end to this post!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A Couple of Things

      So this post is going to mention a couple of things that I have been thinking about this week.

   A Challenge (an update):

   So I have so far read two on the list and I have decided to add some more books that I want to read. I am still on the fence as to whether I liked The Seven Sisters the language is beautiful, but there is something forced and I think narrow about this book. I am glad I read it though.

   I have also tried to read some short stories by Katherine Mansfield. I don't know what it was about this that I didn't connect with, I read four, but I ultimately have not enjoyed them. I just couldn't hook into what I was reading. So that book was a bust unfortunately.

   I have now started reading The Great Gatsby. I can't judge it yet as I am only 30 pages in. I have set a limit of 100 so we'll see. I think someone mentioned it takes a while for it to really get going so I am going to give it my best shot.

   I have also decided that I am going to add some more to my list. This is an on going project so I want to add on as I go on.


   I realised that I have never read White Teeth by Zadie Smith which I keep meaning too and then never get round to, this is the time. I also want to read Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri which is a short story collection. I want to put on my list The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010. I really want to read more poetry and I have read a lot of people recommending her. So that is what I want to read in the next coming months.

    I have also discovered a lot of other stuff through The Autobiography of Jane Eyre (the web series). Bear with me as it's not really about the series it's all the other stuff that goes with it. As a web series there is quite a lot with the other media sources that go with it. Jane's Tumblir is amazing. The photos are all fantastic and it says a lot that they pull off making her a modern character with an interest that I can hook onto. I have never really got into Tumblir (I have enough trouble trying to figure out Twitter) but this in particular I go back to again and again.

   Also I found that 8 Tracks is a thing from this series. Through the character of Liz (who is one of Jane's cousins and pretty unsympathetic but played really well), there are a lot of play lists on this from her that I like. It's also a gateway to not getting overwhelmed. It has introduced me to a lot of music that I would not have otherwise have heard. This is a resource I will definitely return to.

   The last thing that I will mention, I am incredibly late to the whole Robin Thicke controversy. I don't really want to talk about him or the song particularly. Go listen to it if you want, but the lyrics are pretty awful. What I wanted to bring up is the response to it. People creating their own versions, which I am right behind. There are two that I found really good.

One is Mod Carousel's, which you can find here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKfwCjgiodg

  What I really liked about this was it draws attention to exploitation of bodies. It also has women singing the lyrics, I am not sure whether it isn't sexist, but it at least plays with the dynamics that I found both interesting and able to talk about.

The other is from Brendon Anckaert, called Ask First which you can find here:

http://vimeo.com/70304632

   What I really loved about this, is that this is a song about consent. It purposely goes against this violence is sexy mantra. It's lyrics let people know that you can write a pop song about asking for something, and being OK with whatever the answer is, yes or no. Now that is sexy to me, and respectful.



   I am going to finish by recommending the pilot of Sleepy Hollow. I think I might do a post about pilots eventually, but this is one of the best pilots for a TV show that I have seen in a very long time. I fell in love with Abbie Mills from the beginning. The actress who plays her, Nicole Beharie is great. She was the person that hooked me into the show. I loved the dynamic between Mills and Crane as well. I think one the reasons that this show works, is that it knows it's own ridiculousness (the four horseman of the apocalypse, and you know possession and fighting against weird looking devils), and the voice of reason is Mills. It's got really strong story telling. And great one liners. 

   The reason why I mention only the pilot is that it is going to be a long time till it all comes to the UK. I bought the pilot on ITunes, it was well worth it. The second episode didn't hook me as strong as the first but I think that is to be expected. I am going to wait to the whole is available on DVD (which is going to be a good four or five months down the line), but I think it'll be worth it. The pilot is great and this is what I am recommending.   

     

     

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

What I've Been Reading

   I wanted to do a post about the books that I have been reading over the past couple of months.


   First up Reel to Real by Bell Hooks. I cannot say how much I loved this book. I am only angry with myself that I have left it this late to read a whole book by Hooks. She is engaging, insightful, curious and accessible. I only finished the whole book of essays last week. I am a now full blown fan of her work. I have only just started Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representation and so far I really, really like it.  

   There are many reasons why I think she is an amazing voice. I just love how she communicates her thoughts. I didn't agree with everything that she said, but I liked her, and she was passionate about what she was writing. This is a book that discusses feminism but it goes into so many other places with that in mind.

   I cannot recommend enough reading her. I love her mind and her essays I am now a fan of her and her work.


   I also read as part of my challenge That Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I don't often read short stories, but this work made me want to read more of them. This book I have to say is not often happy, or light hearted, but it made me see a part of the world that I had not seen before. It also made me a fan of her voice. I liked having this book as part of my challenge as it pushed me outside what I usually read.

   I liked that there is such difference in the collection. I liked it a lot. 

   The author also did a TED talk which I'll link to at the bottom. I would urge everyone to see it, she is really great and I think makes the point that to read different stories about different places is how we all grow.


   I also read True by Erin McCarthy. I really loved this book. The premise is a little hard to take in the beginning, but the characters really pull you through the book. This is written in first person and Rory hooked me into this right from the beginning. This book as well as Pushing the Limits by Kate McGarry were the novels that made me a fan of YA as a genre.   

   McCarthy also has put out Sweet which is in the same universe as True. I liked it but True really hooked me. She has another coming out in January also in the same universe that I am really excited about.

  That has been what I've been reading over last couple of months. I am going to recommend Sugar Jamison this month. She recently put out two books, and I have read both, I really want to read her next one which I think comes out in April. I liked that her books about plus size women, and that I laughed out loud when reading them. I really liked her voice, so I heartily recommend them.   

This is the TED talk link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg  

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Jane Eyre and it's Many Manifestations

   So the book Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte has had many adaptations and recreations. From the Joan Fontaine film (who as memory serves was in Hitchcock's Rebecca which itself is a re imagining of Jane Eyre) with Orson Welles as Rochester. To most recent developments of the story like The wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys which is a retelling of it from his wife's perspective, and the straight series adaption with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stevens. 

   So there is something about this book that people keep going back to. I think in comparison to a lot of the other books that are about young women from around that time period it's different, from something like The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights or The Woman in White all these books are not from one soul perspective. It is worth to note that Jane Eyre when it was first received was written under a male pseudonym and was taken as a book full of passion and violent emotions.

   It still has those seething passions in it. I think it is what we come back to, a young woman who do not control her emotion to herself. That is what makes the book such an interesting experience to read for me, there is no other narrator other than Jane herself, this is a book that is completely and unreservedly about her and what she thinks.

   I love Pride and Prejudice more I have to admit, but there is a lack of strength and bursting anger from Lizzie but comes across in Jane. I think also it shows how little options that Jane has and a thing that I don't think any of the adaptations that I have seen show the young Jane (which is more than a fourth of the book) really well. Jane does not come from a family that helps her, she has to make her own money, and is treated badly by almost everyone who meets her.

   Jane Eyre as a story is unflinching in showing a young woman's true emotions and how her honesty and strength lends herself as a character.


   I wanted to also talk about the adaptations that I have seen. I've seen the film made in 1996 with Charlotte Gainsborough and William Hurt. I really liked it. I think more for Charlotte Gainsborough than anything else, she also looks like Jane to me (but that is a super subjective thing). I also saw the series made in 1983 with Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton. It's pretty dramatic but I think does a lot with the book. Rochester is a pretty melodramatic figure in this. Zelah Clarke does a good job. I think also as it's in the 80s the sets and stuff look quite dated but as an adaptation it does quite a good job with the material.


   I also saw the latest film with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender (in 2011). I really liked the Rochester in that one and Jane as well. I thought it did the end of the book real justice but it does have it's faults. 

   I also saw the series with Ruth Wilson and Toby Maguire. I liked that though this is faithful, Rochester is a little softened, but still austere.

   I think they all have something to offer them. I wanted to finish by saying the book is always worth going back to. Charlotte Bronte is a fantastic writer, and evokes something not felt on a screen.



   So my recommendation on a week full of Jane Eyre is another adaptation. This one is a web series. It is similar The Lizzie Bennet Diaries in format. It really hinges on the main performance of Jane. I have really gotten into it. There are about 40 videos so far, I think we are about half way though the book. I'll be interested to see what they do with the later half and especially the Rivers as characters. I also like what they have done with her cousins and Rochester. 

   So The Autobiography of Jane Eyre it's on YouTube and so far I think its fantastic and I am also greedy I want to know what's going to happen in this universe. I was really happy that they changed it so that there is not two videos each weekend rather than just one. Again this is a recreation and to me I find it the most intriguing. So this is what I am recommending.

         

     

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Bookclub! Anywhere but Here By Jenny Gardiner

   This month's bookclub is coming a day late. The book I chose is Jenny Gardiner's Anywhere but Here.


   I read this on my kindle but I love that cover. This book is a road trip and I loved the main characters of Mary Kay and Smoothie. I laughed at the conversations and situations that crop up. I also liked that Mary Kay is the person that carries the motivation of the this road trip.

   I liked the various characters that they meet along the way, and I really like the narrative about driving through landscape. I really liked the book overall and thought it was really fun.

   I have decided that as I am getting to be really busy in November, I am going to shift the bookclub to the first Friday in December, and I am picking The Bake Off by Beth Kendrick to be discussed on the 6th of December. The date might well change to later if people have a preference. This will be the last in the year, and I think I will do a bookclub in review.

   Anyway if you haven't read it I would really advise you to, it's fun and cheerful!


Friday, 13 September 2013

My awesome list

   I thought I would for fun give a list of things that I have done while being single. There has always been a skewed view to me (especially towards women) that being part of a couple is always more fun than being single. Au contraire. I have out together a list of awesome things that I have enjoyed whilst being alone.

   1. I can watch movies all through the night. It's been awesome. I also get to dictate which ones I watch and how long. I get to watch them all laugh and eat what I want. Joyful!






   2. Similar to number 1, I get to read what I want when I want. There is no compromise on my time. I don't have to fit my time on a schedule. It's all mine and reading is a thing that is solitary and a thing I love. One of my favourite books as a child was Matilda, I love the illustrations by Quentin Blake in the book as the one above is, it still makes me happy that picture.

   3. Masturbate. I mean that masturbation is a solitary activity. It does not include anyone else, and I can indulge whenever I want.

   4. Going to places on your own can be very enlightening. You are also not inhibited by what other people want to do. Want to go to a bookshop on your own? Go! Want to go for a walk by the river and stop and look at the water for however long you want? Go! Want to go to the movies? Go!

   5. Sleep. Oh sleep, how I love thee. I love sleep even more on my own. You can roll around and put yourself in any position without considering anyone else. It feels great to me.

   6. I like to go to art galleries or exhibitions on my own. You are on your own timetable in this context. I am a loner at heart, but I like to form my own opinion about it on my own and see the stuff at my own pace.

   Many of these things you can do whilst with someone else spending time with yourself, and would encourage anyone to do it. There are people who would find all this time on their own not to their palate. I totally get that, but sometimes you want to be on your own and do all the things on your own.

   It's great to be single as well as in a couple. Let's celebrate both!

   Two recommendations this week. I recently found Yo, Is This Racist? (both the blog and podcast), I fell in love with each. Really funny and enlightening. I really like the guests on the podcast and the host Andrew Ti. Jenny Slate and Aparna Nancheria are among my favourite guests. I really like the blog too, I love his replies to the questions.

   Something that I have been listening to for a while is Girl on Guy a podcast hosted Aisha Tyler. Among my favourite guests have been Adam Savage, Jackie Kashian and Margaret Cho.
   
   That's another thing you can enjoy on your own listening to podcasts :)



  


  

Friday, 30 August 2013

Bookclub! The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine

   So this month's bookclub is The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine which I think I did formally pick a long time ago for another bookclub but had forgotten what this book was about.


   So I liked a lot about this, it's funny I laughed a lot at this book in particular the descriptions of how Miranda does things. I am also one of those people that is really into adaptations of Austen just as in anyway.

   I found it a little too fantasy, in that this people seem very privileged, I think the core difference for me at least that in Austen's time these women would have no other choice but to stick together. I re-read Sense and Sensibility again this month and I found that most of the people in that book are very silly and that the only person who I could hook onto was Eleanor. The problem that these women are in, is that they have no money and are forced by circumstances out of their control to live on very limited means.

   I think money is what governs what women did, and they really have no other options, but to live together and try and make the best of the situation and the company they have. They can't get money in any other way other than marriage, and the book (and the Ang Lee Film) really make that clear.

   This is different. Of course it is to make it modern but I don't know whether it translates as well.

   Having said this, it's within the source material itself. I did like it, but I had reservations. I'm glad I read it a second time and I really liked the ending it's different but I felt was in keeping with the tone.

    Next month: Anywhere but Here by Jenny Gardiner (to be discussed on the 27th of September last Friday of the month, I'm really looking forward to that one!)

Friday, 16 August 2013

Hemming and Closing

   I have been a little on my heels lately, and in a bit of stale period in terms of creativity. I did two things though this week that made me really happy. I hemmed my first pair of jeans (these were 4 inches too long), I have found if you sew near the edge of the gold thread then you don't notice it as much rather than going to the bother of buying gold thread to match it. When I get a digital camera I'll show people my creations (that always makes want to go ha ha!) but they look OK and I'm really happy they won't be trailing in the floor.



   This also made me really happy in using my sewing machine. It makes me feel like I'm a proper sewer, and can achieve goals in doing things. Altering things seems straight forward but this I found both enjoyable and challenging. I've never done it before but it all turned out well!

   I also this week finished The Severn Sisters by Margaret Drabble. This is my first book I've finished on my challenge. It has a lot that I felt uncomfortable with, and has a unreliable narrator but the way Drabble writes I was intrigued by this book. It definitely pushing me with my reading. It unsettled me with how this seemed first world problems.

   This book has a lot of things that I felt were interesting, but does it make it a book that I want to read again? The answer has to be no, and I don't know whether I want to read by Drabble, I liked her writing style, so maybe I should try another book.

   It felt unusual but I want to read about people who are not the same as me, or enclosed in such small worlds (the main character does go to Italy but her view seems really small), perhaps that is the point of the book, but I am still unsure.

   One thing it made me curious about was Virgil, but I have limited time to read stuff that I want. Overall I'm pleased I finished the book and want to carry on my reading plan with That Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, I really looking forward to it! 



   My recommendation this post is The Decoy Bride, that is not a great poster but the posters for romantic comedies are always a crap shoot for me, but this is a film worth seeing for me. This is a romantic comedy that I found quite by chance on sale somewhere. I really like the actors in it Kelly MacDonald and David Tennant but it's also a genre of film that I didn't even know that I liked which is that it takes place on a Island. The story probably has a million holes in it but I am not picky when it comes to great character and a romantic comedy that makes me happy. This has both.

   For me the chemistry between the two here makes the film really great, it makes Scotland look beautiful and has a great soundtrack. For romantic comedy lovers that like theirs a little off the mainstream this for me ticks all the boxes.  

  

Friday, 26 July 2013

Bookclub! Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

   I picked Bitten by Kelley Armstrong for this month's bookclub for various reasons. It is a type of romance that I don't often read, and I have read that it is a good example of the paranormal romance genre.



   I liked a lot of this book, but I did have some problems. I liked that the heroine saves the hero. I liked that the violence and the werewolves are not sugar coated. Particularly in the beginning the change to being a werewolf does not sound good, or feel to the heroine good. I love that cover by the way, really evocative.

   I liked that the violence isn't to me gratuitous, it serves a point. I also liked that the theme of exploring what it is to be human and our animal instincts. It seems trite to make the observation that it is exploring the way we can all like that primal side of us. I felt that is what Elena is struggling with in the book. There is a primal side to her, and is that the werewolf, or the human?

    There are some problems that I had, in the universe there is only one female werewolf, as in this world the genes are passed on by the male side. I guess my issue with that is the mother as a concept never seems to be explored or explained. I guess turning men is easier? At least in this world. Elena is the only woman to have survived being bitten, it makes for a great hook but I wanted to know why this was and I didn't feel that it fully went into it for me.

   I also had a problem with her being bitten without her consent. It is a problem in the book. Clay as a hero, there is the fact that he has made her part of a community that Elena didn't get the choice to see whether she wanted to be in or not. There is the anger that she has with this, she is portrayed as sympathetic, and for me that is the main barrier to the lovers. I was unsure about whether this really could be surmounted, I am still unsure.  

   What really worked was that Elena struggles. She is bold and decisive on one side and yet unsure on the other. She really has a hard time consolidating her human half with another part of her nature, something that she didn't ask for.

   Elena has a heroine I thought was well drawn and well crafted, and it is that struggle between her humanity and her capacity to be primal that I thought was really good.

   I am glad I read this, I think it's great as a werewolf book that takes that side of it seriously, what it means to become something animal, to kill and eat your prey. I am not as sure about the romance between the Clay and Elena, it's a good barrier between the two of them, but is it too good? Overall a good book, but with it's problems at least for me.

     

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A Few Experiments

   I thought I'd do an update of things that I am experimenting with.

   Twitter.

   It has been overwhelming but good for finding out about things that I would be interested in. Including local stuff happening to where I live but also the people that I follow they all want to share stuff that is interesting to them.

   It has a very different feel to twitter, I think mainly because you pick who you follow, Facebook means that I feel guilty every time I unfriend someone with twitter there is a freedom from that type of guilt, people can follow or unfollow you it's easy and guilt free . I also feel a pressure to be witty on Facebook, but on twitter it is much more an opening of information that you get to pick. Overall that aspect of it means it has been fun, overwhelming but fun.

   I've also been live tweeting episodes from the BBC Pride and Prejudice version from 1995 (yes that version with a wet Colin Firth). This has been really fun, it's a story that I love but looking back on it, it's a little dated but really fun to live tweet. I think I'm going to do it with another series that I own.

    So twitter is a positive experience for me and I think I'll continue to be on it, as long as it's fun.

   Another Challenge (an update)

   I have been slowly reading The Seven Sisters by Margaret Drabble. I've only read 50 pages but the writing has been really good. It is not an easy book by far, it's got a stinging quality to it. I can't tell whether I am supposed to feel sympathetic or cynical towards the person's diary (it's written as diary entries). At once self involved but also self aware, the writing as well as the character. It is a strange combination and it's I have to say unsettling, but at the same time enlightening. I am going to keep going to the 100 page mark and see if I want to continue.

   I am really glad that I started this book though as it's exactly what I wanted from this challenge. It's pushing my reading further. That Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (which is a short story collection) is going to be my next book once I finish The Seven Sisters.

   And finally I have decided that this month I am going to watch Jackie Brown. I am not a Tarentino fan, I liked to certain extent Kill Bill (both volumes), but as I said I'm not a big fan but this film has intrigued me so I am going to see if I can get into it.

    I am going to do my recommendations in this same post so this week it's going to be electronic e-readers. I got a kindle for Christmas and I am still in love with it months down the line. What I really like about it is that I can get all the romances that I can want. It has made me a bigger romance fan if that was possible, because I am getting all the more books and authors that I really like.


    I love that picture of Virginia Woolf. I discovered Kristen Ashley (who I really like but her heroes are definitely alpha. I trope I love to read about but definitely would not like in real life) and I love her building of community in her novels, I feel she does it really well. I also got to read Tessa Dare's Any Duchess Will Do on the day it came out and found out how much I loved Ruthie Knox on my kindle.

    So e-readers they really are amazing and such a useful reading device (it also means I don't have 100 books in my house), I can't recommend them enough. Mine is really easy to use as well.   

  

Monday, 1 July 2013

Cool things I found about this month

   There are quite a lot of things in this list and they are mostly on the Internet full disclaimer I have no idea if the Channel 4 stuff is available outside the UK but it was something cool that I found, so I'm including it. A lot of things people already know about it just took me a long time to discover them. I also tend to want know that a series has been completed, so I like to start at the beginning and then I can burn through the episodes.

   So in no particular order:

   Fresh Meat (the channel 4 series).



   I only found out about this a really short time ago. I also really like that Channel 4 has a good back catalogue of former stuff. Their series No Angels (which was short lived but I thought really interesting in how it focuses on four different and specifically different women rather than generic cut outs. It does take a while to get going but I thought well done and without slut shaming) is on their channel as well as some of their episodes of Comic Strip Presents, which is really good, different themes and different tones to each episode but a real gem to find out about British Comedy in the eighties up to now.

   This is not a love letter to Channel 4. It does have it's own YouTube channel and it's really good to find stuff that you want. You can't fast forward through ads, but that's not really a problem for me.  Fresh Meat has it's problems (academics are not treated well or with any depth, university as an experience is very middle class and white in this) but it does have a sense of humour and has more than one woman in it.


   My favourite character is Vod played by Zawe Ashton (in the picture above, I am envious of those braces). She really is the character that sold my on this show. I like that she is fierce, loyal, crazy but consistent. An amazing performance in this show and really funny. My favourite quote from her: 'You're a railway museum.' This made me laugh so much, you do have to see it in context but that she even says it is consistent with her character.

   I do also think it doesn't make out every male character to be in a relationship with someone else, or someone that people would want to be. I liked it a great deal, it is helped that the two series are over and I am fine with there only being two. I would prefer it actually for where the characters go. Fresh Meat, watch it for Vod she's super cool.

   The Lizzie Bennet Diaries



   I know, I know, I know that I am ridiculously late in discovering this but I lost my weekend to it a couple of weeks ago. I think this series is so great, it does such an amazing job of adapting Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen to a modern audience. I love a lot about it in particular the performance by Ashley Clemmons, as Lizzie Bennet. This hangs on her performance and she's amazing. I liked the whole Benet family in fact, and Charlotte was done really well. 

   I thought they handled the Lydia storyline really well, the actress is great as well as translating the scandal that happens to modern audiences really well. This could have fallen so far, but really it treats the material really well, and I loved the ending.

   I do think the whole Collins plot line didn't work, but I do think that is incredibly hard to put into a modern context, but I am nit picking at this point. I watched I think the whole 100 episodes over two days and I thought it was really well done and thoughtful.    

   My Mad Fat Diary (also another Channel 4 thing).

 

   This I actually knew about in advance but completely forgot about until I saw it on YouTube. I thought it was great, really thoughtful and really honest. I absolutely loved the main performance from Sharon Rooney as Rae. This series is about her, and really goes into her head. 

   It does not shy away from her physical appearance or her mental health. This is a woman struggling with her life as it unfolds and it really gives you something that I hadn't seen in dealing with young people. I like that she struggles, and the end of the series it isn't a bow of an happy ending, There is still work to be done on herself and how honest she is with herself. I thought that her therapist was played really well by Ian Hart.

   This is a series that really tries to look at this woman's point of view. I thought the graphics were well done, and I really liked that this shows all of her life, her difficult relationship with her mother, her sexuality, her humour and her love of music. A great series that I thought was really good and took risks.

   I also found a couple of songs this month that really made me happy, the cover of I'm Wandering by Kristina Train at the top of my list. Such an amazing track and voice. This version really pulls at the yearning, but also the devastation of not being able to let go. I originally found this weirdly as it's featured on a advert, but this song I'm glad I got to find.



   I rediscovered how much I really liked The Mamas and The Papas, in particular with this band the blend of voices. The songs that I rediscovered were I Call Your Name, which is a cover of a Beatles song, but I really love this arrangement. I also love the Mama Cass version of Dream a Little Dream of Me

   I am going to finish this by saying there are wealth of interviews that you can find on the Internet. In particular the full interviews with The Hollywood Reporter, what I like about those full interviews is that they are talking to actors and actresses in different shows, so there is always a full response. The questions are not always the most insightful but the answers are always I find really good. I also rediscovered a lot of interviews in the actors studio. This may not be everyone's cup of tea and James Lipton can be annoying. I find though that there are a lot of amazing interviews including Jane Fonda, Angelina Jolie, George Carlin and Cate Blanchett.   

   Thus the cool things I found out about this month thaey made me happy!  

     

  



  

Friday, 28 June 2013

Bookclub! Quiet by Susan Cain

   The full title of this book is Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking and it was the book I picked for June.



   I am really glad that I read this book. It made to really think how a lot of the decisions are made. I like the attention to working on your own is shown as important and really successful in a lot of cases.

   There are also a variety of studies about introversion and how thinking is really praised in this book.

   I did think her chapter about Asian Americans was too generalised. It was a also a little dry at times but that did bother me as much. 

   I also thought that the chapter on the raising of children really effective, and the mentions she makes of her family really moving.

   Overall I thought it was a good book and really thought provoking. I hope that this is not just because I'm an introvert myself.

   Those were my impressions hope that people liked it too.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Bookclub picks

   So bookclub update I wanted to show what I'd picked before. I am also going to give what I've picked for the next three months.


   The past picks are:

   January:  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

   April:       Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

   May:         Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

   June:        Quiet by Susan Cain

    The next three months that I have decided to pick are

   July:         Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

   August:     The Three Weissmann's of Westport by Catherine Schine (I did pick this for a previous bookclub but I've completely forgotten what I read and I want to read it again)

   September: Anywhere but here by Jenny Gardiner

   I hope that everyone wants to read these as well!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Another challenge

   When I was working in between doing educational stuff, I did a reading challenge. I read in that time Rebecca by Daphne Du Mourier, which took me a while to like but slowly I came to appreciate it. I read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger (which I absolutely hated, ditto with On The Road by Jack Kerouac).  


   I found this really a fun challenge. It also made me reading for pleasure something to look forward too. I have also said this before but reading a book that you don't like can also be really good to have a discussion about, it makes you analyse why you didn't like it. I am, however only going to commit to 100 pages if I don't like it.

   This also has been inspired by the fact that I have never read The Great Gatsby and it seems a big gap in my reading. I don't want to watch the film, but the book seems like it would be nice to read.

   I want to make a list of books that I have been intrigued by and want to try. There are a few rules that I have decided on though and they are the following:

   1. This has to be a book that I have not read and that I would get something out of reading. Thus ruling out Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Hardy, or any Dickens. I am also not reading about stuff that I find upsetting or annoying hence why I am not going to read Marin Amis or Irvine Welsh.

   2. I am going to set myself a limit of 100 pages if the book hasn't hooked me or intrigued my by that time I really don't think it's going to get to me. I also think having limits is good. It means you know when you can stop, and I am not going to waste my time on something that I am not enjoying, time is too short and I want to expand what I am reading.

   3. The books that I am choosing, the majority of the them need to be available from the library. Unless it's something I really want to read and I can find cheaply.

   4. This is along term project and it's books that I am going to find a challenge. So this a project for myself. And is going to take a long time as I add and delete books from the list.

   And here is the list in no particular order, books that I have been intrigued by and want to read.

   The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

   The Country Girls by Edna O'Brien

   The Women's Room by Marilyn French

   Selected Short Stories by Katherine Mansfield

   The Collected Short Stories (2008) by Lorrie Moore.

   One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez  

   The Seven Sisters by Margaret Drabble

   I expect that there will be more to come, and I am going to be up for the challenge!  

     

Apple Pie

  Ahh Apple pie how I like thee. I would also throw into this apple cake as well. There is something about how sharp the bramely apple is to the sweetness of the cake or pie crust. That picture also looks amazing 




   There is also something great about the smell of apple pie. Though cooking any pie the smell is really nice, but there is something different about the apple smell. I think it's the tartness of the apple when it is just taken out of the oven. It just smells fantastic.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Bookclub! Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Caririger

   So this month's bookclub is Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger. I read this on my kindle for bookclub.



   So my first thoughts were I really liked it. I picked this book because I really liked Soulless (for any who haven't read it yet, if you liked this book I think you would really like Soulless) and this is also a young adult book, a genre of books that I am steadily getting more and more into.

   So the main character is Sophronia is great. I liked the school and teachers. I feel that Carriger did a great job of world building here. The school and the lessons are really well done.

   I liked that these characters are all young but you are with them in the adventure that they have. I also really liked the steam punk aspect to this book, which was the thing that most reminded me off Soulless actually, that and the tone.

   Overall I liked this book a lot. I also really want to read all the series that will come.

   Do feel free to comment on here as well as on Facebook.

Monday, 27 May 2013

It's all about me

   I was going back and forth over whether to write something so self involved, but screw it this is a blog that is in fact all about me anyway. I don't mind that I am going navel gazing into my own navel for this post at any rate.


   I don't know whether I have said this before but I am really introverted, not completely cut off from humanity but I do like being alone for big periods of time. My energy is recharged from thinking, reading, and writing, not really from other people. One of the big reasons I get tired at parties is because it takes a lot energy for me to be there, whereas I find that I can read, write and think for really long periods of time, like days and not want to talk to anyone.

   It does not make me abnormal, just introverted. Really I am at my happiest when reading, it really is a big pleasure source and if I get hooked it can be days until I drift back to civilisation.

   I don't think it's everybody who does this, there is a reason why there is the opposite of an introvert, an extrovert. It is important I think here for me to say they are just as good as me, just because I like reading does not make others who do not bad, we are just different.

   Being introverted just means there is a name for traits that describe myself best. That is never the whole story. People are not statistics they are always going to have different quirks, things that makes different from everyone else. I do like having conversations, I like those long winding ones that take forever to end. I like having really intense debates as well, but these conversations I like having with people that I know really well. People that I trust.

   I am also shy, I also want people not to take this as a directive that I am a wallflower that needs to meet lots of people. Being shy means to me that It takes me time to get to know people. I like it like that. I do find it uncomfortable meeting people for the first time, but it goes away after a while, it's just connections and people take me time to come around to. It is part and parcel of my personality, no need to fix it.

   No one person could be completely introverted but sometimes I need to be alone. That is not to say I don't want to get out more and do more things, but knowing who you are and how you react to people makes life easier to live. I have no idea about what that picture means but I like it, and it's blue which is nice too.

   So introverts let's whisper about how awesome we are together!