Saturday, 26 September 2015
I missed last Sunday, I don't think I felt I had a lot to say. Along those lines, I've only done a couple of posts in the past couple of weeks, too.
One life one: http://lifetheuniverseandcats.blogspot.co.nz/2015/09/life-in-void.html
and one review: http://lifetheuniverseandcats.blogspot.co.nz/2015/09/the-calling-by-david-gaider-review.html
Other than that, eh. It's school holidays here now, so I'll have spawn home for a couple of weeks. I have a few more meetings with the job search consultant and then I'd better put on my big girl pants and start applying for jobs.
My super payout did come through, so that was a relief. We are - as of right now - credit card and debt-free, which is a very good feeling.
I finished Dragon Age: The Calling, which took me far longer to read than it should have, for no good reason.
Now I'm reading The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, which I'm liking a lot so far.
I keep tripping up on the dates of things and losing track, so I've started writing things down. With no framework (ie work), my days are merging together a bit.
I know that A More Diverse Universe is coming up at http://www.aartichapati.com/ and Dewey's readathon is on the 17th of October, I believe: http://www.24hourreadathon.com/ and there's a readalong of Salem's Lot coming up also: https://bkclubcare.wordpress.com/2015/09/22/how-about-a-pie-post-ilovepie-salemalong/
There's way more than that of course, but those are the nearest things that I'm invested in taking part in, anyway.
I haven't signed up for the readathon yet, but I think I'm just going to be a reader this time, because I'm the world's most useless cheerleader. Having said that, cheerleading is fun and awesome, and you should give it a shot, if you can't make the time commitment for reading.
The library here is having a book sale. I went on Friday morning and did all right, I think. I also went to the local gaming store and got Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls 3 and 4. I've never played either game but they were both GOTY editions and also super-cheap.
For the books, I got The Autumn Castle by Kim Williams, The Year's Best Fantasy second edition, ed, Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling, The Secret Books of Paradys: The Complete Paradys Cycle by Tanith Lee, King of Ithaca by Glynn Iliffe, The Wood Wife by Terry Windling, Memoirs of a Master Foger by William Heaney (actually by Graham Joyce), Myrren's Gift by Fiona McIntosh and Jingo by Mr Sir Terry Pratchett. That little haul cost me a whopping $3.50. I had to remind myself I couldn't save all of the books.
I started my Grey Wardens pattern over - I found an "I" for the first word of each line that I liked better than the one I had, and threw some colours at it. I'm pleased with the progress I've made so far. Also I'm glad I did start over, because in my head I had the first two lines transposed. So far so good and hopefully the end product will be worth it. :)
I caught up with friends this week and had lunch which was nice. I was meant to go to one friend's last night for our weekly stitch and watch, but Spawn had a stomach bug, so I begged off. It turned out to just be a 24-hour thing but friend's mother has dementia and is rather fragile, so I didn't want to unwittingly carry any bugs with me.
Instead I did a bit of stitching (see above) and finally watched Mad Max: Fury Road, which was insane. And great. And insane. I'm planning on reviewing it this week.
What else. I've also been playing Inquistion a lot, because I keep mistaking game progress for actual productivity.
How was your week? What's coming up?
Anyway. The Calling is the second novel set in the world of Dragon Age, the fantasy RPG game from BioWare.
After reclaiming the throne of Fereldan from the Orlesian Empire, King Maric has allowed the Grey Wardens - an elite and secretive group who can sense darkspawn (the little, medium and Big Bad of the series) - back into the kingdom after a 200-year exile.
Of course, nothing is that simple. And when a small group of Wardens tell the King that one of their number has booked it for the Deep Roads (where the little, medium and Big Bads live and the source of MANY GAMING FRUSTRATIONS) and has aligned himself with the darkspawn. Which is bad, because well, darkspawn, but also the Warden - Bregan - knows the location of an Old God. If an Old God comes to the surface, it becomes an Archdemon and a Blight is unleashed.
So, no one is having a good day. Maric, against the advice of his closest associate Loghain Mac Tir, decides to go into the Deep Roads with the Wardens, as he's one of two people who can find one of the entrances. (The other one is Loghain, who thinks it's a fool's errand.)
The Calling (for me) felt like a prequel to the DLC, Awakenings. The Architect (a highly-evolved darkspawn, somewhere between a medium bad and a Big Bad) is in it, as is Utha, who is at the Architect's side in Awakenings, and who is one of the Grey Wardens in The Calling.
It's set about ... 20? 30? years before the events of Origins, which I'm 100 per cent basing on Duncan being about 18-20 in the novel. He's a young rogue, plucked from the streets of Val Royeaux in Orlais to join the Wardens.
I'm getting off-track.
I really enjoyed The Calling, I have to say. It felt familiar and comfortable - in the best way. It referenced events from The Stolen Throne, which I haven't read, but I was never confused (though having played Origins and Awakenings did help).
It's an easy fantasy novel to read, and it was nice - for me - to get lost in the Dragon Age world in a different medium.
Also, it made me cry.
Tuesday, 22 September 2015
Part of me feels like I’m just on holiday, and I’m going to pick up and go back to work on Monday or something, even though I know that’s not true. And part of me is sort of looking around for the thing that’s missing. I had no idea how much of my own personal identity was tied up with having that 9-5.
When I was finishing work, I said I was elated and terrified, which was true. Now, I’m mostly tired, and picking away at my days, trying to stay occupied.
Some days are okay. I’m working on tidying my room (I have the tidiness gene of a 14 year old), and reading a bit. I’m writing a bit too, which is nice. Stitching, catching up on shows like Hannibal and Salem and Empire.
Hanging out with spawn.
All of the things that you wish you had time for when you’re working. But when you have nothing BUT time for them … I don’t know. They’re all things that I love, but maybe the shine has gone off them a little bit.
I’m also playing Dragon Age a lot. Some days, once spawn is off to school and I have nothing else planned, that’s all I’m doing. So I try to plan something for every day. Even if it’s the smallest, stupidest thing.
Also, I got my redundancy payout (hooray) but I’m still waiting for my superannuation payout. When I rang the pay clerk who is supposed to pass the form on to the administrator of the fund last week, she said she was waiting for my last stats - sick days, holidays etc to come through.
Which. Bullshit. I see how that would affect the redundancy payout but should have no bearing on the superannuation. The idea of dealing with it makes me tired, but dammit, I need that money.
I’ve been putting off the phone calls I need to make and I feel a bit helpless because beyond repeatedly calling her, or harassing the administrator to the fund, there’s not a lot I can do.
Life in the void.
I have three books backed up to write reviews for, so I’m just going to bundle them all together in a short reviews post.
First up is
The Lola Quartet, by Emily St John Mandel.
Anyone who knows me will know that one of my favourite books ever is Station Eleven, by the same author. STATION ELEVEN (sorry.)
The Lola Quartet was recommended to me by Nymeth from http://www.thingsmeanalot.com/ and good golly what a ride. It’s a mystery, wrapped up in a series of character studies, presented with a bow of human errors and failings. When reporter Gavin Sasaki finds out that he might have a daughter by his high school girlfriend Anna - who disappeared years ago - he’s determined to find out the truth.
What he finds out is what kind of life-changing errors people are capable of making and how one bad decision can lead to years of them, and what choices are open to him now.
That’s … pale and feeble but I don’t want to give too much away because The Lola Quartet is one of those books that - even as it goes back and forth in time - it unfolds, and in the unfolding is where the true story lies.
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller.
This one was … difficult. Not to read, it actually reads pretty easily but THE THING that’s at the very heart of it - that’s difficult.
When Peggy is eight years old, she’s taken away by her survivalist father, to an isolated cabin in the woods in the middle of …. Germany? I think? He tells her that the rest of the world is gone, and that there’s just the two of them.
Eight years later, Peggy is back home with her mother, trying to come to terms with the past eight years and THE THING. The story goes back and forth in time, as the story picks apart what happened to Peggy, and how she ended up back home again.
I did find the characters annoying, I have to say. Especially Peggy but for a large part of the book she is a young girl, and eight-year-olds ARE annoying (I know, I have one) so there is that to consider.
And LAST BUT NOT LEAST
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Oh, Patrick Ness. Despite the THING in Knife of Never Letting Go, I do love you so. I love you to the moon and back again.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here focuses on the story of everyday teen Mikey and his core group of friends, as they go about finishing high school, figuring out their lives, and hoping the school doesn’t blow up. Again.
Meanwhile, the indie kids in the background are dealing with being the chosen ones and trying to stop the school from blowing up. Again.
It’s a story-within-a-story that took me a few pages to get my head around, but once I did, I was in. I was invested.
What DO normal people do anyway, when the chosen one is saving the world?
Saturday, 12 September 2015
The Sunday Post is a chance to catch up - chat about what's been going on on your blog and in real life, and what's coming up.
Hosted here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/
It was my first week as a non-employed person, but spawn was sick for much of it, so I haven't quite settled in to any kind of a routine yet.
It was one of those weeks where you feel like you get absolutely nothing done but you're still exhausted by the end of it.
I did manage to blog a couple of times though.
I reviewed Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay: http://lifetheuniverseandcats.blogspot.co.nz/2015/09/in-effort-to-broaden-my-own-reading.html#comment-form
and also the movie Scream, which I watched for my Friday movie night: http://lifetheuniverseandcats.blogspot.co.nz/2015/09/scream-review.html
Coming up this week, hopefully will be reviews for The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness and Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller.
I pretty much inhaled the Ness in a couple of days, and I have about 100 pages to go on Our Endless Numbered Days, so fingers crossed. Hopefully spawn will be back at school this week, and I can settle in to something that looks like a routine.
Up next, for reading, I have The Calling, by David Gaider, which is a Dragon Age novel, Prophecy by Ellen Oh, which I picked up at the library and fits with my personal 1/3 diversity reading challenge, and either Uprooted by Naomi Novik, or Finders Keepers by Stephen King.
For non-reading ... I didn't watch a movie this past Friday; instead I watched a couple of episodes of Empire, in order to clear some space on my hard drive. I love Empire - it's so, so, so clever. It's basically King Lear, set in modern times at a recording company wherein the owner is trying to decide which of his sons will succeed him.
I finished my 10 hours of stitching on Circe (I stitch in a rotation, of sorts) and I've started my Grey Wardens pattern. Which I'm keeping very simple because I'm floating without a net on this one.
I'm doing it on 28-ct lugana (I think) hand-dyed purple haze (I think) and I'm using 336 and 415 for the wording. I just need border colour ideas:
I met with the job consultant on Thursday, and I have "homework" of a sort to get done. Nothing taxing - just working on updating my CV and registering with job websites. Our next meeting is Tuesday week.
Speaking of, my redundancy payout came through (yay) so I can feed my family and pay my rent for a bit, which is nice. I'm still waiting on the superannuation though. So that's on the to-do list for this week for sure.
I'm hoping to finish Empire, and maybe Salem this week. I need to choose a movie for Friday night (suggestions welcome) and I'm hoping to finish Our Endless Numbered Days, and read Prophecy. I want to at least catch up on my Goodreads challenge.
I'm still batting at Inquisition and playing it badly but it's so pretty. *_*
How's your week been and/or going?
Thursday, 10 September 2015
What’s your favourite ….. scary movie?
Scream isn’t technically a horror film in the supernatural tradition; rather it’s a thriller that pays homage to the classic 70s-era horrors that almost inevitably starred Jamie Lee Curtis.
Directed by horror maven Wes Craven, (RIP) Scream draws on all of the tropes and traditions of slasher horror films, ties them up in a bloody bow, and leaves them on your doorstep.
Someone (or more than one someone) is killing teenagers. And not just teenagers. High school principal Henry Winkler (heeeeeeyyyyy) gets it in the neck as well.
Tensions run high in the quiet community of Woodsboro as the murders continue.
High schooler Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) has more reason than most to be particularly jumpy, as a year before the murders start, her own mother was raped and brutally murdered.
This puts the spotlight on Sidney in a way she’s not comfortable with - can she survive with the help of her friends?
DUN DUN DUN (sorry. couldn’t help myself.)
Anyway. I remember going to Scream when it was first released and being completely drawn in. Yes, it’s a clever homage to classic 70s/80s horror, but there’s also a nice thread of suspense throughout as Sidney battles against increasingly terrible odds to survive.
Side note: When I was about 12, I spent a large part of one school holidays at a friend’s house, watching some of these movies on VCR (it was the 80s.) Dredging (partly) from those memories I recommend:
Halloween (the original Halloween, not the remake.)
Near Dark (cannot recommend Near Dark enough)
The Lost Boys
Friday the 13th
Carrie (the original.)
The Amytivlle Horror
And if that’s all a bit much, there is always, of course, Ghostbusters:
Tuesday, 8 September 2015
In an effort to broaden my own reading scope, and to diversify my reading, I’m trying (not very hard yet but we’ll see how we go) to read more widely, and more writers of colour.
To start that effort - and my own personal challenge of making every third book a book by a non-white writer - I picked up Bad Feminist, a series of essays by Roxane Gay.
As far as non-fiction goes, this is my kind of thing. The topics of the essays range from Sweet Valley High to The Hunger Games to work and college and her own harrowing sexual assault as a girl.
Gay’s writing style is inviting and chatty, even on the harder topics, and you feel drawn in by her intelligence and her warmth - and her very human failings that I’m sure we can all relate to.
She talks about her family, and about growing up Haitian in America, and how that has shaped much of her life to date.
The essays in Bad Feminist are wide-ranging, always fascinating, and, for me - a middle-aged, middle-class white lady from New Zealand who’s trying her best to broaden her scope - an excellent way to start.
Saturday, 5 September 2015
Hosted here by http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ if you want to play along at home. :)
Well. This is it. I had my last day on Friday and now I'm ... redundant? unemployed? Without work? Well, yes. All of those things.
My last week actually went pretty quickly, and I spent Friday doing basically no work at all. We had cheese and snacks and related paraphernalia, awkward speeches were made (mine was the MOST awkward) and then, in the grand tradition of journalists everywhere, we all decamped to the pub.
I don't drink, but it was nice to be able to say goodbye to the people I worked with in a relatively informal session.
As for what's next? I don't know, and the question, "what are you going to do???" when people find out makes me nervous, because I DON'T know, and I get defensive and start babbling and making excuses.
This is what I am going to do.
I am going to meet with the job search consultant - I have five sessions left.
I am going to hunt down the woman who was supposed to forward my benefit request form for my superannuation funds A MONTH AGO and politely request that she do so (luckily, those funds are separate from my redundancy payout, and I should get my redundancy payout this week, hopefully).
I am going to power through Salem, Empire and whatever else I have on my hard drive.
I am finally going to finish stitching Circe: (I actually have more done than this,but this is the most recent photo that I have)
I am going to set up a stack of books, and work my through, including a mini-pile for RIP X, which is being hosted by the lovely ladies of The Estella Society this year: http://www.estellasociety.com/?p=1484
I am - finally - going to get my driver's licence and learn to drive a bloody car.
I am going to go to the movies more, while I have the chance.
I am going to provide cats with a warm and large place to rest.
I am going to figure out Dragon Age: Inquisition
And last - but by no means least - I'm going to hang out with spawn.
And of course, somewhere in there, hopefully, find another job.
Oh! And nano! I'm planning on doing nano this year: http://nanowrimo.org/ which I say every year, but unless something shows up before then, I'll have no excuse at all.
On the blog this week coming up, hopefully, are reviews of Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, and also Scream - I watched it on Friday night for my weekly movie hit, in honour of the passing of Wes Craven.
I'm reading The Sunne in Splendour (still), Our Endless Numbered Days, and I picked up The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness. Hopefully I'll have reviews of the latter two this week sometime.
I STILL haven't read or watched Watchmen and the graphic novel will be due back at the library soon, so I need suggestions for this Friday night's movie fare.
How's everyone doing?
What's your favourite scary movie?
Thursday, 3 September 2015
Well, I wish they'd watch The Winter Soldier, because that is how this is DONE.
It has everything you could ever want. Steve Rogers in inappropriately tight T-shirts, flirting with Sam Wilson, Natasha Romanov, aka, the Black Widow, being awesome IN HER OWN RIGHT and not just as an adjunct to the main dude. And the STORY. The story is great, and clever and doesn't treat the audience like moronic drones.
It's not colour-by-numbers if you see what I mean.
Anyway. The Winter Soldier is set after The Avengers, and Steve is trying to find a place for himself in the world still. He's getting better at it, and when he meets Sam - a fellow military veteran who gets at least some of what Steve's going through, he starts to open up a little bit.
THEN everything goes to hell in a Hydra-decorated handbasket, and the Winter Soldier (aka Bucky Barnes, aka Steve's lifelong bestie) wears too much eyeliner and EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE BUT ALSO GREAT BUT ALSO TERRIBLE.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this after Captain America: The First Avenger, because that's not my favourite film in the whole Marvel/Avengers collection but The Winter Solider is absolutely A+
Then I start thinking how Natasha was treated in Age of Ultron and I get angry again but LET'S NOT GO THERE.