Sunday, September 30, 2007

Incubus - Gig

Just got in from seeing Incubus in the Brixton Academy London. The support band were called Puggy (rubbish name I know) and were a great start to the evening. They were like a cross between Maroon 5 and Muse but with a Spanish feel to the guitar. I definately recommend checking them out (I know I am off to look them up on MySpace). They have a headlining gig in the same venue in a couple of weeks and I would definately go and see them again.

When Incubus were due to come on I was deperate for a wee, but managed to make myself keep it in so I didn't miss a single note! They were amazing and played a lot of older stuff from my favourite of their albums Morning View. I can definately see why all the girls have a crush on Brandon Boyd, is isn't so hot in pictures but on stage he is very sexy and definately has a lot of charisma. He has an amazing voice and the band members are all fantastic musicians. I would definately go and see them again and recommend them to anyone as they have such a diverse set of musical influences. The only down side was they didn't play A Certain Shade of Green which is a classic.

Rating : 3.5/5

Finally a decent performance from Kiera Knightly! She plays posh toff Cecilia Tallis who has an affair with Robbie Turner ( the son of the housekeeper played by the wondeful James McAvoy) in the library. The problem is her younger sister Briony witnesses it. She had a crush on Robbie herself but saw a very crude note he never intended to give to her sister, she becomes convinced he is a sex maniac (or perhaps it is merely jealousy). Alongside their cousins are staying while their parents go through a controversial divorce. Lola is the eldest and she catches the eye of their brothers friend who is visiting despite being about 13. When her twin brothers run away a search party is organised. Briony finds Lola face down with a man on top of her. She sees who it is, but tells everyone it was Robbie instead and he is sent to prison.

After prison Robbie is sent off to war in France where him and two other soldiers are seperated from the rest. They meet up with the other survivors on an amazing scene on a beach trying to get home. Cecilia is waiting for him afer having nothing to do with her family since Robbie was taken to prison.

I hated the first 30 minutes because of the over the top Britishness of it! It was really posh accents with phrases like "Mummy are you in the drawing room?" argh! I mean I am British, but it sounded really harsh to my ears. I did start to really enjoy it though once I got used to the accents. It's not my usualy kind of film to be honest, but it had a few great moments in it. The lady in the cinema next to me was crying by the end of it bless. I think I will read the book as well as there were a lot of bits alluded to but weren't really explained in detail. Why on earth did Lola marry the chocoalte factory man?!

Rating : 4.0/5

Seth Rogan and Katherine Heigl star as Ben Stone (unempolyed stoner) and Alison Scott (works for E! and has just been promoted to being on camera). Out celebrating her promotion with her sister Deb, Alison gets a little too drunk and ends up taking Ben home with her for a night of passion. The next morning things are very awkward as they realise they have nothing at all in common. Alison leaves and they both think that is an end to it. However Ben didn't use a condom and Alison becomes pregnant with their child.

The couple decide to give getting to know each other a go after a shaky second meeting. Abortion is decided against and Ben makes a real effort to do the right thing and embrace fatherhood. He gets on particularly well with Deb's husband Pete (played fantastically by Paul Rudd). They have some great comedy moments and seemed to really gel on set. The laughs were many in the audience and Ben's friends were an interesting group as well. Most of them were in Superbad too, but this was a slightly less crude version and I definately preferred it.

POssibly one of the funniest parts is where Ben and Pete go to Vegas when they are in the girls bad books. They decide to take magic mushrooms and then watch Cirque de Soleil. They leave when the shrooms turn on Ben and end up back in their hotel room:

Pete: There are five different types of chairs in this hotel room.
Ben: That's way too many chairs for one room!

Pete: [high on 'shrooms] Did you know there's a guy whose sole job is to find chairs for these hotel rooms?
Ben Stone: Please take the chairs away.
Pete: Like this one! It's red with gold stripes and - [sits]
Pete: - oh, this one is amazing!
Ben Stone: Please take the chairs away. I don't like them. The big one is staring at me and that short one is being very droll.

Superbad - Film

Rating : 3.0/5

Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg it follows them during their last few weeks in high school. They are best friends but have got into different collages so this is their remaining time together before everything changes. They are both nerdy types and have crushes on hot girls (Seth on Jules and Evan on Becca). When their sort of friend Fogell gets a fake Hawaian ID with the name McLovin (no first name...) on it they get asked to bring the alcohol to Jules house party. They are finally in with the girls, this is their final chance to get them before they go off to college.

Things become complicated when the liqour store Fogell is buying the alcohol from gets robbed. Two incompetent policemen show up (played by Seth Rogan and Bill Hader) and take him with them to look into some other crimes via getting drunk in a bar and shotting at stop signs. Meanwhile Seth and Evan figure Fogell is being arrested for using a fake ID so have to fine a new way to get booze. So begins a serious of random events involving a party, a girl on her period and Evan being mistaken for a singer.

It was quite a funny film although very stupid in places too. I really liked Evan, he had a better set of morals than Seth. McLovin was mostly just nerdy, but his relationship with the cops was quite funny. Not as good as the hype, but it certainly wasn't the worst film. There was a little more to it than the usual teen gross out comedy, but not enough for me. A little too crude perhaps.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Rating : 3/5
Reason for Reading : Something About Me Challenge, Guardian 100 Greatest Books of all time

This novel follows Clarissa Dalloway as she plans and throws a party for the high society in London. It follows both her and a selection of guests through their thoughts, feelings and conversations before and during the event. In a seemingly unrelated story, the novel also follows Septimus Warren Smith and his wife Rezia. They also live in London, he was in the War and he met Rezia whilst in Italy where she made hats with her sisters. He is suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder which was undiagnosed at the time the novel is set (early 1030's). He is talking of killing himself and has visions of his officer who died during the war in front of him.

The two stories intertwine nicely and I enjoyed getting to know all the different characters. Clarissa is a funny lady, I wasn't sure what to make of her. It seemed she didn't quite get what she wanted out of life and was a bit silly, yet at the same time she was well liked and well thought of by all (with only one exception). Most of the characters were flawed and dealing with different kinds of unhappiness. Mr Dalloway was never really able to tell Clarissa that he loved her, their daughter missed the country, Peter Walsh never really got over loving Clarissa, Rezia missed home etc. The person I probably felt the most sorry for was Rezia. She married a charming English war hero, who then took away all affection for her after a few years of marriage. She left all her friends and family to be with him and was desperately unhappy. I wonder if she returned home after the end of the novel.

It was due to end with Clarissa killing herself originally. I am really glad Woolf changed the story to exclude this as it really wouldn't have felt right. She wasn't satisfied with what she had, but it would have seemed unjustified had it ended so abruptly. Very real and well told, a good snapshot looking into the lives of others and the human condition.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Buy a Friend a Book Week is October 1-7 (as well as the first weeks of January, April, and July). During this week, you’re encouraged to buy a friend a book for no good reason. Not for their birthday, not because it’s a holiday, not to cheer them up–just because it’s a book.
What book would you choose to give to a friend and why?
And, if you’re feeling generous enough–head on over to Amazon and actually send one on its way!

I just bought most people I know books last week. It was my uncle, my best friends and my mums birthdays and I bought my husband a book randomly which he is loving. I got my friend and husband books recommended by Nymeth over at Things Mean a Lot :(The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson for my friend and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Micharl Chabon for my husband), my mum a book in a series I previously got her (Ironside by Holly Black) and my uncle a book my mum recommended to me which I loved (Life of Pi by Yann Martel).

The people above read lots anyway and don't really need my help buying more books (especially my best friend!). I have another friend who I recently found out is into reading. She likes Jodi Picoult, Mark Haddon and crime books. Funnily enough she isn't the type of person I would peg as being a big reader so I would be tempted to get her something she doesn't have that I think she would like. Possibly A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon if she doesn't have it or perhaps something by Nick Hornby (one of my favourite authors) who she might like. There is always The Lovely Bones by Alice Seabold which Jodi Picoult fans should like or something by Alice Hoffman who I have recently discovered and think she might like. I am always tempted to get books for my sister who has an english degree and is training to be an english teacher, then I remember she never reads for pleasure so I don't bother. It makes me really sad that she isn't more into books and I wonder how she can recommend books to her students if she doesn't read herself.

The photo above is Morgaine climbing about on my father-in-law when they stayed a couple of weeks ago as we moved house. They are settled in to the new place really well now and I think my folks-in-law really miss having them around. Once Morgaine is on heat we hope to find her a boy cat and get her pregnant and hopefully they will have one of the kittens.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tonight we went to see one of my favourite comedians Sean Hughes near where we live. I did my usual stalker thing and hung around back stage to mett him, get his autograph and get a my photo taken with him. He is Irish and I love him from watching the old series of Nevermind the Buzzcocks when he was a team leader (in the days before Bill Bailey). He was more recently in Coronation Street for all you soap fans as Pat the love-rat. He hasn't done any stand up shows for 9 years so it was very cool to get to see him on this tour. He seemed pretty laid back when we met him and we had a great time laughing lots at his comedy stylings. You should check him out if you haven't heard of him yet.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This will be running from September 20th - February 26th in memory of Kailana's pets. You can find details here and I will put my book choices in the side bar near the end of this week. My cat Daisy who lives with my mum in Liverpool is getting close to the end of her life now as well so this one means a lot to me. My two moggies here are like my children and I know how sad I would be if anything were to happen to them.

Rating : 4.0/5
Reason for Reading : Something About Me Challenge, TBR Challenge, Books to Movies Challenge

Vivianne Rocher and her daughter Anock arrive in the French villiage Lansquenet (I like that it never really tells you quite where they are from) and are clearly marked as outsiders. They don't go to church and they open a chocolate chop opposite the church during Lent. Father Rayraud from the church takes this as open warfare and begins to undermine them and try to get them to leave the villiage.

A cast of excellent main and secondary characters, this novel really drew me in. The different chocolates made my mouth water and I loved the Pagan side to the novel that was missed out of the film (which I also enjoyed but for different reasons). I liked that you never quite knew where Vivianne was from origianlly and learning the shocking truth behind her upbringing was again something left out of the film. The war between them and "The Black Man" was done well and I liked that it wasn't specifically anti-christianity. The point was there are good and bad people, religion doesn't make you either neccessarily.

The ending was quite mixed. The new blessing to Vivianne's life was wonderful, but I was sad that the wind still called to them to move on again. It would be lovely if Harris wrote a sequel. To anyone who enjoyed the film, please read the book. It is very different whilst still retaining the charm of the film. I will dedinately be reading more from this author, although I have heard this is by far her best novel to date.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Moving House

Right off I go! I am about to leave for our new house and won't have internet until at least 24th of this month. Have a great few days everyone and talk to you all again soon :)

Rating: 4.5/5
Number in Series: #1 of Twilight series
Reason for Reading: RIP Challenge, Something About Me Challenge

Bella (Isabella) Swan moves from living with her mum in bustling Phoenix to sleepy topwn Forks. She is spending some time where she grew up living with her dad while her mum and new partner look for a new job in Florida. She starts at the local school and makes friends, is a hit with the boys and also encounters Edward. He has pale skin, dark hollows under his eyes and he doesn't associate with anyone else at school apart from his family. She is immediately drawn to him. What she doesn't realise is that he is a vampire. Every step she takes getting closer to him, the more she puts herself in danger.

I really enjoyed this book. The style of writing was very seductive and really drew me in as a reader. It changes some of the essential vampire ideas, giving it a fresh take on an exhausted subject. It isn't "just another vampire book" by any means. It's mostly about relationships and Bella getting to know Edward. The last 100 pages or so take a different turn when an outside threat enters the neighbourhood and Bella's life is at risk. The tone of the book changed which I wasn't sure about at first as I liked the gentle building a lot.

I will definately be reading the rest of the series and have New Moon to start when I get time. If you like a good story, vampires or teen dramas than I recommend this to you.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Rating: 4.0/5
Reason for Reading: RIP Challenge, Books to Movie Challenge

The famous tale of Dracula, the vampire who resides amid the Carpathian mountains, is told throughout journal atricles. They are mostly written by Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray (later Harker), Lucy Westenra, Dr John Stewart and occassionaly Dr Van Helsing. Other main characters are Dr Stewarts patient Renfield, Quincy Morris from Texas and Arthur Holmwood (Lucy's fiance).

Jonathan Harker is the first one to meet the Count when he travels to visit him to attend to some legal matters (he is buying some land in London, Carfax Abbey). Things turn dark when he realises he is being held prisoner by the Count who has inhuman powers and no reflection. Whilst he is recovering in church after finally escaping from the castle, Lucy Westenra friend of his fiance Mina Murray, begins to ail. Two strange marks appear on her throat and she seems to be suffering from ameamia (a loss of blood). Are the two connected and if so, how?

The book is very quick to sweep you up in its narrative. The ending is very intense as the friends battle to defeat Dracula before the sun goes down. I have seen the Francis Ford Coppola film version which brought it to life very well. It stays very close to the book, apart from introducing a romantic element which shifts your perspective to pity the Count. The book has none of this which makes it easier in some way to focus on the main plot. The only thing missing really was how Dracula became a vampire in the first place and his real reasons for wanting to purchase land in England. I am curious and want to know more of the back story.

Morgaine has been helping me pack my books in preparation for the big move on Monday. She has been employed in a supervisory capacity of course being a cat.

Comfort Food

Okay . . . picture this (really) worst-case scenario: It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.
What do you read?
(Any bets on how quickly somebody says the Bible or some other religious text? A good choice, to be sure, but to be honest, I was thinking more along the lines of fiction…. Unless I laid it on a little strong in the string of catastrophes? Maybe I should have just stuck to catching a cold on a rainy day….)

My comfort food with books are books I loved as a child. Maybe something like The Enchanted Forest books or The Wishing Chair series by Enid Blyton. Also the Anastasia books by Lois Lowry, The Worst Witch books by Jill Murphy or The REdwall books by Brian Jacques. Also something like His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, anything by Anne Rice or Tolkien. I don't really go in for religious texts when I am down, I read them more because I like mythology and it's interesting seeing the similarities and differences between them. I have comfort films and programmes too. Bridget Jones is always good when you feel down as well as kids films again (Legend, Labyrinth, Willow, Care Bears etc).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Today was a great day. I got up and opened my presents and cards in the morning (books, a statue and some random stuff) before driving to Hever Castle for the day. I have wanted to go for years now as it was were Anne and Mary Boleyn spent time as it was owned by their family. Henry VIII has also syated there. There is a photo below of how it looks walking in from the gardens:

It had lots of topiary and the photo below shows one of the birds made:

We walked around and wanted to hire a boat but sadly it didn't seem to be open. The grounds have different gardens and we walked through the Italian one which had pillars, statues and flowering plants and fountains. Alex posed on a stone balcony (he does it so well!):

Another reason I wanted to visit was that I heard it had a maze in the grounds as well. In fact it turned out to have 3! One was a Yew maze that smelt lovely and was lots of fun finding our way to the centre. Getting out was probably harder trying to remember the way. In a seperate part there was a water maze (photo below) which had steps that sometimes triggered fountains soaking you. If you found one you had to turn back and try another way. The kids loved it and a woman laughed at Alex when he confidently stepped out and got wet. He took more care after that... The last maze was for kids and was my favourite one. It was wooden and you had clues from the names of the names of his wives. At every intersection there were their names on the top of the different paths and the secret was to go down the passages in order of marriage to Henry. If you did it right you could climb the highest tower and go down a really tall slide. There was also an adventure playground there which was lots of fun too. I did get some very odd looks from toddlers parents but it was definately worth it :)

After we were done we drove to a local town and had a delicious dinner in a lovely pub called George and the Dragon. It has been a great day and I finishing off by watching lots of Twin Peaks episodes.

It's been a very random start to my birthday. We DJ'd as usual on the 10th which of course carried us over into the 11th so at midnight I took over the decks. We usually play hip hop, r'n'b, house and trance music as they usually play a lot of indie, but I haven't listened to much punk lately so played some of that for my birthday. The poor customers were confused bless! I played for about an hour and ahalf before Alex took over again.

Ouside I was chatting to some friends when a fight broke out by the door. A girl got punched in the face and I ended up looking after her until the police took her away to make a statement. She was on her second date and didn't have any friends or people she really knew with her so I stayed with her and comforted her as well as administering basic first aid. I gave her my number and told her to text me later to make sure she got home ok and I really hope she does...

After I went back inside we finished our set and there was a man asleep opposite the DJ booth. As it was the end of the night and the bar staff are a bunch of bastards they got a load of shot glasses (in the end about 15) and filled them with water. They then balanced them on the poor man (see the photo at the top). He had to be woken up at the end with the rest of the customers gathered around him taking photos upon which he proceeded to down all the "shots" before stumbling home. Very amusing and that will teach anyone to get too drunk and except to be looked after!

So now I am off to bed I guess so I can sleep before opening my (hidden) presents and spend a day out doing something fun!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Rating : 2.5/5
Reason for Reading : Classics Challenge, RIP Challenge, So Many Books So Little Time Challenge, Guardian Greatest Books Challenge

A collection of 73 tales and 52 poems spanning the writing career of Edgar Allan Poe. He is best known for his poem "The Raven" and tale of "The Tell-Take Heart". A favourite among gothic horror fans, I was really looking forward to reading this complete collection.

Sadly I was quite let down. There was a lot of gothic horror tales, but there were a lot of random tales as well. The ones I really enjoyed were:
  • The Unparalled Adventures of one Hans Pfaal (non-horror)
  • The Gold Bug
  • The Murders in the Rue Morgue
  • The Mystery of Marie Roget
  • The Black Cat
  • The Tell-Tale Heart
  • A Predicament
  • Diddling (non-horror)
  • Hop-Frog
  • William Wilson
  • Beatrice
  • The System of Dr Tarr and Professor Fether
  • Narrative of A. Gordon Pym
  • Eleonora
  • Some words with a Mummy (non-horror)
  • The Spectacles
This is only a list of 16 tales and out of 73 it's a pretty small proportion. I found that there were far too many I didn't enjoy between those I did which mad it very difficult to keep going and finish them all.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed the poetry and they are something I would go back and read again. I think the best thing to do is stick to a collection of his best horror ones to save being disappointed with the rest (however they do become a little formulaic after a while).

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Red Head!

Woo check out my new ginger hairdo! I got bored of blond and have always wanted to try being a red head. I am naturally blond but started dying it black when I was 17. Last year I fancied a change so went back to blond and cut my hair. I felt that blond made me look fat randomly and decided as it's my birthday on Tuesday a change of appearance and attitude was due. No one knows yet and only my husband has seen it so it will be fun to see if people like it later today.

What do you think? The only problem is my eyebrows seem to have disappeared as they are so fair, but maybe that will help pass for a natural red head as many ginger people have blond eye brows and eye lashes.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Look me and Dominic Monaghan!!! How cool is that! It's a photo of a professional photo taken of us at a Sci-Fi Convention in London that i went to on Saturday before going away. it was so cool and looking at the other photos he smiled the most on mine :) He is the best hobbit ever and I got his autograph too. More photos follow.

Dom just after he signed a photo of him and Pippin from LOTR which I got Billy Boyd to sign a couple of years ago.

Mr Tom Baker, a legend on British TV. He was arguably the best Dr Who and is very eccentric. He is from Liverpool (my home town) and I learnt he has 4 cats so he must be cool! I got him to sign a photo to me and my husband and my uncle is very jealous.

The guy on the left of the photo in the silly hat is fantasy writer Robert Rankin. I got him to sign my notebook yay.

This is Toyah Willcox who was in the British cult classic film Quadrophenia. She is a singer, actress and TV personality with a great laugh. She randomly did some of the voices in Teletubbies!

Me and a very cool Captain Jack Sparrow impressionist. He had a great costume and had the mannerisms completely down too.

A random wandering around dressed as Darth Vadar.

I met loads of others and got much better photos on my digital camera. I can't find the lead at the moment but when I do (probably after I we move later this month) I will put them all online. Others I met were: Colin Creevy, Dudley Dursley, Seamus from Harry Potter; the guy who was Yoda, the Oompa Lumpa and Elijah Woods smaller double in LOTR, some others from Dr Who and Torchwood (minor characters); Billy West who did the voices in Futurarma, Ren and Stimpy and Loony Tunes; the guys who do the Transformers comic and who wrote the script for the film and many more! It was great and I am sad that I will miss the one in Milton Keynes mnext month as I will be in Egypt on holiday bah.


Okay, so the other day, a friend was commenting on my monthly reading list and asked when I found the time to read. In the ensuing discussion, she described herself as a “goldilocks” when it comes to reading–she needs to have everything juuuuuust right to be able to focus. This caught my attention because, first, I thought that was a charming way of describing the condition, but, two, while we’ve talked about our reading habits, this is an interesting wrinkle. I’d never really thought about it that way.
So, this is my question to you–are you a Goldilocks kind of reader?
Do you need the light just right, the background noise just so loud but not too loud, the chair just right, the distractions at a minimum?
Or can you open a book at any time and dip right in, whether it’s for twenty seconds, while waiting for the kettle to boil, or indefinitely, like while waiting interminably at the hospital–as long as the book is open in front of your nose, you’re happy to read?

Usually I can read a book at any time and anywhere (just like I can sleep anytime and anywhere!). Lately I have been too exhausted to read with background distractions and too light or too dark conditions, but I seem to have turned a corner and am finally getting some sleep. I don't think there is anywhere I won't read (except actually in the bath, I dropped a book in it once) and being a commutor in London I am pretty good at blocking out distractions. The only time I have to put a book down is when one of the cats (it's Merlin above this time, isn't he beautiful decides they need my undivided attention. There really is no way I can read if one of them is head butting the book and walking in front of it repeatedly and purring loudly. Plus Merlin is a dribbler and I always worry he will drool on my book and it will smell of cat dribble which is not the nicest smell!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Rating : 4.5/5
Reason for Reading : Recommendation, Book Awards Reading Challenge

This novel tells the story of Pi (Piscine Molitor Patel) who grows up in Pondicherry, India. His father runs the towns zoo and he spends time observing the animals when he isn't in school. His other main interest is in religion and he starts life as a Hindu before converting to Christianity and then Islam. Unusally and to the disappointment of the local priests, he does not denounce his previosus religions and prefers to follow all three and observe all of their religious practices.

His mother and father decide to emigrate to Canada and take their family with them. The animals are to be sold and those travelling to America are to go by boat with them on their trip. Something goes wrong with the boat and it sinks leaving only Pi in a small lifeboat along with a spotted hyena, zebra, orang-utan and Royal Bengal Tiger. The rest of the book looks at life aboard the boat, the struggle for survival against all the odds and the relationships between its survivors.

I really enjoyed this book. The story was engaging and I loved the talk about the animals and religion at the beginning. The story while Pi is at sea was also really well told. It was very detailed and it was like you were there watching him and going through the journey with him. My only problem with this book was the last section. I don't want to go into it to too much detail so as to spoil it for others, but it changed the focus of the story considerably and made it much more ambiguous. I think I preferred it being the way it was before. If you have read it feel free to comment with your opinions on the ending...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

August Summary

Just a quick run down of where I am up to at the end of the month as usual. I am still on track with my reading challenges. The current run down is:

Books read in August = 9, total of 63 this year which means I have changed my goal to read 75 books this year
So Many Books, So Little Time Challenge = 6/8
TBR Challenge = 7/12 and 8/12 of my alternatives
Book Awards Reading Challenge = 2/18
Something About Me Challenge = 2/5 and 1/19 of my alternatives
Classics Challenge = 4/5
Edgar Allan Poe Tales = 53/73, 52/52 poems
Guardian 100 Greatest Books of all Time = 17 out of 100 (going for 50)