Wednesday, December 28, 2011

After getting a comment on my old costume post (muchas gracias, Kiwi), I thought I should update it.
When I was in the initial throes of costuming, it was winter. When winter hits, I always feel like it'll never end. Thus, I went with the gorgeous, but not-so-practical-for-summer, steampunk awesome costume.
I also came to the conclusion that my bank account would be attacked gruesomely if I went like a lonely loner down that lonely road.
So I have changed it again, mwahahahaha.

Basically, this time I've decided to go with a Little Red Riding Hood costume. I was going to go Amanda Seyfried style, but practicality won out. (I am uncoordinated at the best of times, and dancing in heels with a floor length gown and cape isn't the cleverest concept.) The cape - made from a deliciously deep red - hits somewhere between mid-thigh and knee, and falls beautifully. I doubled up the fabric on the hood, so it's quite heavy, but it sits nicely as well. Under this, I'll be wearing an old white shirt of mine that I'm currently trying to reconfigure into an off-the-shoulder blouse, plus an old black skirt of mine and a black, sort of corset-inspired, belt.
Makeup, I plan on doing winged eyeliner and red lips. I trialled the lipstick at Christmas (being a general fail at makeup) and I now have to figure out how to make it last. Eating absolutely destroyed the lips.

Battery decreasing, my charger is over thataway, so I shall update with pics in a few days.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Because there's half an hour to go, I'm rounding up. Down? Down.
(I was never born to do maths.)
It's five days until Christmas. This is particularly alarming to me. This is my last year as a teenager. My last Christmas as a teenager.
I know that I'm technically an adult in the eyes of the government (such fools you are, government) but it sort of feels weird. In about 3 months, I'm twenty years old. It has gone pretty darn fast.

But that's not the point to this post.
Basically, a thing of note (cue shoddy iPhone formatting):
• There are shenanigans happening on the Christmas charts in England. Mr Alex Day, that guy I've written about, is attempting to become the first unsigned artist to reach number one for Christmas. Or something. I've been paying bucketloads of attention to the technicalities, but basically if you buy the song, proceeds go to charity, Alex wins the Internet.

You should do things, and I should link to things. Make all our lives easier.
I hope that link works. Go forth and do things.

So this year has been pretty fun. I'm sort of wanting to curl up in this house forever, but degrees are needed. You know why? Because the second I get my degree, I am flinging myself onto a plane and becoming an Englishlady.

Bring on 2012, bring on Christmas, bring on a no 1, and bring on the hordes of customers awaiting me tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

That time again. Naturally.

No, I don't mean Christmas. I feel surprisingly organised for that (a miracle in and of itself).
It's time for packing.
Never mind that I'm not actually moving to the new place until January, or later. The 20-plus people we have staying at Christmas have ensured that not only am I literally sleeping outside with the dogs (a childhood dream fulfilled), but that I have to remove all of my books from my room.
All the books, contained in labelled boxes. Gargh.
This time, I'm being organised, despite what those boxes suggest. (My room no longer looks like that. Everything is as neat as it can be, considering there are thirteen boxes shoved against a cabinet.) I have decided to effectively double my packing time by making lists of exactly what book is in each box, and labelling each box prominently. I am no longer packing books into flimsy chip packet boxes. I am packing them into sturdy book boxes (Random and Harper, I love you), and so far no Spanish dictionaries have come exploding from the sides to kill me.
Also, this year it was a lot easier to get a hold of boxes.

SCENE: My workplace.
ME: Mandy, do you mind if I take these boxes home? Mum wants me to start packing.
MANDY: [practically weeping in gratitude] YES. Take them with you. Take them all! Please. Just get rid of them. I don't want them.

The advantage of my workplace is that we also sell DVDs. This year, I have three Roadshow boxes with my DVDs perfectly snug inside. This may not seem like much, but I had to run and show Mum when I started packing. "Look, Mum! They fit perfectly!"
"... right..."
"How do you not care about this?!"

So on Saturday - or Sunday, depends on what the parentals feel like doing - my books and DVDs will be making the 2hr journey to my new home. I actually haven't seen my new home, except for in pictures. I have the smallest, security-screened windowed, room. NO MURDERERS WILL BE GETTING ME. My parents are buying me a TV (I asked if I could swap this for a corset, seeing as I have a perfectly functional TV, but they said no), and while I'm down here, I'm also not paying rent. Due to some other shenanigans, Nick is habitating my room until I'm up there. And he's paying my rent instead.
Quietly, I was freaking out over that. I didn't want to be spending $270 a week. God is pretty amazing, in how He works stuff out.

And now I'm getting distracted.
Post end, I think. Au revoir, little biscuits!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

30 Days of Books, Day 30.

[Your favourite book of all time.]
Classic versus contemporary romance. You get a series and a book.

Confession time!
I, until a few months ago, had never fully read this book.
I'd read snippets. I'd skipped. I'd read the parts that I liked over and over again.
I now have fully read this book, and I understand why everyone adores it.
Enough said.

If you've read this blog enough, or even stalked me on Twitter, you'll know that I'm a sucker for weddings. I'm also a sucker for romance. Nora Roberts writes brilliant characters, and these four books - wow. Little sad that you don't get to see Emma and Jack, Laurel and Del, and Parker and Mal all get married, but it was lovely seeing Mac and Carter get married.

Guys. That's the end of the 30 Days of Books!
If you ever wanted to see how 30 days can turn into six months or more, that's how you do it.

30 Days of Books, Day 29.

[A book everyone hated but you liked.]

I'm sure plenty of people actually adore this play (shush, it's the only one I can think of, and it's in book format so I'm technically not cheating). I remember in Year 9 English having to read this play and most everyone howling at it. 
Daniela is in Year 9 now, and just stared at me, eyebrows raised, when I got excited that she had to read it.
Daniela: "Tash. It's lame."
Me: "How can you even say that? It's amazing. It's hunting. For witches."
Daniela: "..."
Me: "And there are so many techniques! So many!"
Daniela: "I don't even know how you get excited over 'so many techniques'."
Me: "The communism thing, Daniela! How does that not interest you?"
Daniela: "Ugh. Give me algebra any day."
Me: "How are we related?"
Daniela: "I don't even know."
Me: "It's completely relevant today!"
Daniela: "Where are the witches?"
Me: "... oh gosh, you've never even listened to Bloc Party. Never mind that I gave you all their music."
Daniela: "You said it yourself. You listen to whiny guitar music."
Me: "Bloc Party - oh, I give up. Want to watch Johnny Depp?"
Daniela: "Yes."

30 Days of Books, Day 28.

[Favorite title.]

(Yes. I am getting all of these finished.)

The title is poetic, and the rhythm in it is beautiful. When you close your eyes - I don't know about you, but when I close my eyes and imagine this, it's peaceful, beautiful. Like another time.
The wind becomes more alive than before when I imagine this. Rather than knowing it exists by faith, you see it gently settling on cobbled streets, watch its shadow take different forms as it whistles through windows and around the people walking. It's alive, and it has somewhere to go, something to do. Another person on a journey.

La Sombra del Viento, in Spanish.
I can't explain why I love that so much beyond the usual reasons I love Spanish - the passion in the words, the beauty that English lacks upon occasion. The rhythm is different, has different pulses.

Also, I love the covers for this book.

30 Days of Books, Day 27.

[The most surprising plot twist or ending.]

Call me crazy, but I was pretty surprised when I found out Aunt Petunia had written to Dumbledore, begging to be admitted to Hogwarts. In Philosopher's Stone, Petunia shrieks about Lily, admitting that she knew all along that Lily and James - and Harry, by default - were magical.
"How could you not be, my dratted sister being what she was? Oh, she got a letter just like that and disappeared off to that - that school - and came home every holiday with her pockets full of frog-spawn, turning teacups into rats. I was the only one who saw her for what she was - a freak!... of course I knew you'd be just the same, just as strange, just as - as - abnormal - and then, if you please, she went and got herself blown up and we got landed with you!"
Knowing Petunia's attitude towards the wizarding world, I didn't expect that she'd wanted much to do with it. I didn't even consider that she would have been close to Lily. She was "proud to say that [she] was perfectly normal, thank you very much".

However, in Deathly Hallows, all was revealed.

Petunia wanted to be a 'freak' as well.
She caught her sister's hand and held tight to it, even though Petunia tried to pull it away. "Maybe once I'm there - no, listen, Tuney! Maybe once I'm there, I'll be able to go to Professor Dumbledore and persuade him to change his mind!""I don't - want - to - go!" said Petunia, and she dragged her hand back out of her sister's grasp. "You think I want to go to some stupid castle and learn to be a - a -"Her pale eyes roved over the platform, over the cats mewling in their owners' arms, over the owls fluttering and hooting at each other in cages, over the students, some already in their long, black robes, loading trunks onto the scarlet steam engine or else greeting one another with glad cries after a summer apart." - you think I want to be a - a freak?"Lily's eyes filled with tears as Petunia succeeded in tugging her hand away."I'm not a freak," said Lily. "That's a horrible thing to say.""That's where you're going," said Petunia with relish. "A special school for freaks. You and that Snape boy... weirdos, that's what you two are. It's good you're being separated from normal people. It's for our safety."Lily glanced back towards her parents, who were looking around the platform with an air of wholehearted enjoyment, drinking in the scene. Then she looked back at her sister, and her voice was low and fierce."You didn't think it was such a freak's school when you wrote to the Headmaster and begged him to take you."
But, obviously, Petunia wasn't accepted.
I don't know why, but I often wonder that had Petunia held the mild interest in it that her parents held, rather than the desire to do what Lily did, and the jealousy that stemmed from being left behind - would Harry have grown up differently?

Who knows. Silly question, anyway, when the books are fabulous as they are.

Note: Quite obviously, all that text above is copyright of JK Rowling. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

That second post.

Apparently, I look like my father. I suppose we share a similar facial structure and whatnot, but he has the ability to grow extremely decent facial hair.
I am not complaining that I don't. In fact, I'm very grateful I don't.
My eyes are large for my face. It might be a strange thing and I'm probably reading too much into it, but I think it's a Chilean-Australian thing, the shape of my eyes. Chris's are similar to mine, and another girl I know has it going on as well. Biggish eyes, strangely shaped.
My skin is a weird colour. It's like it wants to be olive, but it's just too lazy to actually get there. Unless I lie in the sun (skin cancer ahoy) for hours on end, my skin insists on staying yellow. In winter, I look like I have jaundice.
I am short. You've probably gathered that by now.
Out of my entire family, I was the only one to be given straight hair. Everyone has a bit of a wave or some epic curls on both sides. Me? I'm the one who brushes her hair, and it looks like you've run a straightener through it. At the moment it's a reddish colour.
My nose is the bane of my existence, not because I dislike its shape (I'm indifferent to that side of it) but because of its innards. When my body was cheerfully forming, the cells decided to give me a deviated septum with polyps to boot. Essentially, I can't breathe through my nose. I now have to get the nose operated on. Curse those celebrities who use deviated septum as an excuse for their nose jobs, because:

  1. It makes it so much harder to get people to believe you, and
  2. It struck fear into my heart that I'd walk in with my nose and walk out with Michael Jackson's nose.
My teeth also decided to be a bit off. An allergic reaction to something my mother received - for me - while I was still assuming the foetal position led to the majority of my teeth having little or no enamel. In three weeks, as a matter of fact, I am getting veneers put on my teeth again. The front ones have decided to fail me miserably, thanks to the hippie dentist my mother insisted on taking us to in Brunswick Heads.
(I don't trust someone in the medical profession who wears thongs when in a 'surgical' environment.)

Aaaaaand once again, time to flee. Work beckons.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quintessentially Tash

I have been stalking Maija a fair bit recently.
Okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but if you looked at my Twitter feed, Facebook page, and now this blog... Right. I think it's time for that restraining order, don't you?

Maija's post - written in September; I never said I was a good stalker - has inspired me to get off my butt and write you a post. It's mainly so I can flee the box-filled trauma that is my room, but nevertheless a post exists for you!

What makes me, me?
I think they're the things no one else has noticed. I have two freckles on the front of my neck. When I pointed them out to my family members as a way to identify me when I'm dead and all that's left of my charred remains is my neck, they just looked at me. "What freckles?" my aunty asked, confused. I pointed.
"These ones!"
"... Tash, if you get burned to death, it's hardly likely that your neck will be the only thing to survive," Dad said. "We'll have to identify you by your tooth."
Which isn't as appealing an option, as I don't know what my teeth look like and I have none that I particularly want associated with me (if I died today, I'd look ridiculous and my dentist would cry).

I have always thought I can talk to my dogs. Any other animals, I don't really try, but my dogs and I have always had long conversations about stupid things. You know, conversations about how eating Christmas Beetles isn't probably the most nutritious choice, but then again, neither's chewing on a piece of carpet.
This probably makes me insane.

I love Coldplay, because they have achieved the impossible - their music calms me down when I am mad. I don't know why, but I discovered this amazing skill when I was depressed. (Clinically so, not "my mother won't buy me a Chanel backpack my life sucks I'm so depressed hashtag firstworldproblems".) I don't know what possessed me to buy the Coldplay CDs, but I had $30 cash on me, and the CD shop had them bundled up nicely. X&Y, Parachutes and A Rush of Blood To The Head for $10 each? Eh. Why not?
When I came home and had a fight with my mother that I instantly wanted to solve by my own death (I had a cheery outlook on life), I figured I should probably not waste that thirty dollars. So I put in X&Y, and somehow... I don't know. Perhaps it's distraction techniques, but it calmed me down. And since then, I've been besotted. I am probably known at the local Sanity as being the Coldplay Girl, seeing as when Mylo Xyloto was coming out, the following exchanges took place:

SCENE 1: After finding out there's a new Coldplay album
Me: Excuse me, I've just heard there's a new Coldplay album coming out. I don't have a date, or a name. But I'm pretty sure it's the 4th of October. Or at least, that's when the pre-orders will be available.
Girl: Uh... okay. Let me just check.
Me: No problem. I'll just go look at this Johnny Depp poster.
Girl: There's nothing about it yet. Are you sure they meant Coldplay?
Me: ... yes. I'm sure.
Girl: [dubiously] Well, maybe come back in a few weeks. I might be able to find it then.

SCENE 2: A week later, after Coldplay has officially announced the album
Me: Hi! You probably don't remember me. I was in here about the Coldpl -
Girl: I remember.
Me: Right. Well, Coldplay has announced it now. See? [holds out phone, where email detailing Mylo Xyloto is happily glowing]
Girl: What's it called?
Me: I know. It's a strange name. I'm a bit scared to try pronouncing it, ha ha ha ha.
Girl: [types] Oh. There it is.
Me: Success! When's it coming out?
Girl: October 24.
Me: Excellent. I shall be back then to buy it.
Girl: You don't want to preorder it?
Me: Nah. Somewhere else might get it first. Well, thanks! Have a great day!

SCENE 3: The day before Mylo Xyloto is released
Me: Hi! I'm just wondering if you've gotten Mylo Xyloto in yet.
Different Girl: No! I'm sad.
Me: [not quite able to believe there's a fellow Coldplay lover at Sanity] Me too! I was hoping you'd have gotten it a few days early, like you did Offspring.
Different Girl: Apparently there's an embargo. How lame.
Me: Extremely lame. Anyway. I'll be back tomorrow then.
Different Girl: Awesome! I'll see you then!

Me: Hello! Coldplay is out today!
Girl: ... we haven't had it delivered.
Different Girl: Don't worry. Come back around 1. They usually deliver then.
Me: I will be back at 1.
Me: Is it in yet?
Different Girl: No! Gah! Try a couple more hours.
Me: Will do!
Me: How about now?
Different Girl: We got a phone call from the courier. They're not bringing them in today.

I eventually got the CD after much craziness, but from a different CD store.

Right. Well. What else makes me me?
I have an unusual fondness for Harry Potter. Not because I want someone to say to me, "Yer a witch, Natasha," and ferry me off to Diagon Alley. I love the symbolism, I love how much detail and how much work she's put into the books, and I love how every bit ties neatly together. It might be English nerd of me, but I may have gone through all those books and deconstructed them for the sake of deconstructing them.

At the moment, my closest friend is my cousin Daniela. It always ends up this way. I fear I am turning her into a miniature (yet taller) me, but possibly with better music taste. She is a lovely girl, very sarcastic when she wants to be. She also has a fair bit more common sense and doesn't get overexcited about stupid things, such as Chameleon Circuit releasing a new album. ("So... they sing songs about Doctor Who?" "YES." "... You are a bit of a nerd. I'm not even apologising for saying it.") She is, however, great fun. I've noticed that whenever we get together to watch movies, it always ends with us ranting. "That doesn't even make any sense. Oh my gosh, that character is so lame. I could act better than them... hey, Tash, that was such a great movie, hey!"
We recently did this for Pirates of the Caribbean 1.
Daniela: "You know who I really hate? Elizabeth. Look at her. She was smarmy even when she was a kid."
Me: "I want to know just what part of Norrington can make that age difference okay. I mean, look. Imagine that as a photo on their mantlepiece. 'Elizabeth was twelve when we met, and I was already captain in the Royal Navy.' Why does he even want to marry her? He can marry me. I'm sure the age difference is what he's used to."
Daniela: "Also, why is Governer Swann's wig brown? Why do they all go white when they move to Jamaica?"
Me: "Urgh. Will Turner. Who invented that guy?"
Daniela: "Worst character decision ever. Look at him. Www....Will Ttturner. Pah. Learn to speak."
Me: "Why does Elizabeth have freckles, but suddenly not have them when she grows up? I mean, how is it physically possible that in England she gets freckles, but suddenly in Jamaica she's all freckleless and not riddled with cancer?"
Daniela: "Maybe she just turned into a giant freckle. Do you always watch this scene with Why Is The Rum Gone in your head?"
Me: "YES. I thought I was the only one who did that."
Daniela: "How hard can it be to call her Elizabeth? I call her Elizabeth."
Me: "Bet he went home and wrote all about calling her Elizabeth in his diary."
Daniela: "Ha! 'Dear Diary, I think Elizabeth likes me. Like, like likes me. She wants me to call her Elizabeth! I don't think I should propose yet, though. I might wait for a little while. Like, in the middle of a battle on Davy Jones' ship.'"
Me: "I am so glad they cut those two out in the end. Preacherboy for the win!"
Daniela: "Hush! Johnny Depp!"

I draw, and I write.
These two make me very happy. I wish I was better at drawing. According to my mother, this is very selfish as I am very good at drawing. I disagree, but whatever. This is the only picture, besides a picture of Ron I left in the tearoom at work to scare everyone, that I have uploaded to Facebook.
I don't like it very much. I much prefer fashion illustration.
I enjoy writing. Writing is a heck of a lot of fun.

Because I've realised it's nearly 10:30 and I am still lounging in my pyjamas (I'm a slob now), I'll wrap this up quickly with the thing that most makes me, me.

I'm a Christian.
I don't always live up to the standard that Jesus left me. Lately, I've been failing more than succeeding.
I know, however, that He loves me no matter what. He knew I'd trip over my own feet when He chose me.
Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. - Romans 14:4
He still pulls me up and still calls me His daughter.
He shows mercy that I don't think I could even show, if someone slapped me in the face that many times. I know I couldn't show that.
And He is the epitome of flipping awesome, because He doesn't judge me based where I've come from. He doesn't say that because I'm a nearly-20-year-old who has suffered from depression and anxiety, who has a ridiculous love for Coldplay and Harry Potter, and who either takes things too seriously or not seriously enough, that I'll not do anything for Him except sit there and look pretty. He says that I can, and I will, do things. Because I'm His.

And that is cooler than anything.

I want to do another post similar to this next time, but sort of based off what the opening to my elusive novel is. So you have that to look forward to/dread.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

30 Days of Books, Day 26: A book that changed your opinion about something

I can't really cite one book that's changed my mind on one issue. But we'll go with this one, as it shuttled me down the road to where I currently am now.

[Yes, the Bible is a massive one for me, but that's changed many aspects rather than one.]

I, to a certain degree, consider myself a feminist.
I am not one of those who aims for a matriarchal society, I am not one of those who believe that 'testosterone is a rare poison'. I am, essentially, just a woman living in Western society and I believe that God sees me on par with men ("There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus," says Galatians 3:28), and ideally, society should as well. I look for equality rather than dominance of either gender. As soon as that begins happening, we're regressing.

When I was a few years younger, I agreed with Germaine's ideas more than I do now. I thought, from what I'd read of her essays on the internet, that she had some decent ideas with how to get society functioning as it ought. Once I moved to Brisbane with access to a decent public library, I immediately checked out The Female Eunuch, expecting to have my beliefs reconfirmed. 

They weren't, and I began to wonder. With some of the statements Greer makes, I wondered how I'd misplaced my goals for the world. Why dominance in any respect? Surely that would make us as oppressive as the men we, as true followers of a Greer-brand feminism, enjoy dismissing. As I read on further, I noticed that I was disagreeing with an awful lot of what Germaine said.

Don't get me wrong - what Germaine Greer and other feminists of her era have done for society is great, and I know that in order to make the smallest step of progress, you need to want to move the furthest. And my desires for the world could only come about in Paradise. But for books that changed my mind, it was this. Progress for the sake of progress, at the risk of hurting others, isn't progress. 

[Insert witty title here]

I'm in Brisbane until... probably Thursday! Maybe tomorrow, if I feel like changing my bus ticket. Probably won't happen as I am very lazy, but these things happen. I've been up here writing for Discerning Bride again, and today I went on a photoshoot.
"These things get sort of boring, don't they?" the stylist said sympathetically to me as I clutched 6 red balloons in one hand and a plastic bag in the other.
But for my very first shoot, I found it brilliant. It was beautiful. The dresses were amazing, the location divine. The dresses were designed by Wendy Makin - who is absolutely lovely - and were shot at Enoteca in Woolloongabba. Enoteca is in my favourite building ever, the Moreton Rubber building, so it was an added bonus.

When I arrived here on Sunday, I felt bleak. I didn't really want to be up here. Maybe it was stress over a new job the next day, maybe it wasn't. I felt homesick, and I desperately wanted to curl my arms around Tuscany's neck and breathe in her doggy smell (as nauseating as it can be at times). Though, as I curled up on a bus seat on the way back from the Gabba, I felt it again. The feeling that this city has beauty, and that I do love it. I don't think it'll be my home forever (at least while I'm alive), but it will for 2 years more.

I've gotten in a few shopping trips - of course - and I snuck in a trip to Koorong as I left the shoot. (My boss, who dropped me off there, also turned out to be a Christian. Things like that amaze me, just considering how God's got it all sorted.) In lieu of any sort of review, I'll post up my purchases.

This is because while I know a variety of words in Spanish, I suck at stringing them together in a coherent way. According to my grandfather, I would be embraced by Chileans everywhere, because they face the same issue and welcome the gringos who cannot speak to save their lives.
I can't help but think that if I rocked up to an interview in any Spanish-speaking country with my currently level of fluency, I would be laughed out the door.

While I love Nicholas Sparks, I must say that I have become less enamoured with him since reading A Walk to Remember.
This isn't because I disliked that book - it's because I loved it so completely and fully that anything he's written before or after has paled in comparison. The love isn't as perfect as Jamie and Landon's, and that makes me sad.
On the whole, I did like this book. It was a good read and a nice way to end the day.

I had no real purpose in buying this book - that is to say, I didn't intentionally look for it. But I feel it's what I need. I find I get myself into better habits of reading my Bible when I'm in studies and whatnot, and as I have felt a bit distanced from God, I want to change that. Immediately. This book looked interesting and useful, so I'll see how we do.

I bought this for similar reasons to the previous book, except I actually went to Koorong with the intention of buying it. I signed up for an online Bible study with Melissa Taylor, and this is the book they're studying from.
It's in week 5 and I've just bought it now. Bad Tash is bad? Yes. But Bad Tash will catch up!

I can't help but notice I've bought books with a very orange theme. 
Regardless, can we all whoop because in four days there's a new Coldplay album yes yes? I think there should be whooping all over this place.

Tomorrow I have the day at home/Chris's place, depending on what I do. The highs of freelancing - I can work at home, and watch Dr Who (of which I have recently acquired all 6 seasons, or what there is of it so far).

Anyway, I'll get back to normal scheduling soon. Goodnight - or morning, if you're in the Welshie land.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Updates galore!

So, I mentioned a while back (and yes, I'm purposely being vague out of guilt) that my Internet isn't the happiest of chappies at the moment. After awarding me far too many bills, I'm cutting back slowly. Hear that, Optus? I'm trying!
Anyway, some things have been happening, and I thought I'd share.

• I'm back writing for Discerning Bride. This time, however, I'm writing wedding stories. Yes, about actual weddings with pretty dresses. Swoon. It's very interesting; I'm getting a ton of resources for the bridal blog Maija and I have tentatively started.
• Maija and I have started a bridal blog! Okay, 'started' is a loose term. We set up the blog sort of haphazardly, then I got my first massive bill. The project is on a brief hiatus, but it'll be appearing, AND IT WILL BE AWESOME. *ahem*
• My time in the southern, newer portion of Wales is coming to a close. I'm getting sad to say goodbye - daylight savings has just begun, and it is undoubtedly my favourite time of year. However, more frequent posts will occur when I return to les Bris, because I'll be living with an IT person who knows where cheap yet expansive Internet can be found.
You have been warned.
• I've read some rather decent books lately, and some that were a bit questionable.
~ The Mercy, by Beverly Lewis. Christian romance of the Amish variety, but if that be your kettle of fish, they're very excellent. Of course, this is the final novel in the Rose trilogy (the novels being The Thorn, The Judgement & The Mercy).
~ Blood Promise, by Richelle Mead. New series, and also a spinoff from Vampire Academy. This spells very good news indeed.
~ The Siren's Song, Miranda Darling. Great read, newish release. I'll be doing a proper review when I have better net.
Slightly Questionable Reads
Okay, only one. Jaid Black's novel Deep, Derk & Dangerous was just... Words cannot accurately describe. I know I should have refused to read the book, but an old teacher of mine asked my opinion. Sigh. Put it this way, if you're a fan of having your intelligence catered to whilst reading, and not having your gender demeaned constantly, I would advise against this book. I mean, it's not just women that get the dodgy deal (though they are referred to as, quote, 'chattel' repeatedly). The men in this novel - I know it'd make men I know cringe at being associated with them, however thinly.

Anyway, brief update. I'm off to write some articles and indulge my rom-com fix.
Goodnight, todos!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review: The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson

As of about two minutes ago, I finished this book.

If you're lucky and live in the Northern Hemisphere, you can stroll into a bookstore and grab this book all willy-nilly. (Please pay for it, though.) If, like me, you're in Australia - sorry, you're apparently waiting til October.

I'd heard a lot about this book via Twitter. I follow Maureen Johnson and John Green for literary and general lulz. Various People of the Internet posted that they'd gotten their paws on the book.
I trotted into work and found the reader's copy of it, claimed it as my own, and devoured it.

Louisiana native Aurora - sorry, Rory -Deveraux has just started at a boarding school in England when the first murder strikes. Not only are they absolutely horrific, they mimic the Ripper murders in a really distressing way. Everyone is possessed with fear. Who is this new Ripper? The police, of course, haven't a clue. No leads. No witnesses. CCTV cameras, pointed directly at the murders, only capture the victims.
But Rory, somehow, has seen the suspect they're searching for. But no one else can see him.

London becomes quite a different London than my head likes to picture it when I read this book. It's almost as if the pictures I have stored in my mind have been brushed over with a Victorian-tinted paint (yes, it's sepia). And while this book is set in the here and now, Maureen Johnson so perfectly takes you into the depths of Rippermania, the levels that Victorian London would have shivered in. There is something that changes so subtly as you wade deeper into the pages - what appears to be a normal teen boarding school novel at first, fraught with those typical teen emotions, gradually becomes more sinister as you progress. Maybe I'm weird, but I've always viewed books with colour. Reading this, we began with glorious Technicolor. We moved to slightly brown tinges, credpig along the edges of the page. And at the end - I felt blackness. It was amazingly done, the progression to each colour so minute, I couldn't even pinpoint where each staged morphed into the next.

Characters are always what will get me hooked in a novel, and Maureen Johnson's are no exception. I adore Rory from the moment I found her leaping from the pages.

"In my town... hurricane preparations generally include buying more beer, abs ice to keep that beer cold when the power goes out. We do have a neighbour with a two-man rowboat lashed on the top of the porch roof... but that's Billy Mack, and he started his own religion in the garage, so he's got a lot more goin on than just an extreme concern for personal safety."

Jazza's quirks were instantly endearing too. Maybe it's just that I want an awesome British pal, but seriously:

"Aside from being the kind of person who used 'whom' correctly while gossiping..."

"'On Saturdays I sometimes treat myself to a sandwich and a cake.' ... Everything was a tiny celebration with her."

Alistair, Boo, Callum, Stephen. All amazing characters, all sketched out in enough detail. I found myself impatient to find out more about Stephen, and thank you, Maureen, I was given it. Rory noticing Boo's way of speaking made everything more real. Callum and the tattoo - oh, the backstory we could have!
The only character I wasn't overly impressed with was Jerome, but I found his creepy fascination with Rippers new and old extremely disturbing. Even for a journo. Even though I do the same for bridal magazines. I did find it amusing when he knew exactly how to goad Jazza into sneaking out, however.

I won't say much else in fear of destroying plot (and also, I am rather sleepy). But honestly, you must read this book. First in a series! Hooray!

And, because I cannot say it any better than Holly Black, I'll part with her words:
This book made me want to give up everything, move to London, and fight ghosts.

Even if I'm quaking in my ghost-busting boots the entire time.

(No links today. On the phone makes this rather difficult.
In the next few days - definitely during this coming week - look out for my review of Miranda Darling's latest novel, The Siren's Sting. I received it on Thursday from the kind folks at Allen and Unwin. Not only does it look to be a rockin' good read, but it's also part of this year's Get Reading campaign. So if you buy it from the 1st - 30th of September, you'll receive a free book! Awesome, right?
Anyway, more on that in the review post.)

See you soon!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

About the lack of posting...

Although few of you read this, I'm going to explain my absence that we're in the throes of, and that we will be in for the next couple of months.

I have no Internet beyond what's on my phone, and I haven't had it for a little while now. However, I stumbled upon this awesome concept called tethering. How fun is tethering! I said to myself as I expertly surfed the net at pretty fast speeds. I will tether forever!

Then Optus sent me not one, but two, $500-600 bills (because I apparently do not learn).

I have learnt my lesson now, and thus will be sticking to le Fachebook (gosh darn it, Voldy) and Twitter via their apps. Apparently, that's free.

So sayonara for the next while, sans a few reviews from time to time!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hey, remember that time I said I'd do the truths posts?

I lied. Well, not really lied. I'm doing them all in one hit now. I might go and do that 30 Days one at some stage, but I found this one courtesy of the lovely Belinda on Facebook. (As a result, I'm going to have to find another quiz to earn Binda's forgiveness again for this theft.)

Away we go into the abyss of truthtellingandwhatnot!

1. Last beverage: Some disgusting concoction with lemon and sugar. It didn't go down to well. 
2. Last phone call: The chocolate-making school my parents want to go to when we visit Melbourne. Conversation as follows:
"Hey, I'm from [school], I received your booking last night and have a few things to discuss with you all."
"... I have no idea what you're talking about."
3. Last text message: Sent - to Nick, about some funky funding thing for gamers. Received - Dad, about when the bed they're trying to get rid of left the house.
4. Last song you listened to: Would be out of Coldplay, 'Hurts Like Heaven', or 'Salaam Namaste' or 'What's Going On', both from the Salaam Namaste soundtrack.

6. Dated someone twice: Nope.
7. Been cheated on: I have presented no opportunity for this to occur.
8. Kissed someone & regretted it: Nope.
9. Lost someone special: Yes, most definitely, and it sucked.
10. Been depressed: See the majority of my teenage years.
11. Been drunk and threw up: Oh lulz. I have not.

12. Red
13. Black
14. White

15. Made a new friend: Yessir, yessir.
16. Fallen out of love: I believe not.
17. Laughed until you cried: Oh yes. So many times. 
18. Met someone who changed you: It happens, yep. Sometimes it's not very pleasant. Grr to those unpleasant ones.
19. Found out who your true friends were: Yes. It was not pretty. (Wait, lies. It was pretty sometimes.)
20. Found out someone was talking about you: HAHAHAHAHAHA. It's life, of course that happens. 
21. Kissed anyone on your fb friend's list: Nope.

22. How many people on your fb friends list do you know in real life: All but two, I believe.
23. Favourite band: Coldplay.
24. Do you have any pets: Two dogs. They make life interesting. 
25. Do you want to change your name: I've always been fascinated with those coming of age ceremonies where your name gets changed, marking your new life as an adult. If that were to happen, I would be Natalia. Similar enough to my own name, but sounds slightly more classy.
26. What did you do for your last birthday: Ran around Brisbane.
27. What time did you wake up today: 8am, I think.
28. What were you doing at midnight last night: DANCING!
29. Name something you CANNOT wait for: Next year. Or, as Binda phrased it, life in general.
30. Last time you saw your Mother: Last night.
31. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life? My tendency to make stupid decisions.
32. What are you listening to right now: The dulcet tones of Offspring Season 1, Episode 2. DEAR WORLD THE SECOND SEASON IS OUT NEXT MONTH
33. Have you ever talked to a person named Tom: Oh wow. I don't think so, or at least not in a while.
34. What's getting on your nerves right now: Darn cramps. I hate your face.  
35. Most visited webpage: Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail. Also, varying Tumblrs.
36. Whats your real name: Natasha Carolina Pavez. Carolina is Caroleenah.
37. Relationship Status: Single, baby.
39. Zodiac sign: Aries. We do things with style.
40. Male or female? Female.  
41. Elementary? Was awesome.
42. High School/College: Was painful.
43. Uni/College: Was awesome, and at QUT.
44. Hair colour: Brown.
45. Long or short: Long by my standards.
46. Height: The exact same height as Reese Witherspoon. Same birthday, too. Kooky.
47. Do you have a crush on someone? Creepily, yes. How do you know these things?
48: What do you like about yourself? I know how to write and draw, and my eyes make me happy.
49. Piercings: Earlobes, and a small puncture wound where that stupid dog decided to bite me yesterday for ignoring her. I might put a stud there to make it seem less attackish, more stylish.
50. Tattoos: I fainted when I accidentally got a cut from a dog. Tattoos are not high on my priority list.
51. Righty or lefty: Right!

52. First surgery: I'm sure there was something around the time of my premmie birth. Or maybe not! I do recall an endoscopy. That was fun, being drugged... I shouldn't say things like that, you'll lock me up.
53. First piercing: Ears
54. First best friend: Alyssa.
55. First sport you joined: Cricket. UGH WHY
56. First vacation: Uh... "I don't even remember five minutes ago. Back to your skulking."
57. First Pet: Inca. She doesn't bite.
58. First pair of trainers: Were cute. Mum has a photo of me wearing them. 

59. Eating: Cookies.
60. Drinking: Water.
61. I'm about to: start making dinner.
62. Listening to: Nina's ringtone on Offspring.
63. Waiting on: life.

64. Want kids? Yup, they will hopefully be awesome.
65. Get Married? Please.
66. Career? WRITERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrRRRrrr *ahem*

67. Lips or eyes: Eyes.
68. Hugs or kisses: Hugs.
69. Shorter or taller: Taller. I don't think I could find anyone shorter than me.
70. Older or Younger: Around about the same age as me.
71. Romantic or spontaneous: I have not experienced either.
72. Nice stomach or nice arms: Due to Ryan Reynolds, I'm going to have to admit to my sad abs obsession and say stomach.
73. Sensitive or loud: *shrugs*
74. Hook-up or relationship: Relationship. 
75. Trouble maker or hesitant: *shrugs*

76. Kissed a stranger: Nah.
77. Drank hard liquor: I believe not, as I don't drink.
78. Lost glasses/contacts: Glasses, many a time.
79. Had sex on first date: Nope.
80. Broken someone's heart: I highly doubt it.  
81. Had your own heart broken: If I said yes, it'd be too dramatic for what really happened. Let's just say my heart fell over and skinned its knees.
82. Been arrested: Nope. Taaame.
83. Turned someone down: Yes.  
84. Cried when someone died: I think I exhausted my tear ducts.
85. Fallen for a friend? He wasn't really a friend-friend, so no. He was sort of in my group of friends, but not technically. BABBLE.

86. Yourself: At times.
87. Miracles: Yesh indeedly. God does a daily one with me.
88. Love at first sight: Oh, there are so many things going either way. I would say definite interest can be formed.  
89. Heaven: Heck yes.
90. Santa Claus: Nah.
91. Kiss on the first date: Cannot accurately say either way.
92. Angels: Of course.

94. Had more than 1 girlfriend/boyfriend at a time: Not a snowball's chance in the nether regions of hell.
95. Did you sing today? Mimed into a microphone. I'm so eighties.
96. Ever cheated on somebody? That's just cruel and cheap.
97. If you could go back in time, how far would you go? Jane Austen Era, or the fifties, or pioneering era. Perhaps even way back to Roman times. 
98. If you could pick a day from last year 2010 and relive it, what would it be: Stanfield's Cookie Bonfire.
99. Are you afraid of falling in love? I suspect yes.
100. Posting this as 100 truths? NO! HAHA!

Wordless Wednesday (the third)

Yes, I get that it's words. But they're in a picture. *looks hopeful*
Okay, this Wednesday's a fail. Shusssh.
Also, I apologise. Darn Blogger failed at uploading last night.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

30 Days of Books, Day 25.

[A character you can relate to the most.]

I want a Jacob. *This* Jacob, not a Pedowolf Jacob.
Josephine Alibrandi, of Looking for Alibrandi fame, was always going to win this one. I don't think I've ever identified with a character so much. I saw the film of this book first (doesn't begin to do it justice) and thought, "Huh. Her family's sorta like mine, except they speak Italian."
Read the book, and Josie was exactly who my fourteen year old self longed to be when I hit eighteen. And re-reading the book as I did when I was eighteen, I think I'm far too close to there. Not that I'm complaining, of course.

The cultural issues - who am I? "Technically," Josie says at one point to a fellow student, a typical Anglo, "I'm older than you are, and I was born here. If anyone's the New Australian, it's you."
I laughed so much at that line, and tucked it in my mind for future use.
Knowing where you come from is an interesting thing. So interesting, they make a point of asking it of you on a Census. "What's your cultural background? Where were your parents born?" I'm partly Chilean, partly English and Welsh, wholly Australian. And for Josie, I suspect her cultural makeup was much the same - that despite the roots, what mattered was the Australian part. Yet you can't really run from those roots; they'll hold you as tight as they can. In high school, identifying myself was hard - I wanted to run to Chile and see if I fit. I wanted to escape here, because in my family - an eighties-clad version of Chile, clashing with Australia - I didn't fit. I was too white. At school, it wasn't huge as some kids would get, but I was told that there was a difference between my life and everyone else's. No one else would bring sopapillas or empanadas to school, or carry massive flasks of green tea with a strange combination of herbs that Nana would subtly ask Mary to bless before she slipped them in my Thermos. (She knew how I felt about Mary.) Other kids' fathers didn't have accents like mine supposedly did.
And Josie Alibrandi was the same.
Crazy nonna (seriously, are hers and mine the same woman?!) and traditions that aren't practised at all in the home country. Rules, so many rules, that other people just don't get.

The way Josie navigated her life was how I imagine I'd do it, and not out of my old desire to emulate her. It's because Josie was a real character - or at least, very real to me. There'd be the ups, and the downs, and the walking around for forty years in the desert because you're trying to figure out what the heck you're supposed to do. 
And the eyeroll. My mother probably thought I was possessed,
I did this so much.
And at the end, acceptance. Because no matter what you do, your heritage won't change. She and I aren't defined by that, but enhanced by that.
And we also come up with lines that in hindsight make you facepalm. "Don't say that! You're not an idiot, you idiot!"

Sunday, August 7, 2011

30 Days of Books, Day 24.

[A book you wish more people would have read.]

I'm sure many people have read this book, but in my group of friends I'm the only one who has. When I've presented this book to them, they react with blank stares. And perhaps by also backing away slowly, lest they scare Crazy Book Lady.

I told you I'd do a post about this. Not when
I said I would, but I figured this would fit better.
This book is, to put it mildly, abso-flipping-lutely, mind-blowingly awesome.

The story takes place in a country called Opium. Like the name suggests, this country makes its revenue by farming and exporting opium. It is situated between the US and Mexico (now called Aztlan), and is run by Matteo Alacran Sr (who is about 140 years old, give or take). It gains its workers in the poppyfields by capturing illegal immigrants attempting to cross the border either way. These immigrants are implanted with a computer chip, which renders them zombie-like and only able to do what they are told to do - so, farm until they're told to stop - eejits, in the book. As a result, El Patron (Matteo Alacran Sr) has a pretty good system going on, and won't get investigated by authorities either side of him due to their immigrant agreement.
It's not only the drug shenanigans that could theoretically get El Patron iced - he also harvests clones. And so enters our protagonist, Matteo Alacran Jr.

Matt's age varies throughout the book, but his purpose in being cloned is to provide organs for El Patron. Because, you know, that's how you survive if you're a crazy drug lord/dictator - you clone yourself, and kill them off to harvest new organs for yourself. Matt, however, has survived out of some creepy memory that El Patron had (he had some vast amount of siblings, all died but him - Matt was supposed to receive the life his siblings did not). Matt is treated cruelly due to his status as a clone, yet he possesses an unbelievably kind nature. He has a rather many few adventures - I won't go into them here, because you need to read this book and discover them for yourself.

Nancy Farmer deserves all the accolades that have been bestowed on this novel, and then some. Go to your local library, support a bookstore, do whatever it takes to get your paws on this book. You won't regret it whatsoever. The storyline is as engrossing as anything I've read, she deals with some very thought provoking issues, and her characters are fleshed out to the point where I wanted to leap into the pages and hug Matt, see his tattoo, explore El Patron's house and Celia and Matt's hut.

Ay, I love this book massively. Unfortunately I don't own it. (Will accept any gifts.)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

30 Days of Books, Day 23.

[A book you've wanted to read for a while but still haven't.]

Two for you today, because it's Indecisive Sunday here.

The sensual, rebellious Anna renounces a respectable yet stifling
marriage for an affair that offers passion even as it
ensnares her for destruction. Her story contrasts with that of Levin,
a young, self- doubting agnostic who takes a different path to fulfillment. 
Why I want to read it: The storyline looks to be fantastic. Of course, I've had any spoilers well and truly spoilt after reading both the Wikipedia entry and the Sparknotes entry, but kaphwoar this looks to be great reading. The majority of reviews on Goodreads declare it perfection, Dostoevsky described it as "flawless as a work of art", and it has been criticised countless times, referenced in myriad novels, and adapted into film, TV, opera, radio, ballet, theatre and a not-so-well-received stage musical. 

Even the Quirks got a hold of it.
I'll admit it: there is something in me that wants to read it for the sake of reading a Tolstoy. When I'm invited to a literary party (you know, the sort that Gary Shteyngart trains his writing students for), it will be bliss to go, "Oh? Tolstoy? Yes, I've read Tolstoy. Who hasn't?" 
But that's only a small part. The majority of me responded to this:


Why I haven't read it yet: Alongside my "Of course I've read Tolstoy; are you still reading Twilight?" snobbery that I jokingly long for, there's the fear.
What fear? you ask. 
If you buy the Penguin Classics version, it's 864 pages. I've felt how thin these pages are, too. They're borderline tissue-paper. Probably just a tiny bit thicker than the pages in my Bible. Of course, it's not as daunting as War and Peace in this same version (1440 pages, thin as rice paper). Still, very daunting.

Other things that I've realised in writing this post: Joe Wright is making a movie out of this. The cast is reportedly as follows:

Keira Knightley (Anna), Jude Law (her husband, Karenin), Matthew MacFadyen (Oblonsky), Kelly Macdonald (his wife, Dolly), Olivia Williams (Countess Vronskaya, Vronsky’s mother), Saoirse Ronan (Kitty, Dolly’s sister), Aaron Johnson (Anna’s lover, Vronsky), Andrea Riseborough (Princess Betsy) and Domhnall Gleeson (Levin).

Of course Keira is the leading lady (Joe Wright, be creative! Find someone new!). Extremely excited for yet another Matthew MacFadyen drool-fest (though, once again... be creative, Joe). Apparently Kitty and Levin marry one another... I tell you, I'm going to be getting so confused throughout this entire movie. "NO! LIZZIE, STOP KISSING WATSON. GO BACK TO MR DARCY. Incidentally, why is Mr Darcy with the Grey Lady? AND BRIONY YOU ARE NOT FLEUR STOP ATTEMPTING TO SEDUCE BILL."
If that's the correct pairings, anyway.
However, I'm most excited about Tom Stoppard writing the script. Squee x a million.

Next up...
Falsely accused of treason, the young sailor Edmond Dantes is
arrested on his wedding day and imprisoned in the island
fortress of the Chateau d'If. Having endured years of
incarceration, he stages a daring and dramatic escape and
sets out to discover the fabulous treasure of
Monte Cristo, and to catch up with his enemies.
Why I want to read it: This book seems to be the great adventure novel I've been searching high and low for. I don't know much about it to see how accurate that is. Once again, Goodreads made it look very promising, as did a quick Wikipedia scan (I didn't read too much for fear of spoilers. I refuse to have this one spoiled). It looks like it's going to be filled with brilliantly written characters, which is my absolute favourite thing when reading.
Character relations in the novel (click to enlarge. You'll need to).
The saying "it's a small world after all" clearly came from
a fan of this book.
My friend Joshua has been extremely inspired by this book, and has urged me countless times to read it. Much to his dismay, I still haven't actively hunted for it and haven't bought it when it's been right in front of my face. (I can still remember the day when I bought a Sophie Kinsella novel instead of this one. He nearly cried.) So that's another reason: I sort of promised him I would before I died.

Why I haven't read it yet: I'll chalk this one up to laziness, and there always being an easier read around. Case in point, I'll choose chick-lit over something that will stimulate my mind more. (No offense, chick-lit writers. I'm probably going to be one of you anyway.) With books like this, I have an, "Eh, next time" frame of mind as I'm scouring libraries. I nearly missed out on the joys of Jane Eyre, The Virgin Suicides, and Pride and Prejudice as a result of this, but still I persist in this way of thinking.

Other things I realised in writing this post: Jim Caviezel (aka Guy Who Starred in A Movie Once With Jennifer Lopez, But Who Is More Commonly Recognised Due To Playing Jesus in The Passion Of The Christ) is in the most recent (?) film adaptation.

Guy on the right.
Who is guy on the left, though? And can I have his sword?
Apparently, he makes the ladies swoon.

Caviezel outwardly is calm, but inside is frantically
trying to remember the DRABC method.
The question remains... when will you get around to reading these books?
Oh, all right. Stop twisting my arm. I'll aim to do it by this time next year, okay?
I have a full list of books I've been meaning to read but keep forgetting to. But I'll put these ones first, because I love you all.