29 June 2010

An End...and a Beginning

Today marks the end of an era. It was my last jazz (dance) exam (Advanced II). Now, technically, there is one further exam in the JazzAddict syllabus - Solo Seal. However, sitting it only crossed my mind for approximately one second. Probably less than one second if I'm honest. Because Solo Seal is a performance-based exam, which involves an amalgamation taught by the examiner. And I would also have to choreograph three dances and perform them in costume! And I'm not a performer by any stretch of the imagination. I wonder if that's because I'm so dissociated from my emotions? *shrug* Something to think about.
So, is this the end of me dancing? No! I love to dance. I've always loved to dance. I'm just changing...genres. Going back to basics, which is good idea since I never really learnt the basics *grin* So, what dance genre will I be learning next term?
 
I'm going to be a ballet student *grin* Mostly I've had really positive responses when I've told people I'll be learning ballet, but I did have one person (female) comment that they thought ballet was for little girls. And this person is perfectly entitled to think that. But I think ballet is for everyone - female and male, young and old. To clarify, I'm only starting ballet technique next term. Seeing how I find it. And if I like it I might try and find a dance studio for next year that teaches syllabus ballet. I like working towards exams. It makes me feel like I'm making progress.
So, who thinks I'm mad?

26 June 2010

Time

There's a saying that Time heals all wounds, unless you pick at them. I'm not sure I believe that. I think time can...soften wounds, but they never leave. They bind themselves to you, become part of who you are. You're changed by them.

Today is the third anniversary of my mother's death. And...this is going to sound terrible, but...today, of all days, I haven't really stopped and take time to truly think of her and of what I've lost by not having her in my life any more. (It's not deliberate, at least I don't think is it.) I'm sure I sound callous, but...in all honesty, there isn't really a day that goes by that I don't miss her. A day that I don't want her back. I'd give everything I own to have her back. But..life doesn't work that way. Life simply...is. I'm lucky that I had as long with her as I did. I know a lot of people don't have that opportunity, and I'm so very grateful I did. And...even though watching her die was the hardest thing I have ever done, and even though I miss her terribly, I'm glad she didn't linger. That would have been worse.

I remember making her a promise the week before she died. I don't know how it came up, but she made me promise not to spend my life looking after the family. She knew it would fall to me, if she wasn't there. Because it had fallen to her. She wanted me to life my life. I'm still trying to keep that promise. I'm not doing very well...it's such a hard promise to keep and my family are so...needy. But I have to keep trying. Not just for my mother, but also for me.

23 June 2010

Obligation

*thinks* Where to start. Someone lent me a book last week. The operative word there is lent. I didn't borrow it, they lent it to me. And...it was HUGE! Over 1200 pages! It was 'suggested' that I read the first few chapters (and these chapters were marked) and that I not 'give up' until I had read those chapters.

So, I tried...and tried...and tried. And then I admitted defeat. (But yes, I did make it to the first 'marker'.) It wasn't just the size of the book, although that in and of itself put me off. And it wasn't that it was very cerebral, and...almost dry, although that didn't help. And maybe in another time and place the book may have worked for me. But...I think I simply couldn't read the book because part of me wanted to read something else and resented its appearance...

I have learnt a number of things from this incident. One, that you can't be...forced into reading a book. The phrase right place, right time is very apt. And two, I don't ever want to put someone into the position I felt I was in. So if I ever wax lyrical about a book and beg you to read it, please remind me of this post...and that no one should ever feel obligated to read a book.

So, have you ever felt...obligated to read a book? Were you able to read it and, if so, did you enjoy it?

20 June 2010

Fail

As you may already know, I've been detailing my progress with my healthy eating plan. Well, on Friday I went to see the nutritionist and I've...gone backwards! I've put on weight. 1.7 kg to be precise. (And that 1.7 kg has manifested itself as a 3 cm increase in my abdominal measurement [my GIT obviously isn't happy about my diet ATM] and a 1 cm increase in my waist measurement; there was no change in my hip measurement.) So, instead of reaching my target weight of 57.5 kg, I now have 1.8 kg still to lose. FAIL!

I'm not actually surprised by the result. It's winter and I'm cold (my house is cold and damp) plus I've been impersonating a headless chicken again and getting nowhere with any of my long-term chores...which has led to frustration... You get the picture, yes? I eat when I'm stressed, and I don't eat healthily. Coca Cola is my crutch, and of late it's been a two cans a day habit. I'm attempting to cut back to one a day starting today (and today I succeeded), so apologies in advance for being grumpy. Plus, the short days, wet weather and a sore tooth (believe me - anything faster than a walk with a sore tooth is h*l l)...yes, and apathy for going outside in such weather...have kept me from my usual exercise regimen.

On the positive side (my maternal grandmother always told me to look for the silver lining...although that wasn't her favourite saying :) I'm still below the 60 kg upper limit I set myself. And...it's the shortest day today (and the longest night tonight). Which means, slowly but surely, the days will be getting longer again. I still have at least 2 months of winter to look forward too, but...it's not so bad when you know the days are getting longer and the march to spring has begun! (Although those of you in the Northern Hemisphere do have my empathy.) Plus, I love lying in bed listening to the rain and New Zealand drew with Italy at the Football World Cup. Who'd have thought?

I see the nutritionist again in a month - the aim is maintenance. So, in amongst all that life has to offer, do you have a silver lining?

16 June 2010

Precious

I think this post is going to cement my complete and utter weirdness, but... *shrug*

In a recent post (This And That) I mentioned that I had been lucky enough to win second prize in the Trapped In A Restaurant Meme hosted by the lovely and very talented author of Mind Games - Carolyn Crane of The Thrillonth Page! Thanks to the very generous Carolyn, I was able to go shopping at Amazon! And one of the books I bought was Melissa Marr's Fragile Eternity. Yes, I am a huge fan of this author/series, but no, I am not currently up-to-date with the series *embarrassed*
 
Anyway, the book arriving got me to thinking...perhaps I should ignore my carefully constructed TBR list and read it right now. (I should explain - this book is also on my library hold list, but...all the copies are out ATM and I was feeling impatient. It's the...'I sees it so I wants it' rather than the 'out of sight, out of mind' dilemma.) But, could I pick up and read my copy? That would be a negative! Why? Well, it's so...pristine that I didn't want to...ruin (for want of a better word :) it by...ummm...reading it. And this is me I'm talking about, the OCD (please be careful with the book) person. So, I've decided to wait for the library copy. But, all of this got me to thinking. Am I the only person who buys a book but then doesn't want to read it for fear of damaging it in any way, shape or form. Do you buy a book and then borrow it from the library...or buy two copies, one to keep and one to read? Or is it just me...

14 June 2010

Deja Vu

In a recent post entitled The Double Take: Too Many Books on the Dracula Myth To Count, the lovely Katiebabs (KB) from Babbling About Books, And More! asked the question:
Is too many books on one topic released at the same time too much of a good thing?
And that got me to thinking. See, I was in a bookstore on the weekend with a family member, hunting for a suitable book. (FYI - this family member is moderately intellectually disabled and since I'm not quite sure what is and isn't an appropriate book for her we were looking in the children's/YA section.) Anyway...the more I looked the more I realized that all the books looked the same...and sounded the same. It was like endless variations of the Twilight franchise. Which is all very well and good if you like that kind of thing...but if you don't? *shrugs* (Urban fantasy/fantasy really isn't said family member's cup of tea - I introduced her to Harry Potter, but according to her that series just didn't cut the mustard :) But (and this is a serious question), what else is out there? Because, honestly, it seems like very little. And I will concede that the bookstore I was in wasn't huge, so the selection was...restrained. But...isn't variety the spice of life? The books even look the same, so not a one stood out from the others. And it isn't just the YA genre. Urban fantasy, historical romance...they all seem to be converging, not diverging...

So, what did we end up purchasing? Said family member bought and read Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl) earlier this year, which she enjoyed, so she decided on Roald Dahl again - The Witches and Matilda. But KB's question and my experience on the weekend got me to thinking about variety... Is variety the spice of life or do we find a good thing and stick to it? (I know I do that with food :) And am I just musing on this because I'm not interested in the latest 'fad'? (Yes, fad is the wrong word but the right one is hiding and won't come out where I can see it.) And...how feasible is it for 'something different' to appear when the market is so focused on what feels like one theme?

Edited to add: I thought that was the end of the post, but on the way home I got to thinking about what the word 'appropriate' means in terms of books...and how does one decide what is and isn't appropriate? I drift towards children's/YA books for the aforementioned family member because I know she doesn't like scary books and...they are more likely to hold her interest. But then, I'm just guessing. No one gave me an instruction manual. But the final choice of book is always hers.

11 June 2010

The E Word

A word of warning. I am about to discuss a topic that results in wailing and the gnashing of teeth by even the most mild-mannered of readers. Yes, I'm talking about the....the E word... *looks left and right* *whispers* Epilogue. There, I said it. I know that for most of you epilogues are evil incarnate. Books should finish, not dribble on and on and on, yes? Well...it depends. I know you're all probably groaning right now, but I'm a fence sitter, what can I say *grin*

At the end of last week I finished reading Shalador's Lady (Anne Bishop), and it was lovely! One of the things I enjoyed about both The Shadow Queen and Shalador's Lady was the rebuilding aspect. A quick recap (and spoilers ahoy for those of you who have not read the Black Jewels series). At the end of Queen of Darkness (the third book in the Black Jewels trilogy) the war among the Blood was decisively ended. But...did the story end there? The author chose not too (end it there), and has instead written a number of follow-up books, including The Shadow Queen and Shalador's Lady, both of which deal with the rebuilding of Blood society.

Maybe it's just me, but I find that the majority of fantasy novels deal only with destruction. What I mean is - enter the villain stage left, who decides to rule the worldTM and in doing so destroys society. Enter the hero and his/her various sidekicks stage right, who fight the villain (and...come to think of it...the villain is usually male...the only exception I can think of ATM are the uber villains in the Black Jewel trilogy). By the end of the book the hero wins, the villain loses. The end. Except...it isn't. What's left is a power vacuum. And who steps in to fill that vacuum? What happens to the broken society? And that's what I find interesting, and what I love about the direction Anne Bishop has taken with the Black Jewel series. The books after Queen of Darkness are in a way epilogues, but...they have a purpose... Because it's easy to destroy something, but harder to rebuild it.

And, yes, in fantasy novels such epilogues make more sense...but to relate it back to romance, it's the work involved in a relationship, keeping it strong and fluid, that's just as interesting to me and how the couple got to that point. One may be able to fall in love, but can one stay in love?

I know, lots of rambling *grin* But, what's your opinion on epilogues? Do they work for one genre but not another? And would you rather see the building but not the maintenance?

05 June 2010

Flitting

No, not peeking. Flitting. I should explain. Flitting occurs when you've just read a book (e.g. Tigers & Devils [Sean Kennedy]) that has reached inside and...not just tugged at your heartstrings but spoken to you on some intimate level. And while you're reading this book you're on a high...and then you finish, and fall.

So here is us, on the raggedy edge. (Yes, I'm quoting Serenity *grin*) And you say 'I know, I'll read another book'. And because you're worried about selecting a book that won't stand up to the one you just read you pick something completely different... But, instead of delving straight in and just....you know, reading, you flit. What I mean is, you sneak a peek, read a snippet, and then follow a particularly character or a particular plot line...until something else takes your fancy and you follow that... And then you decide you need to revisit previous books (because without fail the book you've selected in part of a series [and if for some reason it isn't it ends up on the DNF pile])...and you flit around those as well. (I find I usually work backwards through a series rather than starting at the beginning.) And with the flitting comes no staying power. It's like...your concentration has decided to go on holiday and you're following shiny things around like they are back in fashion (although perhaps they are, I'm no fashionista :)

And how long does the flitting last. For me, about a week. And yes, that's what I've been doing with Shalador's Lady - flitting. I've worked my way through the previous Black Jewel books (although for some [weird] reason I didn't flit through Daughter of the Blood). And has the phenomenon occurred before? Why yes, when I finished reading Mine to Possess.

So, have you ever experienced flitting or, after reading this post, do you think I've completely lost the plot?

03 June 2010

Author Fan Letter Blog Crawl



At the beginning of May, the very talented Kassa from Kassa RVWS's Journal devised the Author Fan Letter Blog Crawl as a way for readers to say thank you to our favourite authors. Yesterday, 02 June, we discovered Shayla Kersten thanks to the lovely Erotic Romance Reader (Janna). Today, it's my turn. Welcome to the 03 June stop in the Author Fan Letter Blog Crawl... And don't forget to visit the lovely Bridget Locke at Reading, Writing, and Life...Oh My! tomorrow for her author letter!

Dear Lisa Kleypas, Lucy Monroe & JB McDonald,

When Kassa first mooted the Author Fan Letter Blog Crawl I was hesitant to participate - I couldn't imagine how I would narrow the field to just one author when I have discovered so many. (Well, that and I'm a terrible letter writer.) I quickly came to the conclusion that I couldn't...books touch you in oh so many ways and making such a decision was nigh impossible. After much thought (alright, angst) I narrowed the field to you. Why? Because each of you, in your own way, have touched my life with your books, have led me to change the way I view myself...and have made me feel less alone.

Everyone has baggage...the reasons why it appears and how are as myriad as the stars. Sometimes it announces its arrival with a thunderclap...and other times it slips silently inside and waits, lurking, only becoming apparent when the road grows steeper...and your legs all but unwilling to continue. And it was at such times in my life that your books (Blue-Eyed Devil [Lisa Kleypas], Blackmailed Into Marriage [Lucy Monroe] and By Degrees [JB McDonald]) appeared. Reading a book in which I can relate to a character is rare. But...there I was, on the pages of your books, in black and white. Each of you took an issue often ignored and dealt with it, but there were no quick fixes, no 'true luv' riding in to save the day. Your books steadied me when I was faltering, when I felt that I'd never be able to right those things about me that...feel broken. And yes, what's you've written is fiction, but...the depth of knowledge in your books speaks of long hours of research, and of understanding. They gave me hope, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

orannia x
Edited to add a link to Bridget Locke's letter!

02 June 2010

Books 2010: May Update

Total to date: 55 books (seven books this month: fantasy [one book]; m/m romance [one book]; paranormal romance [two books]; suspense [one book]; yaoi manga [two books])

The 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge total to date: 19 books (five books this month)

The 2010 Big Book Challenge total to date: one book (Not Kushiel's Dart (Jacqueline Carey) - but watch this space!]

The M/M Romance Challenge 2010 total to date: 11 books (one book this month [but it was a doozy of a book *grin*])

A list of all the books I've read to date (from 01 January 2010) can be found at GoodReads.

Favourite books of the month? (Although I'm guessing it's rather obvious :)

* Breath and Bone (Carol Berg)

* Tigers and Devils (Sean Kennedy)

Books I 'did not finish':

* The Stars Blue Yonder (Sandra McDonald) [This was simply a case of bad timing]

Currently reading: Shalador's Lady (Anne Bishop)

And the book I'm most looking forward to reading next month:

* The Archer's Heart (Astrid Amara)

* Magic Bleeds (Ilona Andrews)

So, what did you read last month?