Recommended Reads For The Modern Gal Monday, Aug 16 2010 

There is absolutely nothing that beats the luxurious experience of reading a good book. A book can offer escapism, knowledge, fantasy and fun. It can save you from a bad mood or monotonous day in one articulately written sentence. It can also give you access to thoughts and ideas that you have never touched on before, and at times things that not only teach you but can make you a better person.

Now, I’m not going to go on to tell you to read Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Emily Brontës Wuthering Heights (though both true gems and are classics for a reason!) I am here to recommend a few books that I believe most young women should read – for different reasons.

Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella (NZD$24.99 from Fishpond)

This is a hilarious, fluffy read for the “in-between” girls out there that are no longer teens, but not yet saddled with a mortgage/husband/2.5 kiddies etc. The heroine, the incorrigible Emma Corrigan, is a bubbly, early twenties girl with aspirations of a perfect life. There’s one problem – she tells little white lies to everyone she knows. To her boyfriend (he thinks she is several sizes smaller than she actually is), to her parents (she killed their goldfish, but replaced it before they cottoned on!), to her colleagues (never admits that it’s her that keeps breaking the photocopier) and so on and so forth. This is a fabulously funny book, adorably romantic but also highlights the failings of our society on the up and coming generation. The fact Emma can’t admit the small flaws to herself and the people around her, that she needs to skew things to make herself feel more of a success, is something I see in people every day. This is a good rainy day read, not too heavy, but I think has a good message to it.

Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-up Artists by Neil Strauss (NZD$39.99 from Fishpond)

Now, you may be wondering why the hell I would recommend this kind of book to women. Basically, knowledge is power, right ladies?

I heard about this particular book during a conversation with a male friend. He told me about Neil Strauss, a nerdy writer who couldn’t find love and so took it upon himself to meet the Masters of Seduction around the world. This book tells the story of how he became a part of this bizarre secret society, who he met and what he learned. (There are other books by Strauss that are more dating self-help types, but I think this one gives the better picture.)

Basically, this book goes through how a society of men have developed ways to manipulate women into sleeping with them. Ugly, boring, nervous, creepy, skinny, fat, sleazy, shy – no matter what the drawback of the male, these Masters of Seduction were able to show these ill-equipped men how to bed hot ladies that normally wouldn’t notice them. I read this book with utter fascination – was it possible for women to be manipulated this way? Certainly tricks and lines, gestures and clothing couldn’t get us to fall for someone totally not our type – right?! Well, as I read, I got that sinking gut feeling. Though not all of the tricks would work on all of us, there was real merit in what he was saying. I am glad I read this book – purely so I now know what to look out for! Ladies, beware.

The Game by Neil Strauss

He’s just not that into you by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (NZD$23.99 from Fishpond)

I would be extremely surprised if you haven’t heard of this book already. It was a phenomenon a few years back, even made it onto Oprah! There has also been a movie made about it, and many a female discussion revolving around it’s teachings.

Basically, this book goes on the list because I know too many gals that haven’t read it when they really should have. This is a must read. A dating bible if you will. It’s not heavy, it’s not all about loving ones inner self. It’s a friendly prod to say – Girl, you are great, but if that guy isn’t asking you out? He DOESN’T WANT YOU! A little bit harsh, perhaps. But sometimes we need a bit of a slap in the face. I know too many girls who justify not getting a text from “that guy” for weeks, because maybe he lost his phone, or maybe he’s really busy, or or… You get the point. This book is brilliant. Makes you laugh, makes you cringe with self realisation, makes you open your eyes to the realities of dating. If he doesn’t call you, he doesn’t like you. If he only calls you at 3am for a drunken stopover after town, he just wants to f#%& you. Plain and simple. You’d think we could figure all of this out on our own, but sadly, when you mix emotions in with a woman’s thought processes, everything goes a bit whack. Hence, why all ladies should read this book!

Seriously!

He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

So there you have it… One book that is light and fluffy, one that depicts the inner workings of seriously screwed up men, and one that guides us poor ladies into the dating light (if you will).

Enjoy! More to come…

Christine Feehans Books Thursday, Jan 7 2010 

Christine Feehan is, easily, one of my top authors. She writes fantasy so well that whenever I finish one of her amazing books, I go straight online to her website to find out when the next one is due out and pre-order it. (From MightyApe of course!)

Ahhh, where do I start? So many good series… 

The Drake Sisters:

Okay, one of my most beloved of all the series is the Drake Sisters. Seven sisters, born in Sea Haven and each with her own legacy and mystic powers. They come from a long line of witches – the seventh sister gives birth to the next seven sisters to continue the line. Each book follows one sister (from oldest to youngest) as they find their destiny – their one true love. Yes, these are romance books, but they are also filled with intrigue, action and fantasy. 

The sisters all live together, for the most part, in their family mansion atop the cliffs of Sea Haven, overlooking the sea. This mansion itself is magic, filled with the power and prophecy of the Drake line. As each sister finds the man they are destined to spend their lives with, the house welcomes them, protects them in much the same way as it does the sisters. As disaster invariably strikes, the sisters bind together and use their magic to fight evil and to keep their family, and town, safe.

What really makes these books great, apart from the prolific writing, are the characters. Each sister is insanely different. Their careers are extremely broad – marine biologist, model, singer, author, spy, doctor etc – and each of them are endowed with different magic powers, except for the youngest who inherits all of the magical traits. Their personalities are also completely different from each other, and yet together, they create such a fantastic family you wish you were part of it. The leading men in the books are also not typical – they have as many flaws (physical, emotional, morally) as they do strengths. But this causes each book, each interaction to be intensely enthralling. 

These books are about love despite the odds. Love for your soulmate, love for your family, love for your community and love for yourself. These books are so good, you just wont put them down. A truly MAGICAL read. 

The Drake Sisters Series

 

The Ghost Walkers:

This is a series that is as much thriller as it is romance. Millionaire scientist Peter Whitney has spent his entire life crossing all moral lines to achieve his goals –  going so far as to kidnap, torture and murder. Whitney supposedly dies, but with so many questions hanging around, it seems possible he has gone into hiding to stop the truth from coming out. When his daughter, Lily, finds out she was part of a group of girls kidnapped from an orphanage years ago by the man she thought was her loving father, she joins forces with Ryland, an elite soldier genetically modified by Whitney to find out exactly what her father and the U.S. government has been up to. 

What comes to light is that Whitney collected a group of girls over the years – girls that showed psychic abilities. He then modified them genetically, adding to their abilities as well as giving them new ones. He then threw these girls back into the world, in many different situations, to monitor how they coped. His second project was taking elite soldiers and modifying them – both genetically and psychically. Whitney’s cruel and calculating mind destroys basically everybody’s lives and yet…

Lily and Ryland go about finding all of the lost girls that were so severely mistreated and abused by Whitney, using the elite soldiers to track them down. Each book focuses on one of the “lost girls” and their trials and tribulations – until they meet the one thing that can make it all worth it. A man, a soldier, who can change their life, and heart, forever. 

So action packed, full of twists and turns – totally not your typical romantic read! These books are as detailed, smart and thought-provoking as they are sexy, romantic and heartwarming. You can’t help but feel close to each of the characters – each of them so hurt, so abandoned in their own way that you jump for joy when they are able to find happiness. There are eight books in this series so far, with (hopefully!) many more to come… I CAN’T WAIT!

Ghost Walker Series

 

Ghost Walker Series: Mind Game

 

Christine Feehan has a lot of other books too, that are just as wonderful as the two series I just mentioned. But, alas, I don’t want to rattle one too much… Just look out for the Dark Series (also known as the Carpathian novels) which are a new twist on vampires, and the Leopard Series. There are single titles too – have a look at her website! I promise you, if you like paranormal romance, this is the author for you!

Books by Rachel Gibson Tuesday, Jan 5 2010 

I’m a girl, and so to go with all of the stereotypes, I love romantic reads. One of my most loved authors of this genre is Rachel Gibson.

She has a whole series of books which are single standing, but each story is connected somehow to the other books, by either characters or places. 

Sex, Lies And Online Dating is one of the first of Gibsons novels I ever picked up. In it, Lucy is writing a dating novel and is doing research by going on random dates with men she has met online. She meets hilariously hapless losers, vain weirdos and lovelorn men with mummy issues. Then, on one impulsive date, she meets Quinn, a self proclaimed plumber who has yet to find “the one”. Lucy is blown away – she never expected to find a seemingly nice, normal guy (and especially not one so hot!). But Quinn has a secret: he is actually an undercover cop, trying to solve a murder case. There has been a series of murders that all lead back to certain online dating sites – and Lucy. Both of them continue this dance, neither of them trusting the other, while danger ensues. Men Lucy has been on dates with turn up dead, and Quinn starts to suspect her, despite falling for her at the same time. Lucy feels as though her life’s in danger, but can she trust Quinn? He has more secrets than knowledge on plumbing, but she can’t stop thinking about him. A modern day love story, mixed in with crime and drama and boatloads of humour. Buy this book – it’s a gem!

See Jane Score is another book that had me hooked. Jane is a petite, non-flashy journalist who is given the job to follow the Seattle Chinook hockey team for the season. Not a sports fan by nature, she studiously throws herself into learning everything “hockey”. The team doesn’t want her there – in their eyes, she’s a parasitic reporter and a woman – both things that apparently impact on the teams luck while playing. (Silly, superstitious men!) Luc, one of the hardest nosed players, especially resents Janes presence. She isn’t the kind of woman he normally likes – blonde, curvaceous and eternally slutty. Jane is small, a little plain, and has more brains than all of Lucs exes put together. They clash, Luc believing Jane is an uptight little girl with no imagination. Jane finds Luc absolutely frustrating and pig-headed, albeit gorgeous. As the team comes to accept her, and she gets to know the sport and its lifestyle, Jane finds fodder for her secret life – as Honey Pie, the magazine columnist that writes scandalous and sexy pieces for a popular magazine. An apples and oranges story, one filled with twists and turns and plenty of characters flaws – but wow! The love-hate magnetism between the two lead characters! And what’s sexier than a hockey team, coupled with a woman who isn’t your typical sex symbol but still manages to be every mans dream? Great book.

There are a whole heap of books just as good as these two – all funny, with strikingly different characters and wonderfully colourful plot lines. Go, buy, read – ENJOY! You can buy her books from most bookshops, or even buy online at Fishpond or MightyApe

Rachel Gibson and her Books

Ricky Moment Update Monday, Jan 4 2010 

Everyone who knows me knows I love Mr Ricky Gervais. Honest to god, I love everything he does. God bless Youtube for bringing more of him to the world!

Have you seen him and Elmo playing around behind the scenes when Ricky was on Sesame Street? Watch it here.

Or perhaps bloopers/corpsing from Extras? Watch part one here, but make sure to also watch part two! It will make you cry with laughter.

Ohhh, and just so you know, Ricky, Steve and Karl’s new podcast (Guide to the Future) is now available on iTunes. Brilliant, hilarious stuff.

Also, the new Flanimals pop-up book is available – get it for your kids, or just for yourself. So clever. Ricky is a talented man.

Ricky Corpsing

Evermore by Alyson Noel Monday, Jan 4 2010 

I love books. All kinds of books – which is why I also find myself reading the odd bit of young adult fiction. I went out the other day and spotted a book called Evermore by Alyson Noel, an author I had never heard of before. Reading the back, it seemed a little Twilight-wannabe, but I thought “Oh, I’ll give it a go.”

So I bought the first book (in a series of three, so far) and took it on holiday with me. I wasn’t expecting too much, but I really enjoyed it, and as soon as I could I ordered the next two on MightyApe.

Evermore is about a sixteen year old girl called Ever Bloom, who is the sole survivor of a horrific car accident that killed both of her parents and her little sister, Riley. Ever goes from a blonde, cheerleader type with a great life to a guilt-ridden, baggy-clothing wearing freak that lives with her rich but detached Aunt. Oh, and did I mention that since the crash where she sustained a massive head injury, she’s been psychic? 

She hears every single persons thoughts, more so on touch. She sits in school with her hood up over her head and her iPod on full blast, trying to drown out the nastiness of high school, the pain, the personal agonies. She cannot switch off her ability, sometimes finding the world too much to handle. Her two best (and only) friends, are Haven and Miles. Haven is a goth-emo-punk wannabe that just wants to be loved, and Miles is a fun, over the top gay guy. The three of them are the schools “losers”, but Ever doesn’t care. Her life is over, in her mind, as she holds herself responsible for the crash and wont forgive herself. The highlight of her day is that her dead sister Riley still visits her, still being as annoying as always, but will not inform Ever of where their parents are. Life continues on like this for a while…

Then one day, along comes Damen. Gorgeous, sexy, confident, worldly. Every female (and Miles!) jumps up and down for joy at the sight of this newcomer, except for Ever. Oh yes, she can’t help but drool over him too, but there is more to Damen than everyone else see’s. When Damen is around, when he touches her, the psychic voices fade away to nothing. He pulls flowers out of thin air, moves faster than should be humanly possible. Every little thing is noted by Ever, and even though she is suspicious of him, she falls very quickly in love.

Then things start to get dangerous, dark. People start to die, a woman from Damons past (Drina) turns up and steals away Haven, and Ever hits rock bottom and turns to alcohol to dull the pain of her life.

This book is for teens, yes, but it’s not soft and fluffy. It’s not an easy love story, and it’s not your typical Vamp page-turner either. It’s well written, you really feel for Ever and everything she has to go through, and the twists and turns are ones you would never guess. The characters aren’t perfect, but that makes it easier to relate to them. It’s a modern take on supernatural love, with mention of iPhones, The TV show Friends and MP3 players. 

If you have a teen queen (or king!) that loved Twilight, L.J. Smiths books or anything similar – then buy this series. If you are like me and find merit in just reading good books, no matter what the target audience is, then here’s the books for you! 🙂

Evermore by Alyson Noel

2009… Farewell… R.I.P… Lesson Learnt Saturday, Dec 26 2009 

What did 2009 mean to you? What stories caught your attention, what songs buzzed around in your brain like a fly whacked on speed? Everyone had their own personal ups and downs, of course. For me, it was (is) recovering from a pretty bad car accident. Breaking up with a boyfriend of over five years (my choice, but none the less hard), coping with the backlash of the recession and trying to move past my friends death that happened at the end of 2008. Sorry to be a downer there, but 2009 has been ROUGH! I’m looking forward to a fresh beginning in 2010, but before the year rolled over, I thought I’d blog about the events and happenings that caught my attention in ’09. 

First off, the recession. It’s almost become it’s own entity, hasn’t it? People talk about it like it’s a living, breathing thing with actions and no conscience. People have lost their jobs, homes, security. Businesses have closed down, new graduates have struggled to find work. It has been a terribly hard year for everyone, but we battled through and its only up from here!

The Recession Trend

 

The Chris Brown/Rihanna debacle where Chris attacked Ri-Ri while he was driving and she was in the passenger seat. This was brutal and alarming – you don’t think such horrendous behavior happens between celebrity couples. It has highlighted how violence can permeate into anyone’s life, including those who seemingly “have it all”. I won’t go into the he said, she said stuff – google it if you want details. All I want to say is that after it happened, the world was awash with sympathy for the Umbrella singer, and Chris continues to be shunned. Abusing someone is never okay, and I’m just glad that Chris was given the dunce hat on this one as opposed to being excused. I hope a lot of people out there learned from this situation, at the very least. Rihanna will continue to make great music, and seems to have become stronger despite all of the negative media attention and hype. Chris played the “I don’t know what happened, it just wasn’t me” card, but at least owned up to what he did. He didn’t blame her. I just hope he can learn to harness his temper so that the next girl doesn’t cop it too, and I also pray that his fans don’t take direction from his actions and let themselves lash out too. Sad to say, it happens when people are impressionable. This was a big story in 2009 – and I look forward to seeing more and more celebs being pulled up on their behavior in the coming years. I don’t care about sex, drugs and alcohol. That’s personal, it’s not my business. But when it’s something like violence, I do not believe they should get away with it because of their fame. Step one. 

Chris Brown and Rihanna

 

President Barack Obama had a bit of a full on year. He was elected 44th president (and first African-American one to boot, whoop whoop!)  in November of 08′, but was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009. Along with that, he also won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. What a year, and what a man! The news has been saturated with everything Obama has done, from his decisions regarding Iraq to his economical plans and strategies to beat the global recession. I finally have faith in the US government with him at the reins. 

Barack Obama

 

The release of the movie The Twilight Saga: New Moon (based on Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling books) was a big event in my eyes! My friends and I, all avid fans of both the books and the first flick, spent most of the year discussing the up and coming release. Edward or Jacob? Could they get across the sorrow of New Moon, the book, into the movie? Could Taylor Lautner pull off Jacobs physical change? Would the movie work with Edward leaving at the beginning? Ahhh, it’s the big questions in life! You may laugh at me, but I was merely one of MILLIONS waiting for the same thing. A bit of Vampire/Werewolf action – oh yeah! 

New Moon Movie Poster

 

On a sad note, many celebrities died in 2009. A scarily high amount, and a lot of them far too young. This struck a chord with me, and I do believe, with the world. So R.I.P. to the following greats:

* David Carridine – 08/12/1936 to 03/06/2009. An actor, well known for many roles over the years. One of his most recent magic roles was Bill in the Kill Bill movies. He was found dead in Thailand from, err, accidental asphyxiation. Enough said. 

* Edward (Ted) Kennedy – 22/02/1932 – 25/08/2009. A United States Senator and an integral part of the Kennedy family. In 2008 he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, and died from the ensuing complications in 2009. 

* Farrah Fawcett  – 02/02/1947 to 25/06/2009. An actress known most famously for her role in Charlie’s Angels. Died from the complications of rectal cancer. 

* Frank McCourt – 19/08/1930 to 19/07/2009. Teacher and famous author of the books Angela’s Ashes and Teacher Man. He died from metastatic melanoma.

* Jade Goody – 05/06/1981 to 22/03/2009. TV personality and “Queen” of reality television in the UK. Died tragically of cervical cancer. 

* Jett Travolta – 13/04/1992 to 02/01/2009. Jett wasn’t a celebrity, but his parents were (John Travolta and Kelly Preston.) This poor kid captured the heart of the world when he died. It made everyone think, if it could happen to a celebrities child it could happen to mine. So sad. His cause of death was an epileptic seizure

* Michael Jackson – 29/08/1958 to 25/06/2009. This was probably the most famous death of the year, and one that truly stopped people in their tracks. MJ was possibly the most talented performer ever to live (okay, I’m a bit biased, so sue me) and was known world-wide for his amazing music and bizarre lifestyle. He died in his home from an overdose of drugs… It has yet to be determined if this was the fault of his Doctor or just the result of his chosen lifestyle. Either way, we lost an amazing talent. 

* Natasha Richardson – 11/05/1963 to 18/03/2009. An actress in movies like The Parent Trap and Maid In Manhattan. Died far too young due to a skiiing accident which resulted in a fatal epidural hematoma.

* Patrick Swayze – 18/08/1952 to 14/09/2009. Actor and dancer – famous mostly for his roles in Dirty Dancing, Ghost and Point Break. Died of pancreatic cancer. 

* Stephen Gately – 17/ 03/1976 to 10/10/2009. Singer with Irish boyband Boyzone. Died from a pulmonary oedema.

* Walter Cronkite – 04/11/1916 to 17/07/2009. Famous US journalist. Died from cerebrovascular disease.

* Brittany Murphy – 10/11/1977 to 20/12/2009. An actress famous for rom-com roles in such movies as Clueless and Just Married. Her autopsy results have yet to be released at the time of me writing this, but she was found collapsed in her bathroom from suspected heart complications/failure. So young, so sad.

There were more, but these are the people that passed that truly made their mark on the world (in my eyes, at the very least.) R.I.P. to you all, you amazing, talented, wicked bunch. 

R.I.P.

 

The Swine Flu Pandemic. Now, that lasted through a huge chunk of 2009! A lot of people poo-poo’d it, but at the end of the day, it was a flu that could take down someone with a compromised immune system. The young, the old, the already sick. But it certainly caused an uproar – but with less panic than the Bird Flu (remember that?) At the very least, I hope it taught people to wash their blimmin’ hands. (Pet peeve, don’t mind me!) 

Swine Flu

 

The Tiger Woods debacle. The car accident, the cheating, the media circus surrounding it. I kind of feel sorry for the guy… I don’t believe in cheating, and his poor wife for having to go through it all, but imagine how it must feel to be them! With the media glare watching their every move – how humiliating. Over a dozen women have stepped forward to say Tiger cheated on his wife with them, and at this point (to be fair), there’s no proof that these allegations are all true. I’d say most of these “ladies” (scoff) are lying just to get into the headlines and on tv. But Tiger has admitted to transgressions in his statement here and most recently, his wife Elin (a model, so why Tiger, WHY?!) has walked out on their marriage with the kids in tow. Looks like this sports star has a rough path ahead of him… But at the end of the day, he is human. If everyone could forgive the rapscallion President Clinton for his “transgressions”, I’m sure we can all move past judging Tiger and leave him and his family to sort themselves out in private. This has been such a major story for 2009 – sad huh?

The Woods Family

 

This year has been a major year for book to screen adaptations. Of course this is a concept that has been around for ages, and has been gaining real momentum in the past ten years or so. But I found 2009 to be quite heavy with it. The movies that came out in ’09 that were originally books are:

* The Twilight Saga: New Moon – The sequel to the movie Twilight about two star-crossed lovers, Bella anordinary human girl, and Edward, a tortured vampire. Another dimension is added with Jacob, a werewolf who is also in love with Bella. Based on the series by Stephenie Meyer.

* The Lovely Bones – Directed by Peter Jackson and written by the amazing Alice Sebold. This is about a young girl who is raped and murdered, and how she watches over her family as they fall apart over her death. She is stuck in the “in between”, having not quite passed over and yet not on earth. Her Father strives to find her murderer, and becomes consumed by this. Heart wrenching.

* My Sisters Keeper – A wonderful movie made from the amazing book by Jodi Picoult. It’s about a beautiful teenaged girl who has spent her entire life dying of cancer, kept alive only due to her mothers absolute refusal to give up. When her daughter is diagnosed with cancer, the mother chooses to give birth to a genetically specified child so that she can harvest blood and stem cells etc from this healthy child to save her dying daughter. Heartbreaking, thought provoking and makes you appreciate your family. 

* Up In The Air – Originally a novel by Walter Kirn, this movie has yet to be released in NZ, but has been (just!) in the US. This is about a corporate downsizer and his travels. Where he goes, who he meets and what he learns.

* Invictus – A movie directed by the great Clint Eastwood and based on a book called Playing the Enemy, by John Carlin. A true story about newly elected Nelson Mandela, and how he joined with the captain of the South African rugby team in the wake of the apartheid to push forward his country, leading them to the 1995 world cup championships. 

* Julie & Julia – A movie about the chef Julia Child, based on the book about her experience with Julia’s cooking by Julie Powell. 

* Where The Wild Things Are – A childrens book by Maurice Sendak that has been adapted for the big screen, about a boy called Max who is naughty and sent to bed early, and creates his own world where there are monsters and he is king. 

* Precious – You may have heard of it, because it has Oprah Winfrey’s fingerprints all over it. The movie is based on the book that was originally titled Push (later renamed Precious) by the author Sapphire. The story follows a young african american girl called Precious, who is overweight, illiterate and living in poor-town Harlem. She becomes pregnant after being raped by her own father, and struggles with the help of her teacher to create a real life for herself and her child. 

* Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince – This is the sixth book/movie in the multi-million dollar franchise that J.K. Rowling wrote as a struggling, single mother. Harry Potter is a teenage wizard who attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with his friends and has to face many challenges along the way. (Usually evil ones)

* The Time Travelers Wife – This novel by Audrey Niffenegger has sold so many copies worldwide that it’s not surprising that it was turned into a movie. About a man who spontaneously time-travels against his own will, and the complications it brings to the absolute love of his life, his wife.

* Angels & Demons – The sequel to The Di Vinci Code, another very smart book by Dan Brown turned into a bit of an action flick for the big screen. 

* Confessions Of A shopaholic – Based on a series of light-hearted books by author Sophie Kinsella, this was easily adapted into a Rom-Com type flick.

* The Road – A book written by Cormac McCarthy, about a father and sons relationship evolving as they are left alive while most of the world is killed. A post-apocalyptic tale about survival. 

* Coraline – A children’s book by Neil Gaiman, turned into a movie, about a little girl called Coraline who finds a way into an alternate world where all her dreams come true. It’s a tale of “be careful what you wish for”.

Honestly, that’s not even all of them, just a few of my picks! Obviously they have caught on to the idea that you just can’t beat a good book – or perhaps they are just relying on the pre-existing fan base? Hmmm…

Adaptations: Books to Movies

 

Another thing that stuck out in 2009 for me was the iPhone. I know it wasn’t released in 2009, but it has become stronger and stronger in popularity, especially in the past year. From applications, to music, to using your iPhone to update your Twitter/Facebook account, the iPhone is this years must have. 

The iPhone

 

2009 also brought forward the brilliant Lady Gaga. She truly became an artist of her own standing this year, and I kind of see her as the Madonna of the naughties. Weird, funky, catchy, freaky – she is an odd act, but one no one can get enough of! I have even caught my Mum singing along to her – which has to mean she is saturating the market because my Mother only listens to the oldies stations!

Lady Gaga

Michael Jackson found the uber-talented, Australian born guitarist Orianthi before he died – he even had her set up as his lead guitarist for “This Is It”. She released an album this year due to her sudden popularlity – and it’s okay, she can sing, meh – but OMG her guitar riffs are orgasmic! (I can say that, it’s my blog!) So check her out on iTunes or YouTube – WOW! Best newcomer for 2009, even if it’s for her instrument artistry. 

Orianthi

So, 2009 has been insane for celebs having babies and calling them Sunday-Roast or whatever. But I don’t want to do a run through of that because I don’t have another 12 hours to list them all. So I’m going to list another popular hobby this year for the rich and famous: Breaking up. Doesn’t matter how sexy you are, or how much money you have, there is always someone willing to leave you. Bless.

So here are a list of some of the most famous of golden couples that have decided to walk (according to magazines and gossip websites – I take it all with a grain of salt myself!)

* Kim Kardashian & Reggie Bush

* Joe Jonas & Camilla Belle (Awww… Poor kids)

* Kim Cattrall & Alan Wyse

* Jessica Simpson & Tony Romo

* Jon & Kate Gosselin (Thank god, for the kids sake, sheesh)

* Billy Joel & Katie Lee (Might be the age difference… ?)

* Megan Fox & Brian Austin Green

* Paris Hilton & Doug Reinhardt

* Miley Cyrus & Justin Gaston

* Mel Gibson & Robyn Moore 

* Lindsay Lohan & Samantha Ronson (Not that they ever publicly declared they were together either *shrugs*)

* John Mayer & Jennifer Aniston (Poor Jen 😦 )

* Holly Madison & Criss Angel

* Hayden Panettiere & Milo Ventimiglia

* David Cook & Kimberly Caldwell

* Patricia Arquette & Thomas Jane

There are sooo many breakups it’s not funny. And yet, a lot of the big ones stayed together… Tom and Katie, Brad and Angelina, Posh and Becks… Maybe it only happens when your are only so-so famous? PFFT, yeah right. 🙂

Heartbreak

 

One of the really sickening events in New Zealand in 2009 was the Clayton Weatherston case. He was sentenced this year for the murder of his former girlfriend, the beautiful and intelligent Sophie Elliott. He stabbed poor Sophie 216 times in her own bedroom while Sophie’s mother tried to break down the locked door. No one believed his plea of self defense (that she had tried to stab him with scissors first – but even if she had, why retaliate by stabbing her that many times? Who goes somewhere with a knife? One word: Premeditated) and he was sentenced to 18 years non-parole. This was another case that highlighted the culture of brutality between some couples, or at least the potential of it. As awful as it sounds, I hope he rots.

Clayton & Sophie

So thats the things (or as much as I can be bothered to write about) that shaped my year… Events and news that touched me, angered me, stayed with me. What was yours?

It’s Called A Breakup Because It’s Broken Saturday, Dec 5 2009 

Almost everyone goes through breakups. Whether it be because you have moved on, or they have, or because the other half is an a$#hole and cheated on you with someone else, it happens to the best of us. It hurts. It’s depressing. It’s completely consuming.

A few years back I went through a breakup and was having a hard time, when I stumbled across the book It’s called a breakup because it’s broken by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt. This book is the BEST thing to read when you are nursing a broken heart.

It’s a self-help book, yes. But it’s not a rambling, over the top philosophical or even psycho-babble type read. It is a strangely honest, funny and awkward look into breakups and how they affect us. Both of the authors talk of their humiliating past breakups, of the idiotic ways they reacted and how it led them down a path of even deeper depression. But there are also letters from the public, sharing their stories and hurts, making you feel less alone and happy to have something to relate to. You don’t feel quite so pathetic, either, when you realise everyone else struggles to cope, too. 

The book advises you on what and what not do do after a breakup, from not calling them when you get lonely at 2 AM to getting fit and healthy, as opposed to drinking yourself stupid. The tips are really great, helpful to the nth degree. 

The authors main goal, and you can tell this as you are reading, is to make you feel like a sexy, wonderful person. They basically say – their (the ex) loss is someone else’s gain. They don’t tell you its silly to be in so much pain. They don’t tell you to just get over it, like some people in your life are inclined to do if they don’t understand the agony of heartbreak. They gently, and humorously, guide you through the steps to help you heal. They make you laugh, make you cringe at the mistakes of others facing what you are facing, and also help you move on without embarrassing yourself to that jerk, err, one that got away. 

So if you are getting over a breakup, or you know someone who is, I recommend buying this book. It isn’t expensive, and it does help. It’s funny how you can rationalise your actions when you are so emotional. Seeing some of your thoughts and actions written down in the stories of others snaps you back to reality quick-smart, and helps you move away from that dark place.

It's Called A Breakup Because It's Broken

Gentry Does It Tuesday, Nov 17 2009 

I love books that are embroiled in fantasy – supernatural creatures, other worlds, you name it, I love it. One of the best authors in this genre (In my opinion, of course) is Laurell K. Hamilton. 

Laurell has written a massive series about a vampire slayer called Anita Blake (17 and counting) This is no Buffy wannabe series. Anita is a short, impatient necromancer (raises the dead) who also works for the police. She carries a gun, she hates girly things and she is absolutely against dating men of other “species.” She goes on to fall for both a powerful vampire and an alpha werewolf. Life isn’t simple for Anita. She fights for her life, bones are broken, scars are earned and friends are lost. Every book leads her dangerously into a world she can never escape from. 

Thats one series by Laurell K Hamilton. The other, is about a woman named Meredith Gentry. She works for a fey detective agency in the human world. In this series, there are also faeries. The Fey, the Sidhe, the Seelie. The world knows of them, treats them like royalty, like celebrities. There is the Dark Court and the Light Court. Meredith is a Princess from the Dark Court, and ran away to the human world to escape the vicious full-powered fey from her court. Meredith’s powers are little and few, and she finds her life threatened in her mythical world. But then she is hunted down by both courts and is dragged back, given the opportunity to become Queen of the Dark Court if she can get pregnant and finally give the Fey fresh blood.

These books are gorgeously dark, violent and filled with sex. This is a series about a people who have been around for thousands and thousands of years – with histories unlike any we could ever imagine. There is beauty and horror, love and betrayal, pain (Lot’s of pain) and pleasure (Lots of that too!). Eight books in this series so far, and not ONCE do you get bored. Not once do you think “Oh this has been done”. This is so amazingly different, so well written and so powerfully character driven that I hop up and down with excitement whenever I hear a new installment is coming out. I never know which direction Meredith is going to go in this story. She isn’t perfect, and with so much threatening her, things get confused and change quickly. But you just can’t help but read on to find out what happens next. Will she live or die? Will she get pregnant before her sadistic cousin Cel knocks up someone else and kills Meredith just for kicks? Who is more evil? Meredith’s Aunt, the Queen of the Dark Court or Meredith’s Uncle, the King of the Light Court? Who should she trust? Who should she help?

Absolutely wonderful, beautiful, enthralling writing that changed my literary life. I advise anyone who enjoys reading, especially this genre, to give it a go.

Laurell K Hamilton's Books

Shop Till Your Broadband Drops Wednesday, Nov 11 2009 

One of the most expensive pass-times that I happen to indulge in on a regular basis (Okay okay, daily) is online shopping. Sometimes I browse for something specific (A book, DVD or perfume) or just stumble across an impulse buy. 

During both my glee and fiscal regret that has accompanied this habit, my friends and family have piped up saying they didn’t know how to find Online Shopping Sites. I was flabbergasted. In this day and age, I thought everybody knew! So I thought, why not blog about my most frequented sites?

Drumroollll….

1) Trademe – http://www.trademe.co.nz – Okay, so even if you were living under a rock for most of your life, you would have heard of Trademe. But it’s a goodie, so it goes straight on my list. Trademe is where members can both sell and buy items, used and new, in online auctions. Some retailers have a Trademe “Shop Profile” where they sell their stock online, but mostly it’s individuals selling of unwanted gifts, clothing, cars and more. If you can think it, it’s probably for sale on this site.

2) FishPond – http://www.fishpond.co.nz – New Zealand’s biggest online bookstore, Fishpond sells books (New, but there are some second hand options) for very competitive prices. Amazing selection, including CD’s and DVD’s now, sourced directly from the distributors and sent to your door. Plus, if you spend NZD$50.00 or more you get free shipping… and to sweeten the deal, every now and then Fishpond sends you NZD$10.00 coupons via email. 

3) 1-Day – http://www.1-day.co.nz – 1-Day is a site that has three items for sale every single day. At noon, the three items get updated with three new options and so on. The items can be anything, from clothing to gadgets, but I find that there tends to be items for men approximately 60% of the time, which sucks for the ladies. Addictive, one of the easiest sites to impulse buy on. 

4) 3deals – http://www.3deals.co.nz – This is another site that works exactly the same way as 1-Day – Three items updated every day at noon. There is a point of difference though – The items seem to be for women about 60% of the time. (Guess life really does equal out at the end of the day, huh?) This site is the best for make-up deals and cookware.

5) Dealaday – http://www.dealaday.co.nz – This site is similar to the previous two in the sense that it updates every day with it’s daily deal, but the difference being it only ever has one item on special and the fact it updates at 10 AM rather than noon. It tends to feature mainly gadgets and tech stuff, as well as an awful lot for kids/babies. Great deals though. 

6) Off The Back – http://www.offtheback.co.nz – This is a site much like 1-Day and 3deals that updates every day with three main items that are on special. It sometimes has the most amazing products, but at other times falls short. The items chosen tend to be either quite expensive (Despite discount) or a bit cheap and tacky. But there are also a few good gems that turn up on this site. The products that tend to show up the most are gadgets, camera equipment and computer extras. 

7) I Want That – http://www.iwantthat.co.nz – This is an online store that has a lot of unique products. Everything from funny coasters to gun shaped vases; this store has it. Lot’s of specials, but it’s quality goods so not exactly cheap. Great for gift buying. 

8 ) OO – http://www.oo.com.au – This is an Australian online shopping website that delivers to New Zealand, and it has some really funky items. Everything from fitness gear, kitchen appliances, electronics and wine. Not cheap, but there are some really good specials and some things that are extremely hard to find anywhere else. Worth a look, definitely. 

9) Sella – http://www.sella.co.nz – A cheap mans Trademe. It’s not as good, but it runs the same way and has done the trick in the past when I haven’t been able to find an item on Trademe. Sella is ok… Not great. Just ok. 

10) Zillion – http://www.zillion.co.nz – See above for my Sella description. Exactly the same deal. Can’t beat Trademe, I’m afraid. 

11) The Warehouse – http://www.thewarehouse.co.nz – We all know the Big Red Shed, but did you know you can purchase things on their website now? Not everything is available to buy this way yet, but more and more gets added each week. Things like DVD’s, CD’s and jewellery are items you can purchase online, at the same discounted prices you get in store.

12) Ed Hardy – http://www.edhardy.co.nz – Anyone who knows me knows that I love Ed Hardy designs. The online store has the full in-store range available, including specials.

13) Amazon – http://www.amazon.com – Okay, so this is a U.S. store but it really is terrific. It sells almost everything but its the most famous for it’s massive assortment of books. Great range – amazing even – but despite super cheap prices you get massively stung on the international shipping. (So yeah, great for Americans!)

14) Paper Plus – http://www.paperplusbooks.co.nz – If you don’t feel like going into a Paper Plus store, then go to their site to find a great read. It’s not the cheapest, but it has the most information about the books, along with recommendations and picks for book clubs. Just great when you feel like a good book but have no idea where to start.

15) Glassons – http://www.glassons.co.nz – It’s not a groundbreaking site, but it has the usual good Glassons staples. Quality, fairly cheap clothing without having to mingle with obnoxious teens in overly lit malls. 

16) 599 – http://www.599fashion.com – Another American site, but one I really like. It sells a massive load of tops, along with a smaller selection of dresses, skirts and belts. And here is the great news. Everything is USD$5.99. Okay so not so cheap when you convert it, but not half bad either. The clothes are super cute and funky, good quality too. The shipping’s a bit “Ouch” but it’s made up for by the cheap products. 

17) Zazzle – http://www.zazzle.co.nz – A site that sells good quality t-shirts with any design you could possibly conceive on it – plus you can design your own. Kind of pricey, but as I said, the quality is what counts here. Great selection.

18) Mr Vintage – http://www.mrvintage.co.nz – A world famous site in New Zealand! This site sells t-shirts and hoodies with every kind of Kiwiana theme you can imagine. NZ brands, quotes, pop culture – you name it. Great deals daily, plus great gifts for overseas loved ones. Just a funky site for anyone who is proud to be a Kiwi.

19) Mighty Ape – http://www.mightyape.co.nz – Another good online store to buy books, DVD’s, CD’s and computer stuff. Really good savings, and it has a great range and sometimes products you just can’t get elsewhere. Every day the site gets better – more information, more products. LOVE IT!

20) Crazy Sales – http://www.crazysales.co.nz – This is one of those sites that sells everything. Well, almost anyway. Kids toys, fitness gear, musical instruments, beauty products and even rugs. I could go on, but you get the drift. It’s a mish-mash of glorious oddities, has a great selection of gift ideas as well as useful day-to-day items. Great deals, although it’s not the $2 shop! (Hmm, that’d be a great online store!)

21) EziBuy – http://www.ezibuy.co.nz – This is a great online store that has a massive selection of clothing – from the basics to a few surprisingly beautiful pieces. Shoes, lingerie, dresses, tops, jackets, swimwear… It’s not fashion chic, but hey, work it with one designer piece (Maybe a Guess bag? Mmmm…) and no one will ever know. Or care.

22) Supre – http://www.supre.com.au – Supre stores are littered around New Zealand, so you might not really see the point in shopping online and paying shipping from Australia. But I’m not inclined to see it that way. Supre has some super cute and funky clothes (If you steer away from the slut-wear and 80’s reject fluro items) and it’s nice to be able to browse through them all without a million angry teenage girls pushing past you as they viciously chew gum and sing along (badly) to the Britney Spears song playing waaaaayyyyy too loud on the speaker system. So yes, I prefer Supre from the relative safety of my laptop. Plus, although the shipping to New Zealand is about NZD$17.50, the clothing isn’t expensive so it’s totally worth it. 

23) Foodtown/Woolworths – http://www.foodtown.co.nz or http://www.woolworths.co.nz – Okay, so not the most exciting kind of shopping. But nothing beats getting to pick all the items that you want and having it brought right to your door. There is a set delivery fee which isn’t too bad, and you can get same day delivery. Brilliant. And totally lazy… But ahhh, I sure don’t miss those supermarket crowds!

24) Foodrunner – http://www.foodrunner.co.nz – Okay, while I’m on the lazy food bent, here is a site where you key in your location and it tells you which restaurants are available to you in your area. From there you can pick your food (Thai, Pizza, Italian etc) and pay online with a delivery fee of about NZD$12.50 (Steep, but remember, the idea here is pure laziness) and they bring it to your door. Brilliant when you’re working late, it’s raining and you don’t want to go out or if you’re sick. 

25) Apple – http://www.apple.com/nz – Apple products are a thing of beauty. I will blog about my love for the Mac later on, but the NZ Apple site is great for purchasing anything to sate your Apple needs. This site just makes me happy. 😀

26) Ezydeal – http://www.ezydeal.co.nz – Much like 1Day and 3Deals, it has three amazing specials every day. It seems to have a really good mix of make-up, gifts, gadgets and toys for kids. Really impressed with the prices too! My only issue with it is that it only runs Monday to Friday, so weekends are out for shopping!

27) SnatchADeal – http://www.snatchadeal.co.nz – Once again, this site offers three deals every day (11AM to 11AM the following day) and has a phenomenal choice of items. What’s more, if they have anything left over from previous days there is a section where you can still purchase those items! Wonderful idea, great site with exceptional prices.
Alrighty then! That’s my overzealous list of my fave online shopping sites! Hopefully I haven’t lead anyone down the road to financial ruin!

Young At Heart Tuesday, Nov 10 2009 

So, when I was about twelve I came across a series of books by an author called L.J. Smith. They were written for teens of about sixteen, and as soon as I started reading them, I was hooked. 

There are several series written by this author, as follows.

The Vampire Diaries – This series (Soon coming to the small screen in a TV adaptation) centers around Elena Gilbert, a high school girl torn between two vampire brothers, Stefan and the very much darker Damon. Both have a history that haunts them, and their inner struggle comes out as they vie for Elena’s heart.

The Secret Circle Trilogy – Cassie moves to New Salem and finds herself embroiled with a coven of Witches. She finds love, friendship, fear, betrayal and her very own powers. A really good look into the good and bad in all of us.

The Night World Series – So far there are nine titles in this series, each based around different characters. The Night World is a secret society of vampires, werewolves and witches that are forbidden from loving someone not of their kind. Each book focusing on a member of the Night World, following them down the path of self destruction as they find their true Soulmates and have to make the biggest choice they will ever face.

The Forbidden Game Trilogy – Jenny is a pretty, bright, average kind of girl with a nice life. She has a great boyfriend and wonderful friends. Life was never complicated until she meets Julian in a party supply store. Turns out Julian is not of this world and has had his eye on Jenny since she was a child. His interest in her turning into something more passionate, he pulls her and her friends into his realm to play a game. If he wins, her friends die and she belongs to him. If she wins, they go free. But everything with Julian isn’t so black and white. The beautiful man from this different world is both evil and good, the hunter and the hunted, sane and insane. Passionate, driven by obsession and pain, these books are wonderfully deep and rich.

Dark Visions Trilogy – Kaitlyn is different; always has been. She can draw the future before it happens. A scientist with millions of dollars at his disposal offers her a place at his secret school for psychics. The best education in exchange for the right to study her powers. At the school Kaitlyn becomes close to the other psychics, and gets entangled in a love triangle between golden boy Rob (The healer) and dark, broody Gabriel (The psychic vampire). As expected, everything turns sour with the scientist and the teens go on the run. On the way they learn a lot about themselves, each other and where they belong.

The Night Of The Solstice and Heart Of Valor – Two novels about three siblings who jump through a mirror into another realm called the Wild World, where Morgana (Of King Arthur fame) is real. A bit of a younger audience for these two books, but still a wonderfully rich read.

I have reread these novels as an adult and, to be honest, I enjoyed them just as much as I remembered. Don’t scoff and say “Oh, another Twilight wannabe”. These books were around well before Stephanie Meyer was dreaming about Edward, so don’t confuse the two. (Although I do recommend the Twilight saga  as well, because it’s AMAZING!)

Happy reading.

Vampire Diaries Book Cover

Vampire Diaries Book Cover

 

 

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