Friday, January 28, 2011

Mixed Bag #29

Good morning friends! It's a teeny-tiny Mixed Bag this week, but I hope you enjoy it anyway:

image source: we ♥ it

♥ There is now a release date for the Hunger Games. Bring on March 2012!

♥ The Herald Sun says why you should read to your children

♥ The Top 15 Most Groundbreaking Gay Roles on Television from Rolling Stone (though I'm disapointed that Willow and Tara from Buffy and Maxxie from Skins weren't featured on the list).

♥ Nic of Irresistible Reads has a great review of one of my favourite books, Finding Cassie Crazy (also released as The Year of Secret Assignments).

♥ I can't say how much I love Forever Young Adult. This I Know What You Did Last Summer drinking game and film discussion.

♥ Nathan Bransford has an excellent post on how to use Twitter.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fiction to Film - Twilight

So I kind of feel the need to have a bit of a disclaimer before this post. I feel that Twilight is something that people feel very strongly about (are either hardcore fans or more on the twat side). Whilst I have made mention of the series before (and the fact that I find it a bit silly), I hope this post is somewhat analytical - not hyper-critical - and encourages discussion. It will not be an RPattz-dazzle-lovefest, nor will it be a free-for-all Twilight bashing. I hope to examine the relationship between the book and the film and do so in a fair manner (focusing on the finished product and moving away from the media hype and personal relationships between the film cast). I hope you find it interesting!

The Fiction
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Publisher: Little, Brown
Length: 544 pages
Genre: Young Adult

From the Publisher: When 17 year old Isabella Swan moves to Forks, Washington to live with her father she expects that her new life will be as dull as the town. But in spite of her awkward manner and low expectations, she finds that her new classmates are drawn to this pale, dark-haired new girl in town. But not, it seems, the Cullen family. These five adopted brothers and sisters obviously prefer their own company and will make no exception for Bella.

Bella is convinced that Edward Cullen in particular hates her, but she feels a strange attraction to him, although his hostility makes her feel almost physically ill. He seems determined to push her away - until, that is, he saves her life from an out of control car. Bella will soon discover that there is a very good reason for Edward’s coldness. He, and his family, are vampires - and he knows how dangerous it is for others to get too close.

Wow, I feel like that synopsis says quite a lot about the story and not sure how much of my own commentary needs to be included. I also think if I start talking too much about my reaction to the novel, this post could be very long and ranty. I have to admit to really enjoying Twilight the first time I read it in 2007. It's not a challenging read, but it's engaging and there's something slightly addicting  about it (I'll admit, I couldn't put it down). It's through upon re-reads (and a severe case of second-hand embarrassment from watching and listening to hardcore Twilight fans) that I think my feelings have soured towards all things Twilight related.
I also feel that the hype leading up to the film was a bit of overkill and succeeded in both converting new fans, as well as creating an army of critics (whilst the book was certainly successful from a bookselling point of view, I didn't read much actual criticism of the text until after the film was released in late 2008).

The Film
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Screenwriter: Melissa Rosenberg
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Release Date: December 2008
Cast: Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan), Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black)

I was rather excited when I first heard Catherine Hardwicke would be directing, being a fan of her work from Thirteen (2003) and Lords of Dogtown (2005). I'll get to more specific opinions about the film below, but I have to say that you can't deny Hardwicke is a talented director and I feel, she has done a strong job with the original source material to create a film that is both faithful to Stephenie Meyer's novel, and is quite stunning to look at and allows the viewer to become fully immsersed in the community of Forks.

So the commentary to follow is slightly disjointed, and doesn't completely follow a particular timeline or theme (so please bear with me). It's a mix of opinion, observation and discussion and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments (so don't be shy!).

I really liked the way Charlie and Bella's relationship was depicted on screen. I think Charlie (Billy Burke) had a great, dry sense of humour and his scenes with Bella are endearing. I did tend to feel she was a bit cold and condescending towards him in the novel, so I think the film improved aspect (and because of this, also made Bella more likeable).

Holy Forks! I must say, I think the location scouting is kind of amazing, because the film looks and feels exactly how I imagined Forks from the books. I think if you watch the film (and even from just looking at the stills I've captured), there is a consistent colour palette used throughout and Forks is reflected in everything from clothing choices to lighting, props and set decoration.

So it's a tad obvious, but still quite a clever shot. One of the things I appreciate about the film, is there are so many little visual jokes or small moments which are quite quirky or catch you off guard. Hopefully these are reflected below. I think even if you dislike the book, think the screenplay is weak, or wish Stephenie Meyer a fiery, painful death, you can still agree there is an art to the filmmaking - and no, I'm not joking and am aware my film cred is probably very much on the line right now ....

Well look at that! This ssuggestive shot is followed by a slow upward pan and the music cues are totally standard film code for sexy times about to commence. Only, if you have read the book you (frustratingly) know this doesn't happen. Still, you have to admit that Catherine Hardwicke does quite a good job at capturing the sexual tension between the pair - because you have to admit, Meter does a lot of teasing in the books (and I'll cut myself off now, because I feel as though I could write an essay about sex and sexuality in the Twilight franchise and that's not something I really want to go into).

I was quite (pleasantly) surprised at how understated the meadow scene is, especially as a lot of people have made such a big deal about this in the book. I'm sure most of you have heard the story about how this vivid scene came to Stephenie Meyer in a dream and inspired her to write Twilight.

There is further discussion, comments and a whole load of film-stills below, if you're interested.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Polyvore Profile - Eliza Boans

Last year I was lucky enough to see Shirley Marr appear at the Melbourne Writers Festival (and get to speak to her briefly afterwards). I really enjoyed her debut novel, Fury, and reviewed it here. I've been deliberating over doing an Eliza Boans Polyvore for a while now - so I hope you enjoy it:

Eliza Boans

♥ You can read a sample from Fury here.
♥ I think the cover for Fury is absolutely stunning (seriously, one of my favourites!), but Shirley has also posted a number of the rejected cover designs, which I find really interesting. Part Two of the rejected covers is here.
♥ Shirley Marr's hilarious blog

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Good Oil - Laura Buzo

The Facts
Author: Laura Buzo
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Date of Publication: August 2010
Length: 252 pages

The Fiction
From the Publisher: 'Miss Amelia Hayes, welcome to The Land of Dreams. I am the staff trainer. I will call you grasshopper and you will call me sensei and I will give you the good oil. Right? And just so you know, I'm open to all kinds of bribery.'

From the moment 15-year-old Amelia begins work on the checkout at Woolworths she is sunk, gone, lost...head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming man-about-Woolies, but he's 21, and the six-year difference in their ages may as well be 100. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien but will he ever look at her in the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes?

As someone who was a check-out chick at Amelia's rival supermarket for over 3 years, Good Oil certainly struck a few chords with me. There is something bonding about working in a supermarket (seriously, you’ll know what I mean if you’ve worked at a Land of Dreams – cranky customers, fruit and veg codes, price checks & clearances, the incestuous store dating pool, politics, policies and skeevy managers).

I adored Good Oil! I was able to pick out a (slightly freakish) amount of myself at the same age in young Amelia – in her personality, her changing relationship with her friends and the way she views her parents. Amelia is smart, somewhat naive (oh lordy, there were a few incidents which made me laugh – one involving a misunderstanding over‘cones’ springs to mind) and introspective and her voice is relatable and easy to engage with. Buzo does a fantastic job in writing a realistic female teen protagonist and capturing an honest coming of age story.

The narrative switches between Amelia and Chris from about half way through Good Oil, which only cemented how much I liked the book (c’mon, you know by now that I love a good dual-narrative). Through diary entries and letters, Buzo has crafted such a likeable and fresh male voice – and one I feel isn’t heard often enough (Chris being in his early twenties and is beginning to think about life outside of uni). I thought the friendship between Chris and Amelia was amazingly well-written, and there’s something so charming about Chris, that you can’t help (like Amelia and the rest of the Land of Dreams) to fall into major ‘like’ with him.

I also felt that Laura Buzo’s writing of Chris was very honest (even at times when I didn’t want it to be!) – he speaks frankly about sex and makes dumb mistakes, like any other guy of the same age and I felt it added such an authenticity to the novel (because I’m a bit over YA love interests who are flawless and two-dimensional).

Good Oil is refreshing, funny and sweet. Whilst the premise is quite simple, the well-developed characters and honest depiction of adolescent firsts (crushes, kisses, jobs and heartbreak) makes for an engaging story. I really hope that we hear a lot more from Laura Buzo in the (not-so-distant) future – especially if there’s an Amelia & Chris follow up ... pretty please?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Film Lover's Companion - Notes from the Teenage Underground

Taking their anti-social edge one step further, seventeen-year-old Gem and her friends Mira and Lo have decided to go Underground. Their activities will be "extreme", "anti-establishment", "avant garde" and "debauched".

While Gem makes an underground film and Mira sets about pursuing "boys-without-barcodes" no one knows what it is that Lo – the most subversive of the three – has planned. But in the back of her mind, Gem's worried. She feels the balance of the trio's friendship is always weighted against her. And as the weeks draw closer to Christmas, appearances start to deceive and relationships flounder. For all the promise of the group, Underground seems a dark place to be.

It will take great films, bad poetry and a pantheon of inspirational guides – from Andy Warhol to Germaine Greer – to help Gem work out the true meaning of friendship, where family fits in, and that the best parts of life aren't always underground.

The Film Lover's Guide to Notes from the Teenage Underground
Remember I said after this post that there would be something else coming up for Notes from the Teenage Underground? Well, ta-da! I had so much fun writing my Film Lover's Companion for John Belushi is Dead at Mindful Musings, and Teenage Underground is so chock-full of movie references, the film geek in me couldn't stay away. So I have compiled a list of many of the films mentioned throughout the novel and why you should watch them!

Gem's Top 5 Favourite Films

How to Marry A Millionaire (Jean Negulesco, 1953)
One of my favourite three-girl-plot films (the other being Beyond the Valley of the Dolls if you're curious) and such a fun watch. Directed by Jean Negulesco (who Gem refers to as "King of the three-girls plot"), How to Marry A Millionaire centres around three female roommates and (not-surprisingly) their plan to marry rich. The film is so charming, has plenty of meet-cutes and the wardrobes of Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe are to die for! Like Gem, I love this because each girl gets both a 'lesson' and a happy ending.

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
Another incredible film! One of my favourites from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. I don't even think I can coherently state how amazing this film is (seriously, if you haven't seen it - do so now!). Jimmy Stewart is incredible as Scottie Ferguson, the acrophobic cop-turned-private investigator (though I'm very biased as I think he can do no wrong) and whilst I know reviews of Kim Novak's performance were mixed, I think she makes quite a good Hitchcock Blonde. Vertigo highlights Hitchcock's true mastery of the camera and the psychological-thriller plotline has gone on to influence generations of filmmakers.

Withnail and I (Bruce Robinson, 1987) - I love the scene where Gem and Rolf watch this together!
Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974) - there is a reason why almost every single screenwriting manual uses examples from this film!
Gas, Food, Lodging (Allison Anders, 1992)

Dodgy's films
Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, 1992)
Oh Dodgy! This is such a quintessential male film-buff favourite (seriously, every guy in my film class picked this as their favourite film in our first tutorial). In Dodgy's defence, it is an awesome film with the nonlinear storyline, sharp dialogue and a killer soundtrack, all of which are now hallmarks of Tarantino's distinctive style.

Wild at Heart (David Lynch, 1990)
Jurrasic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1996)
Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997)
Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)

Marco's choices

Earthquake (Mark Robson, 1974), one of the best-known films to come out of the boom of the disaster genre during the seventies. Starring Ava Gardner, who Marco hails as "the doyenne of disaster" and Charleton Heston, Earthquake shows us hysteria and a struggle for survival in Los Angeles, following an epic natural disaster (one guess as to what it is ...). There's something about the way people band together in disaster films which makes me enjoy them more than I feel I should.
Marco also recommends:
On the Beach (Stanley Kramer, 1959)
The Day After Tomorrow (Roland Emmerich, 2004)

Bev's Favourite
Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969)
The film that led the New Hollywood wave of filmmaking of the late sixties. A classic road movie, simple premise, fantastic performances and some very nice bikes. The whole bad-trip scene at the cemetery blows my mind every time I  watch it. I also kind of love that it's Bev's "cinematic equivalent to a pair of comfy slippers and a pack of Tim Tams".  In Notes from the Teenage Underground, Bev mentions that she and Rolf saw the film on an early date.

Bev and Gem
The Sandpiper (Vincente Minnelli, 1965).
C'mon, you know anything with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton together is going to be good for some drama! Sorry, I haven't seen The Sandpiper myself so I can't say much more about it (except that Richard Burton's chest looks exceptionally hairy and manly in the poster).

Also mentioned as one of Gem and Bev's favourite films is my personal number one film choice for the holidays, It's A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946). If you watch this and not cry, I question whether or not you have a soul ...

Warhol and The Factory
Kiss (Andy Warhol, 1963)
Flesh (Andy Warhol, 1968)
Trash (Andy Warhol, 1969)
Ciao Manhattan! (John Palmer, 1972)
Basquiat (Julian Schnabel, 1996)
I Shot Andy Warhol (Mary Harron, 1996)

Also mentioned:
A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971), Ed Wood (Tim Burton 1994), I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (Hy Averback, 1968), Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger, 1969), Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980), Rebel Without A Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955), Summer Lovers (Randal Kleiser, 1982), Titanic (James Cameron, 1997), Three Coins in the Fountain (Jean Negulesco, 1954), Two Lane Blacktop (Monte Hellman, 1971).

Loved reading Notes from the Teenage Underground? Try watching:
Pecker (1998) and Cecil C. Demented (2001) - ok, so I know John Waters isn't for everyone but seriously, trust me on these two. Your mind will be blown and you may find yourself becoming a die-hard Dreamlander.
Nowhere (Gregg Araki, 1997)
Ghostworld (Terry Zwigoff, 2001)
Art School Confidential (Terry Zwigoff, 2006)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mixed Bag #28

Good morning blog-land. Here is a small sample of some things that have amused or interested me online this week. Hope you enjoy them!

image source: we ♥ it

♥ Please, please stop by Authors for Queensland! This author-organised auction is to help raise money for the Queensland Flood Appeal, so it's all going to a good cause and there are some very generous/amazing book-and-writing-related goodies up for grabs.

♥ Jordyn at Ten Cent Notes perfectly captures why I love contemporary YA fiction

♥ Ohhh, you can read the first chapter of Sarah Dessen's upcoming novel, What Happened to Goodbye over at her blog.

♥ Kristi at The Story Siren identifies the 10 signs of book addiction

♥ A Babysitter's Club Where Are They Now from The Hairpin

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer - Lish McBride

The Facts
Author: Lish McBride
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Date of Publication: November 2010
Length: 348 pages

The Fiction
From Penguin: Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he's doing all right - until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak. Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he's a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else. With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But can a bratty harbinger named Ashley save his skin?

Lish McBride, you had me at the title. No really. I saw it bandied around the Internet for the past couple of months and every time it managed to make me chuckle. I get a copy from my local library, and Lish, you did not disappoint! Your unique spin on the overflowing paranormal YA genre is fresh and engaging (not to mention, maintains an excellent balance of snark and smarts).

Seriously. I was very impressed with Hold Me Closer Necromancer! Sam is such an easy character to like – a bit of a slacker and uni drop out, he’s stuck behind the fryer at Plumpy’s whilst trying (well kind of) to sort himself out. I really appreciated the fact that Sam was slightly older than your usual YA protagonist, and with this came a new set of issues he’s trying to deal with (life after high school, what happens when college doesn’t work out) and social situations to explore. Anyway, Sam is a very relatable protagonist and his voice is well-developed (I was actually a bit annoyed when the novel changes from Sam’s first person narration to a third-person because I really enjoyed reading from his point of view). McBride rounds out the novel with a great group of supporting characters/fellow fry cooks – Ramon, Brooke and young Frank.

As I mentioned above, the novel switches between Sam’s point of view as he begins to discover his supernatural abilities, and the history and stories of a secretive council of paranormal beings (that Sam is destined to be a part of). At first I found these other plots slightly off-putting (uhhh excuse me, where is the lovely Samhain?) because I was so involved with Sam and the Plumpy’s gang, but as the two begin to interconnect you can certainly appreciate and enjoy both narratives and the world McBride creates.
The two other key ‘supe’ (yanking this term from Charlaine Harris please and thank you!) characters, Brid and Douglas are both carefully fleshed out and given the attention they deserve - all of McBride’s characters are given moments of importance and carefully thought out personality traits, which I really liked. I have to say I especially appreciated seeing a strong female character of the supernatural persuasion (no lustful vampires or twee fairies) - Brid is intelligent, independent and fiercely loyal.

I feel like I should warn readers that as suggested earlier, Hold Me Closer Necromancer falls at the older end of YA and there is some ‘mature’ content (language, violence and sexual references) so if this isn’t really your thing or you are a young’un, err on the side of caution I suppose.

I’m not quite sure what else to say without accidently revealing major plot information or oversharing on my enthusiasm for this book. Oh, and something small but a detail I loved in Hold Me Closer Necromancer was the use of song titles for each chapter (yes, sometimes this is mega corny) but as the songs were so perfectly selected – like Dead Man’s Party and Birdhouse in Your Soul, it totally worked (and oh my goodness – would make for an amazing mix CD! Ohhhh, must get onto that. Edit - I did get onto that! You can list to my Hold Me Closer Necromancer playlist here). I'm really hoping there is a sequel in the works, because whilst Lish McBride achieves a sense of resolution, I can't help but want to re-visit Sam, Brid and the Plumpy's crew and see how they're holding up in a few month's time. All I can say is for someone who isn't really a huge fan of paranormal young adult fiction, I honestly can’t recommend this highly enough.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mixed Bag #27

Good morning friends! Here is my weekly collection of links to things that have interested and/or amused me recently, to keep you entertained this morning - hope you enjoy them:

image source: we ♥ it

♥ ABC are developing a mini-series based on Wicked, the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire.

Girl with A Satchel wants to know - why are these titles not films yet? Totally agree, especially with Chain of Hearts (one of my favourite Maureen McCarthy novels).

♥ Megan's series on Literary Life about online vs in-store book buying has really blown me away. If you haven't read it yet, get cracking!

♥ Another great series - this time from the lovely folks at Alien Onion on what editors do.

♥ I adored Jordyn's post on that moment over at Ten Cent Notes. This is beautiful.

♥ Not book related, but a worthy read anyway: Brunch at Saks on paying it foward.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Polyvore Profile - Gem Gordon

It's back! After a short hiatus over Christmas, I'm excited to bring back Polyvore Profiles as a fortnightly feature. And what better way to kick-start this in a new year, than looking at one of my favourite novels, Simmone Howell's Notes from the Teenage Underground. I love this book, and cannot believe I only read it for the first time last year - I really wish I had read this earlier (it was released in 2006, the year I started my degree in cinema studies!). I also feel like I haven't identified so strongly with a character, like I have with Gem, for a long time.

Gem Gordon

♥ Simmone Howell's awesome blog, Post-Teen Trauma
♥ The first chapter of Teenage Underground is up on insideadog

I'm planning another post on Notes From The Teenage Underground soon, so keep watching this space!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Marrying Ameera - Rosanne Hawke

The Facts
Author: Rosanne Hawke
Publisher: Harper Collins
Date of Publication: August 2010
Length: 304 pages

The Fiction
From Harper Collins: Ameera,16, is the daughter of an Australian mother and a Pakistani father. She doesn′t realize it, but her father has made plans to marry her off to a wealthy cousin in Pakistan. When her uncle takes her passport and return ticket away, and confiscates her mobile phone, Ameera is trapped. She will have to go through with the marriage. With the help of an organisation that rescues girls in Ameera′s situation, she must demonstrate strength beyond her years to escape from Pakistan and win her freedom.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m always interested to read novels which explore teens with diverse cultural backgrounds and the impact of this on their lives (such as The Good Daughter), so I was intrigued to read Marrying Ameera. The novel centers around Ameera (born to an Australian mother and Pakistani father and raised Muslim), and the first third of the novel depicts her life in Adelaide, before taking Ameera and the reader to Pakistan. Though Ameera is a dutiful daughter, with an interest in her heritage, she also questions aspects of her upbringing and some of the issues and expectations of being a young Muslim in contemporary Australia.

Despite the cultural differences between Ameera and myself, I felt like she is a character a lot of young women can relate to. Once she is sent to Kashmir (supposedly on holiday to help celebrate a cousin’s wedding), we are able to share her thoughts and responses, as she is a ‘Westerner’ and somewhat of an outsider in new surroundings. Her main conflict – to stand up for herself and be able to make her own choices in life or uphold the reputation and honour of her family is an important one for many teens, and this is very well handled by Hawke throughout the course of the narrative.

She attempts tostand up for herself and yet also seems to be torn with a moral issue – the effect her decisions will have on her family, particularly her father. I also thought that the romance storyline (between Ameera and her friend’s older brother, Tariq) was nicely written and quite subtle – quite a refreshing change from a lot of YA romance (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m always interested to read about different teen relationships and the issues bought out in more diverse pairings).

One of the things that impressed me most with Marrying Ameera is the level of detail in Hawke’s writing. You can perfectly see, hear and smell the marketplace bazaar of Muzaffarabad. You take part in the intricate rituals of a traditional wedding preparation. Rosanne does a fantastic job at explaining Pakistani customs and traditional beliefs, in a clear and easy to understand manner. I also find that her writing is very culturally sensitive – you can see how heavily researched her writing is (and Rosanne herself has taught and spent time in Pakistan) and is able to capture Ameera’s voice (the mixture of Western with the Pakistani influence) authentically. I also thought it admirable that Hawke tackled a somewhat controversial topic for a teen audience, and shares some really insightful observations on the difference between arranged and forced marriages (which was something I wasn’t aware of) and allows the reader to make up their own mind, rather than forcing a Western point of view.

For a novel which makes you think and sheds light on a surprisingly contemporary issue (I think we tend to forget that forced marriages still exist but going from these news stories like this and this, they are a reality), Marrying Ameera is an engaging and commendable read.

PS. Isn't the cover stunning? The picture doesn't to it justice, as it also features gold foiling, but it's gorgeous and I included it as one of my 5 Great Covers of 2010.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sony E-Reader Follow Up

So I had originally intended to do a follow-up to my Sony Pocket E-Reader review a month after owning it (you know, once the honeymoon period was over). After a month of use though, I thought I’d wait another couple of months because surely something would have come up in that time. Now almost four months after use, it seems about right to fill you all in on how it’s going now.

One word – great! Seriously, I kept thinking something would happen that I could tell you about (like the battery life was shoddy or certain formats sucked) but I have had no such problems. I use the e-reader for an average of 5 hours a week (ish – I usually alternate between reading a physical book and the e-reader for my 2 hour commute each day).

Battery life: Awesome!! Surprisingly so – I had expected the battery to drain quickly will all the page-turns, but I find that I really only charge my e-reader once a week (I’ll usually leave it until the weekend). Sometimes I’ll plug it in midweek to update my library, but once a week charging seems to be plenty to get through the week without the e-reader getting sluggish.

Functionality: For what I’m using it for, it’s very easy to use. I think if you plan on utilising more of the extra features, like highlighting and note-taking you might find the stylus a bit fiddly, but I don’t really use it enough to really comment (and if you do plan on using it regularly, I’m sure you’d get better with it).

Reading and Formats: So far I’ve tried EPUB documents, PDF and Word documents. Each format has worked fine for me. I do find occasionally I will need to increase the magnification on some texts (but I have pretty dodgy eye-sight anyway, so it might just be me).
(I borrowed the Luxe ebook from my local library)

Reader Software (Library): Look it’s pretty basic (like an early version of iTunes) but again, works fine for me (though I'd be interested to see how tidy it stayed if you had more than 50+ ebooks - I tend to get rid of titles once I've read them). The only other downside I can think of for some users is the lack of wireless internet connection for instant downloads, so if you want this function - maybe try a Kindle or the new Kobo?

Books: I have to admit I am still yet to purchase any ebooks. It’s terrible I know, but I’m a bit hesitant to try as it seems like Australian retailers haven’t got a uniform process for purchasing, pricing and downloads.
Eh, we’ll see. I have been reading free out of print titles from Project Gutenberg, and what I’ve found to be even better is that my library service has a system called Overdrive in which they allow you to borrow ebooks and audio books. Whilst the range is still fairly limited, it’s slowly growing (and I’m assuming the more who start using it will encourage the library to allocate more resources there).
So for anyone with an e-reader, this is definitely something to look at – if your local library doesn’t offer it, you may be able to get membership to a library that does.

Miscellaneous: Yes, I went and got a case/cover for it because I am extremely clumsy and am very good at dropping expensive, shiny things onto hard surfaces. This case was purchased from Borders, though you can purchase them elsewhere.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dreams Come True at ACMI

Last week my sister and I visited ACMI to check out their newest exhibition – Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney's Classic Fairy Tales.

From the ACMI website: Dreams Come True is a rare opportunity to see original concept art, story sketches, drawings, maquettes and final frame cels from some of the Walt Disney Studios' most celebrated animated films. An Australian exclusive, the exhibition features artworks from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Princess and the Frog, and Disney's latest animated feature, Tangled.

Walt Disney began adapting fairy tales for animation in the 1920s, inspired by the traditional tales of the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen. The exhibition explores developments in story and animation techniques and showcases the work of artists such as Mary Blair, Kay Nielsen, Eyvind Earle and Glen Keane.

I found it fascinating to see the way early pencil sketches and concept art turned into Disney characters we know and love, and the way certain characters developed through the pre-production stages (like Snow White, who at one point was looking extremely Bettie Boop-ish). They also had some gorgeous books of European fairy tales on display from the Disney family collection (so lovely!), as well as scenes from the films on display. I was especially excited to look at The Little Mermaid portion of the display, as that was my favourite Disney film as a child (I broke our video). I also really liked reading about the first female Disney animators like Retta Davidson and Mary Blair.

Whilst being Disney-centric, obviously this exhibition attracts a lot of parents and prams – though I do think from my experience, that it’s not really the kind of thing I’d take a young child to, purely because it’s predominantly made up of sketches and notes, which may not hold the attention of younger visitors (when we were there I heard one young girl ask her mum when it was “going to start” haha). Still, it's definitely an enjoyable experience for anyone who grew up on a steady diet of Disney animation.
For more information about the Dreams Come True exhibition, and to buy tickets check out the ACMI website.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Mixed Bag #26

Good morning blog-o-sphere! Below is a small round-up of things I've found interesting/amusing/exciting to share with you all this week:

image source: we ♥ it

♥ I adore Simmone Howell's Anatomy of a Novel series, on her blog post-teen trauma. I love hearing about the inspiration behind an author's work and why certain elements were so important to their story. I already posted the link to Kathy Charles' Hollywood Ending, but there's also Fiona Woods' Six Impossible Things and Amra Pajalic's The Good Daughter. Check it out!

♥ Megan has written an interesting piece on Online Book Buying vs Retail Shops in response to recent debate in Australia in regard to shopping online and the cost on Australian businesses and industries.
She's also produced a great article on how to support local authors.

♥ For your viewing pleasure - Buffy vs Edward: Twilight Remixed. This is so clever and perfect for a boredom-busting laugh this afternoon.

♥ Fore more Twilight-lulz, I'm actually quite a fan of the (sadly now discontinuted) webseries Growing Up Cullen on Livejournal. If you are not a Twi-hard, like snark and enjoy other fun things like Alex Reads Twilight, I think you will appreciate this! Part One, Two, Three, Four and the Christmas Special.

♥ Not totally book related, but cute anyway - new Diana Agron and Alex Pettyfer photoshoot to promote I Am Number Four. So pretty (both of them!) and I would like her headwear from this shoot (please!). I Am Number Four is due to be released February 18th (US and UK) and February 24th (Australia).

Happy Friday!

Monday, January 3, 2011

By My Bedside #21

Good morning friends! Here's a glimpse at what is currently sitting on my to-read pile. By Beside is part of In My Mailbox, created by Kristi of The Story Siren - I've kind of decided that this year, I'll probably just stick to doing one of these posts per fortnight, mostly because I don't purchase or receive many books per week (sometimes it will be weeks between me buying or borrowing anything new!).

Food, Fashion, Friends - Fleur Wood (from Father Christmas!)
Peppermint magazine Issue #08 (with the lovely Marianne from Esme and the Laneway on the cover)
Frankie magazine Issue #39 (part of my subscription - also from Father Christmas)
♥ New Voiceworks, Technicolour, Issue #83
Queen Kat, Carmen and St Jude Get A Life - Maureen McCarthy (I've needed my own copy for ages, so bought it with a voucher from Father Christmas)
Notes from the Teenage Underground - Simmone Howell (I've been meaning to buy my own copy for a while now, seeing as I don't think the library appreciates me taking 2 months to return theres ... whoops!)
Zombies vs Unicorns - edited by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black (also purchased with Christmas voucher)

What are you reading this week?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy Things #51 - 55

I feel as though the Happy Things feature got a bit mislaid towards the end of 2010. As I'm about halfway through my 43 Things goal of listing 100 things that make me happy, I want to start it up again. Here are my picks for the week, as always, please feel free to share your own happy things (either in the comments of in your own blog post!):

51. New Year
I love beginning of a New Year. I'm big for resolutions, making plans, setting goals and starting things fresh (now whether or not I actually stick with them is another thing altogether, but I really like the thought of them). I'm really hoping for a great 2011 and have already started to make some exciting plans and am looking forward to seeing what the year will bring.

52. Misfits
Definitely in my Top 5 Favourite Shows (ever). I only discovered it in mid 2010 and spent my Christmas break finishing Season 2 (it's so good that I didn't want to have to wait for each episode to air and instead watching them in one glorious weekend!). If you haven't seen or heard of it, it's kind of Skins meets Heroes and is completely made of awesome, so you should check it out!

53. Just Dance
My brother went and bought himself a Wii late 2010 and ever since, I've been dying to get Just Dance - after having spent hours playing it when I babysit my cousins. Let me tell you, it's all sorts of fun (especially after a couple of drinks). We ended up spending Christmas night playing it as a family and it was a really great evening, after a crazy couple of days. Now I just have to get the Broadway version and my life will be complete ...

54. Being lazy
As much as I enjoying making plans and doing things, I am also rather fond of having days where you do nothing at all. I think we all need some lazy days (you know, when you spend all day in your PJs watching DVDs and drinking cups of tea - surely that's not just me?) where you have no plans except to chill out.

55. Dinner Parties
Maybe this is a bit silly, but I love a good dinner party. My friend recently had one for her birthday and made the most amazing meal (more like feast!) from scratch - I was beyond impressed (seriously, I need to pick up the game with my cooking skills now).
all images are from we ♥ it

What makes you happy?