Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tell Me Tuesday #8: In which Elizabeth's lack of reading is exposed

Hosted by La La Toadstone

Well, the title is a bit misleading.  It's not that I haven't been reading, it's that I've mostly been rereading.  To give you an idea this has been the main staple of my reading diet this year:

Sandry's Book (Circle of Magic, #1)Magic Steps (The Circle Opens, #1)Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1)

To be honest most of my reading has been in the car, aka audiobooks.  I've already made it all the way through The Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens series, and almost all the way through The Song of the Lioness series.  Basically I think this is going to be the year that I read ALL THE TAMORA PIERCE NOVELS.  Not that I haven't read them all before, but this will be my first time reading them all in one year!  I don't know what I'm going to do when I finally get to the end of her books in audio format - it's been so easy picking what I'm going to listen to next!  Luckily I have another couple months til I manage to go through them all.  (Except her Beka Cooper books since I originally read those in audio format and want to go through them in written form this time.  Especially keeping in mind said events in the third book that absolutely destroyed me.  I'm actually not entirely sure I will reread that third book.  We'll see how I feel when I get there I guess.

Actually, looking at my Goodreads list, it looks like I've read more books than I realized! Although it's probably not up to snuff with how much I usually read, especially once you take out the picture books and rereads haha!  

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)Everything, EverythingThorn 

1. I went through all of Richelle Mead's Bloodlines series and I felt like it was pretty on par with the Vampire Academy series (although I had less of the swoons.  I love Adrian, but I'm pretty picky with my OTPs).  It had a lot of the same faults and a lot of the same pacing issues - consistently my favourite and least favourite books were the same number into the series in both Vampire Academy and Bloodlines.  But overall it was still a fun series to read, although not one I'll likely revisit.  But I'll definitely be reading more Richelle Mead!

2. To say I had high expectations going into this would be a bit of an understatement.  It seemed like this was everyone's favourite book of last year, even people who aren't big into contemporary YA (like me).  And I did like it (and am very glad I got absorbed enough to check out a physical copy of it. The narrator does a really good job, but the way this book is formatted, it is a book that is meant to be read), but I could see what was coming from a mile away (although I thought that couldn't possibly be it because well...everyone loved it so much!  In any case, I will definitely be picking up Nicola Yoon's next novel - while I have mixed feelings on the ending of this one, the writing is really gorgeous and I did enjoy reading it quite a lot.  Also have you seen this cover?? I would frame this and hang it up on my wall!

3.  And speaking of covers I would frame and hang up on my wall - Thorn will definitely be a contender for my top reads this year.  I actually met Intisar at Chessiecon last year!  I had been wanting to read this book for ages actually (hello it's a Goose Girl retelling!!) - but my library doesn't have a copy.  After getting to hear her talk, I really REALLY wanted to read this!  Luckily La La was kind enough to let me know when it went on sale so I snatched it up and lo and behold here we are.  I think this actually may be my favourite Goose Girl retelling.  I absolutely adore Shannon Hale's Goose Girl so really I'm just happy to have two retellings of this that I love, but I loved how fleshed out Khanani made her world building and characters.  It definitely wasn't a perfect book, but it had beautiful writing, and wonderful characters, and I am totally sold on whatever she wants to write. Because if this is how she writes for a debut novel? It's already this good - I can't even imagine where she's going to go from here.

And speaking of Shannon Hale...

Austenland (Austenland, #1)An Assembly Such as This  (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman #1)North and South 

I got hit with a need for SWOONS.  And so this happened.

1. I was actually disappointed with this - I honestly don't know why I keep reading Austen reinterpretations and retellings because I don't think I've found a single one I've liked.  Which I guess is what happens when you love the source material so much.  But it was especially disappointing because I know how well Shannon Hale writes - and you definitely see it here, but it kept devolving into the silliness you see in other Austen novels.  And to be honest I would have been ok with that - if she had just chosen one or the other.  It just didn't fit, unfortunately.  I'll still be trying her sequel though, I like her too much not to try it :)

2. I'm actually currently reading this!  So far it's been fairly good as reinterpretations go, but it definitely feels like more of a reinterpretation of the BBC series than of the book itself.  (I know this because I am currently watching it for the first time and a lot of the references seem to fit the scenes awfully well and to use dialogue I don't remember being in the book.  Which considering the number of times I've read it seems likely it's not actually in the book. Although not impossible.)

3. And I checked this one out from the library as well.  After all the flailing I did about this ship  it's honestly strange I haven't read it before! I think a little of me is scared it won't hold up to the miniseries.  Which seems unlikely. And if it doesn't...well oh well who cares?  I'll still have Armitage playing Thornton and I can have the feels that way too!

And that's what I've been reading over the past few months!  What about you guys? Anything good? (Anything with swoons? This mood doesn't appear to be dying down! I need all the recs!)

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Day in the Life #41: In which Elizabeth has many life updates because she hasn't posted in months

It's been a while (to put it mildly) since I've posted one of these, so I have loads to tell you!  I don't even know where to begin, really.  I quit the gym job I've had for the past year which is one of the best decisions I've made all year. I hated working there - it was super boring which just exhausted me. Who knew doing nothing would make you that tired?  I don't think I realized how much blogging I got done during that job though, even when I'd lowered my shifts down to just one day a week.  Basically I haven't done any posts since I quit, which I'm ok with.  The blog isn't all of life, but I have missed it.  Here's hoping I'll be motivated to post more regularly even though I'm not chained to a desk job any more!

I also had a really good talk with the teacher I had while studying at my undergrad.  I basically just had a heart to heart about how I felt like I was kind of stuck - taking auditions and not getting anywhere with them, dropping my student, a very long dry spell in gigs which basically meant that at that point in time I was doing 0% of what I wanted to do.  She reminded me I'd never wanted an orchestra job in the first place, which is very true. I was taking auditions because I felt like it was something I should do, and something that would offer me at least a little (very little) job security if I did win a job.  And then she pointed out that my boyfriend is also a freelance musician.  And you know what a freelance musician + a freelance musician equals? No benefits and no retirement.  With Obamacare, no benefits isn't a huge deal for me at the moment, but no retirement...that's kind of a big deal.  

My grandfather runs his own jewelry business - he designs jewelry using pressed and preserved flowers. 

They're really gorgeous actually, I'm lucky I'm his granddaughter so I've got a few pieces of my own - you should go check them out!  I have the pendant version of these earrings - they've got Hawaiian seaweed (Limu) pressed and preserved inside. He deals primarily with orchids, but he started this line a few years back and it's one of my favourites - I've never seen Limu jewelry anywhere else, so it feels really unique!

 It's his passion, and I am so, so happy he's able to do what he loves for his work.  But he also didn't have retirement options, and he's near or in his 80's (it occurs to me I am a terrible granddaughter for not actually knowing his age) and not working isn't an option for him.  He gets to do what he loves...but he has to do what he loves. Every day. Even if he gets sick. He simply can't afford not to.  And I don't want to be in that position.  It's half envious - being able to do what you love is really an amazing thing - but half agony. Or at least it would be for me, it may not be for him (although I imagine he'd appreciate being able to take a  vacation).  Oboe is a very, very physically demanding instrument.  To be honest your chops start to go in your 50s and 60s, and beyond that...well, most of us have retired by then.  If I did freelance solely (assuming I ever got that successful) I'd be constantly competing against younger, and to be honest better musicians.  Which...is horribly depressing.  

My teacher pointed out that I already know that I loved teaching middle school band, and it comes with benefits and retirement, and that if my boyfriend and I ever get married, he'd be added to those.  And that if I really want to play, I will find ways to make it happen.  And she's right.  I don't for a second regret going to grad school and getting my Masters in performance, nor do I regret the past year and half taking auditions and gigs when I can. They've made me a better musician and I think it's made choosing to pursue teaching a more informed decision - I think if I'd done this earlier there would always be a feeling of "what if". And now I know: I don't think I would be happy doing only freelance work.  And happiness is what I want.  So I've mailed off the paperwork to be certified, and I'm in the process of applying to be put on the substitute teaching lists.  And I am so relieved that I'm doing all of this - I don't feel like a failed musician. I think all this time, even though I don't think of other teachers as "failed musicians", I've been afraid I would feel that way about myself.  All in all, I feel nervous and excited and determined and...well, happy.

On a more depressing note, things haven't been going so well with Lily. She broke her tail in December (how exactly is still a mystery since she was home alone, but that's beside the point).  It's fine - a bit kinked, but it hasn't had a big impact on her ability to walk or anything.  It's everything else I found out - turns out she isn't six as we'd previously though....she's thirteen.  And with it she's got all the problems that come with being thirteen - she's got hyperthyroidism, and I've just found out she's in the early stages of kidney failure.  I haven't talked to the vet yet, but I know what she's going to say: at best Lily's got a few years left in her at max.  I can do a little to help extend her life and keep her feeling good...but.  To say it's heartbreaking to go from expecting to have a decade left with her to discovering it'll only be a few years is an understatement.  BUT I am going to make sure she's as comfortable and happy as possible, and I'm going to steel myself for the tough decision that's going to be looming in my future.  In the meantime she seems to be feeling ok, and Tristan is just as cuddly and active (how this cat is 22 pounds I just don't understand.  Well, except that he likes to lick oil bottles. Yup. That's a thing) so at least they're not both ill.  (I'm not going to lie, I'm actually terrified I'm going to take him to the vet in May and I will be getting more bad news, as I've taken Lily to the vet 3 times in the past 4 months and each time gotten more bad news. BUT IT CAN'T HAPPEN TO HIM TO I WILL NOT LET IT AND GOD HELP ME I AM GOING TO FIGURE OUT WHERE HE KEEPS GAINING ALL THIS WEIGHT. And I'm going to hide my oil bottles.)

Tristan, as fat and sulky about not getting Lily's wet food as ever.  And Lily LOVES the snow! When it starts snowing she glues herself to the door and windows until I let her out haha!

I'm not going to lie, this hiatus from the blog hasn't been entirely due to work/life things. I have watched so much tv.  Like...SO. MUCH. TV.  So, on the off chance any of you are looking for something new to watch, here's:

What I've Been Watching:

This is like....zombies meets..Rizzoli & Isles?  Basically it's a really fun premise, Ravi is (WOULD IT KILL BLOGGER TO LET ME PUT HEARTS OF SOME KIND)  amazing
(and cute. Did I mention that? Super, super, super cute), also there are zombies.  It's a good time, I swear, you should watch it.

 Guys, this took over my life for like a month.  I blame iZombie and Kirsty - I basically did 
NOTHING but watch this show. I worked, ate, and watched the show.  I did not sleep. There was no sleep.  IT'S SO GOOD. SO SO SO SO SO SO GOOD.  And I know people freaked out about this show but I didn't care and I was so stupid (but glad because I would have DIED if I had to wait like a decade for the movie). The first season remains my favourite - the second season had some weird story lines that went way out there, and the third season just didn't hit it's stride until the very end.  BUT, that being said that's like criticizing early Beethoven.  IT'S STILL GOOD. (Also I'm not saying I think late Beethoven is better, although I do prefer it. In fact actually this is a terrible simile, ALL BEETHOVEN IS GOOD I AM NOT BEING A BLASPHEMER RIGHT NOW. But I can't think of a better thing at the moment so I'm just going to...move on.)  The pilot episode of this show is FLAWLESS.  I mean it - it's one of the most courageous pilots I've seen - they really don't hold back and I love Veronica Mars and oh my god I want to go watch this show again STOP ME.  So basically this was my life for almost a month - I binge watched all three seasons, and then the movie, and then the first book. The only reason I haven't read the second book is because my library only has it on e-audiobook for some odd reason and I prefer cds in my car. Plus it would just take too long AND I WANT TO JUST READ THE WHOLE THING RIGHT NOW.  Ahem.  So basically, blame Kirsty for a month of this hiatus, that month is completely her fault.

Speaking of really fantastic shows....Granite Flats is really good.  It has really short seasons, is sort of...50's noir meets children? I don't know I suck at these stop asking me! Just watch it!  I was....quite upset by an event at the beginning from season 3 that I still haven't quite forgiven, but the first two seasons are just truly fantastic works of art.  And very much like YA - light hearted at times, but definitely doesn't pull punches when they're deserved.

I finally finished Sense8 - it's one of those shows I wanted to make sure I actually sat down and watched instead of had on while doing the dishes or something.  It's so stunningly beautiful to watch and complex enough that you really need to pay attention to watch it.  It some how manages to be both quiet and touching, but fun and exciting.  And I love that it's set all over the world!!  It's so hard to pick what I like most about it, but it's such a diverse cast of characters - and I'm not just talking about race and culture although it's certainly one of the most if not the most diverse show I've watched in that sense, but in their stories and personalities and how their storylines evolve.  I really, really recommend this one, but only if you have patience as it unfolds itself without being rushed about it.

And last but not least, Velvet which is a Spanish show.  It's set in 1950s Spain, and it's set in a fashion store so you get these beautiful costumes, with all the financial/business drama of Mad Men mixed with the class differences of Downton Abbey and it is gorgeous.  I haven't finished this one as it's obviously a subtitled so I have to watch it slowly, but it actually features one of the actors from Sense8 (incidentally possibly my favourite character/storyline from Sense8, although it's really hard to choose).  So far it has been really fantastic!

What I've Been Listening To:


 I realized I hadn't ever listened to Imogen Heap's latest album (I'm grossly behind - this came out in 2014) and this is the opening track.  It is everything I love about her music and it's reminded how deeply impressed and moved I always am with her music.  The lyrics are thought provoking, the music is so layered and somehow manages to always surprise me with where it goes harmonically, which is a rarity in the pop music world. (Although Imogen wouldn't exactly be considered a pop artist, but my point is the non-classical/jazz world).

I seriously thought Phil Collins had joined a band the first time I heard this song.  It's not as clear on the other tracks, but on this one in particular he sounds just like him. Seriously. Listen to this, and then listen to this.

...did I mention how obsessed I got with Veronica Mars?  I'm not even kidding I may have been bordering insanity.  I actually prefer the original season 1 and 2 versions of the song, but I LOVE the way they did the season 3 credits, so I compromised and put that video up instead.  But here's a link to the full song because it is SO GOOD and reminded me that when The Dandy Warhols are on, they're on.  (...but they have a lot of weird stuff too haha)

And if you guys are ever into what I listen to or don't mind rather eclectic playlists, I update this one fairly frequently with what I'm listening to at the moment!

What I've been playing:

It's been a very choral month for me!  First up we have the Beethoven Mass in C Major: 

I honestly think this is the first time I've played with a professional choir since I graduated high school, and it was by far the most pleasant experience I've ever had.  My undergraduate would do a choral/orchestral concert each semester and...well let's just say it felt more like a battle than a collaboration.  Working with the group I did was just so fun, the musicianship was fantastic, and everyone was very welcoming!

I was lucky enough to be contacted by the Beethoven director who was also putting together a Bach marathon (yay all day Bach!) and needed an oboist for a cantata.  To say playing Bach is a challenge (especially physically) is...it would be an understatement to say it is an understatement.  But they're so lovely!  Luckily for my face this one is only about a half hour, but this was probably one of the most fun things I've been able to do in recent years.  Once again, the singers were phenomenal and the group was very small - I think there was a grand total of fourteen musicians performing this, so it felt really intimate.  And luckily the director was great to work with - and this is not always the case.  I can't even imagine what his schedule must have been like having back to back weekends of the Beethoven Mass and then the Bach Marathon which he had to put together, but he managed to do it somehow and was a pleasure to work with.  All in all, this month has been a very good one for me (minus the rather major Lily thing) and it's finally starting to be like spring and I have daytime in my life again, so I've been in a pretty good mood!  (...it probably helps that I can have coffee again now that I don't have any upcoming performances.)

And I'll have to leave the bookish part for tomorrow since it's Tuesday (and also this post is going to take the average person a year to read it's so long), and that means it's La La's Tell Me Tuesday!  ...which I'm hoping I will get up.  No which I WILL get up. I BELIEVE IN MYSELF.  So that just leaves my sparse bookish links, since let's be real I've been about as good about visiting blogs as I have been about writing blog posts.


Tamora Pierce writes about her Chessiecon experience (the con I saw her at as a refresher)


Ilana C. Meyer muses on what makes The Hero and The Crown by Robin McKinley such a great book (and they're all my reasons too)


Christina picks her SoulTPs (aka OTPs that she will fight for until the end of time).
Gillian posts the Shippy Awards winners.