2015 – What shall I read next?

I keep seeing book-lists and challenges for 2015, mainly people promise themselves to read books by author with diverse ethnic origins, autobiographies, historical tomes or disadvantaged individuals. I thought about doing my own list, but it seemed pointless to wrap myself up in cellophane and limit myself so much, especially when I already know that there are a number of books waiting on the shelf, freshly bought, which I have not read yet.

So, instead of making a list of books I ‘SHOULD’ read, I’m making one listing the books I am sure I WILL ACTUALLY read.

1. The Blood Knight – Greg Keyes – right now I’m finishing ‘The Charnel Prince’, which is the second book of the quartet ‘The Kingdom of Thorn and Bone’. It will be finished by tomorrow at the latest, so this is what comes after.

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2. The Born Queen – Greg Keyes – Quartet book number 4

3. Good Omens – Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett – bought this last weekend and I can’t wait to start it.

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4. Stardust – Neil Gaiman – it’s been a long time in coming, bought it last weekend as well ❤

5. The Silmarillion – J. R. R. Tolkien – I know, I know, but better late then never right?

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6. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn – I already read this in 2012, but after watching the movie I MUST re-read it again 🙂

7. The White Queen – Philippa Gregory – some time ago I came across a tiny bookshop which sells really cheap secondhand books, it hardly had anything I liked, and then I discovered a treasure trove of Gregory’s books. I had already devoured The Wideacre Trilogy and the Tudor series ages ago, so I bought the first 5 novels which make up the Cousin War series. Still gotta get the last one, published in 2014. The next 4 novels are the other books in the series.

8. The Red Queen – PG

9. The Lady of the Rivers -PG

10. The Kingmaker’s Daughter – PG

11. The White Princess – PG

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12. Prince Lestat – Anne Rice – I’m currently waiting for this one to come out in paperback.

I’m guessing that will take care of the first two/three months of the year for sure. After that… who knows? Bookdepository is my oyster ;p

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2014 is over, and what have you done?

So, tomorrow is the last year of 2014, and as the song says ‘What have you done?’

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I don’t expect to remember everything I’ve done this year, what’s worse I don’t think I’ll even remember everything IMPORTANT I’ve done, but let’s at least try ok?

1. January – started to work for an online magazine. At first it was just sporadically but throughout the months I’ve now become one of their top 3 contributors = SUCCESS!!

2. February – Went to Venice to celebrate Valentine’s with my other half. Was amazing 🙂

3. May – Participated for the third year running in the Medieval Mdina event as a Medieval reenactor – FUN!

4. June – Finally had the guts to have the eye laser operation! Bye bye glasses and contact lenses! Eyes are now better than ever! = SELF IMPROVEMENT

5. July – New tattoo! My third one so far and the bigger and most special one, depicting my chosen Goddess, the Lady of the Ravens.

6. August – Celebrated my 2nd year Anniversary with my <3. A love found is a treasure, a love kept is a life-long blessing.

7. September – Went to London on a work-trip and enjoyed it a lot too!

8. October – Went to London on ANOTHER work-trip lol. This time round I even had time to visit Camden Town!

9. November – Met one of my fav contemporary artists in the whole world – LUIS ROYO!! Have pics, his signiture and a painting he did for me too!!

10. December – Went to Southern Ireland for 10 days with my other half. 7 nights in a cottage and 3 in a b&b on the beach. Now, that’s what I would call BLISS.

Hmm… I’ve ‘done’ ok for myself I think ;p

But… much much more is still to come in 2015!!

Rude restaurant staff! Ugh!!!

They say that when it comes to restaurants and shops – ‘The client is always right’. What a total load of bollocks! Not in Malta at any rate for sure!!

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Around a week ago, I went with some friends at a specific restaurant (which shall remain unnamed) to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Before going to the place, I researched a bit on Tripadvisor as I usually do, in order to get an idea of whether the place is good or not, and found mainly 4/5 star givers, so was quite pleased and had certain expectations.

I was SO wrong.

And there’s the proof that you really can’t judge anything basing your opinion on other’s… well, opinion lol

To cut a long story short, although at the time I was miffed, and left half my meat in the plate, I didn’t make an issue of it, even though the waitress asked me if something was wrong (since she saw how much I had left uneaten). I did not want to spoil my friend’s bday, as she was sitting right next to me, so I kept mum.

When I came back home however, I could’nt help but write the TRUTH on Tripadvisor, as I do after each restaurant I eat at. Unfortunately, instead of accepting some constructive criticism, the owner quite rudely replied that I was only saying those things because I knew her ex-chef!! Who the hell is her ex-chef?! Anyways she said I was lying, that no one had left anything on their plate, and that she should know since all the staff were members of her family (thereby make me wonder whether she was referring to her ex-chef or an ex-bf, since she seemed so pissed about it). Anyways, I had never been to this restaurant in my life, did not know the owner, and certainly not her ex-anything. I have over 100 reviews on Tripadvisor, does she think I know all the staff who work there and write my reviews according to my personal sympathies??

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She went on to list a number of excuses and false reasons about the eve I had described. If that was not enough, the present chef of the establishment also wrote a comment afterwards, giving himself a 5 star rating and saying that he cooked good food and if I thought otherwise, I knew nothing of food and that my opinion was, as he put it, ‘pathetic’. Wow that is some quality customer-chef communication you got there! What’s pathetic is creating a Tripadvisor account for the sole reason of giving your own cooking 5 stars mate!

I reported this entry to Tripadvisor and they took it down, since restaurant-owners and staff cannot rate their own establishments.

Needless to say, I will never go to this restaurant again, not because of the bad food, which would have been enough, but because of the rudeness and bad attitude shown by the staff!!

Waiter: 'Your Tossed salad Ma'am.'

‘Paprika’ – Not just a spice, but a brilliant Anime Movie!

After four years, yesterday I re-watched the animated movie ‘Paprika’ (2006). This Satoshi Kon masterpiece had always remained in my mind as one of a kind in its genre (that is, anime movies), and my perception of it did not change after re-watching it.

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Apart from the plot-line, which is bewitching and exclusive in and of itself, the characters are wonderfully mysterious, yet with understandable motives and feelings, and, most importantly, the graphics and colors, apart from being unusual and perfect for the dream-sequences pertaining to the storyline (which, in fact, concerns dreams), are vivid, yet in a way, horrifically nightmarish. The theme of the hellish circus is captured perfectly, and wonderfully juxtaposed with the clinical and cold atmosphere of the labs. The soundtrack is also exceptional – in fact this was the first animated movie to use a VOCALOID – that is a singing voice synthesizer software.

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What entirely fascinated me apart from all this (yes there is MORE) was the double and split identity of Doctor Chiba, whose dream-self is the sexy, cute and pixie-like Paprika. Able to navigate through dreams, free as a bird and always smiling, she is totally different from her genius down-to-earth counterpart. This is what we hide inside us – another self – which is only free when we are asleep.

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And the question comes naturally to mind – what is my dream-self like? If I had such an advantaged technological device that enabled me to control my dreams, would I also have such a different dream-self? Self, but not self? A part of me, but, as Paprika says, with me being also a part of her? Who would be the strongest between us, the conscious me, or the subconscious one?

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‘Paprika’ is not a children’s anime. Not only does it have violent, sexual and very disturbing connotations, it also has a very convoluted plot. One which makes us thing and debate, frown and wonder. The term ‘fucked-up’ also comes to mind lol.

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Unfortunately, its director, Satoshi Kon, died in 2010, so we will have no more of these gems coming our way. Another anime of his which I’ve been hearing for years about, and never got around to watching, is the psychological thriller ‘Perfect Blue’ (also by Satoshi Kon), which not only has an immense cult following, but is also described as being one of a kind.

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‘Perfect Blue’ is even older than ‘Paprika’ since it was produced in 1997. Certain animes, like certain movies, are ageless.

Xmas Presents from Me to Me!!

And here they are! Freshly arrived postally this weekend! I so love receiving parcels by post, it’s like receiving Xmas presents, which in this case – they actually are! I really treated myself this Yule.

Firstly, I got two books from one of my favorite writers – Neil Gaiman. I had watched ‘Stardust’ the movie with Claire Danes and De Niro, but, I am ashamed to say, never actually read the book. I also got ‘Good Omens’, a collaboration between the two Masters Gaiman + Terry Pratchett, another favorite.

The goth girl in me had to splurge a bit as well, buying a couple of fabulous fitting tops from Spiral Direct, one of my favorite gothic brands. Can’t wait to wear them!!

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Kierkegaard’s Theory about Bullying and Online Trolling!!

In 1847, Danish writer and philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote ‘Showing that they don’t care about me, or caring that I should know they don’t care about me, still denotes dependence… They show me respect precisely by showing me that they don’t respect me.’ This was true in the 19th century, and it is still true now. Human nature, as such has not changed. People bully someone they do not understand, or someone they unconsciously feel inferior to, in order to try and increase their own perception of themselves.

This comes through in a very interesting article I read here – http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/10/13/kierkegaard-diary-bullying-trolling-haters/

Some time ago, I too published an article on Internet Trolling and Online Bullying – which can be found here – http://www.eve.com.mt/2014/12/23/internet-trolls-mentally-unbalanced-or-just-plain-bullies/

I hadn’t yet read the article on Kirkegaard when I wrote my own – in fact I just read it this evening, yet I feel that the two taken together make perfect sense. In my article I mention psychologist John Suler on the concept of ‘Online Disinhibition’, that is that feeling of freedom from social norms some people feel when they are writing or criticising something online – in simple words, they think that their comments cannot be traced back to them since they are relatively ‘faceless’, and so they express things they would not say in real life. You could actually say that they are COWARDS.

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Do you believe in Father Xmas?

So, some time ago I looked a bit into some perception of Father Christmas here – https://ddmoonsong.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=209&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2

However, I then did more in depth research and published an article on the online magazine I work for, which is quite concise considering the vast history and material on the matter (and I say that with pride, since it’s so difficult to try and write such a lot of knowledge in a one-pager).

Here’s the link :0) I would appreciate your comments. Thanks.

http://www.eve.com.mt/2014/12/25/the-secret-identity-of-father-christmas/

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Goodbye Virna Lisi – Italian shellbomb actress

Last week, one of the pinnacles of Italian charm and gracefulness left us – I am talking about the beautiful Virna Lisi who died at the age of 78.

Blonde blue eyed Virna had been an iconic figure for Italian TV. I knew her mostly as a beautiful aged older lady, one who had, as they say ‘aged gracefully’, and I admired her as someone who could pull anything off with style and elegance. A ‘real lady’ as opposed to today’s trashy ass-waving cheap dollar-a-boob prima donnas.

virna-lisiI knew her as an older Lady, still a great beauty, but a calm transcendental one, when I heard she had passed a way, I researched her a bit and realized that in her youth, she had been a real bombshell. Sexy, suave and talented. So much so that Paramount Pictures had tried to set her up as the next Marilyn Monroe.

virnaVirna however, wasn’t just a pretty face, and she didn’t want to be known as such. This is why she refused a stellar successful career as Paramount’s leading lady, refused being showed off as a foreign blonde bimbo, left Hollywood at the height of her career, and started dedicating herself to more challenging roles in her Italian native country. After she got married, she left her career behind for a while, only to return to the screen after around 10 years.

virna2Virna Lisi was a jewel, that most rare of finds – an actress who wanted to be known for her talent and not for her appearance. An actress whose main aim was to improve herself and develop her talent by trying out as many diverse roles as possible.

Virna, unfortunately there are very very few like you. We will miss you xxx

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Missing the cottage… yes more about Ireland ;p

When you live in a European island which is famed for its sun and beaches, where 9 months out of 12 you are sweating in the too-warm temperatures while wearing a sleeveless top and flip flops, and where it has only snowed a couple of times (literally) in the historical memory of the place, going on holiday somewhere in the mountains where the temperature habitually varies between -1.5 and 3.5 degrees celsius on a good day IS A BIG DEAL.

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In all of my life, I have never seen snow yet, not even when abroad more’s the pity – I have never been in extremely cold temperatures, not even when I visited the Dolomite mountains, and I have never been skiing. As an islander who takes hot weather, days at the beach, ice cream, and fun in the sun, as an everyday occurence, I can hardly imagine what living in such weather could be like.

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Right now, anyone reading this who actually does live somewhere cold, must think I’m crazy to want to experience such a thing. But really, I think one of the goals in life is to experience as much as possible, so living somewhere different in different conditions, is for me, something to do at least once.

Although I did not see and feel snow on my face and around me in Ireland this December, it WAS an experience. I literally froze my fingers off at times, still, coming to our rented self-catering cottage in the evenings, lighting the stove, and huddling under the blankets while sipping some hot tea, was awesome in itself. Something I had read about only in novels.

Our cottage was just lovely. Really small – having only one bedroom, one bathroom, a living room and a kitchen, yet totally perfect.

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Here is the link to its page on Tripadvisor – my review is actually still pending as of now, but I guess you might be able to read it at a later date – I left a 5-star rating ofc!

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/VacationRentalReview-g212097-d2222755-THE_GRANARY_country_holiday_cottage_with_open_fire_in_Cahir_Ref_8661-Cahir_County_Tipp.html

When the weather is so unkind, finding a little unlooked for friendliness gives one an unconditioned and natural warmth, one which is only to be felt in the heart. We arrived at the cottage on a very cold morning at around 1.30am. We had had no time to buy any food for our breakfast and expected our arrival to be pretty hard, since the owner was leaving us the key in a flower pot near the door. We were so wrong! As we parked, we could see the flickering welcoming light of the stove in the living room and the lampshade near the sofa sending us a cheery light – the owner had prepared them for us to show us the way and keep the place warm.

Also, when we went in, we realized she had left us some home-made scones for our breakfast togather with some butter, jam, tea, coffee, sugar and milk… it felt so good to know that someone cared for us in a country were we did not know anyone! Small touches of welcome and friendship from someone we did not know were so much welcome. 🙂

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