Morning folks! Don't look at me like you've seen a ghost I know it's been a while (again). It's not like you've missed much so I don't have a lot to update you with. If you're also wondering if you've wandered into the wrong place check out this post here and that should clear up any confusion. On with business now!
Sunday, 29 May 2011
Now as we're coming to the beginning of June I've had the realisation that I might need to shake things up around here - seriously - to get myself back into a proper routine. My new job has left me with vastly reduced reading time (unless I get chance to read during my lunch break) and in the evenings I tend to plump for tv/dvd watching in lieu of spending more time on a computer after 8 hours of staring at a screen and answering phones. Don't get me wrong I am *immensely* glad that I have a job but I'm not wholly chuffed with the idea that I might literally become glued to a keyboard if I try to follow up work with blogging every day.
So what's the plan I hear you ask? Well first up shall be a good redecorating, I hope I can find another blog template that I love as much as this one but I think I need to change it not only for practical reasons (the centre column is just too narrow) but also for aesthetic ones. It feels quite dark and brooding and God knows I don't need to keep my blog looking almost funereal after what's happened this year.
After that I think I need to re-evaluate how often I post, and more importantly *what* I post. I continually run into problems with book reviews as I tend to read so quickly that by the time I get round to reviewing a particular book I've read 4 or 5 more since that one and my thoughts about the book are not as distinct. But I don't really make up for the general lack of reviews with other quality posts, I very rarely do discussion posts because I don't feel wholly confident in my ability to articulate my opinions on topics that I feel strongly about and because more often than not the topic has been covered by better bloggers than I.
The solution to this problem? I don't have a concrete plan as yet but I reckon if I try to do double-barrelled review/topic posts that are related somehow then they might add more depth to each other and I get two posts stemmed from one idea. I hope to think of more ways to add quality to my posts as I discover more of this new side of the metaphorical leaf.
I gotta give a massive thanks to the people who have been there for me during these past few months, I may have completely lost the plot without your support and while I may not have my shit together entirely just yet I know y'all will be at the ready to patch me up when cracks appear.
You guys rock, don't forget that.
Get ready for change
*mumbles some pathetic excuse about being demotivated and tired*
Dude I know I have no excuse, I have massively ballsed up these past two weeks and I have let people down - in particular Sasha Soren who has been so lovely to me and has been waiting on me to fulfil my part of the bargain in the Random Magic blog tour. I am exceedingly sorry for how royally I have buggered up and I hope you can forgive me dropping off the face of the earth when I had things I needed to do.
Right now this post is for a different reason and it's been two weeks since I last did one of these as well :S
In My Mailbox is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Kristi @The Story Siren and inspired by Alea @Pop Culture Junkie
Books Acquired in the Past two weeks
Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson
Die for Me by Amy Plum (loving this so far!)
Forgotten by Cat Patrick
The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell (also really enjoying this)
Outside In by Maria V. Snyder
Also bought but not entirely bookish - I bought the first season of the Gilmore Girls last week and I may have watched it all before the weekend was over :P What can I say? I am a sucker for quick-witted intelligent humour and I am practically in love with how GD Adorable Jared Padalecki is in this show. Rory is my kinda girl although her reading tastes put me to shame as I may own lots of classics but bugger knows I've not read many of them :S
Something else important you should know
Today is my good friend Ellie's birthday!! She is the darling behind the blog Musings of a Bookshop Girl which y'all really should check out not least because of the fact that she owns a second-hand bookshop with her mum. Seriously I wish I had her job every freaking day! Although there are sometimes crazy customers to deal with, she does share some hilarious stories from the shop on her blog and her eclectic reading tastes mean that there are reviews for almost everyone who drops by. Go say Happy Birthday and check out her fabulous blog!
So although I know I have some serious making-up to do it will have to be done later as this post is now at an end. I hope I've not put off all my followers with my flaky blogging and I am gonna be trying a lot harder in June. Starting with getting my review up for Random Magic - I think the lesson I can take from this is that I am seriously shit at keeping up with commitments and probably shouldn't participate in a blog tour again.
Have a great Sunday folks and let me know What's in Your Mailbox
Sunday, 15 May 2011
Blimey the past week has gone quickly! I honestly didn't notice the time passing with being at work all day and I've been generally pretty knackered when I get home. I really need to get used to coming home and *not* simply slobbing about until I go to bed. And dang if I ain't turning into a right anti-social sod, dude I need to get out the house more :S
So anyway it's Sunday and y'all know what that means.
In My Mailbox is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Kristi @The Story Siren and inspired by Alea @Pop Culture Junkie
Books Acquired in the past week
20 Years Later by E.J. Newman (Received for Review from LTER)
0.4 by Mike Lancaster
A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold by George R.R. Martin
The Spell book of Listen Taylor by Jaclyn Moriarty
A pretty good haul this week although I definitely shouldn't be making trips to WHSmiths every week if they are gonna have 3 for 2 offers on or I am gonna be very quickly broke :S
Lemme know what you got in Your Mailbox this week
Friday, 13 May 2011
She commanded not only a ship but a fleet of a dozen junks based in the South China Sea, sailing also through the East China Sea and even into the Sulu Sea near the island province of Palawan in the Philippines.
She was reportedly the inspiration for the character of the beautiful but ruthless Dragon Lady in 1930s U.S. comic strip, Terry and the Pirates.
An interesting account of the otherwise little known Lai Choi San’s life and times is recounted by Finnish journalist Aleko E. Lilius, a freelance writer and adventurer who ranged through China, Morocco and Mexico, reporting back on his travels.
Lilius describes the pirate queen of the Macau and her comrades from an insider’s perspective in this excerpt from I Sailed with Chinese Pirates:
Here was I…getting the chance of a lifetime, to sail with Chinese pirates to the central nest of the most merciless gang of high-seas robbers in the world, in an armored junk commanded by a female pirate…
What a woman she was! Rather slender and short, her hair jet black, with jade pins gleaming in the knot at the neck, her earrings and bracelets of the same precious apple-green stone.
She was exquisitely dressed in a white satin robe fastened with green jade buttons, and green silk slippers. She wore a few plain gold rings on her left hand; her right hand was unadorned. Her face and dark eyes were intelligent…and rather hard. She was probably not yet forty.
Every move she made and every word she spoke told plainly that she expected to be obeyed, and as I had occasion to learn later, she was obeyed. What a character she must be! What a wealth of material for a novelist or journalist! Merely to write her biography would be to produce a tale of adventure such as few people dream of.
That evening I heard from an American who had sailed the waters around Macau for fifteen years the following story about this remarkable woman:
‘Her name is Lai Choi San. So many stories center about her that it is almost impossible to tell where truth ends and legend begins. As a matter of fact, she might be described as a female Chinese version of Robin Hood. They have much in common.
Undoubtedly she is the Queen of the Macau pirates. I have never seen her. I have almost doubted her existence until you told me of meeting her. She is said to have inherited the business and the ships from her father, after the old man had gone to his ancestors “with his slippers on” during a glorious fight between his men and a rival gang.
The authorities had given him some sort of refuge here in Macau, with the secret understanding that he and his gang should protect the colony's enormous fishing fleets and do general police duty on the high seas. He even obtained the title of Inspector from somebody in authority, and that, of course, placed him morally far above the other pirate gangs.
He owned seven fully-armored junks when he died. Today Lai Choi San owns twelve junks; nobody seems to know how or when she acquired the additional five, but it is certain that she has them. She has barrels of money, and her will is law.’
‘You may ask,’ he continued, ‘why I call them pirates, since their job is only to “guard” the numerous fishing craft. However, the other gangs want the same privileges as the present “inspectors” have, therefore they harass and plunder any ship or village they can lay their hands upon. They kidnap men, women and children, hold them for ransom, ransack their homes and burn their junks and sampans. It is up to the protectors to undo the work of these others and to avenge any wrong done them. Naturally, there is bitter and continuous warfare between these gangs.
This avenging business is where the piratical characteristics of the “protectors” come in. There is frequent and profitable avenging going on wherever the various gangs meet.
Lai Choi San is supposed to be the worst of them all; she is said to be both ruthless and cruel. When her ships are merely doing patrol duty she does not bother to accompany them, but when she goes out “on business,” she attends to it personally. When she climbs aboard any of her ships, there is an ill wind blowing for someone.’
The historical pirate queen Lai Choi San also inspired a radio series and a U.S. TV series in the 1950s, also called Terry and the Pirates, based on comic artist Milton Caniff’s Dragon Lady character.
The campy and now dated 1950s portrayal of the sleek anti-heroine became somewhat of a pop culture stereotype of the beautiful but ice-cold villainess, often of Asiatic descent, who was enigmatic, savvy and indomitable. The phrase ‘dragon lady,’ in contemporary slang, can be a either a dubious compliment or a grudgingly respectful insult, depending on the context.
Meet more dastardly pirates in Random Magic!
Book trailer for Random Magic
Pirate quote from Random Magic:
Winnie peered through the spyglass.
"Yep," she agreed. "Those are pirates, all right."
"What are we going to do?" Henry said, eyes bulging.
Winnie pondered the question briefly. She shrugged.
"Let them capture us," she said, and headed back down into the galley.
"Yes, that's very sensible as always, we should just let them -- what?"
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