“All the pretty things!”

This weekend just past, I had the delightful chance to experience a new market event as somewhat of a guest of honour.

Err. Well, no, not really. Hehe. More of a serial pest than a guest of honour.

But Nuffnang and Piccadilly Market had come together to allow 10 bloggers (including yours truly) to check out what is a new-to-the-area artisan market now being held in Williamstown. Being a local yokel, I said yes to the invitation (twice, I was so chuffed) and scampered across to Williamstown to see what it was all about. And I was so glad I braved the bright but chilly weather. The morning included a lovely, yummy breakfast and then a fun scavenger hunt which took us all around the market to look at all the pretty things!

Check out the video to get an idea of what it’s like:

A lovely lady by the name of Janina Lear has been running the market out of Deakin Uni in Geelong for the past four years and this was the first time the market had been held in Melbourne – and I’d have to say it was a crazy success from what I could tell.

There was around 60 stall-holders for this market, all beautifully arranged in the ballroom and function room of the Williamstown Town Hall. There is a clear focus on quality and original hand-made artisan clothes, jewellery, toys, decor and homeware, food and more. If trash ‘n treasure markets aren’t really your cup of tea, this little gem might be just the ticket.

As I said in the beginning, we were supposed to be doing a scavenger hunt, but to be honest, I got so completely distracted with all the pretty things that I forgot to go in search of what was on the list (even though I stumbled across a few by accident).  And sadly, my reluctance to enter the modern age and get a smartphone so I can play with Instagram truly bit me in the bum this day – there were prizes up for grabs for the best Instagram picture of the morning and I couldn’t complete! WAH!

To top the morning off, the folks at the market had very kindly  contributed to the biggest goodie bags I think I have ever seen for us all. Everything from fudge by The Fudgeman, pompom garlands from Dear Mabel, gorgeous steampunk necklaces from Run Wild Horses, bags from Saquito, lip balms from Bellalu, earrings from Gabby,  soy candles from Love & Light and so much more.

You can find all of the stall holders links, including many more not mentioned right here.

Thank you, Janina and Nuffnang for arranging our gathering.  Even though I am a small-fry, non-professional blogger, I had a fantastic time and can’t wait to get down to Geelong to see the Piccadilly there too.

Piccadilly Market is on again in Geelong on August 3rd and in Williamstown on November 9th!

Here’s a MASSIVE photobomb of some of my favourite bits from the market.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Piccadilly is held in the gorgeous ballroom of the Williamstown Town Hall

Williamstown Town Hall is a beautiful building and I confess in the 17 years that I have lived in the area, I’ve never gone inside!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Breakfast! (Omnomnom!) And our little scavenger hunt sheets.

Quiche, yoghurt, fruit and chocolate. That’s my kinda breakfast!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

The beautiful scented soy candles from Love & Light.

Things that make you go “Mmmmm…”

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Seagals gorgeous little stand was filled with crafty, colourful odds and ends such as Scrabble tile bookmarks and hand-made gift tags.

Too much colourful fun. Loved the Seagals stand.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Fell head over heels for these TEEEEEEEEENY-tiny little street lamps from My Fairy World. Perfect for a wee fairy garden.

Actually, I fell in love with EVERYTHING at My Fairy World.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

My favourite print from Copenhagen Delights – this was a gorgeous little smock dress/top for a little girl.

The clothes from Copenhagen Delights almost made me want to have kids to wear them. I’ll have to borrow my friends’ children, I think.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Can you believe this is dog food? I was like “YES! COOKIES!” and then “Awww, maaaan!”

Fabulous doggy treats from Pooches on Pakington.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Some of the printed gift tags from Dear Mabel.

Dear Mabel had a gorgeous array of handmade decorations.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Apple Pie soap, anyone? (Oh, HELLS yes.)

Yummy soaps from Tubtime Treats.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Little Puddles had the most adorable stand that was filled with a plethora of goodies in cotton-candy colours

Little Puddles was definitely one of my favourite stalls – so colourful and sweet!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Possibly some of the best smelling lip balms I’ve ever tried.

Everyone needs Bellalu lip balm in their lives.  We scored a jar of the watermelon one in our goodie bags and… well, I died.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

A handful of my favourites from Gabby – Handmade Resin Jewellery.

Beautiful pendants from gabby.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Another sweet stand filled with quirky shelf toys, prints and jewellery.

Bird & Blossom

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

I wasn’t the only blogger drooling over these bags from Sophie Taylor. Fell in love with that pale mint one!

Sophie Taylor

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Gorgeous knitted clothes and hand-made jewellery from Lauren & Angie.

Lauren & Angie

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Got one of these beautiful vinyl bags from Saquito in our gift bags – SCORE!

Saquito

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

I need that sausage dog cushion in my life. Lilly Pilly Designs

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Some of my favourite designs from Miss Moi Jewellery.

Miss Moi

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

I FOUND STEAMPUNK!

I get super-excited when I see anything assemblage like the jewellery from Run Wild Horses.

Rose Garden Nails – Mini-not-quite-a-tutorial Tutorial

So the last time I went to my local plaza, I happened to stroll past one of those make-up clearance pop-up shops that line the corridors. Instantly drawn to the nail polish (because 200+ bottles of polish is never enough), I was rather pleased to see a “3 for $10″ over the Revlon basket and instantly dived in to see if I could find any colours that I liked.

Unfortunately my mother was with me (is that a terrible thing to say?) and she banned me from buying my usual “disgusting, murky colours!” and went digging around too to help me look. In the end, I got a lovely handful of polishes that weren’t too “murky” for Mum’s liking, including a green which she had picked up. I wasn’t sold on it  when looking at the bottle but considering how cheap it was, I didn’t mind grabbing it.

As it turned out, Revlon Colorstay nail polish in “Bonsai” (#230) is an extremely understated and very pretty green! It’s a yellow-based green which is helped along and given a lot of depth by a lovely gold shimmer. The formula is thin but workable and opaque in two thin coats.

As much as I loved the green on my nails, I wanted to do something a little different and decided to take the leap into nail art. My mother always says she wants my nails to be more colourful…

Whadya reckon? Did she get her wish?

Renlish.com - Rose Garden Nails (Mini tutorial)

How did I do this?

Stuff you need:

  • Base and top coat polish of your choice. I used (and highly recommend) Revlon Quick Dry base coat and Out The Door top coat.
  • Base nail polish colour. I used Revlon Colorstay in “Bonsai”.
  • Some acrylic paints in green and three tones of whatever colour you want your roses to be. I used dark green and a light and dark pink which I also mixed to make a mid-tone pink.
  • Some thin nail art brushes, nail polish pens or super fine detail paint brushes.

Here are the steps:

  1. Ensure nails are clean of moisture and oils by running a cotton pad soaked in polish remover over them.
  2. Apply one coat of fast-drying base coat to your nails.
  3. Once the base coat is dry, apply the background nail polish. Let dry for 10 minutes and then apply your top coat and let dry completely.
  4. Grab your acrylic paints and brushes (or in my case, the manbeast’s model-painting paints and brushes – teehee) and set up a little drop of each on a bit of foil or a plastic plate. You may or may not need to thin the paint a little bit if it’s gloopy and not runny.
  5. Take your darkest flower colour and paint some roundy blob shapes over your nail. Depending on the size of your nail and the size of the flowers, I’d aim for at least two or three. Let those dry.
  6. Grab your lightest flower colour and draw in little “C” shapes that gradually radiate outwards to the outer edges of the rose.
  7. Repeat with a couple strokes of your mid-tone colour just to add a little more depth and detail to the roses. This step is optional, though.
  8. Grab your green paint and dab in some leaf shapes leading out from the roses.
  9. Once your roses and leaves are completely dry, go over with a fast-drying top coat to seal in the design and protect it.

Tips:

  • If you’re having trouble painting your roses, watch this very simple tutorial on Youtube.
  • You can use nail polish for the flowers if you like, however acrylic paints (just your normal craft paint stuff) comes off with water so if you make a mistake you can just wipe off with a wet cotton bud and try the flowers again rather than pull out the polish remover and start from scratch.
  • Don’t load your brush when painting in the details for the roses. You only need a touch of paint.
  • Practice doing some roses with your non-dominant hand on paper first before attempting on your nails, it will make the process easier.

100 Bloody Acres

This was originally supposed to be a post about how my brain is not quite right, but instead it’s sort of ended up as a movie recap. Ah well.

It’s a well known fact that I dislike movies with blood and gore. Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Nightmare on Elm St? The Saw movies? ANYTHING involving zombies? It literally turns my stomach. No thank you, very much.

It turns out that I ended up watching just such a movie; an Australian creation called “100 Bloody Acres”. The storyline itself is amusing and fairly obvious. Three young people travelling the backroads of Australia, heading towards a music festival are picked up by a well-intentioned yet dimwitted local – who has already picked up a dead body that he found by the side of the road.

Shenanigans ensue.

All three are held captive when dimwit takes them home to his oh so slightly murderous (read: fucking INSANE) brother.

There’s a large meat grinder involved.

Several people end up going through it, or losing body parts in particularly fun ways, or getting rather large holes shot through them.

You get the idea. Lots of blood (almost of epic Monty Python proportions) and lots of munched up bits.

I was reminded just why I make a point of not watching these sorts of movies when I realised I was starting to feel desperately anxious and panicky and not in the thrilling “this movie is great!” kind of way. The film itself wasn’t scary (and contrary to all of this, I kind of enjoy the odd ghosty scare or thrillers where things are implied but never seen), it really was just a matter of waiting for everything to happen because you really could see most of it coming. And I watched it as it came. And it was gross.

I guess I am a wimp but I will be sticking to my drama, romcoms and silly stuff in future.

I will say this about 100 Bloody Acres. It’s not the blood and guts that’s the real stomach turner.

There’s a scene… I won’t say what happens but… Well, when it happened, we all went:

Sunday Review – Rebecca Vaughan, Make-up Artist

Before I get started on the review, I just wanted to let my faithful readers (all four of you) that I will be updating this bloggery thing here and making it a more functional website.  Don’t worry, it’ll still be a blog but it’ll be prettier and hopefully more useful to the both of us.

Anyhoo…

A few weeks ago I was after a make-up artist to assist me on a shoot that I was doing with my lovely friend Elle.  This was to be a boudoir session and I really wanted to pull out all of the stops to make it good for Elle and also yield a good result for my own portfolio.

Because I am pretty much a penniless photographer, I put out put out a call on Facebook page for local models, stylists and photographers for a MUA/hair stylist to assist me on a “trade for time/file” collaboration basis.  I had a few takers but Rebecca’s images impressed me the most and I immediately got back to her to arrange her services.

Unfortunately I’ve been involved in a few shoots where the MUA has cancelled at the last minute or simply not even shown up at all. There have also been cases where if they did decide to grace us with their presence, they were late or ran overtime or just had shockingly bad attitudes and delusions of grandeur – and even worse, their work wasn’t as good as the photos in their portfolio had promised.  It all equals up to a pretty sour experience. So I will admit to bringing my own makeup kit with me, JUST IN CASE.

I need not have worried at all.

Rebecca is a relative newcomer to the make-up industry and is also building her portfolio but if her current level of service and professionalism continues apace, she will be one of the best in the business and I am sure will be called on for loads of jobs.  She turned up on time, listened to what I was after and delivered in spades.  Elle really enjoyed having her make-up and hair done and appreciated Rebecca’s chatty but professional personality.  With Rebecca doing her thing, I was able to do some planning in the room and gather my ideas for the shoot ahead.

Now, Elle is gorgeous already without makeup but Rebecca’s styling brought out her best and was complimented the style of the shoot perfectly.  I couldn’t have been happier and neither could Elle.

Shades of Douglas Kirkland's wonderful Marilyn Monroe photographs.

Shades of Douglas Kirkland’s wonderful Marilyn Monroe photographs.

Elle looked fantastic and knew it.

Elle looked fantastic and knew it.

You can find Rebecca on her Facebook page – Rebecca Vaughan Make-up Artist and on her own blog, Just Wing It. I’m recommending her to all an sundry now. She’s even doing the bridal makeup for another friend of mine.

Oh, and by the way. Elle is in her late forties.

Yes, you can curl up and die of jealousy now. I have a thousand times already.

Sunday Review – Blushie Bath and Body

And welcome to a new Sunday Review.

Those who know me also know that since I started losing weight I have taken a keen interest in not only making myself healthy on the inside but pretty on the outside as well. Which of course means MAKEUP!

And smelling nice, but mostly makeup.

So when I discovered long time friend and US correspondent, Megan, was not only selling her beautiful hand-crafted soaps but also tinted mineral lip glosses, I was ALL OVER THAT SHIT.

While not vegan, the lip balms are made with natural ingredients and smell lovely. The mica shimmers add a wonderful depth to the gloss and stand out on the lips.

I bought a handful of the sample size glosses because I had no idea which colour would suit me best. I need not have worried, they all look awesome. The glosses are very, very sheer with the first swipe leaving just a hint of colour and shimmer. They are build-able to a small extent but I found that more than about three swipes and the gloss tended to look streaky and uneven on my lips. I would suggest layering these over a matte lipstick or lip pencil that matches the the colour of the gloss if you want properly coloured lips.

The thing I really love about the lip glosses are that they really feel just like a lip balm. I’ve come to really dislike the “sticky” feeling of lip gloss and avoid it in preference of tinted lip balms or my trusty Lucas Paw-Paw ointment instead.

You can buy Megan’s Blushie products – including hand-made soaps, soy candles, lip glosses and balms and perfume oils – from her online shop, Blushie or Etsy. She’s also got a Facebook page.

The glosses currently run for about $8.50 each after the current exchange rates to AUD from USD. They’re still a bargain so go buy!

Anyway, here are some pictures of the colours that I bought from Megan:

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Blushie

Size comparison, left to right: Sample, Lip Balm and Mineral Lip Gloss

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Blushie

The lip gloss in Berry Wine is my favourite. It’s cool red-purple berry colour suits my skin perfectly. I wear this one when I go out a lot. This one is probably the one that gives the most coverage on it’s own. So pretty!

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Blushie

Golden Harvest is a beautiful orangey-coral, very warm-toned gloss. The colour payoff is great and the gold mica shimmers. This is probably just a little too warm for me but I love it anyway!

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Blushie

First Blush is a neutral shade for me. It actually matches the natural colour of my lips. It’s got a cool, white shimmer that is NOT frosty but adds a sparkle to the lips. Instalove.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Blushie

Winter Rose is a slightly deeper than First Blush, but still very neutral on me. It’s a cool mauve colour with pinky-tan highlights and blue shimmer, which means it suits my colouring perfectly again. It’s another that I wear a lot and will be buying in full size!

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Blushie

Just as an aside, I also bought the French Vanilla lip balm. Yeah – as a vanilla freak, I will happily admit that this stuff makes me want to eat my own face. I’m too scared to buy the balm in Gingerbread because I may actually do myself some damage if it smells as good as the vanilla.

All images property of Megan O’Keefe, Blushie Bath and Body.

Sunday Review – Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Welcome to another Sunday Review – the blog posts where I spruik my mates’ businesses!

Last week we had gears and cogs, this week we have refined elegance.

Annette Piper has long been an acquaintance and inspiration of mine. Having met her through the Aussie Beading Forum, I’d watched her show creation after beautiful creation using the most beautiful gemstones I’d ever seen. We’re both attracted to natural and colourful pretties. Annette’s style is simple, her work really lets the gems do all the talking. There’s no fluffy bits or anything that takes the focus away from the main attraction of her work.

Not only is she a brilliant jewellery designer, but, as the the name suggests, she’s a qualified aficionado of beautiful gems. The girl knows her stuff.

Annette teams her beads up with sterling silver or gold wire and findings, making gorgeous classic pieces that will stand the test of time, regardless of the current trends.

You can catch Annette at various markets in New South Wales (Australia) and she also sells online via her luscious website and on Facebook. For up-to-date details on her market endeavours, make sure you like her page! She’ll actually be at the Willow Markets in the Hunter Valley region TODAY (if you happen to be reading this early enough).

Here’s a select few of my favourite pieces:
(Click on images to zoom in!)

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Nuggets of turquoise lusciousness.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Striking green – brilliant for Summer and Spring

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Crazy colour!

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Baroque pearls.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Oh the drippy, gemmie gorgeousness.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

This one is all class.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Lovely crystal quartz.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Seriously, this needs no fancy embellishment. LOOKITTHEGREEN!

All photographs property of Annette Piper, Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery.

Sunday Review – Germano Arts Handcrafted Jewellery

Welcome to the inaugural Sunday Review! I know a large handful of hugely talented and successful folks who all have their own boutique businesses and I figured this is the perfect platform to do it.

If you have a small home or boutique business, I would love to do a review for you. Feel free to contact me via my contact page.

Anyway, onto the review…

Teena is a relatively new friend of mine whom I met via other friends within the Australian Beading Forum. Teena has her own boutique business, Germano Arts and she creates some of the most stunning jewellery I have had the pleasure of viewing, fondling and eventually buying for myself!

Teena’s style is hard to describe. It’s undoubtedly Steampunk but with a pretty garden party twist. She has taken the current vintage palette trend of brass and copper and truly made it her own, adding cogs, toggles and screws and teaming it up with flowers and some of the most gorgeous sparkly beads you’ve ever seen. She sources her supplies from all over the world and even makes her own polymer clay and metal-work feature components and uses a combination of layering and cold connections as well as soldering to create her jewellery, all of which results in a unique and beautiful handcrafted piece which will last forever.

Did I say that Teena’s jewellery was hard to describe? Maybe it was just hard to describe in a few words.

You can find Teena regularly at the Kallista Market (Victoria, Australia) on the first Saturday of every month. She has also been featured in Australian Beading and has published designs and tutorials in Australia’s new Digital Beading magazine.

Online, you can find Germano Arts on MadeIt and Facebook!

Anyway, here’s a (albeit, large) taste of the kind of jewellery you were find at Germano Arts…

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Germano Arts Handcrafted Jewellery

Swallows and cogs go together like brass and copper.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Germano Arts Handcrafted Jewellery

This one is MINE! After lusting after this double-drop beauty for the better part of a month, I practically threw money at Teena the day I saw it in person. It’s now one of my favourite pieces of jewellery, ever.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Germano Arts Handcrafted Jewellery

A beautiful example of Teena’s polymer clay work teamed with her clever layering and enameling to create this awesome bib-style statement piece.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Germano Arts Handcrafted Jewellery

Even the reverse sides of her jewellery are pretty features all on their own.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Germano Arts Handcrafted Jewellery

Flora is a major feature of Teena’s work.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Germano Arts Handcrafted Jewellery

It wouldn’t be Steampunk without a key!

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Germano Arts Handcrafted Jewellery

Lovely lampwork and crystal teamed up with filigree is always a winner.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Germano Arts Handcrafted Jewellery

Teena sources beautiful, unique shapes and components to incorporate into her designs.

All pictures are property of Teena Germano, Germano Arts Handcrafted Jewellery.

Review: myprosperity – A new money-management website.

Well, I know it’s not a secret that I was what was considered one of the “long-term unemployed” until recently. From the first week of July last year to… well, pretty much the first week of July this year I was jobless. Fortunately I received a fairly significant redundancy payout but my one mistake was that I did not budget for anything…

Well, frankly, I thought I would be working much sooner than what was actually the sad reality.

I should have done a budget. I was spending money like I was still employed and that was probably the worst thing I could have ever done.

Anyway, long story short, I’ve got a new job now but where I used to have the sort of pay packet that pretty much meant I could spend what I liked almost mindlessly and still have all my bases covered, I’m dealing with a wage that is now a little over a third of what I was used to getting. Of course I’m not complaining – these days a job is a job and I adore this job that I’ve got but I’ve now got to budget much, much more carefully to be able to buy the occasional bottle of nail polish without feeling ultra guilty.

That’s where myprosperity comes in. I was offered the chance to review this new money management site and given that I am in dire need of a budget overhaul, I put my hand up, thanks very much!

myprosperity is being toted as a way to keep track of your funds and assets all in one convenient location and it’s all free – BONUS!

At a glance, it lets you see where your money is going as the site automatically categorising your spendings for you.

It also helps you set savings goals, plan your budget better and keep control of your finances all in one fell swoop.

Hey, anything that’s easy and helps you manage your money is a good thing, right?

So onto my personal feelings about the site…

The good stuff first!

Using the site is DEAD EASY. It’s quick and intuitive. Everything is a step-by-step process and chucking in your data is quick.

You can even get basic free evaluations on your property and car if you decide to put this information in. I did and I was tickled to see that my house is worth considerably more than we paid for it (yay!) and it also comes up with what it previously sold for (to us) and somehow managed to find all the pictures that must have been loaded up to some real estate site when the house was on the market.

The site picks up your information within minutes and everything is readily displayed in different tabs. Graphs fill out as you watch and you can easily navigate around the site to see how your funds are spread out with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Now… the bad stuff.

Privacy and security are an issue.

Ok, I’ll be honest, I really don’t like giving usernames and passwords to anyone for anything and that’s what you have to do with myprosperity to be able to use the site effectively. Bank accounts, superannuation accounts, savings, etc. To me that feels like a huge security risk and I think I would have preferred a more manual system where I could input those figures myself rather than giving a great unknown the password to my financial banking, but for the purpose of this review, I chucked in my details to see what would happen.

As much as I was uncomfortable with sharing those details, it was pretty cool to see where all my money was being filtered out to. Anything linked to the accounts that you put in the details for will show up automatically too in other parts of the site.

It’s categorising the information incorrectly.

It’s fairly obvious when using the site that anything that the myprosperity system does not recognise will not be linked to correctly. Case in point, all of my direct debits were being listed incorrectly. Due to the banking reference including the word “direct”, the mysprosperity system read this as debits from Budget Direct – a company I have absolutely NOTHING to do with. All these debits are therefore listed in the insurance tab. I am not sure what the go was there but there seemed to be no way to correct this and there’s no help button and apparently no way to re-categorise the payments. That is a major fault on myprosperity’s part as far as I am concerned.

Limited edibility.

I could not seem to update the system to show just my income – which makes this a little bit pointless. The system does a very good job of reading your accounts but it assumes too much. Not all the money flowing into my account is income.

And back to security…

Lastly, I could not see anywhere to remove any of the details I had put in – so I guess I’ll be updating my bank account passwords now.

In conclusion…

All in all, I think myprosperity is an ok service. It’s free, so you have to remember that free equals limitations and this should be in no way used as a replacement for proper financial planning if you’re someone like me who really needs to get into the nitty-gritty of managing money, but for an “at a glance” service – and if you are comfortable with providing passwords for your financials – it’s pretty good.

Nuffnang Product Talk

NB: I give honest reviews.

I survived Christmas 2012 and I got was this stupid Hobbit T-shirt.

Actually, what I got for Christmas was the following:

1. A speeding fine.
2. A weird cold/infection/plague thing that’s settled in my chest.
3. 5kg gained over three weeks.
4. No job prospects.
5. An abnormal pap smear result.
6. One of my aunts passed away from cancer. (For any of my friends reading this, no, I am not talking about my aunt Nessa who was diagnosed with melanoma in her eye. She’s still very much alive and kicking.)

Yeah… this Christmas has sort of sucked.

Ah well. Thanks to Peter Jackson, the Boxing Day Movie tradition has been reinstated with the manbeast with a viewing of the much-awaited release of The Hobbit. That was the one thing that I was actually looking forward to this Christmas.

What did I think of the movie?

Eh.

I will say this… I am a fan of the Lord of the Rings series. The Hobbit was a great film and I enjoyed it a lot but I didn’t walk out of the theatre nearly crying because there was 12 months to wait for the next one. Unfortunately I feel that the Powers That Be are milking it for every penny that it’s worth (and it’s kind of worth a lot) and as a result, what is only one short book is going to be stretched out over three movies. Not terribly impressed with that. The pace of the film was extremely slow as a result.

Now, here’s what I did not like about the film…

It had a very Pixar-ish feel about it. I think it had a lot to do with the 48fps frame rate (which, granted, is sped up slightly for the 2D showings of the film) but it was just too crisp and clean and sharp. Yes, Middle Earth isn’t real, I get that, but the grittiness of the original films gave them realism and the audience the impression that it could very well have been a real environment.

The overuse CGI in the new film was also a huge problem. In the LotR series, the antagonists were guys in prosthetics. The awesome Lawrence Makoare played three of the main ones; Lurtz the big Uruk’hai, Gothmog the big boss of the super orcs, and he donned the Witch King’s robes for the final film) and it gave the characters that same sense of realism which I found the most appealing. Sure, the big critters like the massive elephants and the cave trolls were CGI but that was kind of necessary – it’s kinda hard to get a real elephant to play dress-ups and Andre the Giant died about 20 years ago.

The Hobbit’s main bad guy was 100% CGI. And I was bummed because he looked CGI. I don’t know what the difference is this time between the graphics from the LotR films to The Hobbit but it was too crisp and clean – too much colour and to be honest, he did not look nearly evil enough. Ugly, yes, but ugly in the sense that he had a few artistically placed body/battle scars and a missing limb. Gothmog’s abhorrent facial growths and the fact that he was played by a real person made him infinitely scarier.

Even Gollum looked like a cheesy cartoon caricature of himself and even though he was voiced by the marvelous Barry Humphries, the Goblin King was probably the worst bit of CGI in the entire film. I did not like him at all. He looked too comically gross to be taken at all seriously.

Though I will admit, I did rather enjoy the superfluous stone giants scene. It was pretty awesome. And at least it was actually in the book.

The First Confessor (The Legend of Magda Searus), Terry Goodkind

The First Confessor (The Legend of Magda Searus, #1)The First Confessor by Terry Goodkind

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Let’s get one thing straight… I am a hardcore fan of Terry Goodkind. I was in high school when Wizard’s First Rule came out and it was a real eye-opener for me. The years following were plagued with fights over who would read the next book first when it came out and my mother bought it (for the record, they’re all now living on my shelf).

I have loved the Sword of Truth series forever but with each book, I have also felt the characters get weaker and the story get slower than the previous one. There is no describing the torment and disappointment I felt at how Goodkind wrote Jagang’s demise… which was all in the space of a paragraph. We’d just got through about eight books that detailed the horribleness of the world of the Emperor and the dream walkers and then…. well, that’s for a completely different review.

So, The First Confessor WANTS to be a great book but I found it to be very obvious. It was like reading a bunch of dot points…

*First Wizard dies, leaving widow (our heroine) to fend for herself
*Bad guy makes himself apparent
*Gruesome and bad stuff happens
*Heroine (stubborn, troublesome wench-type) gets help
*Heroine becomes a Confessor
*The good guys win – for now.

I’m not really giving any spoilers away, here. It’s pretty obvious that Magda Searus becomes the first Confessor from the title alone. But that’s the problem with the whole book. I knew what was going to happen the whole way through. There was no guessing, no surprises.

I had a real problem with someone who was fairly pivotal to the tale in the beginning of the novel simply vanishing for the rest of the story. Literally.

And… this is probably the only real spoiler in my review – I really wanted more detail as to how Magda was changed into a confessor. I was BITTERLY disappointed.

On the whole, if you’ve read the rest of the Sword of Truth series, I would probably give this one a miss. If you haven’t then my advice would be:

1. Wizards First Rule (Book 1)
1a. Debt of Bones (Novella/short story)
1b. The First Confessor (Prequel)

.. and then every other book in the series in the order to which they were written. It will make more sense to you and at the same time you will be pleased that you’ll be riding the crest of the wave for the rest of the way through the story.

Sorry Terry, you missed the mark with this one. Might be time to start on some new material.




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