the thing about fictional boyfriends

The thing about fiction, whether it be in the form of a much-loved book, a movie or TV show, or even a comic, is that it taps into the deep pool of imagination and a wealth of what-ifs. This is never more apparent than with the much adored hero of any good story, or in some cases, the villain (for fans of Damon Salvatore and his ilk).

The perfect (and, even better, the imperfect) hero usually combines good looks, with bravery, some smarts, a well of deeply repressed emotions and, say, a crown (if it’s Disney) or a fleet of oil-rigging ships (if Mills & Boon is more your thing). Or, if you’re lucky, they’ve a massive estate in Derbyshire complete with a lake, for random midday swims while fully clothed.

Of course, you then also have the sparkly-watch-her-while-she-sleeps psychopath vampire boyfriend who was entirely too popular for common sense. But then, we all have our own tastes! And to that end, I’ve compiled a brief list of my own favourite fictional boyfriends below, in no particular order. Some are, I grant you, a little strange, while some clearly hark back to my early years, but I still think of them fondly!

  1. Tuxedo Mask/Darien/Moonlight Night, Sailor Moon. While the man did have far more aliases than one ever could possibly need, there was something about him that tugged at my innocent six-year-old heart. I recall swooning when the love/hate phase of his relationship with Serena/Sailor Moon paused long enough for them to realise their true identities. And even though, in reality, he was actually kind of a jerk and almost entirely useless (dude, a cane is not ever a match for a sword, unless you’re Lucius Malfoy), pure sentimentality – in conjunction with his ability to throw roses around at the drop of a hat – secures his place on this list.
  2. darienJohn Thornton, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Now I love the book, but it doesn’t have a patch on the BBC adaptation. Scandalous to say? Not if you’ve seen Richard Armitage and the cup scene. He’s complicated, a touch on the broody side – but then the woman he’s attempting to woo is judgy, ignorant and blind to his charms – and he’s fiercely loyal and protective. Plus, that voice! As my friend once said, I could happily listen to him recite the phone book all day.tumblr_nj5ndufvQS1qz9cu6o5_500
  3. Dean Winchester, Supernatural. Sure, he’s been to hell and back a few times, and tangled with more than his fair share of demons, ghosts, zombies and face-eating monsters, but he’s quite the sweetheart beyond all that. Admittedly, he’s more of an unforgettable fling (unforgettable because seeing him will probably be coupled with a near-death experience) kind of guy than long-term fictional boyfriend material, given his habit of never staying in the same town for long, endless stream of fake identities, and an unhealthy tendency to die for his brother on a regular basis. But with his pithy one liners, ridiculously attractive jaw line, and that cheeky grin, I quite literally could not say no.giphy (7)
  4. Jonah Griggs, On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I can’t even. Still one of my favourite books (but not one to be read before having to present myself before people and not look like a blubbering mess), and to this day I lament the deplorable lack of Jonahs in reality. Sadly we don’t yet have a movie version to pine over either! So I leave you instead with your own imagination, and some swooning.giphy (5)
  5. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Well this one doesn’t need much explanation as it only set the trend for every what-a-bastard-oh-actually-he’s-not-and-I-love-him book that followed. Misunderstood, wealthy, protective (albeit totally snobby) and attractive, he fits the ideal hero in almost every way. And Colin Firth did nothing to help to stem the flow of adoration from women the world over.giphy (2)
  6. Noah Calhoun, The Notebook. When a girl decides that in fact James Marsden, in Military dress, and worshipping at her feet, just doesn’t cut muster compared to her first boyfriend, you know he had to have had a little something-something. Low and behold, it’s a younger Ryan Gosling, talking about birds, building houses, writing a year’s worth of letters, and just generally being Ryan Gosling. So, yeah not really a tricky one here.tumblr_m5iw6uELIP1rx13qeo1_500
  7. Seth Cohen, The OC. Bless him, he was so adorable in a way that spawned a wave of lesser than Seth clones across TV shows everywhere. He loved Summer from the third grade, named a boat (the tiniest one ever) after her, and even Captain Oats and Summer’s Princess Sparkle had their own thing going on. Admittedly he was also an idiot many times over, but a sweet one with an army truck full of chuckle-worthy one liners. Nerd love!giphy
  8. Jess Mariano, Gilmore Girls. I loved Jess, even though in reality he was probably one of the worst TV boyfriends ever (until she was later with Logan, at which point Jess had matured into potentially the best TV boyfriend ever… such a wasted opportunity, Rory!). He was moody, inconsiderate and always looking for trouble, but he read prolifically and wrote notes in the margins of her books and, well, that’s hot.giphy (1)
  9. Logan Echolls, Veronica Mars. Sure he was snarky (who doesn’t love that?), had a serial killing sociopath of father, and was the ex-boyfriend of Veronica’s murdered best friend, and consistently wore that ugly beaded necklace thing, but really what’s a little baggage in the scheme of things? He was complicated, slightly damaged, but vastly entertaining (especially when compared to Duncan… must boring TV boyfriend ever) and never without a pithy response.tumblr_n4ilxgjkBe1tyccego3_500
  10. Prince Eric, The Little Mermaid, No list for me would be complete without my one-true-Disney-love! He’s two-dimensionally good-looking, like totally humble – at least enough to not want to stare at his creepy replica statue – polite enough to not comment on the use of a fork as a comb, and has an awesome dog. Really, what more could one ask for? Okay, granted his will power sucked and he was brainwashed into marrying a crazed half-octopus villain (incidentally, one of the best of all time), but hey, these things happen.giphy (6)

 

weird questions tag!

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The fabulous Karen of Confetti and Curves posted her own Weird Questions Tag and left it open, so I’ve picked up the mantle and here we go. Incidentally, there are a couple of really strange ones here.

Do you have a nickname that only your family use?

I have an alarming number of nicknames, of which I can’t recall the origins for most! In terms of family, Bambi would be one. Primarily because my mum, high on pethidine while giving birth, thought it was an appropriate first name for her child. My father had the sense to intervene as, given my last name, this would have been highly unfortunate. It stuck however, as did pickle, which my sister calls me, and to whom I refer to as poodle. For reasons unknown! Amongst friends I go by K-Dog, Sha-Sha (so named because of the way I dance when a favourite hip hop song comes on) and Sas (a long and complicated story involving a trip to NYC with friends, and meeting a guy whose name was so unpronounceable in our inebriated state that we debated over whether it was Szechuan like the chicken or Sasquatch). The latter stuck, was shortened, and somehow upon returning home was attributed to me.

What’s a weird habit of yours?

I have an OCD habit when it comes to knives, which to be honest, isn’t all that illogical. In any case, I am physically unable to sit still if any sharp object is pointing directly at me, even from a distance. This extends to the point where, if at dinner, and someone’s butter knife is pointing in my direction, I have to reach over and turn it slightly away. I can’t control it, and most of the time don’t even realise I’m doing it.

Do you have any weird phobias?

The above probably half counts. But I’m also completely terrified of spiders when one grows up in Australia it’s not weird but smart. I once had a few spiders (horrible black things like that one from Lord of the Rings, only fractionally smaller) on my balcony. How they got up there when it was on the 12th floor, I have no idea, but it fed my absolute certainty that they were there to eat me in my sleep. After a night of sitting on the couch watching the doors and windows for signs of invasion, I worked up the courage to exterminate the evil monsters. This process involved me wearing Ugh boots, pink shorts (it was too hot for pants despite the risk of easy access to biteable skin), purple kitchen gloves and my hair in a bun that resembled an untamed forest. Armed with super strength spider spray in the largest available size, and a dustpan, I marched out onto the balcony and created a war zone. I defeated them narrowly, but not before noticing my neighbour sitting on her own balcony watching, and looking alarmed. Probably had something to do with the flailing arms and frequent shouts of “Don’t eat me!” but suffice to say she avoided eye contact in the lift ever since that day.

What song do you secretly love to blast out when you’re alone?

Teenage Dirtbag by Weezer is a classic, who doesn’t love singing in an intolerably high pitch when no one can hear? I also have a tendency to sing Disney songs. The year of Frozen was not a good time for my neighbours, given I’m fantastically awful at singing.

What’s one of your biggest pet peeves?

Inconceivably slow walkers in busy places. I figure, if you’re there for the scenic tour, take it to a park. I’m a woman on a mission!  Bad grammar. People asking if I eat fish, given I’m vegetarian. Vegetarians don’t eat fish, people! It’s in the name for goodness sake.

What’s one of your nervous habits?

I tend to fidget if I’m uncomfortable, either by playing my hair or twisting my ring around my finger.

What side of the bed do you sleep on?

I always sleep on the left to start with and then, because I’m a notorious blanket and bed stealer, end up taking up most of it anyway, leaving my boyfriend to battle from a far too small corner.

What was your first stuffed animal and its name?

It was a white Christmas bear named Snowy and he’s still in a cupboard somewhere at my mum’s house. More recently (because what 27 year old doesn’t still love toys??) my friends gave me Harold the giraffe (who also transforms into a pillow) because of my love of giraffes. They also proceeded to use the fact that he got lost under my bed for months as an example of my lack of maternal instincts which isn’t wrong.

What’s the drink you always order at Costa?

I’m a coffee addict. In Melbourne it was always a skinny flat white, because frankly all Melbourne baristas know how to make a coffee. Now in Ireland I’ve adapted to Americanos because a latte or flat white just isn’t okay.

What’s a beauty rule you preach but never actually practice?

I don’t think there’s anything in particular as I tend to be very careful about my routine, but I have on the odd occasion gone to bed with make up on from the night before. Big no no!

Which way do you face in the shower?

Yep, this one qualifies as weird. I’d do pirouettes in the shower if I had room.

Do you have any ‘weird’ body skills?

My legs are very flexible, to the point that they may be double-jointed (makes yoga a breeze!). As a result I can put my legs over and behind my head, or do a ballerina turn out, except with my feet able to go further back so they are partially pointed behind me. Weird, I know. It’s my party trick to creep people out.

What’s your favourite ‘bad’ comfort food that you eat anyway?

Cookies and cream ice-cream is my all-time favourite indulgence. Otherwise I’d say brie on crackers. In small doses it’s okay but not at the rate that I’d happily consume it.

What’s a phrase or exclamation that you always say?

I say ‘bless!’ a lot. Like, “oh, he’s a bit of a bless.” Or “that’s so cute, bless!”

It’s time to sleep – what are you ACTUALLY wearing?

In winter in Ireland I was almost wearing every item in my wardrobe that could conceivably provide warmth, in addition to thick socks, ugg boots and a throw rug. Now it’s usually just PJ bottoms or shorts and a t-shirt.

That’s all folks! Like Karen, I’m going to leave nominations open to whoever fancies taking a whirl at the weird questions tag.

book bingo, anybody?

As you’ll all have gathered by now I am at heart a book nerd (wearing that badge with some serious pride too) and hoarder. Though I have a short attention span and can sometimes float between five or so books at a time, neglecting to go back to those that didn’t seal the deal for me.

I have a particular love for the classics, re-reading Harry Potter, and young adult fiction, though truthfully I’d give most anything a go.

Last year I stumbled upon a fantastic post on the Random House book blog. Book Bingo, the game in question, sounded just about the most brilliant thing to my inner book monster who shrieked with delight at the thought. Alas, things got away from me last year and the aforementioned monster lay dormant for far too long.

I’ve since decided to properly indulge myself in some good fiction and so I’m bringing bingo back on the table. The folks at RH have provided a 2015 version, which is for reasons unknown Canadian-based. Not sure I’ve ever read a book by a Canadian author, though perhaps I have without knowing. In any case, the bingo tables from last year included a general one and a YA focused one. So I’m being selective and going with them.

The tables are below. Personally, I’m going to print mine out and stick it on my desk so I can put sticky hearts over the boxes I’ve covered. Anyone else care to join?

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things that happen when you (or I) have the flu

I hate getting sick. Unfortunately for me, my feeble immune system hasn’t really done a stellar job since I arrived in Ireland and encountered all manner of new and nasty bugs. I suppose you could say I’ve become used to it by now and have a tendency to glare at random persons coughing in my vicinity.

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That being said, I was not prepared to land an awful flu on Good Friday, just at the start of the gloriously long Easter weekend. Not only was I house bound for the first good weather of the year, I wasn’t able to eat chocolate (that’s probably more of a pro than a con, in reality).

While contemplating my behaviour during this time, I came to the conclusion that there are some truths about having the flu that are undeniable. Unless of course you’re an alien person who behaves like Mother Theresa, in which case, you’re a far better person than me and we have nothing in common.

  1. The sun comes out immediately, despite it having been The Day After Tomorrow grey and depressing when you were at full health. Because the sun likes to mock you.
  2. You secretly think, ‘Great, an excuse to lie around, be lazy and catch up on TV shows.’
  3. Except in reality, you’re probably emotionally vulnerable, and so anything with creepy elements (like my choices Criminal Minds, Supernatural or The Walking Dead – the latter of which reminds me that I haven’t brushed my hair and am suddenly beginning to resemble a zombie extra) make you hover between misery, fluctuating hormones, and complete terror in your flu-induced insomnia when the wind howls outside your window. Is it a demon, a flesh-eating zombie, or just your garden-variety axe murderer? Oh. It’s just a leaf.giphy (3)
  4. You start the first day of symptoms by inhaling oranges and reminding yourself you really should be eating more vitamin rich vegetables. By day three you’re scaring your neighbours (who incidentally are wondering who the fiend next door yelling “give me the pills!!” is at 3 AM). Be honest from the start and forget the fruit and stock up on ibuprofen.
  5. You took your work laptop home under the delusion that you would bother to catch up on work emails when you have the strength. That’s a lie, you’re probably watching The Mindy Project instead.giphy
  6. You’ve used so many tissues that you’ve almost completed your papier-mâché fort, have actually run out of the nice and gentle aloe vera ones, and have now moved onto the toilet paper. But at least now no one (including your boyfriend, who tries not to look alarmed at the mutant you’ve transformed into) will see what you’re like by day five. 200 (1)
  7. You get really annoyed at the shiny haired, picture-of-health people on the TV shows you’ve been watching. Especially when they’ve been jogging and don’t look half as sweaty as your fever makes you feel.
  8. When you do finally go to the doctor’s you’re almost catatonic from the wait, surrounded by screaming children and people wheezing next to you.giphy (2)
  9. You’re immediately suspicious of the very young, rather good looking doctor you’ve been assigned to (has he really finished medical school?!) and begin lamenting the fact that you wore those leggings and a top that has a hole in it. Not that wearing something more chic would stop you from looking like you rolled out of a rubbish bin.giphy (4)
  10. Your ability to articulate actual words devolves and you take to grunting and sighing to announce your irritation/desperation/sheer elation/complete starvation. Unfortunately, the tone of your grunts isn’t quite discernible, and so you simply look like a bored caveman.
  11. You reach level 585 on Candy Crush Saga and realise you have too much time on your hands.
  12. You roll your eyes when your boyfriend coughs once, sneezes twice and then collapses into bed. Man flu. So typical.200
  13. You take your ill health to mean you can’t go to the gym for the next two weeks (citing respiratory problems) and so decide to succumb to your inner food monster and eat too much ice-cream.
  14. You kind of don’t mind the Sophia Bush-esque husky voice you’ve acquired over the last few days.
  15. You get your period while you still have the flu, and generally hate the world. And more specifically men for not having a uterus and therefore not understanding your pain at all.
  16. You periodically start quoting the Wicked Witch of the West during her ‘melting’ scene in the Wizard of Oz because you recognise a soul sister in her. Female solidarity all the way. wicked-witch-melting-o

so, what’s it like in publishing?

Publishing seems to be one of those industries where people (outsiders) don’t really have a clear idea of what goes on except those divined from movies/books like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or The Proposal.

So I figured I might as well share some insights into the life of one working publishing. As a preface, I worked at a Big 5 publisher in their children’s marketing division across branding and marketing for key licensed brands (LEGO®, Peppa Pig, Star Wars®, Peter Rabbit etc), and then in a freelance capacity as an editor.

The weird thing about this industry is that you can pretty much guarantee that everyone in it is obsessed with books and feels very strongly about it, even though we have the tendency to complain loudly (over wine) about some of the pitfalls.

  1. Within the hallowed walls of a publisher you will find a plethora of hipsters in their natural habitat, complete with oversized (and often prescription free) glasses. Fedoras and suspenders are not uncommon also.giphy
  2. You don’t get paid much, but you’re so delighted with free books and/or a heavy discount that you don’t complain because books are either like crack to you or you’re in the wrong industry.
  3. You will absolutely hear from your friend’s neighbour’s sister’s nephew who has decided to write a book on politics despite being in his first year at university and never having voted.tumblr_inline_mlo1iu0ykM1qz4rgp
  4. Children’s marketing is awesome. You get cupcakes, advance movie screenings of Disney films, and get to hang out with some cool people (like these guys)1472748_10152024154014220_1546020446_n
  5. Book Depository and Amazon are the enemy (officially) but you still secretly order books from them because they’re so damn cheap plus free delivery, hello!
  6. Publishing peeps love morning teas, to the point where there will be an official company wide one on every hallmark day, and every time someone leaves/has a birthday/gets promoted. Plus there’s inevitably a baker in your team who will surprise you with cupcakes just because it’s Tuesday. So goodbye diet, hello muffin top.giphy (1)
  7. Yes we do all have an extensive collection of orange Penguin Classics scattered around our homes. That’s not a stereotype. They’re multipurpose in that they immediately deter would-be burglars from bothering to steal once they realise that they are probably our only worldly possessions.
  8. It’s not an easy field to break into. Equipped with your writing/journalism degree, a masters in Publishing and Editing, and a supreme sense of your worthiness enjoy the hunt for an entry level job or unpaid internship that doesn’t expect you to have 27 years work experience.enhanced-buzz-8276-1369323387-25
Via buzzfeed
  1. Your desk is probably going to be covered in a combination of colourful mugs and sticky notes, mountain high piles of books and plush toy elephants, bears or weird looking alien things with big eyes. Let’s not even talk about the nappies. True story.
  2. At least one of the above mentioned books will be missing from your desk when you return from lunch.
  3. It’s a very social industry. Think book fairs, book launches, and drinking on Fridays just because.
  4. Meanwhile, it’s pay day which means no more sad lunch!tumblr_inline_mpoez7wulH1r1g0ge
  5. You get the weirdest queries. Like the time a woman got hold of my email and wanted to check that the images in her copy of ALL 23 of Beatrix Potter’s Original Tales were in the correct place. No lady, I am not going to sit here and flip through each book and compare notes with you. That’s what you get for buying an abridged copy from Target for $50 instead of the proper one for $250.
  6. When the biscuit barrels in the communal kitchens are replenished and there’s a stampede of people racing to get the cream-filled ones.tumblr_lgbira8pXh1qf8yek
  7. Telling someone you work in publishing and they respond with, ‘Oh, is that like… books and stuff.’ No, we build rockets.giphy (3)
  8. The computers never work, and IT are useless. The air conditioning, however, is the opposite, resulting in the need for hot-water bottles during the desert-like heat of summer.
  9. You get really annoyed when you pass by a bookstore not using all of the marketing collateral you sent them for an upcoming release or promotion. Especially when you know for a fact that store asked for extras.giphy (2)
  10. The sheer delight when new samples from the romance imprint come in and you find much enjoyment with your co-workers over absurd titles, cover images and plot lines that include were-hedgehogs (a person who morphs into a hedgehog, because werewolves are so four years ago) who fall in love with humans.

books

book review: we were liars

We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

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So I’ve been a little slack with my reading over the last few months, but have finally indulged in a few books, one of which I’ll speak about specifically here. There has been a lot said (and even more left unsaid) about E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, which received tremendous advance praise from critics and was ultimately awarded the Goodread’s Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction in 2014.

I went in not knowing much, except that there were plenty of twists and turns and ultimately one very big one. I can honestly say I did not see it coming, and firmly believe those who say they did are Liars themselves.

Personally, I loved the book. Lockhart’s fragmented, yet lyrical, style of writing is right up my alley but those who aren’t hugely into this approach may find it somewhat alienating.

All I can tell you is that the story is set on a small privately owned island off Martha’s Vineyard, and is home to a wealthy American family who are, really, full of their sense of self-importance and own air of mystery.

“The Sinclairs are athletic, tall, and handsome. We are old-money Democrats. Our smiles are wide, our chins square, and our tennis serves aggressive.” 

As we are introduced to the grandparents, aunts, and various cousins, we begin to see quite quickly that beneath the shiny, moneyed exterior lies a group of broken and disparate people.

The story focuses primarily around the eldest grandchildren, self-titled the Liars, and their adventures during their summer stays at the island. That is until summer fifteen when everything changes.

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This is a story that is murky with things unsaid, with layer upon layer of mysterious somethings that never quite leave the reader sure of what has happened. It’s the best kind of torment, however, as you attempt to collect the puzzle pieces throughout.

Indeed, anyone, having read the cover copy quote from the hugely successful YA author of The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, John Green, might think that this is written in keeping with his own style. But while there is plenty of clever dialogue and sharp social commentary, it is an entirely different beast.

Lockhart’s weaving narrative bowled me over and knocked me with one hell of a sucker punch towards the end. The sinister undercurrent throughout this otherwise picture perfect representation of a family is both smart and unsettling.

A gripping read for anyone who enjoys contemporary young adult fiction, a good mystery, and the inclusions of family trees and maps at the start of a story (a la Lord of the Rings).