Things I’m thankful for

Even though we don’t have thanksgiving in South-Africa, this time of the year is about being thankful for what you have. Here is a list of things I am thankful for:

Democracy and a mostly stable country

I am thankful that the transitioning from apartheid to democracy over the last 20 years has been relatively peaceful. South-Africa still has some issues, but for the most part a large percentage of the population has started to move on and live together.

Education

Education eliminates ignorance and empowers people. It is a subject I am very passionate about and fully promote educating yourself for as long as you can.

Medication, Clinical Trials, Science and Vaccines

These four are interlinked in my mind. I touch on all four in my field of work, and the power of medicine and the eradication of disease will always fascinate me.

Faith

I am a Christian and I am thankful that I live in a country where all people are allowed to practise their religion. Different religions get along fantastically here, and the people are very open to discussing why they believe in a certain way, but also willing to accept that you might not agree. My beliefs give me hope and make me feel safe, and I am so glad that I am a practising member.

Friends

They make you laugh. They understand who you are and accept you that way. I include people at work in here too, because they actually spend more time with you than your actual friends.

Family

Because they are always there for you.

Cell phones

For enabling me to have obsessive social media tendencies and allowing me to call people.

Tablets

For being small laptops you can carry around.

BOOKS

Obviously

Music

For understanding how I feel.

Walking

For keeping me fit, getting me into the fresh air and for exercising my dog.

My dog

For being happy and loving and hilarious all the time.

Clean drinking water

South-Africa has some of the cleanest tap water in the world. We are able to drink water directly from the tap without worrying about infection. It is truly an exceptional gift and I really appreciate it.

Hand sanitizer

For keeping the germaphobe happy

Coffee

For keeping me awake

Wine

For being delicious

Chocolate

FOR BEING DELICIOUS

J.K Rowling

For giving me Harry Potter

The internet

For connecting me to the world.

My job

Unemployment is a big problem in my country, and I was unemployed for six months. I am so thankful that for the last four years I have been permanently employed at a place that I love. I am thankful that I am allowed to grow here, with opportunities always available for those who work hard, a fair boss, a decent salary, and for support while I slosh my way through my degree.

Make-up

Because who doesn’t like looking pretty?

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Book Review: The Last Sacrifice (Richelle Mead)

Book: 62/100

Richelle Mead - Vampire Academy Last Sacrifice

Rose Hathaway has been framed for the murder of the Moroi Queen, Tatiana Ivashkov. She has damning evidence against her – the Queen was murdered with Rose’s own stake after Rose threatened her before the entire Moroi Royal Court. Set for trial and a definite execution, she relies on her father, the shady Abe Mazur, to get her out. He manages to buy more time for his investigation by enabling her to escape from jail, with the help of her friends, and her current and former boyfriends, Adrian Ivashkov and Dimitri Belikov, the Dhampir who was forced to turn into a Strigoi and then returned to his Dhampir form by Lissa, a Spirit user and Rose’s best friend. Dimitri runs away with her, because he is the one already under suspicion, and clears her other friends. They meet up with Sydney Sage, a friend of Rose who is an Alchemist, people working to keep the supernatural world secret. They go to a remote location to hide while Abe clears Rose’s name, but she isn’t content to just sit and wait. She tells them the letter she received – a letter by Tatiana herself, telling Rose that Lissa has an illegitimate family member somewhere. This crucial information means that Lissa can run in the election for the next Queen, which wouldn’t have been possible without other family members.

When Adrian visits Rose during a Spirit dream, she tells him that they should nominate Lissa as a candidate, certain that the shock in their world will slow down the hunt for herself. She is right, the people are furious. They feel that she is only eighteen, linked to the previous’ Queen killer and her Spirit magic makes her unstable. Lissa starts doing the tests, and she does them remarkably well, gaining support as she goes further. For her, it is a promise to keep her family’s name high where it belongs, and a matter of pride, but to the Moroi she is a valid and loved candidate.

When Rose causes a scene at the motel she is hiding with Dimitri and Sydney, they are forced to leave their location. They head to a secret community, the Keepers that is composed of humans, Moroi and Dhampirs who are very primitive. There Rose gets another follower and has to make it clear she isn’t interested. While there, they realize that the only person who might know of Lissa’s illegitimate family member is Sonya Karp, Rose and Lissa’s old teacher who turned into a Strigoi to get away from her Spirit induced insanity. Dimitri uses his old connections to find out where she is living, and they go to find her. They are soon joined by Victor Dashkov and his half-brother Robert Doru, a crazy Spirit user. They turn Sonya back into a Moroi, and she is able to help them track down Lissa’s family.

Rose is shocked when it turns out that Jill Mastrano, a younger Moroi and one of her friends is Lissa’s half-sister. Jill agrees to head to court and openly admit it, but she is kidnapped by Victor and Robert, and the Guardians storm the Mastrano’s house after Victor tipped them off.

They hunt Victor, Robert and Jill down, and Rose kills Victor. She is terrified that she is going crazy from her bond with Lissa, and it takes a while to calm her down. She and Dimitri sleep together afterwards and head to court to take Jill in. Adrian realizes that Rose cheated on him and things are very awkward, but he is still kind towards Jill.

Rose, Dimitri and Lissa enters Court, where Lissa is one of two candidates left for the Monarchy. She declares Lissa has a sister, meaning she can be Queen if she gets voted in. Rose reveals herself, and tells the Court the evidence clearing her name – how Tasha Ozera framed her after killing the Queen, how Tasha hated the Queen and Rose as well, because Dimitri had only ever loved Rose and not her. Tasha is furious and denies it, but it is obvious that she is guilty. She tries to shoot Lissa, but Rose does one last heroic deed and just in front of her best friend, and getting critically injured.

Days later, Rose wakes up and discovers that 1) she’s alive 2) Lissa is Queen and 3) when she was shot and her body repaired itself, the bond she had with Lissa disappeared. She is reunited with the love of her life Dimitri, and her best friend is not only safe, but the ruler of their world.

Rating: 7/10

I enjoyed the last book in the series, even though it felt like I had to run a marathon to get through it. Last Sacrifice manages to tie up loose ends, finish off the appropriate people stories and leaves a few things untouched that gets picked up in the sister series, Bloodlines.

Once again, Rose is her single minded self. It is unfair to claim she is selfish, because she offers up so much of her time to protect her closest friend. She can rather be perceived as someone who only cares what happens to the people she loves the most – Lissa and Dimitri. I felt very sorry for Adrian at the end. He is already fragile of mind and then instead of dumping him when she knows it won’t work, she strings him along with false promises and then cheats of him. Not very nice.

Lissa was much more enjoyable in the last book. She finally found pride and a little backbone, which is a huge improvement from the fragile thing we met in Vampire Academy.

The series Vampire Academy is in my opinion something worth reading if you like YA fiction. It is better than most material out there, original and exciting.

Have you read the series? What did you think?

A tale that will restore your faith in humanity

Here is a wonderful story to make you feel better about life.

Reports were received that a dog had fallen into Kimberley’s Big Hole (Northern Cape, South-Africa) on the 15th of November 2013. The dog proved to have amazing fighting spirit and stayed alive by swimming around (the Hole used to be a diamond mine but is now filled with water). Luckily, the doggie managed to find resting place and could sometimes stand still.

By Saturday, the 23rd of November, people were demanding to know why no rescuing mission had been launched yet. True, the mission would be very difficult as it isn’t possible to go down the steep, eroded cliffs. Kurt Darren, a popular South-African celebrity, offered to finance the rescue mission. Soon ER24, a medical response unit, jumped on the wagon and offered to assist.

A team of seven went down the hole and after a few failed attempts; one man went into the water. Initially, the dog didn’t understand that Warrant Officer Wayne Seely was there to saver her, and tried to get away, but when she realised she was being rescued, the dog, nicknamed Underdog (or Captain Seely), stopped swimming and allowed her rescuer to lift her out.

Needless to say, the entire South-Africa was yelling support during the entire rescue mission.

And there, my faithful readers, is proof that humanity still has redeeming qualities.

Here’s to the Underdog!

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*Image from Volksblad

Book Review: Spirit Bound (Richelle Mead)

Book: 61/100

After learning that there might be a way to return Strigoi to their mortal state, Rose Hathaway realises that she needs to break her archenemy, Victor Dashkov, from prison. She enlists the help of her friends Lissa Dragomir and Eddie Castile, and they set of to break him out. They miraculously manage it, and end up in Las Vegas, where Victor wants to meet his half-brother, Robert Doru. Robert tells them that to save a Strigoi, a Spirit user needs to stake it with a silver stake that has been charmed with all the Moroi elements – earth, fire, water and spirit. Lissa wants to do this, but Rose knows allowing her might mean her friend’s death. Adrian Ivashkov arrives in Las Vegas, and he is understandably upset when he realizes Rose’s plan to bring her ex-boyfriend back from the dead. Dimitri attacks them while in Vegas, but once again Rose is unable to kill him, enraging Eddie, the other Guardian there. She confides in him that Dimitri was more than a teacher to her, and while he is sympathetic, he remains firm that she should have staked him. Robert and Victor escape, turning the trip into a complete disaster.

Back at the royal court Rose and Eddie gets into trouble for taking Lissa into dangerous surroundings. Rose gets stuck with paperwork, something she really hates. She meets Mikhael Tanner, another Guardian who lost someone he loved when she turned Strigoi. It turns out that his love was Sonya Karp, Rose and Lissa’s teacher who went crazy from being a spirit user.

Lissa and Christian Ozera is captured by Dimitri when they leave court for a college tour, and tells Rose through her and Lissa’s spirit bond he expects her to come and save her friend. She and other Guardians attack them, and Lissa manages to return Dimitri to his original Dhampir state. He is taken captive because no one knows what to believe, and Rose is stunned when he doesn’t want to see or speak to her.

The Queen of the Moroi, Tatiana Ivashkov, is known for despising Rose. When she asks Rose to tell her story of Strigoi hunting, Rose is stunned but complies. When she realizes Tatiana plans to use it to force Guardians to start working at sixteen, she openly threatens the Queen. When the Queen is found murdered with Rose’s stake, things doesn’t look good for her. She is taken into custody.

How will she possibly survive this? Who murdered the Queen? And will Dimitri ever be able to face her again?

Rating: 6/10

Once again, not a bad read. There is still some unnecessary things that happen, silly subplots that distract from the overall storyline. The series is very original, although the love triangle certainly isn’t. I think Rose was completely wrong looking at Adrian while she wasn’t over Dimitri, and even thinking that it could work. Tatiana’s murder was a surprise, and made the seventh book possible (once again supporting my theory that the series didn’t need seven books)

I would recommend this book to people who love YA fiction. It is a really good book, although if you want to read it it is advisable to read the series in correct order.

5 Things Friday: 5 WTF moments lately

5 things friday pic

Happy Friday! The last few weeks have truly been some of the most entertaining of the year. People are tired and incredibly cranky, and it is showing in the entertainment industry, with politicians, criminals and us ordinary folks. Hell, even the weather is throwing a tantrum.

Here are 5 things that was truly WTF the past two or three weeks. Enjoy!

Justin Bieber is a BOY

Like any other self-respecting person over the age of twenty (I am being generous here, that age line should be eighteen) I look at JB with a touch of puzzlement. First of all, his initials makes whiskey – something I would need in large quantities to survive his singing.

JB

Okay, he is marginally talented. I am just past the phase where I am impressed with pop stars/boy bands (so that includes 1D). I am not even afraid to declare I dislike him in a world populated by his Beliebers. My point being, this week in Brazil he made the rookie mistake of sleeping (?) with a girl he didn’t know and was probably a groupie. Mere seconds later the girl posted photos of the practically naked, sleeping Biebs online. It proved many things:

The Biebs is now by all accounts straight

And a boy

Don’t trust groupies or sleep with them

And thirdly, if you HAVE to sleep with them, at least hide their phones/recording devices/notebooks

Justin Bieber is still a KID (what is he, like 19?) Stop perving about his body or manhood or whatever the fuck you are doing, pedophiles.

Celebs bashing one another

I have always thought that celebs should be united in their hate against the paparazzi and fame. I understand that they are still humans and disliking people is a natural part of life, but I really disagree with openly bashing one another. There was Sinead O’Connor bashing Miley Cyrus (that might have had some valid reasons, but the fact remains), Jennifer Lawrence also bashing her in coded messages – which wasn’t necessary as they aren’t even in the same field or on the same level, and George Clooney took out Leonardo DiCaprio earlier this week.

It is seriously mean and petty and uncalled for. You don’t show how strong you are by breaking other people down, not even in Hollywood. I have the same opinion of women bashing each other in the corporate world to climb the ladder. You are at the end of the day embarrassing and degrading yourself as well as someone else, just because you are insecure. Sies man.

Robert McBride

Robert McBride was perhaps the worst person in law enforcement in South-Africa (apart from Jackie Selebi of course). During his stint managing the Metro Police, there was corruption, intimidation, unfair promotions and evidence tampering. He was finally released from duties when he was caught driving a state vehicle drunk. This week a statement was released where it was announced that he is actually being nominated to become the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) head.

I have to be honest and say that it seems like shit like this only happens in South-Africa. How is it remotely justifiable that a man known for intimidation and corruption can be on a shortlist to become the head of a unit dedicated to sniff out police corruption?

My other question is whether the ANC wants to lose the elections next year? Because their current campaign of choosing corrupt members for parliament certainly suggests that they plan to lose.

Radovan Krejcir

I have to confess that I am revolted with myself. I am being ridiculously entertained with the drama surrounding the “business man”, Czech national Radovan Krejcir. Firstly, it is rumored that he is being searched for in his own country as well, but the crimes in South-Africa is much worse. He is a rumored Mafia boss in SA, and he is the main reason people in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, is either hearing gunshots or explosions these lately. Earlier this year Krejcir narrowly escaped an assassination attempt as well. This week there was a bombing in his business estate, and while the police have confirmed he is alive, they aren’t disclosing where he is yet. This dude obviously ticked off some big guns. It is comforting (?) to know that here we also have a Mafia, not just petty criminals causing havoc. I am still following the story religiously and hope there will be some clarification soon.

Johannesburg had an EARTHQUAKE

While sitting at our desks on a Monday morning, following the Monday morning tradition of doing nothing, bemoaning the fact that it was Monday and reminiscing about the weekend, we Johannesburgers felt the EARTH SHAKE. What on earth? How is this possible? Is it finally the apocalypse?! NO. What happened is there was a fault line in the earth, we had a magnitude 4 earthquake.

I can feel people laughing at me across the globe. I full well understand that in essence it was a puny earthquake. But it is news worthy as this doesn’t happen in South-Africa – we don’t get earthquakes, tsunamis or tornadoes. It is one of the only perks of living in South-Africa.

We were all fine though. But it made for entertaining social media material the entire day.

Anything happened in your country this week that made you go dafuq?

Xx

N

 

Book Review: Blood Promise (Richelle Mead)

Book: 60/100

Blood promise img

After an attack on St. Vladimir’s, a school where living vampires and half vampires train and live, Rose Hathaway watched her teacher and lover become an evil, undead vampire. Remembering the promise she made to him when they first met, Rose starts hunting down Dimitri with the hopes to kill him and free his soul from his present monstrous state.

Rose heads to Russia and meets Sydney Sage, an Alchemist. The Alchemist’s are a secret group that works to hide the supernatural world from humans. They themselves are human, and regard Moroi, Strigoi and Dhampirs pretty much the same – evil, unnatural creatures who shouldn’t exist.

For a human with such a strange perspective, she isn’t that bad, and she helps Rose go to the Dhampir village where Dimitri grew up. There she meets his family, and tells them of his turning into a Strigoi. She also meets another Spirit user and their Shadow Kissed partner, and learn that with enough practise the Spirit user can heal the Shadow Kissed.

Rose leaves the village with a Strigoi hunting group, and is captured by Dimtiri. He takes her captive and makes her addicted to his bites. He also wants to turn her into a Strigoi herself, but Rose manages to keep saying no to him. She stays there a long time, not really captive anymore because she is so addicted to him. She can still read Lissa’s mind, and sees that she has made a new friend, Avery Lazar. Avery is a very bad influence on Lissa, making her drink and party, and that brings an ever widening gap between her and Christian. Lissa accidentally kisses her ex while she’s drunk, and Christian breaks up with her.

Rose finally manages to escape and kill Dimitri. She helps save Lissa through the help of the other Spirit user, and they realise that Avery is also a Spirit user who wants Lissa to be bonded to her – that means Lissa has to die first. Rose intercepts this and they manage to defeat Avery and her cronies.

When Rose arrives back at school, they take her back without much questioning, and she promises to give Adrian a chance. She tells Lissa that she learnt that you can restore a Strigoi to its original state by some obscure way, but they first need to break out Victor Dashkov from prison as he is the only person that knows how.

Once again, Rose’s world crashes down when she receives a letter from Dimitri telling her that he didn’t die and is coming after her. Will Rose manage to break Victor out from prison and save her great love?

Rating: 5/10

This was another book in the series that seemed unnecessary. Dimitri holding Rose captive took ages to reach a conclusion, and their fight afterwards was so ridiculously long that it might have stretched over fifty pages.

Dimitri didn’t inspire fear as a Strigoi for me. He wasn’t scary, he seemed like he was a kid playing a big game. If he was so strong and ruthless, why did he just not turn Rose into a Strigoi without her permission?

The inclusion of Avery Lazar was exceptionally redundant. She doesn’t even feature later on the books and her tale has no significance to the storyline.

The few good things that happened in the book:

Abe Mazur’s introduction

Meeting Sydney Sage, which is extremely important to Bloodlines.

The tip that a Strigoi could be saved (although that could have been worked into the beginning of Spirit Bound)

I did like the fact that Rose finally did something for herself, and not because Lissa wanted or needed it. She walked away to go free the man she loved, and did it on her own terms. Nothing her best friend tried would stop her, and I really respected that. She still isn’t my favorite lead of all time, but as the series progresses, she does grow, and so does her control on life.

Movie Review: About Time (2013)

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When Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) learns that he can travel back in time, he is skeptical at first; sure his father (Bill Nighy) is pulling one on him. He tests it out and goes back to New Year’s Eve – where he botched an attempt at a kiss from a lady. He sets matters right, and returns to the present.

His father tells him the few rules of the time travel – only the men in the family are able, you can only go back to places you have been or know of and that you cannot change huge events.

The next summer Tim uses the opportunity again. A friend of Tim’s sister visits his family, and he is instantly smitten. On her last night there he declares his love, and she tells him he should have spoken up sooner. Determined, he turns back the time, and when she then tells him to consult her at the end of the summer, he realizes you can’t force love.

Tim moves to London to go work as a lawyer. He moves in with a struggling playwright, Harry. One night, a friend visits Tim and they go to a blind dating place, and he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams). They hit it off, and when they later meet face to face, their attraction remains. He gets her number and is elated by his luck. When he returns home Harry tells him that his play went from brilliant to rubbish when the main actor forgot his last lines. Sad for his friend, he goes back in time to restore things, but when he returns his meeting with Mary never happened.

Tim starts searching for Mary and finds her, but learns that she met her new boyfriend on the night after she would have met him. Determined, he once again reverses time and introduces himself (again). They hit it off, and start dating. Tim soon proposes, and his family likes her her and is excited when they learn she is already pregnant.

When Tim finds out that his father has cancer, he is grief stricken but unable to do anything about it. His father confides in him that it is impossible to move back in time after a new life is made – so he can’t erase the damage to his lungs.

After his father’s death, Tim is still able to reverse time and go visit his father. When Mary wants to become pregnant with their third child, he takes time to make peace with the fact that after the birth he will never be able to travel back to his father. Just before the labor, he travels back and his father gives him last advice. He tells Tim to live each day twice – once to know what will happen and again to be able to enjoy it no matter what. Tim does that for a time but realizes that if you live each day as if it is your last, once is enough.

Rating: 7/10

I really enjoyed this movie. The British just know how to do everything that much better. About Time was a really good combination of romance and humor. The jokes and events have an everyday feel to it – making the movie seem real. The plot line has a few faults in it – nothing confuses me more than the mere thought of space travel, but is very enjoyable if you can manage to ignore the fact that only men can travel back (ahem). I am thoroughly jealous of Tim’s life. It looked so quiet and beautiful at his family home. He is certainly a new type of romantic hero. He is very gawky and awkward, and not the typical expected hunk. At the end of the movie, you really fall in love with him – he is such a lovely person who just uses his gift to find the thing everyone wants – love.

I think most people would find this film enjoyable – it has a good mix of genres and is therefore not boring at all.