Friday, September 28, 2012

Jane Eyre Laid Bare

Do the classics really need sexing up?

We're all familiar with the restrained passion that simmered between Jane Eyre and her arrogant older employer Mr Rochester in the original Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

It was one of the many aspects that made the novel so great. Am I right?

So why did journalist and editor Eve Sinclair decide Jane Eyre needed to get the 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' treatment?

In her fan fiction rewrite of the classic love story, Sinclair has chosen to add lurid sex scenes to the book.

To be fair, it's a great idea, and she does this in Jane's voice, tolerably well. But to me, it seems as if the extra scenes are there for the sake of sex, and that they are not particularly sexy or well written.  And for me, it spoils a novel which has always been very special.

In Sinclair's Jane Eyre world, the innocent governess arrives at Thornfield Hall alive with sexual desires and already quite well accustomed to orgasms with females and at her own hand. But she's desperate to experience the 'real thing' and go all the way with a man, and the arrogant, experienced, much older Rochester, ticks all the boxes.

Jane is also a voyeur, spying on the enigmatic Rochester and his sexually adventurous friends - and their servants - and fantasising while masturbating at every opportunity.

Sinclair claims she was building on the ever-present eroticism between Jane and Rochester in the original tome. But I feel she's building on the sales and interest in eroticism which is ever-present in the sales of books like the Fifty Shade of Grey trilogy.

Or maybe that's just the cynic in me.

I know classics have been rewritten since the early days, but I do think there are some things, and some heroines, who should be left alone. Jane Eyre is one of them.

But you be the judge.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan, there's a copy of Jane Eyre Laid Bare by Charlotte Bronte and Eve Sinclair up for grabs.

Just leave a comment below if you'd like to win.

Do you think Jane Eyre was an innocent or was she gagging for it?

The competition has now closed and the winner was BabyCakesQueen (Amanda). Amanda, please contact me so I can send your prize.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Maid in ... Fiji!

As school holidays hit, I find myself dreaming of places where I would rather be.

And our fondest family holiday has been without a doubt last year's trip to Fiji.

I chose Fiji, because it was reasonably close to home, many people speak English, and I knew it would be enough of a culture change for the kids, without being a culture shock.

Besides, as anyone who has ever travelled to Fiji with kids knows, Fijians are all about families. And they love kids!

I travelled with a single girlfriend and her children, and for us, one of the highlights of our holiday in Fiji, was that we got to spend quality time with our children. But there were so many included activities on offer for children, that we, the Mums, got to have a break as well. And our kids were having a ball. For The Win!

It had been forever since I'd been on holiday and actually finished a book. Or a conversation for that matter!

Kids Club access was included, although my two mostly decided they were too old for that. Instead, they hung out with me, but occasionally ventured off with the adults who organised the childrens' activities, for hermit crab hunting, coconut collecting, egg-throwing, fish-feeding, or all manner of fun.

It was bliss!

Our first stay was at The Warwick Fiji Resort And Spa, on the Coral Coast.

We also stayed at Shangri-La's Fijian Resort And Spa, but more on that property in another post.

In the meantime, The Warwick was our introduction to Fiji.

It's supposed to be about a 45 minute drive from Nadi Airport, though it took more like twice that, thanks to the bumpy roads. Which you'd expect really.

However, we enjoyed passing the time with our driver Moses, who explained some of the local traditions and described crops and towns we were passing.

Until it grew dark, and then we all nodded off until the bright lights of The Warwick beckoned.

"Missy, we're awake," whispered Chase, gently patting his little sister. (Don't you love beautiful family moments like that?)

And then we were welcomed warmly and handed mocktails all round. The kids were stunned that they were included in the fuss, and I was stunned that the concierge then took the kids to see the goldfish and other features of the hotel while I took charge of the 'boring stuff', like checking in.

Formalities over, the concierge then took the gleeful kids on a 'ride' to our room. I can honestly say, that has never happened before at any resort, and has never happened again.

Either we weren't hungry or the buffet was crap, because none of us had much of an appetite that night. But the kids quickly discovered the resort kittens and cats, and began feeding them morsels of food.

Then it was a walk along a moonlit beach to our room, and bed.

Our holiday in paradise had begun!

Welcome mocktails. Kitty gets one too!

Hitching a ride to our room ...

There was so much for kids to do. Beachcombing was just one.

One of the kid officer-led activities - digging in the sand for buried treasure. Harmonie was the only child to find two, and won an ice-cream for her efforts.

Chillaxing, Fiji style. Hammocks are not just for the big kids!

Hmmm ...

On either side of the resort were little shops where activities and souvenirs could be purchased. Harmonie gets her hair braided for a few dollars.


On the way to breakfast one morning, some workers were de-nutting and trimming coconut palms. When they spotted the kids looking longingly at the green coconuts, they quickly sliced one open for them to try. Chase doesn't look convinced! 

He much preferred a green lemonade in the spa! (At the Warwick, there were no coloured drinks like Fanta or creaming soda, so instead the staff would paint lemonade with all the shadows of the rainbow. Am sure it was perfectly healthy for them. At the very least, none of us had any trouble sleeping.)

The nightly drum and torch-lighting show was a highlight for their kids - and their happy Mumma! 

Looking for treasures.

A bonus was that the kids got to eat, play and stay at the resort, even though I was the only adult in the room. We bought our stay via an online voucher via Our Deal , which was $599 for a four-night stay for two adults and up to two children. This included accommodation in a rather basic room - though we only ever slept in it - kids club, most activities, breakfast, and was excellent value.

Having said that, you might be better off booking an all-inclusive flight/accommodation voucher.

Meals weren't five-star, but there was plenty of food, and you could choose from several fab restaurants, including Japanese, Italian and seafood, so it never got boring. Importantly, for my kids at least, breakfast was great, and Mr-then-10 quickly made friends with the egg chef, who made omelettes to order from scratch.

For me, it was great knowing the kids could order practically whatever they wanted without me having to worry about the bill at the end. 

We were sad when our stay at The Warwick came to an end and would go back like a shot. 

Plus, the kids want another ride on the bellhop trolley before they get too old! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

School's out for movies ...

Subtitle: We watch the movies so you don't have to sit through the crap ones

School holidays have rolled around again and that means one thing: Movies!

We're nothing if not dedicated at Chez MIA, so the kids and I headed off to check out a few on your behalf.

First up, was Walt Disney Studio's Fairies latest instalment, Tinker Bell and the Secret of the Wings. I watched this with Miss 9, together with one of her friends and her Mum.

To be honest, I often fall asleep at kiddie movies, particularly animated ones, but we were all
enchanted by this frothy confection of pure Disney magic.

The story involves feisty heroine Tinker Bell's adventures in the forbidden winter woods, where she meets Periwinkle and discovers all kinds of magical secrets. There are loads of adorable furry and feathered creatures, not to mention cute fairies and even a few teary moments.

The girls verdict? Awesome!

Take a look at the trailer here.

Mr 11 was disgusted by the idea of being seen at a 'girl' movie, although Harmonie and I both thought he would have enjoyed it, as there are male characters as well, and as with most Disney movies, there is a pretty broad appeal.  When he actually saw the trailer for the movie later, he admitted it looked okay and promised to watch it when it comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray in November.

Meanwhile, Chase and a friend went off to see Sony Pictures' holiday offering, Hotel Transylvania.   Mr 11 loves a gross joke or two and was seriously impressed by the animation, the voices, and the soundtrack, which featured LMFAO, one of our favourite bands.

Hotel Tranylsvania is a five-stake hotel run by Dracula (Adam Sandler), where monsters go to be monsters and rest in peace. However, when Dracula invites all the top monsters to the resort for his daughter Mavis's 118th birthday, a human stumbles in on the action - and the fun and games begin.

What I really love though, is a movie that the whole family can enjoy, and that's what we got with Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. (You can see the trailer here.)

We've been looking forward to this movie, which is a combination of books three and four in the Wimpy Kid series, and it didn't fail to impress.

Yes, it's a kid movie, but the characters are so endearing and the actors so well-cast that you can forgive the slapstick comedy and cringe-making moments.

We know we're in for a laugh when the movie opens with Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) trying to avoid the sight of naked, hairy men in a crowded communal shower, and follows up with small children weeing in a wading pool - Greg's idea of hell.

The scenes with Rowley (Robert Capron) and his goody two-shoes, straight-laced family are particularly fun. And does anyone else think that Rowley could be the secret love child of Sharon Strzelecki? (Our own Magda Szubanski's character from Kath and Kim.)

A shout-out must be kept for Devon Bostick, who returns as Greg’s older brother and wannabe lead singer of the band, Löded Diper, who comes close to stealing the film

My kids and the spare child we brought along to the preview gave Dog Days all thumbs up, and said it was even better than they expected. And I enjoyed it too.

"Mum, you didn't go to sleep once!" said Harmonie in surprise!

If I had to choose one movie, it would Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, because it's one that everyone can enjoy - big kids as well.

But Tinker Bell is very cute, especially for little girls (and their mummies); and although I can't vouch for Hotel Transylvannia, Mr 11 highly recommends it, and based on his reports, his big sister can't wait to see it.

Readers: Do you like to go to the movies on the school holidays? Which movie are you looking forward to seeing the most?

Leave a comment below for a chance to win:

  • One family pass to Hotel Transylvania (thanks to Sony Pictures) 
  • One of two in-season passes to Tinker Bell and the Secret of the Wings (thanks to Walt Disney Studios)
This competition has now closed. The winners are Hotel Transylvania - Mrs BC; Tinker Bell - Anonymous Nadine, and Anonymous Tina. Please contact me so that I can get your passes to you. Thanks. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Time out!

You know it's almost time for school holidays when the morning starts in tears - and that's just from Mum!

It's been a really busy term for the kids, and parents, with a choral festival for Mr 11, and school musical for all.

Add that to the usual mix of sport, social lives, homework and the rest, and we'll all be looking forward to some sleep-ins when school breaks up this spring.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a few memories that have helped make the term really special.

We learnt a new sport - lawn bowls. Thanks to the lovely people at the Cementco Bowls Club Darra, who recently held an eight-week bowls course for beginners aimed at enticing kids into the game. It worked! 

We were amazed that the program was free, and the instructors were so kind and patient with us. (Yes us - I got roped into trying it out too!). Afterwards, there was a free barbecue lunch for everyone involved. It was awesome. So nice to see a club give something to the community.

Life's a beach.  When the kids were away, I escaped to the Gold Coast to feel my feet in the sand and the wind against my face. Good company and the beauty of nature is soothing to my soul.

Sunset at Surfers Paradise beach

The view from The Hilton Surfers Paradise. Just bliss ...

We pottered around the garden ...

The kids have been trying to lick their way to a prize in the Paddlepops Lick and Win competition. I love how close they are (when they aren't fighting!)

A pear shaped like a bum. It made me laugh, okay?

We got a new addition to the family! Meet Lucy. She's a Pomeranian-Chihauhua cross and is sweet as can be.

Finally, the menagerie is complete!

Well, almost. I still want my pony ...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reach for the Sky(lander)

I rose early the other morning, just in time to grab a cab and head to the airport.
I was Sydney-bound, and for a Very Important Event too.
At least it was Very Important according to my kids.
“Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,” they chanted, when I first mused aloud as to whether I should travel all the way from Brisbane to Sydney to play a game.
Followed quickly by: “Can we come too?” (Hah! Nice try…)
For I had been invited, dear reader, to one of the kiddie events of the year: A sneak peek at the sequel to the hugely successful Skylanders games and toys: Skylanders Giants!
If you haven’t heard about Skylanders you either don’t know anyone with kids, live on another planet, or are one of those Terribly Sensible parents who don’t let their kids watch computers, play electronic games, or collect toys. (Not that there is anything wrong with that).
In fact, and I have to ‘fess up here, my poor neglected children don’t even get to play Skylanders at home. Let's face it, I’m too much of a tight-arse to spring for a console. And I do try to be one of those Terribly Sensible parents who encourages her children to climb trees, pick berries, drink lashings of ginger beer, and solve mysteries. (I may have stolen that last part from Enid Blyton.)
Fear not, because the kids do get to play at their Dad’s house and with various friends and family. And they spend their pocket money collecting toys and other bits of expensive tatt that is apparently de rigeur in the playground these days.
So being included in a group of bloggers to try out the new Skylanders Giants before anyone else in Australia, had given me serious Kid Cred.
When I got home, they deluged me with questions. What were the new characters like? Was it true they lit up in real life too? Which ones did I like best? (Great, yes, Tree-Rex and Whirlwind)
Here are the facts:

  •        Skylanders Spryo’s Adventures was the number one selling toy of the year worldwide in 2011, as well as K-Zone’s Toy of the Year, which is voted for by kids. So I’m guessing I know what is going to be on the Christmas list for Santa this year!
  •         More toys have been sold globally than the population of Australia.
  •         LTD Australia has sold more toys than the population of Adelaide.
  •        If all toys that they have sold were lined up they would stretch from Sydney to Brisbane.
  •         Skylanders Spyro's Adventure figures outsold all action-figure lines, including Star Wars and Transformers, for the first six months of 2012.
  •         The Air Skylander, Lighting Rod, is modeled after Zeus, King of the Olympians. Zeus’s most well-known symbol of power was his lightning bolt, given to him by the Cyclops.
  •         If Wham-shell, a Water Skylander, were life sized then his iron mace would measure over 2 ½ feet across and weigh over 1.905kg.
  •  Whirlwind is a winged unicorn (a Unipeg) in the game of Skylanders. Unipegs are also seen in She-Ra: Princess of Power, Sailor Moon, My Little Pony, and Digimon. (I always like to see female characters in games and other media, and in fact, Miss 9 is possibly a bigger Skylanders fan than her big brother.

As a parent, I loved that Skylanders Giants adds value to the money you’ve already invested into the original Spyro’s Adventures.

This one can be played across all consoles (wii, x-box, Nintendo etc), and even online.
So if your kids have friends and family visiting they can play each other no matter what console the other one owns. Or they can take their games/characters/consoles over to their mates and verse each other. Easy.

You can keep and play with the characters you already have, and add them into the Giants series as well. And the light-up figures are powered wirelessly, so there are no need for batteries.

All you'll need to access the Giants game is a Skylanders Giants starter pack, which comes with three characters, so you're good to go. It's out next month - yes, just in time for those Santa wish-lists.

Here are a few more facts my kids found interesting:
  • ·         Skylanders Giants once again merges physical world of toys with virtual world of games and brings the toys to life
  • ·        Giants features 16 new characters including eight Giants and eight LightCore (which light up in game and in real life). These consist of 4 new characters and 4 favourites from last year’s game. So there are 48 characters in total.
  • ·         The fan-favourite characters from 2011 are back as ‘series 2’ with new ‘wow pow’ upgrade powers as well as upgrade paths. (I don't know what 'wow pow' means either, but the attractive and clever young PR peeps used the terms so I'm trying to sound trendy by using them too...)
  • ·         All characters from last year’s game are compatible with Giants with their upgrades/abilities intact.
  • ·          Characters can now be levelled up to 15, instead of only 10 as in last year’s game.
  • ·         The environments are larger and more robust, with features such as interiors and enhanced elemental zones that were not present in Spyro’s Adventure.
Sound cool? My kids think so, and I have to say it looked really impressive.
The kids who were lucky to attend – living in or around Sydney so a day off school was not required – thought so too.
In fact, the adults had to fight the kids for the controls! And a few parents admitted they enjoyed playing Skylanders as much, or more, than their kids did. So it's something you can do together if you want.
Thanks to Activision and Skylanders Giants I have a Skylanders Spyro’s Adventures Dark Spyro figure to give away.
To win, just leave a comment saying what Skylander power you’d like to have. Me? I’d love to have magical powers. And a bit of fire-breathing would be tops too. 

(MIA: This competition has now closed, and the winner was @MsDovic who wishes she had the secret power Skylanders have to keep her kids entertained!) 

Here are some highlights from the event:

Sydney turned on some gorgeous Spring weather for the Skylanders event

A giant Spyro stands guard in the foyer of Activision's seriously cool headquarters at Pyrmont, Sydney. Keeps unwanted callers away apparently ...

Through a huge secret door panel in the wall we entered an enchanted world where bean bags lingered invitingly and huge TVs dominated

Skylanders goodie bags. I was given two to take home - one each for the kids, with an extra toy for my lovely followers to win. I carried it like special cargo on-board my Qantas flight, which was actually the nicest service I've experience on Qantas for years. 

Afternoon tea was served ... and that's apple juice in the jug for the kiddies, not wine!

Fruit salad (yummy yummy.) Apologies to The Wiggles.

Cheese and crackers

Well it couldn't ALL be healthy, could it? We parents fought the kids for these ...

Disclaimer: MIA did not receive any remuneration for this post, but my flights and transfers were paid for and arranged by Pulse Communications on behalf of Activision and Skylanders Giants.