Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Wrath and The Dawn

Curses, magic, stories, what more could I want? Shazi was brilliant. I loved her. I loved her strength, her defiance, her heart. She had a depth and range of emotion that I appreciated, especially in someone so young. I don't want to give too much way, but the end, with her, the fire, Jalal, that was fantastic. Heartbreaking. Also, her father. Watch out.

I enjoyed The Wrath and The Dawn. I knew I would, but I was surprised how much I did. Sharhzad is brilliant, but it's not just the storytelling, there's is something else about her that bewitches the Caliph. Khalid, King of Kings, has met his match. Their relationship goes through so many changes. The dynamic changes too. It's interesting to see Shazi exert her power over others. She's the charm and wit to his venom, I think. Renée Ahdieh has certainly created an interesting pair.

Tariq is interesting too. I'm left wondering about how he will change and what he will do by the end of the series. I really like when an author flips a character like this. We think Tariq is one thing, a heroic noble, but by the end, I'm left wondering what else he is. The person I feel really bad for is Rahim. He goes along with his friend, thinking he is helping Shazi, but he would rather be patient. I wonder what Rahim will do in the end.

I wonder what Sharhzad's father will do in the end too.

The Wrath and The Dawn is a young adult novel, so I'm really hoping for a happy ending. I also know that, from other books I've read, that just because something is young adult and written with a younger (than me) audience in mind, it doesn't mean that there will be a "happily-ever-after" ending. With these characters and their conflicting emotions, the curses and magic, I'm wondering if this could be one of those cases where happiness is only a hope.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Lost In Space

I love the Robot. I really do. I almost wished they named him, or called him something other than "Robot". I'm hoping for more Robot in Season Two of Lost In Space. For those that don't know, Netflix's Lost in Space is a remake of Lost in Space from the 1960s. Which, incidentally, is a re-imagining of the novel, The Swiss Family Robinson. (The whole remake thing isn't new, it's just a lot more common than it used to be.)

I never watched the series from the 60s. It's before my time. Though I have watched shows from the 50s and 60s, this one just never hit my radar. I had, of course, heard of it. "Danger, Will Robinson" is part of our culture, isn't it? I knew there was a family named Robinson, a robot and a kid named Will. The Robinson children are the stars of the show. They're smart, unique and talented. They're brave and loyal. Will is surprising, Judy is intelligent, Penny is sassy. I really enjoyed all the changes they made to the original, though again, I never watched the original to really compare. I liked that the mother was a brilliant rocket scientist, and used it to solve their problems. I liked the relationship between Maureen and John. It's complex and real, something people can relate to. The whole Robinson family was really relatable, even if they were "lost in space."

I know I'm a bit behind the times, as this came out in the spring, but I really liked it. I'm wondering what's going to happen to the Robinsons, Don West and "Dr. Smith". With the way Season One ended, there are so many possibilities.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo

I loved this book. I hadn't watched Last Week Tonight with John Oliver in a while, but I saw a clip of John Oliver on one of the late night shows (was it Seth Meyers or Stephen Colbert, maybe both). He was talking about A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. I know this all happened a few months ago, but I recently was reading the book with my children and they really enjoyed it, especially my son (who is on the cusp of going from picture books to chapter books). They love that love wins, that you can't stop two people who love each other from being together.

They are so cute!
There are all kinds of things I could talk about when it comes to A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, but for me, that my children enjoy the book and easily understand the message of love is so important. The proceeds from the book go to The Trevor Project and Aids United, which is fantastic. It's a big middle finger to the current American administration, which is pretty funny. If the children didn't get the message though, I don't know if the book would have the same impact, I don't know if it would be a bestseller. Part of me hopes that Last Week Tonight puts out another children's book, because if Marlon Bundo is any indication, it would be great.

Check out the episode:

Monday, September 10, 2018

Classics List

The deadline I gave myself for the Classics Club has come and gone. It came and went 9 months ago. Some life-related things got in the way. I was having a hard time with reading and blogging for a while there. But that's just life.

What do I want to do now?

My priorities have shifted. I'm still reading and I'm still reading classics, but just not as much as I meant to when I started this challenge. I usually choose books based on how I'm feeling and how I'm feeling lately is busy. That does not often lead me to a classic, though I did manage to read more than half my list in those 5 years. I know it should be more, especially with all the short stories and poetry, but the last 2 years have seen some life changes.

I still plan on reading through the list. I hope the new moderators at the Classics Club will let me continue to add my reviews to their ever-growing list and keep me as a member. Now that it does not have a specific goal date, I have let the list grow, as other classics catch my eye. Though, if I do that, I may never actually finish. Part of me is okay with that. I am also left wondering if I should give myself a new deadline. The end of this year? The end of next?

Any classics readers out there? Anyone not finish their 5-year goal?

Sunday, September 09, 2018

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Leigh Bardugo's, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic is a collection of all Bardugo's Grishaverse stories. Some of these stories I've read when they were available at Tor.comThe Too-Clever Fox is still haunting and important, giving me chills to read it again, five years laterLittle Knife is definitely a teaching story. We learn about trust, being used, and dreams fulfilled. I can't explain how much I connected with the daughter and the riverMy favourite of the stories was The Witch of Duva and I think it still is. It really changes up the idea of the step-mother. Also, who was the real witch of that tale? It's the story that pushed me into the GrishaverseThe Tailor and The Demon in the Wood are not in this collection, since they aren't "folktales", but stories about specific characters in the Grisha series. I would love to have all these stories together though. I love Bardugo's writing style and I enjoy when she writes these Grisha fables. I think each of the stories deserve something to be said about them.

The first in the collection is Ayama and the Thorn Wood. Like Bardugo's other stories, this is another where things are not what they seem. Ayama's relationship with her sister is special, even unlikely given their parents. Her relationship with the Beast is special too, but not unexpected. I really felt Ayama's pain, really connecting with her. I think that the story did to me exactly what it was intended to do.

The Soldier Prince is creepily haunting. It's sort of a dark take on The Nutcracker. There's a lot of selfishness in this story. It starts with the fancy merchants, then Droessen, but we see it throughout. Though the end could be said to encourage the nutcracker's selfish desires, it could also be said that he acknowledges his sense of self, cogito, ergo sum. So, maybe it's about desire, maybe it sprinkled in a little philosophy about existence.

The more I read of When Water Sang Fire, the more excited I became. I realized where the story came from, and it was brilliant.  I loved Ulla. I wish she had the opportunity to spend more time with her brother. I wish she could have learned more about her parentage. By the end, I was excited and scared. I knew what was going to happen. I knew it would be bad, not just physically, but emotionally. The ending was beautifully dark.

I’m so glad that Leigh Bardugo continues to write Grisha folktales. They are creative, inspired, and impressive. I’ve found myself connecting with each of them for different reasons. These stories continue to make Bardugo one of my favourite writers and the Grishaverse one of my favourite worlds.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Writing Course Fail

I didn’t fail the course, I just didn’t finish it. Again.

I wrote for the WCYR blog a post about tips to keep writing in the summer. I even did some of the things I wrote about (carrying around a tiny notebook is very easy). One thing that was harder than I expected, was keeping up with a short and easy writing class. I signed up to participate in Sarah Selecky’s Six Weeks, Six Senses summer writing course. Every week for six weeks, I received an email with the assignment. For three weeks I did well. I was feeling good about it too. Then week four rolled around and something happened. I think the busy summer just got busier. On the last day before school, I felt like I should try to get at least one more is the assignments finished. It didn't work out. Technically, it is still summer. Maybe I will get the course done by September 21st.

I did other things from my list. I joined a summer writing group. I attended bookish events. I talked to other writers. I wrote to prompts. I read, a lot (reading is one of my favourite things to do). Somehow though, this writing course, which I tried so hard to treat like a real course, which I tried to "attend", like my summer writing group, just didn't work out. In addition to the summer social life, the day job went a bit nuts in August. In the end, I didn't finish.

It feels kind of like a fail. Like I failed. This feeling is the reason I don't sign up for other courses or groups. I just don't think I will be able to do it. It's the same reason why I haven't done more reading challenges, not to mention that I failed the Classics Club Challenge. Life gets in the way. When I have those few precious free moments, there are other things which seem to take priority. Is that bad? Should I continue to try these online courses?

Maybe it's the online thing. Like the writing group I belong to, if it was somewhere I had to go to, I'd be more likely to finish? Maybe. I attend (almost) all the WCYR events. I'm a computer/techy person... Maybe because there is no one holding me accountable, I feel less of an obligation. These online courses though, they're free. FREE. I like not having to pay for writerly learning. Is that part of the problem too? I suppose if I take a third course and this happens again, I'll be able to really see the pattern instead of just worrying that there is one.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Gathering Darkness

Why did I wait so long to read Gathering Darkness? It might be my favourite of the series so far. Morgan Rhodes creates such complex, interesting characters. It's almost impossible to completely love them or hate them. There's some part of even the best intentioned characters that you don't like or even hate. You find sympathy for those that you thought you hated. There's love between these characters too, real, messy, complicated love. Not just romantic love, in Gathering Darkness we find love between friends, siblings, parents and children. So much of that love is mixed with anger and hate. How will it all unravel?

That ending was everything. Lots of great things happened throughout the story.  Tension, fights, daring escapes, and magic were all blended together to create a captivating and entrancing story. I spent a lot of nights staying up too late reading. Even with all that amazing story, the end was everything.  The ending was all the excitement and intrigue of the rest of the book condensed into the last 10%. Rhodes surprised me with what happened to the characters. There were a lot of things I didn’t expect. Things I thought would happen after reading the first Falling Kingdoms book have not held up.  Characters who I thought were good I think really are the villains, people who I thought would get together, are actually in love with someone else. There’s so much lying, so much selfishness, but also selflessness.

There are three more books in this series. There is so much possibility. I have no idea what is going to happen. I don't know if by the end Mytica will still be standing. I don't know if it will go back to being three countries or if the island will unite under one banner. I don't know if the looming empire will take over. I don't know how magic will play a part in all of it. There's just so much unknown, but that's okay, I'm excited about it. I know Rhodes will make it flow, I know that it will make sense in the Falling Kingdoms world. I know that I will get wrapped up in the story again and I hope I am surprised by every ending.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Head On

I love Chris Shane and Agent Vann. I love Shane's parents too. Head On is the second book in the Lock In series and I enjoyed it every bit as Lock In, maybe more. This time, I knew what "Haden's Syndrome" was and "Lock In". I also read Unlocked not that long ago, so I wasn't left wondering about anyone's medical health. The disease, which they still don't have a cure for, is the background to the story, it’s what has shaped the world in which the story is told.

Head On is a great story. John Scalzi creates mystery wrapped up in a sci-fi/dystopian world. Agent Chris Shane’s parents are rich. Crazy filthy rich. His dad is a legendary NBA champion, who, with his wife, wisely invested his money and created a financial empire, to which Agent Shane is the heir. Chris Shane doesn’t just live off his parents money, he is an FBI agent. Because he is a Haden, and his partner is a former Integrator (someone who had Haden’s but is not “locked in” and can hold the consciousness of someone who is locked in), Agent Shane an Agent Vann have unique perspectives that other FBI agents don’t. Though they aren’t the only people with Haden’s who have worked for the FBI, these two are good at their job. When crimes occur involving Haden’s, these two are on the case. In Head On, Agent Shane’s parents and ties to big money offer him a perspective and an “in” that no one else would have.

It is the unique world that captured my interest, but it is the amazing characters that had me coming back for the second book in the series. Agent Shane is great. He’s intelligent and charismatic. He doesn’t flaunt his money, but when it helps his case he will definitely use his status. Agent Vann is grizzled and ornery, She is also greatly intelligent and knows how to put the pieces of a puzzle together. Vann and Shane’s relationship is fun and thoughtful. I also love Shane’s parents, especially his mother. She gets dismissed by the business bigwigs as an NBA star's trophy wife, but she knows all about financials and is the one who makes sure their money works for them. Both parents really show how much they love their son. Something as simple as a haircut makes all the difference. They also respect his position at the FBI and they very much respect his opinion on people.

I am very eager for another book in the Lock In series.  I want to see more of Agent Shane, his parents and Agent Vann. I want to see how all the relationships grow and evolve, his parents are very fond of Agent Vann, after all. I also want to see what’s going to happen to Shane's roommates, the Hilketa league and Hadens in general. I’m also wondering if they’re going to see Mr. Medina again.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Yours, Mine, and Ours

Yours, Mine, and Ours is the second book in the Cadence Jones series by MaryJanice Davidson. A quick, fun, easy read, it was exactly what I needed. I wanted to like the characters, I wanted a little mystery to figure out, but I didn't want too much tension. I wanted to laugh and wonder, smile at the situations Cadence and her sisters found themselves in.

I feel so much for Cadence. She wants a normal life, but she also has these "sisters" who she actually seems to love. Shiro is also taking Cadence's feelings into consideration. It's a really interesting relationship they have with themselves. Their relationships and behaviour has changed and grown in this novel. I wonder how it will work out in the final book. I'm also left wondering if Davidson will write more books about Cadence Jones. She's an interesting character. Because the plot revolves around solving a mystery/finding a serial killer, I'm wondering if there is the potential for that, or if Davidson ends things pretty conclusively in You and I, Me and You. I guess that just means I have to read it.

I kind of missed Cadence's best friend in this installment. I did, however, like the addition of Agent Thyme. I enjoyed her friendship with Shiro. I liked Shiro more than I did in Me, Myself, and Why?. I'm not sure why, perhaps because she felt like a real person, not just another side of Cadence. Though, I'm still not sure how Adrienne fits into all of this.

I'm not sure I was totally sold on the actual case they had to solve. I expected it to be similar to the first novel, but then it was something else. I usually like when things don't go as I expect them, but in this case, I don't know. I just wish I liked it better.

In the end though, the serial killer is secondary to the characters' actions and growth. It's them I want to see. I want to spend time with Cadence, George, and Patrick, no matter what they are doing. I'm excited to read the final book in the trilogy. It's going to be fun!

A Court of Frost and Starlight

A Court of Frost and Starlight is an in-between book, a transition novella. Of course, I will read anything Sarah J. Maas writes about Feyre and Rhysand. Also Cassian, Nesta, Mor, Azriel and Elain. I love the characters she has created and developed throughout the series. Tamlin may have gone a little crazy. Lucien is still trying to find his place in the world. Will there be story about him and his trio? There will have to be some kind of adventure to free Vassa, right? I can't believe Feyre hasn't told him the truth, she wants them to be friends again, wants him to be happy, but this secret is serious. Feyre and Rhysand certainly keep a lot of secrets. Their whole family does. Mor definitely left me surprised.

Part of me feels like nothing really happened. The book was short and sweet, a glimpse into everyone's lives. I enjoyed it, but there was no battle to be fought. All their battles were internal. Each character is still dealing with what happened during the war. Some have found a new family, a place to belong, others are outcasts, others are alone. The characters are definitely what kept me involved in this book. I had to know what happened. A big part of that was seeing what Feyre would say to Lucien. I'm also waiting for everyone to get what they deserve, good or bad.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Wow. Just. Wow. Agatha Christie has managed to blow me away. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd might be my favourite of her novels now. That ending was amazing. I didn’t expect it. I’m a little in shock. This is definitely a book I could read again. I feel like I missed a hidden meaning or clue between the lines or something. In a second reading I would would be searching for something. Apparently there is only one way out when someone discovers what bad thing you’ve done in this little town.

I kind of loved Dr. Sheppard, right up until the end. I don't want to say too much, because it would give the story away and this book is worth the time to read. It's worth the time to read twice. Christie makes Sheppard so compelling. 

Inspector Raglan is so close-minded and annoying. I wanted to slap him a couple times. He thinks only his way is right. M. Poirot's idiosyncrasies do not give Raglan any faith in him. Even if Poirot were to share his theories, Raglan wouldn't listen. He was a wonderfully frustrating character. 

M. Poirot is full of himself, but he kind of deserves to be. He is always right. He sees everything, the things that no one else sees. Poirot is a bit snarky, in a cute, little, old man kind of way. He is someone to admire though, someone to emulate. He looks at evidence, circumstances, that others ignore. That's what he teaches officers more open than Raglan. Poirot is also such a unique character. No one other than Christie has a detective like him. 

As always, Christie does not disappoint. Even better, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is more unexpected than any of the other novels I've read, save The Orient Express. I'm eager to read another of Christie's books. Maybe The Mysterious Affair At Styles is next.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 was captivating, but also has somehow stopped me from writing all other posts. I'm just stalled. I've written notes on the other books I've read, and there are writing related posts I want to do, but they're not done. So, I'm going to push past this bump in the road. I know why it happened too. Fahrenheit 451 didn't really end, at least not the edition I have.

I hate when this happens. Ray Bradbury's story ended before the book did. There are still 90 unread pages left. I expected more story. I thought Montag was going to reach a particular destination, or at least, one more thing was going to happen. But then the ending happened. In itself, the ending is fine. Les dramatic than I expected, but fine, probably good. I just wish there was something in the table of contents. They included the Introduction (by Neil Gaiman, really well written and I don’t normally like introductions.) I double-checked when I got to the end of the story and it was not just a case of me not paying attention. Now I'm left feeling like the end of Fahrenheit 451 is missing something. I don't think it is though. I've re-read it a couple times, knowing the story is ending, and it's a good ending. I'm just going to have to re-read the whole novel sometime, to get the feel for the whole story.

The third of the book that is literary criticism, essays, etc., is still unread. I was just so surprised to find all this non-fiction commentary on the novel. Now, I'm undecided. Do I read it or leave it? I've read a few novels since I "finished" the story, but I haven't been able to post about any of them. Fahrenheit 451 just keeps calling me back, asking me to finish, but I also just wanted to read a good story and Fahrenheit 451 was that, more than a good story, it was a great story. It reminded me so much of 1984 and Brave New World, not necessarily in the tone or writing style, but in the feeling it gave me. Even though you're rooting for the main character, there's a hopelessness and inevitability in what they are doing. There's also something eerie about the possibility of this future coming true. Especially now. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Invasion Of The Tearling

That ending was amazing. The Invasion of the Tearling had me reading past my bedtime a lot. Last night was no exception. I was only going to read for 20 minutes before going to sleep, since I was planning on getting up early, but nope. I couldn't put the book down. I finished it and it was fantastic. One of my predictions happened, but that's okay, because there were a few surprises waiting too.

Queen Kelsea Raleigh Glynn is amazing. She's changing and growing. She is trying to be the best queen she can be. She is trying to save her people. She also wishes she could just be a regular young woman. Kelsea is only 19 and she wants to be 19, which comes with its own emotional turmoil.

I'm a little in love with Pen. I wish I could get to know him more. He is the Queen's Shield, fiercely loyal and truly cares for her. Pen has done his own growing and changing. He tries to deal with his emotions, but not in a way that really works. I am hoping we get to spend more time with him. I also hope he ends up happy.

Lily Mayhew was certainly an interesting and important storyline. As soon as Tear appeared, I knew who she was though. She is so important. I wish Kelsea and Lily could have interacted more. I feel like Lily is the key. I hated her husband. I loved her bodyguard. I think they had the potential to be best friends.

Also, what happened between Row Finn and the Fetch? What will happen? What will happen between Finn and Kelsea, and Fetch and Kelsea? Who is Kelsea's father? Does it matter? There are so many questions by the end of the book. Invasion of the Tearling is the quintessential "middle book". There's growth, action, a bit of set up, a few new characters, and a cliffhanger. I appreciate that the ending gives me room to breathe though. I'm still thinking about it and I know it's will not be long before I finish off the series, but the ending didn't drive me crazy. I'm excited to see what Erika Johansen has in store for her readers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was a quick, fun read, but also deeply thoughtful and a bit life-affirming. Adichie wrote the book first as a response to an email from her friend about how to raise a feminist daughter. I’d like to think I’m raising a feminist daughter and son, but am I? I opened this book not just as a reader, but as a parent. I was very interested to see if Adichie’s advice matched some of the choices I have made.

The 15 suggestions that she outlines are so detailed, some to me are so obvious. Not for raising a “feminist daughter”, but for raising a good human. I recently “suggested” to a pregnant friend not to raise her kid to be an a$$hole, as a boy was a super jerk at my son’s soccer game a few weeks ago. She agreed that this should be the basic goal of every parent. After experiencing life as a parent, I don’t always think this is true. I try to not judge other parents, but sometimes I definitely do.

Adichie addresses judgment in her letter. She also talks about gender roles and marriage. I honestly loved this little book. The 15 suggestions are impactful, but also assured me of many of the choices I have made. I borrowed it from the library, but I feel like I want a copy of my own. Something I can refer back to, something I can share with my children when they are older.

While I think the "letter" was fun, it was also serious, but told in such a way that you don’t notice. The tone is light, as though it really is a letter from a friend giving you advice. I could disect each of the 15 suggestions, but I'm not going to. Instead, I am going to keep them within me and share them with people I know. Even if you don’t have a daughter, or don’t have children, this is something you should definitely read.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Maggie Steifvater created a story that was magical, but grounded. There was so much sadness, yet remarkable moments of joy. I wanted more. I want to know more about the Connellys. I want more of Holly. I want more of Thisby. The Scorpio Races has left me with one of the biggest book hangovers in a long time. I can't stop thinking about Puck and Sean.

Puck Connelly had me all the way through the story. Her story was compelling and uncompromising. She was brilliant and a force that swept its way through the island. I loved her determination. She was young, but also a woman. We watch her learn and grow and leave the girl she was behind. She was the heart of The Scorpio Races.

Sean Kendrick was its strength. He was “an old 19”. Sean had been through so much in his life. After so much time, he thought he had everything figured out. But nope. Even an old 19 doesn’t have everything figured out, because he is still only 19. Life may have had him grow up early, as with Puck, but it’s not done with either of them. Sean, with severe determination, perseveres against everything working against him.

The characters worked so well in this story. But the setting, the island, seemed to be a character too. Thisby had its own personality. It stormed as storms brewed among the residents. It welcomed them with calm mornings and gave them what they were asking for in the middle of the night. I would love to read more stories, not just of the characters I’ve already met, but ones that take place on the island. Maybe of when the Races first started, maybe of a race 20 years later. I’m interested in a race Benjamin Malvern was in. Maybe a race that Holly decides to enter. There are so many stories that can be told, not just of ones with Puck and Sean.

So, I’ve read Steifvater’s Raven Cycle and now, The Scorpio Races, I wonder what The Wolves of Mercy Falls will have in store for me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Anne of Avonlea

Another trip to Prince Edward Island, another book in the Anne of Green Gables series read. I loved Anne of Avonlea. Anne is more grown up, though only 16 at the start of the novel. She, Gilbert Blythe, and two other friends have returned from Redmond College to take up teaching positions. Anne and Gilbert teach their students and along with their friends Diana and Fred, form the Avonlea Village Improvement Society. 

Anne and Diana’s friendship grows and matures, as they do. Anne is very much treated as an adult, she teaches, and she helps Marilla raise children. Talk of marriage surrounds her. It’s a bit strange to me, as by the end of the story, she is just 17. It seems like she has a lot of responsibility at her age, though admittedly, it was a different time then. There are also different opinions on whether Anne needs more schooling. Some residents of Avonlea Village say, no. Though she wants to go back to school, Anne loves teaching. Her students love her. She loves them. She takes her work very seriously, feeling deeply for each pupil. Were people really so mature as teenagers at the beginning of the last century?

Though I fully enjoyed the story, watching Anne and the residents of Avonlea grow, I wish there was a bit more plot. Anne of Avonlea seems to be a snippet of Anne’s life for the two years between Anne of Green Gables and Anne of the Island. A lot of exciting, surprising, interesting things happen, but I didn’t really feel a thread that held them all together. In a weird way, it makes me want to read Anne of the Island more. With how this book ends, there is so much bound to happen in the next one.

Monday, July 09, 2018

The Surgeon

The Surgeon is the first novel in the Rizzoli and Isles series by Tess Gerritsen. It was recommended to me not just as a reader, but as something to read as a writer. Gerritsen creates compelling, multidimensional characters that you love and hate at the same time. She weaves subplots easily into the main storyline. She creates surprises. The pace is amazing. A 350 page paperback does not take a lot of time to read, as the story grips you.

Characters are always what keeps me reading a story. I really connected with Catherine Cordell and Thomas Moore. They were amazing. Catherine was so quietly strong and defiant. She went through something horrible, beyond horrible, and though it took time, she worked through it. I loved Detective Moore. He was strong, caring and vulnerable. He was practically the perfect man, though his flaws made him seem more real. I was drawn to him, wanting to know his reactions and his thoughts on everything.

Then there was Jane Rizzoli. I disliked her, but admired her. She was a woman working in a man's world. She endured mean-spirited pranks, and purposefully being left out. She was full of resentment, family issues and had a chip on her shoulder the size of a boulder. As I was reading the novel, I couldn't believe this was the character the series would be based on. Yet, I could also understand it. More than Catherine and Moore, Rizzoli has the most room to grow. She learned about herself and others in this novel, and I'm interested to see what else she learns.

I haven't seen the Rizzoli and Isles television show. I watched way too many police procedurals, and I'm still not over it. That being said, I've seen the actress who plays Rizzoli on the show. Angie Harmon is gorgeous and tall, with beautiful hair. That is not what the Rizzoli of the novels looked like. Of course, they changed it for television. But that's not the only difference. In the first Rizzoli and Isles novel, there is NO ISLES. Where is she? When does she enter the series? In the next novel, right? So, while I might not be watching police dramas, I will definitely be reading them. One book and I know I will read more about Jane Rizzoli and hopefully soon be reading about Maura Isles.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome

You can read the story for free here.
Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome is the prequel novella/short story to John Scalzi’s Lock In. I loved Lock In and am very eager to read Head On. Lock In was a mystery set in a science fiction world, but that wasn't Unlocked. Unlocked answered some questions for me, but also raised some more. Reading about the creation of the Agora and how people lived there, reminded me of Ready Player One, while the threeps reminded me of Surrogates, though they are less realistic.  It was interested to read how people who had Haden's Syndrome became their own people and faced ostracizing once the "novelty" of personal transports went away.

Of all the characters, the First Lady stood out for me. Margie Haden was strong and vivacious. She was the real power of the presidency. If it wasn't for President Haden's wife contracting the disease (and subsequently having the disease named after her), how would it have been handled. Once it was "under control" would threeps have been invented? Would it just be about maintaining bodies in their "vegetable" state. Having Marcus Shane (a Michael Jordan level basketball player?) testify too about what the disease did to his toddler son was also a way to get American emotions on the side of the researchers. Of course it is his son, Chris Shane is the star of Lock In and it makes sense to see how his young life played into the beginning of Haden's Syndrome. There are so many questions though. Where did the disease come from? Was it man made? Why isn't there a cure yet? Will the robot uprising actually be Hadens taking over the world? When will regular people get their own threeps?

Unlocked gave me a chance to whet my appetite for Head On. I thoroughly enjoy Scalzi's writing and am exciting for the next adventure.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Lumberjanes: Out of Time

The more I read the Lumberjanes series, the more I love them. These are some fantastic girls. Their personalities shine. They are so different, and they love each other so much. They love Jen. I was glad we got to spend more time with her. Being their Camp Counselor must be so hard! They are always getting into trouble, sneaking out, or fighting the supernatural! What is Jen to do? Jen understands the girls more in Out of Time, and she learns more about Rosie too. I think this is the most we've seen Rosie. Rosie is usually this overarching presence, without being involved directly in what the girls do. This time though, Rosie finds herself in the midst of not just saving Jen and the girls, but the whole forest.

I really liked that we got to see more of the forest and what lives in those woods. Is every creature living there evil? Are any of them? We learned more about the Bear Woman too. I feel like there's so much more to that story.

What about Abigail? When are we going to see her again? Because she's not done with the forest or Rosie. What happened to her was sad, but she did not deal with it well. She was an interesting character, a real contrast to those we've met so far. 

Jo was a stand out for me too. She always seemed like such a leader to me, sure of herself and her place among the group. In Out of Time we got to see her have doubts. She had to deal with one of the Scouting Lads from earlier in the series. April befriended Barney and we got to see him return with his kitten (which was a call back to the brainwashing story, so that was fun). Barney wants to be a Lumberjane so much, he wants to go on adventures and thinks these girls are amazing. Through this interaction, we get to see Jo grow as a person, become more mature and reflect on herself. We also get to see her call her Dads and what that reveals about the camp the girls are in.

Lumberjanes: Out of Time was the fun and uplifting story I wanted it to be. I'm so glad I have more Lumberjanes waiting for me. I've introduced them to my daughter too. I'm excited to start talking to her about these fun and fantastic stories.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


I think I have a love/hate relationship with Stephen King. I mean, I love him, his books, his tweets. He's smart and interesting whenever I see him in interviews. His books just floor me. They're usually long, tense, complex, filled with characters I love, characters I hate and characters that get long, complex backstories, only to have them killed off on the next page. I've definitely needed some recovery time.

I started reading It months ago, in the middle of a reading slump. I managed to crawl my way out of it and back to the novel. (Piece of advice: If you're in a reading slump, picking up a novel that's over 1000 pages is probably not a good idea.) It was just so long! Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down, but looking at that super thick paperback made picking it up daunting. I did it though, because I had to know what happened to Bill, Ben and Bevvie, to Mike, Richie, Eddie, and poor Stan.

Ben was utterly my favourite character. I know it was Big Bill who was the star of the story, or maybe Pennywise the Clown, but Ben stood out for me. There is something about him that I connected to. I don’t know if it’s because he was a target, or because he changed so much from the child he used to be to the amazing adult he became, but I loved Ben. I want to know more about him, I want to know about his future. I wish I could have spent more time with him.

Also, I loved the Turtle. From the first moment of its mention, I had to know how It was connected to The Dark Tower. King has created his own universe/multiverse, and we see characters pop up from different stories. I remember feeling the same way when I read Insomnia, but this was even better. It was more subtle. If you have never read The Dark Tower series, you wouldn't be missing anything by not knowing about the Turtle connection, but if you're a fan like me, you will be struck, tickled even. It makes me want to dive back into The Dark Tower and find the Turtle references. (Also, what was Shardik doing when all this happened?)

Though it took me a while to get through, I really enjoyed It. I think it also sparked in me the urge to read more of King's books. Maybe Full Dark, No Stars, maybe The Stand, I have been thinking about Night Shift too. I wonder if any of those characters will show up again. I'm not sure what else I can say. It's a long book, but a lot happens and I don't want to give any of it away. It is worth the time to read it. I'm glad I got to spend time with The Losers Club.

*Side note: There have been so many great book covers over the years, I wanted to share them. I found the one for the French translation of It, but it was a little too gruesome for what I was wanted.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Wonder Woman: Flesh

The end of Wonder Woman: Flesh was fantastic. I couldn't have asked for it to be better. Though it feels like a "middle" book (it definitely leaves off on a cliffhanger) there is character growth. We get to see not only Diana change, but also Hera and even Apollo. I was starting to feel bad for First Born, but nope, I don't. I think I feel bad for Cassandra though. I don't think she saw that coming. I would like for Zola to learn something, to be more active in her own safety. I understand that everyone is some kind of god or demi-god, but still, something. Also, I could have used more Orion.

Again, I find myself enjoying the art. I love the thick lines and expressiveness. Wonder Woman's smirk after a certain fight was perfect, and so telling. The art of Flesh and of the series so far, has been engaging, not just fitting well with the story, but adding to it as well. Flesh has left me very excited to read Bones. There are battles to be fought, destinies to be fulfilled, babies to raise. Diana has suffered so much loss, but also gained so much love. What is next for Wonder Woman?