Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mockingjay Part 2

You know what ruined the end of the movie for me? The group of girls sitting behind us. They seemed to think that because the "action" was over, the could talk through the epilogue. The drool, the baby, the cat, hahaha. Please, when you got watch a movie in a theatre, be quiet. I'm not laughing. 

What I liked about Mockingjay Part 2 and all The Hunger Games movies is how faithful they are to the books. Like any adaptation, there are things changed or left out, but they use lines taken right out of the novels. They keep the essence of Suzanne Collins' story. I love Finnick. Absolutely one of my favourite characters in the entire series. I love his growth and change over the series. He comes off as a cocky egotist, who knows he's hot. He is really a loyal fighter. He falls apart, then has to put himself back together. His own journey mirrors Katniss's. He is in love with another victor, though they obviously competed in seperate games. The person he loves is captured by Snow for the purpose of hurting him. After his lover is rescued, after pulling himself together, he goes to the Capitol to fight. He does all this without the pressure of being the Mockingjay, though he still does a couple propos, outing his and Snow's secrets.

As much as I loved Finnick and enjoyed the movie, I don't really know if Mockingjay needed to be two movies.  Part 2 was definitely better than Part 1, but it lacked the intensity of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Maybe I'm jaded and just see it as a money grab (and grab our money it did).  I did think the scene with the black oil and the scene in the tunnels were well done. I appreciate the grimness of the conclusion too. It's not all sunshine and rainbows. There's sadness and hardship, there's a feeling of realism, though set in a fictional dystopia. Though there was some blood missing from certain "events", I don't think The Hunger Games movies sugar-coated things. The big, concluding battle wasn't imaginary, losses were suffered and felt by the characters. It changed them and their relationships forever. Mockingjay Part 2, was a good conclusion to an excellent series.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Jessica Jones - Episode #1

I was so excited for Jessica Jones. I'd been looking forward to it since it was announced, since I finished watching Daredevil. I really enjoyed the first episode. I liked getting to know Jessica and the people around her. I found that the episode gave us a taste of everything, a taste of her friend, the man she's interested in, the woman she works for, and her powers. We get to see what her life has become after some bad things happened, after she was trying to be good.

I don't want to say too much more.  It's only the first day and there are 12 more episodes for me to watch.

One thing I was expecting though was a little more action. We got some "action", but not what I thought I'd be seeing. I wanted to see Jessica Jones kick someone's ass. She did shove someone through a window, but it wasn't a big fight scene or anything. I want to see her powers. The lack of powers, coupled with the intriguing story, made me want to hit play on the second episode. I didn't though. Other things to do. But I want to. So much. I enjoyed the first episode so much and I can't wait to watch the rest of the series.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mockingjay (Re-Read)

I love The Hunger Games. I loved the books when I first read them and I have loved every movie. Before I go to see Mockingjay Part 2, I decided to re-read the book. Mockingjay is a fantastic novel and a great conclusion to The Hunger Games trilogy.  Though the other books have “The Hunger Games” in them, the last book, a Hunger Game in its own right, is so much more violent.  We watch as characters we love come to gruesome ends.  I’m not going to say who dies, as the movie is about to be released, but I do wonder how they are going to portray these scenes.  When the first movie came out, I remember hearing about complaints, some people didn’t expect it to be so violent. Perhaps they hadn’t read the books, or even understood what “The Hunger Games” were. Mockingjay is more violent.  Maybe I can give one warning about the tunnels?  Also, just when you think things are safe and easy…

There are a lot of frightening, heart-wrenching moments. I really like how Katniss’s relationships with everyone evolve through this novel and through these moments.  Her relationships are so much more complicated and multi-dimensional than they were before. Peeta and Gale aren’t just boys who love her, they have their own anger and motivations.  I also like the relationships that are left out of the films, how Katniss feels about Mags and Delly, the roll Delly plays with Peeta, even Greasy Sae, who is there, but not there in the movies. Katniss goes through such a change.  She thinks about children in war and includes herself, she is only 17, but remembers that there is no way either side think of her like that anymore. Peeta, oh Peeta.  Gale, so different, but maybe more himself than he’s ever been.  Prim, not yet 14. 

I have noticed though, that Plutarch is so different in the books than the movie, he’s so much more “Capitol” in the books.  I’m surprised Katniss never punches him, or even screams at him. There’s a difference that is noticeable between the three groups of people.  The Citizens of District 13, the Citizens of the Capitol and the Rebels. Though I guess there’s another group, the Rebels who come from the Capitol, like Plutarch and Fulvia, they don’t quite fit in at District 13, but they know life in the Capitol is wrong.

I don’t re-read a lot, but reading each of The Hunger Games books before seeing the movies was a good decision. It places the characters fresh in my mind. I’m eager to see how this exciting novel plays out on the screen.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Geek Girls

I've been a Geek Girl ever since my Dad sat me down to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. I developed a love for geeky things, books, movies, television.  When I first heard about The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy, I was excited.  What would I discover? What did author Sam Maggs have to say about fellow Geek Girls?

I enjoyed The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy. It was cute, fun and had a bunch of laugh out loud moments.  Did it give me any new information? Not really.  I liked how Maggs broke down things like social media and conventions, but I knew all that stuff already.  Maggs included different books, movies and television shows Geek Girls would enjoy.  Most of the movies and shows I have already watched, but a lot of the books she mentioned, I have not, so I put those on my to-read list (not that it needs to be any bigger). A large part of the book is devoted to conventions and cosplay, I may have glazed over some of the things I already knew, but there were some helpful information and sources for cosplay creations. There was a great section on feminism. Yes, again it was stuff I knew, but the tone felt true and empowering.

Though the book didn't reveal to me any new insights into geekdom, it was nice to be reminded of so many of the things I love. I also think this is a great source of information for beginner geeks, someone just discovering Star Trek: TNG or the Marvel Cinematic Universe or looking to dive into cosplay. I think when reading Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy, many people will find the comfortingly familiar mixed with the new. It made me feel good about being a Geek Girl.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Source Code

I'm not really sure how to describe Source Code. It's a movie with Jake Gyllenhaal. It's full of action and explosions and some interesting effects. Jake Gyllenhaal's character, Captain Coulter Stevens, appears to be on a train, but then he appears to be in some kind of Arctic capsule, but then a whole lot of other things. It is a movie that is full of action and adventure and a mystery that needs to be solved, but is also movie that plays with your mind. The lies are everywhere. The twists are incredible and interesting. The last few minutes of those last two or three scenes of the movie are totally the best and they get you thinking back on the entire movie. They also have Stevens' "friend," Goodwin, thinking. What are the possibilities with Source Code? I am so glad I stopped to watch this movie, I was not disappointed.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Books I Don't Want to Want

You know when you read a series of books and you finish, and you think you're done with that series forever, then surprisingly another book in the series comes out? What if you were torn about whether or not you should read this new book? I mean, I enjoyed the series when I read it, but after time and reflection, I realize it wasn't as good as I thought it was. But I still enjoyed it, a lot. When I was reading it it was all I could think about. I found it exciting and engaging and I was desperate to know what happened next. I have the hope that this new book would still excite me, but having reflected back on the series I'm not sure how I would take the new installment. Do I leave it alone? Do I let my enjoyment of the series stay in the past or do I succumb to the urge to buy this new book?

There's also this feeling of the series being incomplete on my bookshelf. I have all the other books, if there's a new one, I should have it too, right? However, I've been trying to not let my book hoarding get out of control. I have so many other books that I want to read, should I let this one go? (At least for now?) I was thinking I might, but then I saw it... 50% off. It is so tempting....

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Shatter Me

I could not stop reading Shatter Me. Tahereh Mafi created a story was exciting, fun and full of energy. I liked the unique writing style. I enjoyed those "secret" crossed out sentences, like we were really being immersed in the main character's minds, being involved in her thought process. I loved Juliette. She was such a different protagonist. She was observant, clever and a fighter. She was kind, but fierce. She can also manipulate. She had a lot of time to think and observe, to learn how to manage people and time, I think only now has she had the opportunity to put this into practice.

I enjoyed the relationship between Juliette and Alex. I like how involved, complex, yet simple it is. I like the special aspect of their relationship. I like the twist with Warner. I like that Alex has more than just Juliette to care about. I like when Juliette takes control. There are other characters I found really interesting, but if I talk about them, I think I'll give away too much of the story.

I like that you start reading Shatter Me thinking it is dystopian, but then it is not just that. There is a supernatural, X-Men kind of element. Juliette very much reminds me of Rogue. That can only play in the novel's favour for me. The inability to touch, but the goodness. The bad influence, but choosing what's right.

I have had Shatter Me sitting in my Kindle app for ages. I saw it and had to have it, but then I didn't read it. I mentioned recently that I wanted to read all these first books that I own, to see if I want to buy the rest of the series. I will be getting everything from Mafi.  I want all the Shatter Me books, plus she's working on something new, due out next year, I already want that too. This very much reminds me of how I felt after reading Lauren DeStefano's Wither. I don't know what it is about these specific books, maybe it's the love. I have always enjoyed a good love story, mixed in with something otherworldly. It isn't just love that drives the plot in either book, but in Shatter Me, it's the desperation, the fight to get something more.

Watch out for The Reestablishment. I feel like someone, a group of someones, could come up with this, promise a better future, then hold the world in their grip. 

I am very happy that I finally read Shatter Me and I am excited to read the rest of the series.

Sunday, November 01, 2015


MacBeth was interesting, but not what I expected. Though, I don't know what I really expected. I had never read MacBeth before (even though I took an entire class in University on William Shakespeare). I knew about the witches, I knew they told MacBeth some stuff and because it is Shakespeare, I assumed MacBeth died at the end. You know what I didn't know? Lady MacBeth. She does some serious convincing, then she goes nuts! Can I blame her for the path MacBeth goes down a bit? Not all of it though. He goes mad with paranoia! All the those people, former friends, wives and children. The witches definitely put the idea into MacBeth's head, but it is Lady MacBeth that spurs him into action, and MacBeth has to be held accountable for falling into desperate ambition.

I'm left feeling like I did after reading Cyrano de Bergerac, I really want to see this play. I've heard that there is going to be a movie soon, with Michael Fassbender. I'm really excited for it, more than I would have been had I never read Shakespeare's play first. I really enjoy the witches' scenes. Something about their rhymes and laughs and talks with Hecate are so fascinating. I'd love to see it played out. The opening scene, one of the best I've ever read, I'd love to see it on stage or the big screen. The scenes with MacBeth and his wife, making plans, deciding to do the deeds. I also feel like I will connect more with the themes and emotion of the play, if I could see it. Though, the end, with the beheading, very dramatic no matter how that's played out on film or stage. 

Is it weird that this kind of reminded me of The Hunger Games and killing for power... though I suppose there are a lot plays, movies, novels, about killing for power...

I was supposed to be done on October 23 for the Classics Club Spin, but somehow didn't get it finished in time.

I wonder how I'll feel and what new insights I'll have after seeing the movie?

I wonder if I'll ever finish reading all of Shakespeare's plays?


"Fair is foul, and foul is fair:"

"Round about the cauldron go; 
In the poison'd entrails throw."

"Double, double toil and trouble; 
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble."

"Fillet of a fenny snake, 
In the cauldron boil and bake; 
Eye of newt and toe of frog, 
Wool of bat and tongue of dog, 
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting, 
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing, 
For a charm of powerful trouble, 
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."

"By the pricking of my thumbs, 
Something wicked this way comes."

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player 
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage 
And then is heard no more: it is a tale 
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,"

Friday, October 23, 2015

Classics Club Spin - MacBeth

Oh well...
I'm not done.  I'm at about half.  I underestimated how long it would take me to read not just MacBeth, but also the last two books I read.  Oh well.  When it's done, I'll post about it and link to the Classics Club.  Still, I am enjoying my Spin book and as always, am happy to participate in the Spin as it motivates me to keep going on my Classics List.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Do My Book Covers Need To Match?

No?  Yes?  Sometimes?

Let's use examples.

Last week, I would have said, no, I do not need my covers to match. I own Stephen King's Dark Tower series and the covers do not match.  I have a mix of paperbacks, trade paperbacks and hardcovers. The designs on the covers themselves are different. I bought the first three novels years after they were released, when I first started the series.  I got others in the series at different points after their release. It didn't matter to me that the covers didn't match, I just wanted the stories. I have a couple other series like that.

Recently, I read The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde and loved it. I had to find out about the other books. I believe there are currently seven books in the series with one more set to be released. I don't know why, but I really wanted the cover of the second book to match the first. Do I just like the look of it better than the others? Yes, I think so, but like The Dark Tower it shouldn't matter, I should just want the stories. I looked at different sites and checked my local bookstore. No copies of the second book were at the bookstores in town. I looked at four different sites. I found the cover I wanted, at a pretty good price too. Why was this so important to me? By the time I purchase the last book, will the editions have changed? Will the covers I have now match the others I'll get in the future? Maybe, maybe not.

I guess I don't understand why it was important to me this time around. Maybe it's just this series, just these covers.  I don't know.  I guess I'll find out the next time I buy a book for a series I'm reading.

* There were more than just the three covers.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


Today is my birthday.  I'm in my mid-thirties and I cringe whenever I think about it.  You know what made me feel better.  Two days ago, I got ID'd at the liquor store!  Wahoo!  Legal drinking age in Ontario, Canada is 19!  What!?

Sometimes, it's the little things that make you feel the best.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Library of Souls

I was so excited to read Library of Souls. I saw it there, on a table of books, surrounded by Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City, announcing its arrival. (There were other books on the table too, but I couldn’t tell you what they were.) I love the excitement of seeing a book on a table, one that you’ve been anticipating for a year. Then I had it, it was mine, I couldn’t wait to read it.

I was glad that the story focused on Jacob and Emma. It was always Jacob-focused, as the story is told in first-person, but it was just him and Emma, without the crowd of the other children.  I liked all the other Peculiar children, but at times I had a hard time remembering who was who and after more than a year, I felt like that might be my problem again.  There were other secondary characters, Sharon (who was great) and Bentham (who I might talk more about later), Mother Dust and Reynaldo, and more, but they didn’t occupy the same space in my mind that the children did.  They also came in at specific times and weren’t a constant crowd. Also, by focusing on just Jacob and Emma, we got to see their relationship develop.  It also really let us have a connection with Bentham and Sharon, who were important to how the story turned out in the end.

See that guy? Wouldn't you
want to put him in your story?
I think that Ransom Riggs used less photographs this time. In the first novel, they were fascinating.  I loved them, I loved how they must have inspired the author. In Hollow City, I thought there were too many. In Library of Souls, there was the perfect amount. They didn’t overtake the story, they enhanced it.  Just looking at the photos, the ones Riggs decided to include, the ones that must have inspired him, I can see how collecting them could be a passion. So many of them are curious, all are unique and I wonder about the story behind them.

The real story, the one that stayed at the focus of the novel, was freeing the Peculiar children and their Ymbrynes.  Even with all the things that could distract them, Jacob and Emma stayed focused. They’d rather break away than wait and delay.  There were so many times they could have been sidetracked, by curiosity, by morals, but they had to rescue their friends and that was it (I won’t get into all the distractions, as those would be spoilers).

No jacket. So pretty.
– This part will be a little spoilery – I wasn’t super happy with the final battle.  I thought there should have been more Jacob.  It’s like he did his bit and the other guys took care of the scary part.  It lost a sense of urgency. Why couldn’t he have battled more, fallen in the pool or something?  I also thought that Bentham could have either seemed more sinister or not flip-flopped so much. It was okay though.

What I really liked was the very end.  All that stuff with Jacob and his parents, I thought was great. I would have thought his father was more understanding, but nope. I also liked the decision Jacob made when he was presented with an opportunity to make it all go away. He wanted to work through it with his parents, instead of the more obvious/conventional/expected choice, to just stay in the peculiar world.  His reasoning was sound though, who would want to be 16 forever?  The very end though, I would have loved to see that conversation, with the adults, with the very old children. - That's it for spoilers. - 

I loved Ransom Riggs’ series and the Peculiar world. I loved the old photographs and I love how they inspired so much of these novels. I wonder what is next for Riggs and if we’ll ever visit the Peculiars again.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Eyre Affair

I loved The Eyre Affair. I am totally hooked on Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. I love Thursday. She was amazing. Thursday was a grown-up. Just a couple years older than me. It's been a while since I've read a book with a main character that was my age. Everyone has been in their twenties or a teen lately. I really related to Thursday and was happy to see a woman in her thirties taking charge, fighting the bad guy and dealing with relationships. Thursday was a complex character, like a real person.

I loved all the fun character names Fforde came up with. There were a lot though, and there was a point, while in the middle of the novel, where I couldn't read for a couple days and I kind of forgot who was who with some of the minor characters. Thankfully, Wikipedia helped me out with that... Not that there were too many characters or anything, you just have to pay attention while reading. I loved Thursday's Dad and the whole Next family. I am a little iffy on Landen. I think I liked Bowden better. I think I know what Hades was, I just wish there was more confirmation in the book. I liked Spike and Victory Analogy, Mycroft and Polly. So many wonderful characters. I wonder who we'll see in the next novel.

The alternate 1985 was intriguing. The English war with Russia. Wales having independence. The Battle of Waterloo. Winston Churchill. Literature is revered. People battle over Shakespeare. There is an entire investigate branch of the government devoted to the preservation of literature.  The LiteraTecs are amazing.  I loved Jane Eyre.  I loved everything about her novel and Rochester's involvement in Thursday's life.  I love the idea of entering a piece of literature, whether it is a novel, like Jane Eyre or one of Wordsworth's poems. Everything in Thursday's world is so different from ours, yet still similar.  It's just that priorities changed somewhere in history (or altered by the French Revisionists). I love the tidbits of history and altered history that Thursday's Dad is always talking about.

The Eyre Affair is such and interested, intricate, engaging, fun novel.  I enjoyed every minute of it. I had heard so many good things about Jasper Fforde (especially from over at What Red Read), that when I saw The Eyre Affair I had to pick it up.  I am so glad I did.  I have to read more by Fforde and I am obsessed with getting the rest of the Thursday Next series, which my local bookstore doesn't have in stock.  Time for online shopping. I need to get Lost in a Good Book.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Scorch Trials

There will be some vague spoilers, but I'll try not to give anything away.

The Scorch Trials is the sequel to The Maze Runner (which I watched on Netflix over the summer when I heard that a sequel was going to be released soon). These movies are based on The Maze Runner books by James Dashner. I felt like a lot of stuff was going on in The Scorch Trials. They were saved, then they weren't saved. They were running, finding bits of the old world left behind. Then they thought they were safe, then they weren't.  They met new people. They met monsters.  Is it just me, or were those things basically zombies? I didn't expect that, and I appreciate the unexpected. What I saw coming, was what happened with Teresa.  My Hubby called it too.

I am having a hard time really wrapping my mind around the movie.  It was okay, but like I said, there was a lot going on. The trial was a journey. I like the idea of the journey, some of it was good, but I don't feel like we really got to know a lot of people in the different places.  It's like we were only meant to care about the people we met in the first movie, while maybe being forced to care about Thomas's new friend. The Scorch Trials was entertaining, but I don't think I connected with it the way I did with The Maze Runner.  While they explained why the kids were important, they didn't really explain why they put so many of them in the Maze. Why put them in there and watch them die? It was very much a middle movie too, with an obvious quest set up for a third movie, which I am assuming they will make.

The Scorch Trials was entertaining and I do like the character of Thomas, I like Minho, Newt and Teresa. Though I predicted it, I appreciate the choice to make Teresa do what she did. While it wasn't as exciting as The Maze Runner, I enjoyed The Scorch Trials and I look forward to the third movie in this series.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Can I Give Away Books I Haven't Read Yet?

Instead of talking about the general idea, I'm going to use a couple examples...

There are these two books I own. They are by the same author. I have only read one of them. Honestly, I didn't really like it.  It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't for me. Why do I have two books by the same author when I didn't like the first book I read? I got them at the same time. The author had one of their books turned into a movie and it was released around the time I made this purchase. Neither of the books were the movie book, but I was eager to give them a try.  After reading the first book, I am 99% confident I will not read the second. Why would I, when I have so many (MANY) books that I am eager, itching to read? I have books by authors I love, books by authors I've never read, but I'm excited to. I wrote about wanting to read first books so that I can know if I should buy an author's subsequent books.  This is one of those cases where it would have been a good idea. I would never have bought the second book if I had read the first. But then I let myself wonder, will I ever change my mind?  What if I meet someone who says they've read and loved the book, will I regret giving it away? The idea of that makes me wary.

My second example...

I have a book that was left at my house... around the time I graduated high school.  I won't tell you how many years ago that was. A classmate and I were working on a project and she forgot it. I tried to give it back, but she didn't want it.  Maybe she left it on purpose because she knew I liked books, or maybe she just wanted to get rid of it.  I've read the synopsis. It's a slim little thing. I honestly have no interest in reading it. I've dragged it around with me because of my book hoarding tendencies, but I think it is time I let it go. Though I fee guilty. I've never read anything by this author, but in all this time, if I can't muster enough interest to even eye the first page, I don't think I'll read it. Yet, guilt. How can I give away something I haven't read yet?

I can though, right?  I can give these and other books like these away.  I can.  I should.  I will. Maybe. If I know, really believe, that I am never going to read these books, then I should make some space on my overcrowded shelves. Bah!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Diviners

I'm still wrapping my head around The Diviners. Libba Bray creates a world brimming with interesting characters, intricate settings and complex plots. There was so much history all around New York, prohibition, flappers, inter-racial relationships. I love that Libba Bray explored different relationships in a story set in the twenties. I loved everything about how these people came together. That being said, I couldn't get enough of Evie. As much as I enjoyed the other characters, I found Evie's character complicated, caught between wanting to do the right thing and being a 17-year-old girl wanting to have fun. I was always racing to find out what was going to happen to her or what she was going to do. What she did at the end was unexpected. The very end. Both things. But I was happy about the second thing because, love him.

I mentioned recently that I had a lot of "first books" and that I should start reading them. The sequel to the The Diviners was just released and I wanted to know if I would want to purchase it. The answer is, yes, I would like a copy of Lair of Dreams stat. There are so many unanswered questions. I want to know about Sister Walker, Sam's mother and James. I want to know what Will is trying to protect Evie from. I want to know more about Memphis and Isaiah. I want to know if anyone is going to find out about Blind Bill. Octavia has to know something about those boys, right? If not, I feel like she'll eventually be a casualty. I want to know about the eye and the dreams. I kind of want more back story on Henry too. Also, I'm a little torn between Sam and Jericho. I think I like Jericho better, but I feel like Sam might win in the end. Also, what does that guy want with Mabel?! Though the beginning took its time introducing us to all these characters, it was worth it. I want to know more about all of them. I want to know about their lives and if they survive the oncoming storm.

Libba Bray notes at the end of the novel, the research that she did to come up with this world.  You can tell that the details were all thought through. The streets, the sounds, the people feel concrete, like they were real places, like Bray had been there. I enjoyed the cabs, the car with a crank, the outfits. Each detail made the world of The Diviners more real. It's nice to find a little reality in my fantasy. I'm so happy and excited that I read The Diviners and I'm eager to read not just Lair of Dreams, but more my Bray.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Omnibus

How do you feel about Omnibuses?  I understand why they are created, popular trilogies (or quartets and quintets) are collected into one volume and sold at a good price. People buy, read, it's great. Sometimes they replace the individual novels.

Here is where my question really comes from: Do you read the omnibus as if it were one book? Typically, when I read series, I break them up. I like variety, I like to think and ponder. It's been a long time since I binge read a series. I can't even think of an instance. Maybe when I read Harry Potter when only the first four books were out? I haven't felt the urge to binge-read either. Recently, I read Seed to Harvest and Underwater Love (two completely different books).  Seed to Harvest is the collection of Octavia E. Butler's Patternmaster series. Underwater Love is the collection of MaryJanice Davidson's Fred the Mermaid series. In both cases, I broke up the series, reading each book, then something else, then coming back. Neither omnibus was that long, but I chose this option anyway. Patternmaster is a series of such different books, I don't know if reading them all together would have mattered.

Part of me feels ridiculous for doing this.  Am I ridiculous?  This is just how I've always read series, interspersed with other books.  The omnibuses have just made me think about my choices.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Of Poseidon

I totally predicted the ending.  Not quite everything, of course....and in the middle of the book, I had a bit of a question about the parentage.  But the big reveal.  I knew it.  There were some things thrown out there to make me doubt myself, but I knew it.

I really enjoyed Of Poseidon.  It was fast-paced with a good story. What really hooked me was the beginning. Anna Banks wrote a scene that I did not expect.  It was so sad and violent and changed the way you thought the story was going to go.  It was traumatic for Emma and coloured the way she thought of her first meeting with Galen.

I liked Emma.  She talked about being "that girl". The girl who gives up everything for a boy, who moons over him and changes all her life plans.  She wants to go to college and have the future she has been planning.  Then she calls herself on it when she does become "that girl".  I like Galen too.  He had a struggle, but he was also able to leave Emma when necessary, he didn't feel the need to drag her around everywhere because he had to be with her all the time.

Toraf and Rayna are fun, but I don't know if I liked what Toraf did.  In the end, it was okay, but what if it wasn't.  Would Rayna have been freed, could she have made her own decision?  I don't know, so I'm not totally sold on this storyline.

I also don't know if I like the ending.  It was too cliffhanger-y.  I like novels, including first ones in a series, to feel finished.  I'd rather the cliffhanger be left for book two. There are so many questions left, even though I knew what was going to happen. The questions all have to do with the future of the characters. I want to know what will happen to everyone, where are they going to go, what will the fate of the kingdoms be? I feel unsatisfied with the ending, though I'm not sure what the author could have done differently.  Continue the story?  End it sooner?  It is not going to stop me from reading Of Triton and Of Neptune

One of the reasons I read Of Poseidon was because I had already read Anna Banks' short story, Legacy Lost, which I re-read after finishing Of Poseidon.  I really enjoyed it, so I felt like I would enjoy the novel too. I've always liked reading a short story to try out a new author, before committing time and money to a full novel. I am looking forward to Of Triton and reading more of Banks' work.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Jane Austen

Recently, I read Mansfield Park, which once completed meant I had read all of Jane Austen's novels. I know there are other works I could read, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to, they are all either unfinished or Austen did not submit them for publication.  After reading Carol Shields' short biography of Austen, simply titled, Jane Austen, I'm definitely more curious about the other works. Though one of the things Shields' biography taught me was that Austen was an avid reviser, leaving manuscripts for years, then going back to them and revising, after having already made several revisions previously, before sending them for publication.

I didn't really know a lot about Jane Austen as a person when I read her novels.  I know she died relatively young, just forty.  She was unmarried, though there had been opportunity.  She became a spinster/maiden aunt by the end of her twenties - which is really ridiculous when you think of it now, but that's how things were then.  When I was shopping at a used bookstore, I came across Jane Austen, by Carol Shields.  It was a slim volume and I wondered why.  I also wanted to read more by Carol Shields.  Since I also wanted to know more about Austen, it seemed a perfect find.  Austen in August gave me the perfect time to read it.

Shields' writing is fluid and insightful.  The book is structured around Austen's writing life, as Shields tells us about what was happening in Austen's life while she was creating her various novels.  I like that Shields didn't just record everything chronologically.  I like that the focus of the book was her writing and what affected it, the inspiration behind it, as well as the frequency in which Austen wrote. It's a little sad, her early life, but once she finally had Sense and Sensibility published, she was happier.  The end was sad too.  It's interesting through her letters, accounts of her health, and the way her aunt and cousin died, people guess that Austen died of breast cancer.  At least, that's the theory that Shields ascribes to; there are others.  Austen died too soon, with works left unwritten, unfinished.  I wonder if she would have revised Persuasion* more if she had the time. Shields gives the impression of Austen racing to finish the work before the end. 

Shields includes at the end of the biography, her sources. It is a nice list of further reading. I'd like read what nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh wrote of his aunt. I've also heard that Claire Tomalin's Jane Austen, A Life is quite good. Though the real source of pleasure for me will be Jane Austen's six finished novels.  I've enjoyed all her books and look forward to re-reading them. I very much enjoyed Shields' Jane Austen.  It is an easy read and illuminating volume.

*I just read my old post on Persuasion.  It's so short!  Written in November 2006, I had only been blogging for a few months, before these wordy things I post know ;)  I definitely need to re-read Persuasion.  Also, Sense and Sensibility, which I read before I started blogging.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Undead and Underwater

Undead and Underwater is a collection of three novellas by MaryJanice Davidson.  In it, Davidson has included a crossover story with Queen Betsy and Fred the Mermaid, a grown-up Lara Wyndham, and a character I've never read about before, Hailey Derry.  While I love Queen Betsy and the Undead books, I've been interested in reading something different by Davidson and more about the world of the Wyndham werewolves and Fred the Mermaid.

Super, Girl

Hailey is great (aka It Girl - a name she hates) and has an unusual power. She doesn't wear a cape or have a crafted persona. She just does what's right, what needs to be done.  I love where Hailey works; her office has its own personality. If Davidson ever writes more about Hailey, I feel like she'll need to flush out that company and its CEO a little more. Even with the unanswered questions, I really enjoyed the story.  I felt like we were getting a peak into Hailey's life. I appreciated that Hailey wasn't just a copy of Betsy.  She talked "a mile a minute", but before Linus, she felt like she had no one to talk to.  Unlike Betsy, from the beginning, she puts others first. She has no life except for her Human Resources job and saving people.  She owns her gifts.  She makes excuses at work, but the end is no surprise.  I wish I could know more about Hailey's minions, who love her and want her to be happy.  For a novella, it was good, with just enough mystery that will make readers want more.

Undead and Underwater

Will there be more Betsy and Fred crossover? Because I think I would enjoy that. Betsy has changed the way Fred thinks about the world. With both of these characters, having them change in any way affects how they deal with the problems that come up in their stories. It is Betsy that has kept me reading the Undead series and who influenced me to pick up a trilogy about mermaids. I think Fred is seeing Betsy the way her friends and other strangers don't, maybe because of her unique perspective.

In Undead and Underwater, Betsy and Fred accidentally come together because they were asked to help the same person. At first Fred can't stand Betsy, which is understandable for anyone who's read any of the Undead books, but she sees the way that Betsy is willing to help Madeline, a human and someone she doesn't know. Fred reluctantly gets to know Betsy. You can feel a lot of different things towards the reluctant vampire Queen, she's ditzy but likable, self-centered but fierce. Betsy is often perfectly put together, but in a flash, she can also be covered with someone else's blood. Fred knows that Betsy is someone she never wants to piss off and never wants to lose track of. Those final lines of the Undead and Underwater novella make me think that Fred and Betsy will come together again. There are Undead novels I have yet to read and one or two more yet to be published and I am excited to see what Davidson has in store for them.


I really enjoyed Incomer it might be my favorite of the three stories. Incomer is about Lara the daughter of Michael Wyndham and new Pack leader. The story takes place in near the future, when Lara assumes leadership of the Pack. Incomer is about her first day, her first challenge and becoming an adult. I loved her brother, Sean and I loved Jack. It was nice to know what happened to Derik and Sara after Derik's Bane. I appreciate that there wasn't the typical werewolf fight to the death.  Laura, after taking on her father's mantle, is also continuing Michael's new tradition of excepting change. When Lara addresses the challenge in an unusual way, the result is unexpected.  I appreciate the unexpected, especially when using familiar stories, like werewolf fight to the death or challenge for leadership.

I also really liked Davidson's vision of technology in the future.  It's only about 20 years, but foldable iPads sound awesome, though even if our homes get wired to the Cloud, I think some of the young folk will know what iPhones are, because their parents had one. I loved the glimpses of future Queen Betsy and future Fred.  They're the same, but older. They might give Lara a hard time, but they are loyal and seem to have genuine concern for her well-being.  Betsy seems to be at home, still with Sinclair, living life, trying not to turn evil.  Fred is in the Caspian Sea, the seat of power for the Undersea Folk, with kids. How did she end up in the Caspian Sea when she loved Boston?  I think more than Betsy, I have questions about Fred.

I enjoyed getting to be in the Pack and experiencing it through their perspective.  There have only been two Wyndam Werewolves novels, the rest have been short stories, most of which I don't think I've read.  Neither of the novels took place in Cape Cod, where the Wyndhams live.  What is it like there, what has Michael Wyndham had to deal with? What were his children like as teenagers?  How did humans fit into their world?  What was the fallout after Queen Betsy's visit?  Incomer gave me some of that, some of what I've been wanting to read.  But I'd like more.

In the end...

It was a great threesome of novellas.  I enjoyed each story, each character accepting their positions of power, their responsibilities.  It has reminded me how much I enjoy Davidson's writing and I look forward to the next book of hers I pluck off the shelf.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

First Sentences

I recently changed the entire first page of my work-in-progress and that got me thinking of first sentences. The first one that popped into my head was from Pride and Prejudice, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." While I enjoyed Jane Austen's most famous work, part of the reason I thought of this quote was because that line gets a lot of air play. Then I wondered, what were the first sentences of some of my favourite books...

The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as, on Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to say that it was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child. – The Turn of the Screw, Henry James

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. – David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. – The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. – The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

The servants called them malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest, and because they haunted the Duke’s house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches. – Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo

There was once, in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. – Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Salman Rusdie

The day I died started out bad and got worse in a hurry. – Undead and Unwed, MaryJanice Davidson

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed. – The Gunslinger, Stephen King

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. – Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. – Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

A few years ago it dawned on me that everybody past a certain age – regardless of how they look on the outside – pretty much constantly dreams of being able to escape from their lives. - The Gum Thief, Douglas Coupland

My mother thinks I'm dead. - Legend, Marie Lu

All this happened, more of less. - Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Across genres and eras, the first sentence of a novel is important. It can captures a reader's interest or make them roll their eyes in annoyance. I've learned that not all first lines hold mystery, sometimes it takes the first paragraph or first page. I have a lot of respect though, for writers that can take you away, pull you in, grab and never let go, with that first sentence.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Spin Number is.... 5!

I looked up 5 on my list and it's MacBeth. Why did I put that on my classics list? Because I was an English major, who took a class on Shakespeare, and never read MacBeth. I've never even seen it. I thought, it's one of Shakespeare's most well-known plays, I aught to read it. Looks like that time is now.  So, on October 23rd, look out for my thoughts on MacBeth

Now, do I read it from the giant complete works that I have or do I download and ebook?

First Books In A Series

I think I might make fall First Books Season. I look at my shelves, as I so often do, and I see all these books that are "the first", the first in a series. Often I see the second and third books for sale and I wonder, should I buy the next book? I haven't read the first book yet, what if I don't like it? I don't want to waste my money on buying more books in a series if I don't like the first book. When the books are on for a discount, that makes them so much more tempting.  I know I'm two steps from being a total book hoarder, but I'm resisting those steps.  I'm trying to make smarter choices with my limited space. So, I need to read these first books.  I need to decide if these series are for me.  I need to know which books to spend my money on.

Some firsts I might read this fall:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor
Enclave, by Ann Aguirre
Bloodsucking Fiends, by Christopher Moore
Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
The Diviners, by Libba Bray
A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness
Of Poseidon, by Anna Banks
The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
Omens, by Kelley Armstrong
Partials, by Dan Wells

I think I'll stop here.  I could go on, but it's not like I could even read these 10 in 3 months unless I took some time from my job and family life (I could stop sleeping).  Which one should I start with? They all sound so good!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mansfield Park

I am just going to assume that people have read Mansfield Park or seen one of the movies....

I am finally finished Mansfield Park. I shouldn't say "finally" like it is a bad thing. I enjoyed Mansfield Park, it just took me longer to read than other books. I was eager for the ending, because I have come to know Jane Austen and I knew in this story, it would be the unrequited love fulfilled. Though, I was eager for the ending, I loved the beginning and middle too. I found it all very interesting. How could one sister have 10 children, another have only 4 and the third have none? (I know how someone could have no children, it was more the 10 to 4 thing.) It sparked an interesting discussion with my husband. Fanny Price's mother had more children than she knew what to do with. Her sister, Lady Bertram, married much more advantageously, and offered to take one of the children. Mrs. Price assumed it would be their oldest boy, William, but instead the sister asked for the oldest girl, Fanny. Mrs. Price, who favours the boys over the girls, was surprised, but sent her off; one less mouth to feed. I think it was kind what Sir Thomas did for his wife's relations. Fanny and William are much better off for having such an uncle, who showed them this kindness, as the Bertrams did help William also. It is Mrs. Norris, the childless sister, who drove me crazy, as I think she was supposed to do. She was so awful to Fanny and I'm glad Sir Thomas finally saw her true colours.

I was really hoping for a little more build up to Fanny and Edmund. I've read the other five main Austen novels and there is always some kind of movement, moments, before we get the final couple. Not with Fanny and Edmund. Instead, it felt as though the Crawfords would get paired, as so much of the novel was spent on those relationships. Thinking back on it, maybe Austen was making sure that we knew how unsuitable these relationships would be. For a minute, I thought Fanny would soften towards Crawford, just enough so that his betrayal would hurt her more, but nope. She was a rigid heroine. I liked her though. I feel like Fanny had a real sense of who was around her and how they all really felt towards her and each other.

I hated Mary Crawford. She was so insipid. She played at friendship. I feel like I've known people like her, who don't make a choice exactly, yet spin things in their favour, but it is something in them that has thoroughly skewed their judgment and they just don't see that they are wrong. I felt a little bad for the Bertram sisters, too much ruled by emotion and not enough by rational though. Crawford was a cad, he was Wickham and Willoughby, but worse. He was an awful "flirt", though I do think he had genuine affection for Fanny. Crawford lacked patience. If he had waited, he (and his sister) might have ended up with the people they desired. I still wish that everyone, especially Edmund could have, could have seen what Fanny saw.

I know Mansfield Park is Austen's least popular and regarded as her most difficult novel (probably why it's the least popular.) It definitely lacked some of the romance and lovable, relateable characters that fill her other books, but the story, the view of English society, was fantastic.  I know I was hesitant to read Mansfield Park and it certainly took me a little while to finish it, but it was fantastic and definitely a book I will re-read one day.  

Yay for Austen in August!! - Check out Austen in August at Roof Beam Reader

Friday, August 21, 2015

Classic Spin #10 (What??)

I just realized that it's been weeks since I posted anything.  What?! Life has just been busy, I guess.  I mentioned on my other blog, which I also have been posting to infrequently, that you think you're going to have all this free time in summer, but nope.  The kids are home, but they need occupation. We have swimming and gymnastics and playdates. Everyone is having a barbecue.  Everyone wants to enjoy the hot weather (except me).  My work life has been pretty busy to, so not a lot of sneaking away to post on the blog.  That's one of the reasons I love the Classics Club Spin, it's inspiring me to carve out a few minutes and post my list.  I'm so excited to find out what I'll be reading.  For the last few spins, I've been using Random.org because I enjoy the randomness of it... and there's a lot less thought.  The list is:

1. Sherlock Holmes #1: A Study In Scarlett, by Arthur Conan Doyle
2. Under The Knife, by H.G. Wells
3. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
4. From the Earth to the Moon, by Jules Verne
5. Macbeth, by William Shakespeare
6. The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe
7. Tales of Angria, by Charlotte Brontë
8. Three Series, Complete, by Emily Dickinson
9. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
10. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
11. The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
12. The Weapons Shop, by A.E. van Vogt
13. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
14. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
15. Queen Mab/The Daemon of the World, by Percy Bysshe Shelley
16. The Big and The Little, by Isaac Asimov
17. The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton
18. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
19. Medea, by Euripides
20. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery

(Please don't be 10)

I'm really hoping for 14.  One of the poetry or genre classics would be fun too.  Also 20, it's been decades since I read it.  Maybe it was 7th or 8th grade... maybe earlier.  I should check the publication year on the edition I have.  

Also, I can't believe this is the 10th Classics Club Spin!  I haven't participated in all, but I have in most.  I love the Spin, more than anything else, it really motivates me to keep plugging away at my list.  Thanks, Classics Club!