Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Court Of Mist and Fury

That was not the book I expected. It was so much better. A Court Of Mist And Fury was filled with passion and fury, love and hate, violence and romance. Though I did think that Rhysand would be the way he was in this novel, I knew there would be more to him. Really, I loved him. Doing things for your people, lifting them up, helping them to have better lives, sacrificing so that they might have peace, that's what you want from a leader, someone you want to follow, not someone who was just a ruler. Sarah J. Maas has further hooked me into this series with a second book that I think I like better than the first.

I am so eager to read A Court Of Wings And Ruin, I want to know what Lucien is going to do. I was a bit disappointed in him. I understood his choices, based on his character and loyalties, but I had hope for him, that he would not just agree with Feyre, but also take a stand. Right now, I'm thinking about how the next conversation between Feyre and Lucien is going to go. 

Because that ending was fantastic. Some of it was what I thought would happen (sort of), some of it, was so surprising and shocking and left so many possibilities, I just loved it. The secrets that culminated, exploded, made it unputdownable. What happened to the Court, it was a little heartbreaking. 

Rhysand's Court spoke volumes of who he was as a leader. It told us and Feyre about him, confusing, yet adding so much depth to his story. Mor, Amren, Azriel and Cassian, I want to see more of them. The same way I want to see more of Lucien, but I don't think they'd make the same decisions he did. Maybe he'll learn something from them. 

I'm so glad we got o see more of Feyre's sisters. I wanted to see where their livers were leading them. I still love Nesta. I think it's gone from love-hate to just love. She's amazing and I think she's going to do something wicked in the next book. 

I really liked that A Court of Mist and Fury was its own entity. It didn't rely too heavily on the previous novel. A Court Of Thorns and Roses, was almost just back story. Almost. A Court of Mist and Fury explored more of Prythian and its peoples. I appreciated what we got to see of the Summer Court and would love to get to know those characters better. I think they'd get along with the Night Court well in the end. I liked all of the discussions about where the different powers originated from, which courts could do what. I loved every new character we met.

I'm so happy I read A Court of Mist and Fury, it was exactly what I needed right now. I can't stop thinking about the story and am excited to see how everything unfolds.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

King's Cage

I opened King's Cage and saw the map, and was just, wow. I loved it. I loved every bit of that image. Rather, I felt it deeply. I looked at that map and after a moment thought, Oh my God, that's going to happen. Then I read Victoria Aveyard's opening quote and just thought, yup, she thinks so too. So, that was the beginning, before the beginning. The end was powerful too. The last line of the Epilogue, the entire sequence leading up to it, was brilliant. It was perfect and I loved/hated it in the best possible way.

This might be just a smattering of thoughts, but I'll try to keep the spoilers vague. I knew something was going to happen with Evangline. Since the end of the first book, in the Bowl of Bones, her surprise, I knew she was going to be someone important, more important than just betrothed to the crown prince.

I missed Cameron. She was wonderful and a nice contrast to Mare. It was interesting to see things from her perspective. She didn't have the weight of everyone's lives on her, like Mare did, but she was feeling some weight, she was growing, becoming her own person, with her own loyalties to consider.

Oh, Cal. I thought he was going one way, but by the end, he was going the other. I knew something would happen. Something good, something bad. He wouldn't see it as bad. I really can't predict what's going to happen to Cal by the end of the series. It could really be anything. He could choose anything, anything could happen to him.

What I think happened is what happened to the Silvers in Montfort? Right? I want to know!

King's Cage was great. The first half was the sequel I expected. By the end, there were some great surprises. I am excited to see how Aveyard concludes this tumultuous series.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Brave New World



I can't believe that ending. I mean, I can, but I don't want to. Building up to the end, I was getting the same feeling I had when I was reading 1984 I just wanted things to work our for John. I wanted him to find his place in the world. I wanted John to escape and be happy. I was talking to my Hubby about the book, but I didn't want to tell him what made me so anxious and sad about the ending, in case he wanted to read it one day. He said that he didn't know if you could spoil a book that was almost 100 years old. I told him that I didn't know how it ended before I read it. I barely knew what it was about, not at all familiar with the plot. Of course, I'd heard the title many times, of course I had heard of Aldous Huxley, but I couldn't have told you what the book was about except it being dystopion. I didn't know about "Our Ford" or "decanting". I don't know how Brave New World flew under my radar for so long, but I'm glad I finally read it.

Who is the main character of Brave New World? I think it is the world itself. We look at the world through Lenina's eyes, a slightly quirky, but conforming woman. Bernard Marx, a misfit in his world. John "the Savage", an outsider, an experiment. I thought Lenina, being slightly eccentric for a woman of her cast, might break free and see things in a new way. I thought Bernard might learn some kind of truth and show others (possibly through Lenina, who is more accepted than he is). I thought John might teach this New World something, something about themselves, something that they've lost. Brave New World is brilliantly sad. Maybe I just want hopeful endings.

There were some parts of the novel I found strange. Firstly, how sexually free everyone is, "everyone belongs to everyone else". There is no more marriage, being with only one person for your whole life. The characters in the book talk about "having" each other. They talk to their friends about who they have and haven't had, if they've had the same person, what they thought about them, if they were "pneumatic". I thought this overt sexuality was strange for for a book written so long ago. After talking it through a bit, and reading more about Huxley, I realized why. It was written in 1931, the end of the Roaring Twenties. There was a growing freedom with sexuality (that was eventually stifled for a while). Huxley took this behaviour to the extreme, in a way that would contribute to the stability of Brave New World.

Though, we learn what happens to John, I'm left wonder about Bernard, Helmholtz, and Lenina. Does Lenina forget Bernard and John, and go on with her life, or does the experience change her. Where do Bernard and Helmholtz end up? Helmholtz requested going to the Falkland Islands, but is Bernard with him? Huxley later wrote a book called Island and I think it might be something I have to read. I hope to learn what happened to these characters after they were separated by Mustapha Mond.

As I was thinking about the story and writing this, I though about Lenina's character... then Aldous Huxley.... which led me to Lenina Huxley. I did not realize that the character, Lenina Huxley, played by Sandra Bulluck in Demolition Man was named for the character and author of Brave New World. Then I started to really think about it, about the Feelies and the headset that Lenina Huxley gives John Spartan to wear. How John Spartan is like John the Savage, coming into San Angeles and the "happy joy joy" lifestyle of contentment and conditioning. Maybe I'm a little late here, but I watched Demolition Man  way back in my early teens, long before I ever had a desire to read Brave New World and long before I would make these kind of connections. It's interesting how an action movie can be full of all these interesting ideas, getting a bit of inspiration from a book written in 1931.

I think Brave New World is worth a read. It's complex, but not long. It's also only $0.99 right now on iBooks, Kindle and Kobo. I'm glad I read it... and maybe I should re-watch Demolition Man too.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Logan


I really tried my very best not to get too emotional for an R-rated X-Men movie, but I couldn't help myself with Logan. The end was just amazing. Endings can make or break a movie (or book) for me and I loved/hated Logan's. Those are really the best kinds. I feel like if I say too much, I'll give away the ending.

Ok, so Professor X dropped a lot of F-bombs. Like a lot. It totally took me a aback. I might have grabbed my Hubby's arm. Their relationship has certainly evolved. I don't know if anyone could have done more for the Professor than Logan. His revelation at the end, I knew where that was going, but to have him know, was a bit heartbreaking.

There were some amazing moments between Laura and Logan. The silence, the yelling, the fights. It was messy and wonderful, exactly what we'd expect from Wolverine. We also expected a lot of decapitations and dismemberments. Let me just casually roll this head to you. Every fight sequence was fantastic, exciting, and didn't hold back.

Speaking of violence, R-rated violence, there was a kid in the theatre. Young enough to be scolded by his mother for not picking up his trash. Significantly young. I'm glad I didn't noticed until we were leaving. Like with Deadpool and other bloody, graphic, scary films, this is not for children. Not that I completely shield my oldest from TV violence, but she is way too young for Logan, though I do think in about 5 or 6 years when I finally let her see it, she'll like it.

It makes me sad to think this is Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart's last film as Wolverine and Professor X, but it was a great way for them to go out.

No, I have to read the Old Man Logan comics.

https://youtu.be/RH3OxVFvTeg

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Next Classic

What classic book will I be reading next? Well, actually, I'm currently reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, just because I really wanted to. Dystopians have been calling to me lately... However, I also decided to participate in the Classics Club Spin. The number is 12! Which means, per my list, I will be reading A Study In Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle. My first Sherlock Holmes! I'm so excited!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

The Classics Spin... and A Comment On My List


I'm not going to make it.  This is why I don't do challenges... For those not familiar, the Classics Club Challenge is to read a minimum of 50 classic books in 5 years.... and I don't think I will be able to do it.  I was even trying to be ambitions, stating I'd read 60 "titles", meaning I was including poetry and short stories. I've read some great book, stories and poems that I might not have gotten to if not encouraged by the Classics Club, but with less than a year left in my personal challenge, and only 27 titles read, I just don't think it will happen. What I'm going to do is try to see how much of the list I can get completed in the next 10 months. Now, I've just finished The Satanic Verses and there is no way my brain is ready for another classic. What I really feel like reading is some of the new Young Adult novels I've picked up. After my brain has rested, well, I imagine I'll be reading my Spin book, as well as The Handmaid's Tale, 1984, and Brave New World as I feel like classic dystopians are called for these days. While I don't think I'll be able to read 23 (or 33) classics by January 3, 2018, I do think I'll get to quite a few. I will also continue to work on my list after I pass my "deadline". 

The only thing left is to put up my list. On March 10, a number will be generated and I'll read that book!

Spin List, as generated with Random.org

1. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
2. The Cat In The Hat, by Dr. Seuss
3. Under The Knife, by H.G. Wells
4. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
5. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
6. Discourse on Method, by Rene Descartes
7. The Big and The Little, by Isaac Asimov
8.  Dracula's Guest, by Bram Stoker
9. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
10. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery;
11. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Tom Stoppard
12. Sherlock Holmes #1: A Study In Scarlett, by Arthur Conan Doyle
13. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
14. Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
15. The Daemon of the World, by Percy Bysshe Shelley
16. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
17. The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence
18. A Tale of Two Cities, by Dickens
19. The Wings of the Dove, by Henry James
20. Medea, by Euripides

It's a pretty varied list. There's genre, children's books, plays and poetry. I'm excited to see what number will be reveals on March 10. I'm also excited to keep working on my list, no matter what number I end up with.

Monday, March 06, 2017

The Satanic Verses


Wow. So, The Satanic Verses is a long, long book. It is not an easy read, especially the first half. By about the last third, I felt like the story picked up more and I was actually interested in finishing it. By the final third, all the twisting, complex storylines were being brought to completion. Some of the subplots I thought were interesting, but didn't need to go into such detail. My main interest was in what happened to the main characters, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha. They fell, unharmed, from the sky. Why? What would they do with this gift of life? Though it wasn't easy, it was worth reading.

Should I address the controversy first? I always wondered what Salman Rushdie could have written that would have so incensed the leader of Iran to issue a fatwa calling for his death. Was the book blasphemous? Maybe. Was it making fun of Islam? After reading it, no, I don't think so. I think it was giving a different perspective or using certain events and the life of Prophet Mohammed (uwbp) to inspire a story, reflecting on the feelings of immigration and displacement. Also, within the context of the story, this is Gibreel's dream. In his dreams, he is the angel, watching the Prophet in these sequences. I don't think Rushdie was saying anything of what he wrote actually happened. Gibreel's mental state created this dream. I've read that Rushdie was surprised by this reaction. He thought some people might be angry, but he didn't think there would be so much violence surrounding it. Who would think their novel would create such vitriol? The amount of controversy it stirred, the bannings in so many countries, the burnings, of course this was something I would want to read. I could go deeper into the fatwa and whether it was actually used properly, the refutations by Islamic scholars, Human Rights violations, but I don't think that's necessary here. What I want to talk about is the story, the plot and the characters.

The entire novel had a dream-like quality to it. So much of what happens to Gibreel seems like a dream or vision. Saladin's experiences seem rooted in horror. Unlike Gibreel, Saladin has rejected his past, his roots. He has tried extremely hard to acclimate to his new country. He loves London and wants to be a Londoner. He wants to leave his youth behind. This is the opposite of Gibreel, who is a big part of Bollywood and life in India, though he too leaves, but he leaves for love. He meets Allie and she changes his whole world. There are a lot of things that change Gibreel, besides the fall. He's very reactionary, listening to others' voices instead of relying on his own, even though he dreams that he is the voice that speaks to the Prophet. Saladin goes through a lot of changes too, though many of his are physical. Is Saladin's ordeal reflective of what he goes through as an immigrant in a land that does not necessarily respect him? What about the people he meets who are like him? Are they also displaced migrants? There is so much beyond controversy in this novel. There are stories, allegories, emotion upheavals, mental breakdowns, and strange changes.

I don't think I can explain the complexities of this novel. There was a lot happening. There were a couple of times where I considered quitting, but I just had to know what happened. Like so many novels, it was the characters that kept me going. I wanted to know if Gibreel and Saladin would come together again and what the consequences of that would be. I wanted to know if Gibreel and Allie would stay together. I wanted to know what choices Saladin would end up making. Besides the main characters, I also wanted to know about Mishal, Baal, and Ayesha. I wanted to know about Saladin's father, Nasreen II, and Zeeny. So, maybe I took a couple breaks here and there, but knew I had to finish it. Of all the characters, Saladin's journey was the one that had me the most unsure. I didn't know if in the end I was going to like his character. A lot of bad things happened to him, but he did bad things too. I wasn't sure if I was going to like him in the end. I am still not sure if I like him, I just know he was a character I couldn't turn away from.

After all the ups and downs, and not knowing how it was all going to turn out, I liked The Satanic Verses. I don't think it's for everyone, definitely not a casual read, but it was worth every minute I spent with it.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Blast From The Past #12 - Heroes



Ten years ago, I was watching Heroes. I can't believe that show is 10 years old. It makes me feel old. I loved that show when it first started. I loved Peter, Claire, Sylar, Hiro and all the rest. It was a fantastic show in that first season. Admittedly, the following seasons weren't as great and the show got weirder, but I still sort of liked it. I never got around to watching Heroes Reborn though. Was it a mini-series or a first season that didn't get renewed? It's disappointing though, because that show had so much potential.

I miss wondering which new show was going to be a new favourite or if they had the story power to make it more than a year. I've been wondering about other things lately...

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Blast From The Past #11 - Nineteen Eighty-Four

Since I started looking back at my old blog posts, I've been sticking with the corresponding month from 10 years ago. However, I thought I'd change it up for this installment. Instead of talking about The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova, I thought talking about George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four might be a little more relevant. It's been almost ten years since I read this powerful novel, since I thought things would never be the way they are in Winston's world, but now I'm not so sure, not after the introduction of "Alternative Facts" or the making up of a massacre that never happened. That some people seem to care more about the imagined dead instead of the real dead.

I have shied away from politics on this blog, though I have started to talk about over in my other space. I have wanted this space to be happy. I wanted to talk about books and movies and television, to share things about parenthood and food. I think I might keep this space that way. Leave the politics over there. However, that leaves me with a different feeling. How can I blog about books and things, when all this terribleness is still happening? I haven't stopped reading, I've just stopped sharing. It's almost like feeling guilty for finding something positive to say right now. I know I'm being silly. So, I will still share what I've read or watched and am excited about. I'll share my thoughts too, but I might link over to the other blog more often. Then again, maybe not. I've always let my feelings guide me here, so I'll just have to see where they lead me.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Captain Marvel: Altis Volat Propiis

Captain Marvel: Alis Volat Propiis is apparently the last book in Kelly Sue DeConnick's run with Captain Marvel. It was great. Alis Volat Propriis was fun and exciting, and so was the rest of the series. (Vague Spoilers.) The story ended much more quietly than I thought it would, but that's okay. I liked the ending. It was reflective and focused on Captain Marvel's growth. It also reinforced how much I like Spider-Woman and am growing more interested in Rhodey. The ending was emotional, happy and sad, and getting us ready for a new beginning. I'm excited to see where Captain Marvel goes from here, after an emotional year, and how her relationships grow.

David Lopez again did the art. From the cover of the next Captain Marvel volume, I can tell that Lopez's run has also ended. I've enjoyed how Lopez captures Captain Marvel's expressions, not just in her face, but in her body language, the hunched shoulders or the attack posture. I've enjoyed the lines and the colour. Everyone who came together on Captain Marvel: Alis Volat Propiis has done a wonderful job. I'm interested to see what style the new group brings.

Alis Volat Propriis was exactly what I've come to expect from a Captain Marvel comic, heart, humour and action. Though, they're a tricky group, comic creators. Because of this comic, I really want to start reading Legendary Star-Lord and there is a big "reference" to an adventure he is having with Kitty Pryde. Star-Lord and Shadowcat in space. That's hard to resist. Plus, even without DeConnick Carol Danvers is continuing to have some pretty big adventures. This isn't the last I'm going to see of any of them.


*She flies with her own wings.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Lumberjanes: Beware The Kitten Holy


Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy is just so cute! It's funny and sweet, smart and tough. These are five different girls, who are friends, who trust and rely on each other. They drive their camp counselor crazy, but the camp director seems to have other ideas. I had a feeling that I would like the book, but I didn't know how much I would enjoy all its fun, interesting and unique quirks. I picked up Lumberjanes on a whim. Part of me was actually thinking this story would be great for my children in a few years. Now I am the one who has to read the whole series.

I really like how different Molly, Mal, Jo, Ripley, and April all are. They each have not only a distinct look, but distinct personalities. If this were a novel, without the visual "help", I'd easily be able to tell these girls apart. The visuals were great though. Bright when they needed to be, dark when it was time to be scared. Their expressions conveyed how they were feeling. I loved Camp Counselor Jen's expressions too. This is a difficult group of "hardcore lady types" to be in charge of. Jen does the best she can. I'm surprised these girls don't make her rip her hair out. Rosie's look is very distinct too. When you find out the girls are going to be taken to the director, you do not expect Rosie. Noelle Stevenson and the entire group who created Lumberjanes have done an amazing job.

The ending though... I mean, the whole book was great. Each chapter was a fun-filled adventure. The end really made the book even better. What they learned, the potential for danger, the new relationships, are all going to change how they continue to pursue this mystery. 

There are so many things I could talk about with this graphic novel. There's diversity, strong women who are all have their own strength, their pledge, their leader, the males they encounter, but what I want to say is that with all those aspects, the plot, the story is worth reading for everyone. 

I have to say though, this badge was one of my favourite parts of the whole book.

I'm so happy that I picked up Lumberjanes and I can't wait to find out what happens to them next.



One more thing... I made an infographic with an app called Bookout. I couldn't change anything about it, it just generated based on my reading stats for this book. I'm not sure what I think.
I read Lumberjanes Vol. 1. Here's an infographic about it made with @bookoutapp

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Outta The Bag

Outta The Bag is the prequel short story to MaryJanice Davidson's Cadence Jones series. It was free when I downloaded it and I believe it still is. It stars not Cadence, but a plumber, Clive Better, who tells his story to a surprising group of people, a story where he encountered the Jones "sisters". He doesn't know what to think. At first he's attracted to the sweet, bumbling sister, but then the others start to show up, and it becomes a crazy girl chasing her friend's runaway cat. He wants to help at first, but soon realizes he has to get out of there. 

It's a fun story for fans of Davidson and of the series. If you haven't read the first book, you might not fully understand what's going on, even though when it was first published, it was advertised as a "free preview". It's a fun, quick read. Even in this very short story, Davidson is able to showcase the distinct voices of the sisters, so as a reader, you can tell when there's been a transition. It was definitely a fun story and it's got me in the mood to read the rest of the Cadence Jones books, but I don't think it's a short story just anyone is going to pick up. A good read though for a Davidson fan.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Can You Keep A Secret?


So cute and silly and funny. Some real emotional moments I could relate to. Can You Keep A Secret? reminded me why I love Sophia Kinsella. I could read the book again right now.

I could relate so much to Emma. I've totally faked my way through a job I didn't understand (I wasn't even sure how I ended up there). I may have acted like I had more more money than I did at that age, trying to impress the "right" people. I've been awkward (I'm still awkward). I've said I liked things when I didn't, just to make someone else happy. That stuff with Emma's family hit a nerve too. It was more extreme, but I think a lot of people can relate to what's going on with the Corrigans.

The story is pretty simple, girl meets boy, girl thinks she's going to die, girl spills all her secrets to boy, they don't die, girl thinks she'll never see boy again, boy turns up at her office. Seriously, that sums up the first bit of the book. Everything that happens after is hilarious and touching. Sometimes I cringed, sometimes I smiled, I laughed, I wanted to know what happened next. I stayed up way too late reading. Even though the plot seems simple, Kinsella packs the books with so much emotion, tension, and laughter, that you can't put it down.

Besides Emma, the other characters are great. Many of them are searching for pieces of themselves, on journeys of discovery. Jack is practically the opposite of Emma, I think. Lissy is trying to be more than what she's been labeled. Maybe Jemima even learns about herself. The ups and downs, the misunderstandings, the tears, were all worth it for them in the end. The ending made me love the book even more. Not just the Epilogue part, which was beyond cute, but the part with Lissy and Jemima. She so deserved it. I'm so happy with my book choices so far this year, I'm excited/nervous about what the next story will bring, though I know that the next book I pick up by Kinsella will surely make me laugh again.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

The Queen of the Tearling


The Queen of the Tearling was just amazing. I could barely put it down. I sneaked in moments of reading when I should have been doing real life stuff. I just had to know what happened next. I loved everything and everyone. This might be the gushiest post I've had in a while, because I have nothing but love for this absolutely engrossing novel.

I love Kelsea. She's amazing. She is a 19-year-old young woman, who is taken to be crowned queen. It's not "thrust" upon her, she's been in hiding, preparing for this her whole life. When it happens though, it's not quite what she expected. She learns things on her journey through the story, about her mother (the former queen), about her foster parents, and about the kingdom she now has to rule. The entire story has Kelsea learning secrets and about the past. She learns about herself too, what she is capable of and what kind of ruler she wants to be.

There are two things I previously thought about this book that after reading the story, I don't think are entirely true. The first is that this is a fantasy novel. It is, but it is more. I keep trying to piece together the timeline of the Tearling world. I want to know what caused "The Crossing". There is so much of our world scattered throughout the story that you know these people are somehow the future. But they live in a world that feels like the past. They talk about sailing, mention technology, so they are still on Earth, it's not some weird Battlestar Galactica or a Star Wars thing. Johansen name drops "Rowling" and Lord of the Rings. Based on what we glimpse of the planet, some kind of natural disaster happened? Did the Ice Caps melt? Global Warming? Where is "the New World" actually located? I really want to know. Though I also want to learn what happens to Kelsea and the rest of the characters in the series, I'm really interested in how Erika Johansen saw this world forming.

The other thing is the "classification" of the book. It's Young Adult but not really. The main character may be 19, but she's the only one. All of the other characters in the book are older than her, save for a few small moments with children. The other women are either mothers or nobles. The men of the Queen's Guard are in their 30s and 40s, except for one, maybe two. A lot of adult things happen in this story as well. This is definitely "older" Young Adult. New Adult maybe? Or just a very good novel, where many violent and sad things happen. The Queen of The Tearling broke my heart more than once.

There are also two things about the story that stood out to me. The first, there is no "love interest". Kelsea is constantly surrounded by men, but they are all older than she is. Whether she finds them attractive or not does not matter. There were a couple times, where I thought she might "fall" for a man, but besides a potentially inappropriate attraction to one, she stays focused. Johansen doesn't go there. This is about Kelsea and her people. Going along with the idea of not having a love interest, Kelsea is described as plain. Her mother was apparently a great beauty, but not her daughter. Kelsea has her mother's eyes and height, and that's it.  It is commented on more than once. There are times we are reminded that Kelsea is 19 and is self-conscious about her appearance, like many at that age (and at my age). Is it bad that I like that she's not a princess who "dazzles" with her beauty? Kelsea uses words and strength.

I'm so excited to read the rest of the series. I have The Invasion of the Tearling, but I might wait until I pick up The Fate of the Tearling before I read it. It's such a wonderful, exciting, thoughtful book, that I'm confident the rest of the series will not disappoint.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Blast From The Past #10 - Blood Diamond

I can't believe it's been 10 years since I saw Blood Diamond. Has anything in that world changed? Are the African people still exploited, their lands, for diamonds? Do people still hunger for them in a one-sided market? I like to think there's been some change. One obvious example with people I know, is with engagement rings. I know a few women who have chosen an alternative to a diamond. I have seen a beautiful black pearl ring and a sparkling sapphire. More and more, I'm seeing "different" choices. Is this the new generation wanting to be different from those who have come before? Are these socially conscious people? Are personal tastes circumventing the norm? I think maybe all those things. I also think that diamond stores are being more socially conscious, as the population is becoming more so. There are certifications that diamonds can receive to show that they were mined within certain standards. There are agreements that diamond producing countries (including Canada) have signed. So, maybe some things have changed, but not enough.

I've included a couple interesting links below.

http://time.com/blood-diamonds/
http://www.brilliantearth.com/conflict-diamond-trade/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Diamond

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Back At 2016

The past few years, I've been posting a long survey looking back at the previous year. I'm not doing that this year. I don't have it in me. 2016 was not a great year for me. Real life could have been better. Besides the personal stuff, I keep looking at world news. I look at the upcoming leader of the US, I look at polar bears, I look at Aleppo. Everything makes me feel like the apocalypse is getting closer and closer. I'm worried for my children. I'm worried about the world they're growing up in, which I thought was going to be better than the world I grew up in. Isn't that how things are supposed to go?

Okay, I'm going to stop talking about this stuff. Before I start rambling about Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds and start crying.

Instead, I'm going to use Goodreads' handy infographic thing and look at the wonderful stories I read this year. 


I can't embed it, so I screenshot the top. Little Dorrit certainly was a long book. It was quite good too. Hard to Get is a short story, so I'm not surprised it was the shortest book. Though on Goodreads Heir of Fire is the highest rated, I think I liked Crown of Midnight better, which I also read this year. I am not surprised that The Little Prince is the most "popular" book I read this year. It's a classic and that movie came out, which I haven't seen yet; the book broke my heart a little. I really do like this Year in Books, I like looking at the stats. It gives me a moment of happy reflection.

Getting an image of all the books didn't look quite right since I would need to zoom out a lot and then the books would look tiny. Instead, I screenshot my books from the 50 Book Pledge.


I read a lot of graphic novels this year... and romance too. There was a lot of science fiction and fantasy. There were a lot of exciting stories. For reading, it was a good year.

There were other good things about the year too. My children turned 7 and 5. They're doing well at school. One of my best friends got married in a magical forest wedding. My baby cousin got married (she's not a baby anymore) in a gallery. So, a lot of good things, good moments that I'm grateful for. I'm just hoping for more of them in 2017.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!!!!!



Wishing everyone the best for the holiday season, and hoping for the best in the new year!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Blast from the Past #9 - A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal

Ten years ago, I shared my favourite poem, A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal, by William Wordsworth. It's still one of my favourite poems. It's up there with The Raven (which I will blog about soon, I think) and Rime of the Ancient Mariner. A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal doesn't tell a story the way the other two do, but there's mystery in it. It's a beautiful, haunting poem, so Romantic in its evocation of emotion. I remember studying it in school, trying to unlock its secret. Sometimes, that make me like poems and stories less, but with this one, I just loved it more.

So, here we are again:

A slumber did my spirit seal; 
I had no human fears: 
She seemed a thing that could not feel 
The touch of earthly years. 

No motion has she now, no force; 
She neither hears nor sees; 
Rolled round in earth's diurnal course, 
With rocks, and stones, and trees. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Rogue One

Wow. I don't know if I really have the words to explain how I feel about Rogue One. It was a fantastic movie. Admittedly, it took me a minute to get into it. Not just the prologue bit, but after the first sequence. Maybe because I kept thinking of Luke Skywalker's beginning and his family's farm. Maybe it was something else. Maybe I was waiting for more connection between the little girl and the rebellion. When it came, it was great.

I loved Jedha though. Everything that happened was amazing, not "good", but interesting, engaging and giving you a deeper insight into what the Empire was capable of. Because Rogue One was dark. It was war. There were battles and losses. So many. Too many for these people. The characters were amazing. Jyn Erso, Cassian, Bohdi, K2 and all the rest. They had fears, hopes, dreams. I wanted a happy ending for all of them.

I really like how they made Rogue One into its own story, but still connected it to the rest of the Star Wars films. It wasn't just what Jyn, Cassian and the others were doing, but seeing familiar characters, getting glimpses of what they were doing when we weren't seeing them in the previous films, I think was really important. There were some surprises there too.

The end hit me hard though. It was so emotional. I didn't know how to feel. I wanted things to be different, but they couldn't be. Even though it's not what I wanted, I think it had to be that way, to keep the story going, to even add meaning to that first Star Wars film. Rogue One was everything it should have been. I am eagerly anticipating the future Star Wars stories.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Blast From The Past #8 - Beautiful Lies

Apparently ten years ago in December I only blogged twice. A bit different from how my blogging habits grew, so it was a little unexpected. In the first half of the month, I read a book called Beautiful Lies, by Emilie Richards. I seemed to have had mixed feelings about it. It was a romance novel, that based on the previous post, I thought was okay. There were unexpected things that happened (apparently), and I always like that. Beyond what this post says, I have zero recollection of this book. I still own it, it's on my shelf, but if you had asked me before today I had read it, I might have said, no.

So I looked up the synopsis of the book and that is what I remember. I remember reading the synopsis and thinking it sounded kind of interesting and that I would give it a try. I think there's a boat in it too...

Do you remember every book you've ever read? I've read a lot, and I like to think that I at least vaguely remember what I've read. Some books I remember more than others, but if I've enjoyed it, the story aught to leave some kind of impression. Right? Though it would be hard to come up with a book that I have read, but forgotten.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Stay Fly

I think I'm just in a comics sort of mood. I can't get enough of Captain Marvel and Stay Fly was great. I really enjoy Captain Marvel's personality. She's so brash, but she's fiercely loyal and she loves so strongly. Everything she does seems to be big, I don't know if anyone would accuse her of being subtle. I do, however, wish the story was more coherent. I know that Stay Fly is a collection of individual comic issues, but they usually follow an arc, and this did, it was just a little everywhere. Though, (SPOILER) the Christmas stuff seemed seasonally appropriate and a pleasant surprise.

Like with Higher, Further, Faster, More, I loved the art. The cover is hilarious and definitely not "pretty" like the last volume. Besides the depictions of Captain Marvel, I really liked Rocket. I liked the expressions, the continuity, the color. Kelly Sue DeConnick, David Lopez and the rest of the team did an amazing job bringing Captain Marvel to life. Also, she was put in some interesting situations. The thing with her cat was funny. It was a unique twist that I just didn't see coming.

Also, the more I read of Captain Marvel, the more I love Spider-Woman. She's hilarious and I really enjoy Carol and Jessica's friendship. I wonder what Captain Marvel is like from Spider-Woman's point of view. I was also interested in seeing Tracy again. I wonder how all that is going to end. Stay Flay has definitely kept me hooked and I'm excited to read the next installment of Captain Marvel.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Blast From The Past #7 - Ella Enchanted

I can't believe how old this movie is! It's been 10 years since I watched Ella Enchanted but it's actually 12 years old, first released in 2004. I know the movie isn't critically great and that it's yet another Cinderella retelling, but something about it always charms me. I don't know if it's the singing or how sweet Ella is or how terrible the fairy-godmother's gift is, but every time it comes on television, I watch it, even if it's just for a few minutes. Something about it lightens my mood, and in these current times, I think that's something we all need.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Heir Of Fire

That's how it ends? Some of it surprising, some of it not, and in this situation, I appreciated both. Heir of Fire is the third novel in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. The non-surprising parts kind of had to happen, since this is a book in the middle of a six-book (not including novellas) series.  Many the Mistward/Doranelle events, I think, needed to happen in order to advance Celaena forward in her quest. The events back in Rifthold, with Chaol and Dorian (among others) were where I was more surprised. I am worried about all of them. What's going to happen to them? I know Chaol is not on the path he thought he'd be on. Dorian and Aedion certainly aren't. Celaena, I think, is exactly where she should be.

Rowan and the other residents of Mistward, were an excellent addition to the series. The characters added perspective to the events of Adarlan, because they're across the sea, in another continent, where there is still magic and they are ruled over by a beloved king. Through these characters, the world of Erilea is expanded, there are other kingdoms and other rulers. We are left wondering what role these people will play in Celaena's story. 

Also, what role will the witches eventually play. That storyline, completely separate from Celaena, as these seem to be people she has never met, was full of surprises. Yes, witches and Yellowlegs have been introduced, but the prominence of them in this story is almost a warning.

I don't want to give anything away, but I have to say that while there is a cliffhanger ending and this felt like a "middle" book, it was enjoyable. There was a lot of emotional and skillful learning. There were tense moments. There were times when I wasn't sure who would live and die. There was some fun peppered throughout too. I am excited to read the rest of the series and not sure what will happen next.



Sunday, November 20, 2016

Tigana

Tigana was epic. That was the first word that came to mind while thinking of what to say about this very long, fantasy adventure. It was epic in scope and breadth. My edition of Tigana is 803 pages, including Guy Gavriel Kay's Afterword. I'm including the Afterword, because it should be read. It is beautifully written and it is about Tigana's lost culture. The way to get rid of a culture and language is to outlaw its name, burn it's books, destroy its art and replace them with that of the conqueror's. Though Brandin uses sorcery to accomplish this, the idea and occurrences of erasing a culture is rooted in history.

Tigana could have easily been two books, if not three. There were “parts” to the book, separations in time. There were breaks that could have easily been conclusions to create a trilogy or duology. Though, how often have we read series that we thought could have been just one big book? There is just so much going on, the stories of the different characters are deep and interweave in incredible ways. There's so much thought put into every chapter. I was excited, and pleasantly surprised, that I won a second book from Goodreads by Guy Gavriel Kay, but its length was definitely daunting.

Though the story and the world were large and complex, it was the characters that kept me wanting to know more. For me, Devin was the star. It was his journey from farm-boy to singer to freedom fighter that got me hooked. I really loved all the characters, but I was always wondering, who is Devin going to end up with, is he going to fight, will he live in the end? Devin's journey was the journey of the reader, thinking one thing, then learning another. Devin and his companions are what grounded the story for me.

I appreciated that Catriana was not your typical girl or damsel. The contrast between her and Alais was interesting, but more so, both of these strong women and the "boy crazy" Svetlana. Catriana had a warrior's heart, wanting to make up for past deeds that weren't her fault. She grew so much throughout the novel, her anger dissipating a bit, or at least it became more fine-tuned. She also found hope, which I don't think she necessarily had in the beginning

I didn't know what to think of Baerd at first. He was quiet, keeping his secrets close. Then we learn so much more. There were no flat characters. Kay keeps us guessing with all of them. By the end, Baerd became one of my favourites, the hope I had for him built throughout the story and makes me wish for only the best for him.

A possible prematurely grey, prince without a throne, Alessan binds the group together. Without him, who knows what would have happened to Baerd? What would Catriana have done with her life? Though I'm pretty sure Devin would have ended up pretty famous anyway. Alessan struggles for what is right. He wants to restore Tigana, but he is also looking at the bigger picture.

The Tyrants were an interesting pair. We meet Alberico first and he's terrible. He's a conqueror in the worst way. He leads through intimidation, fear and money. He tortures for the pleasure of it. He kills to make himself feel better when he's down. No one is loyal to him because of faith or trust, they just want to be on the right side when his sword comes crashing down. If he wasn't a sorcerer, I feel like the people would never have let him win, more than that, his men might never have fought for him.

I thought Brandin would be the same, but he's not. He's a conqueror that we can sympathize with. He knows love and grief. His uncontrollable grief is the crux of this tale. Brandin actually shows that he cares for people. He has depth and a complex web of emotions. How I ended up feeling about him by the end was complex too. I wanted him to be okay, but he was still a brutal conqueror. The difference between him and Alberico was that there were people who were truly loyal to him. He was a king in his own land and his army followed him because of that. He didn't have to pay them the same way Alberico did. He engendered loyalty and trust from many of his people. When he talked about Fionavar, it made me immediately want to read The Fionavar Tapestry, (just like how Children of Earth and Sky made me want to read The Sarantine Mosaic.) Brandin had love in his heart.

Brandin believed that a conqueror could unite the Palm, which is what Alessan wanted, but not by his enemy. It's interesting how their lives paralleled, made even more complex when you think of Dianora. Her story ran parallel to that of Devin's and was equally important. Dianora was probably the most complex character in the entire novel. She loved and hated Brandin, when you read the novel, you can see why. Sometimes I wonder if she told him the truth, if the end would have been different. I wonder if he would have understood what she did and forgiven her.

All these brilliant, amazing characters crossed the Palm, north to south, east to west, on their quest. They mapped the world out for us. They were amazing, complex and had me wanting to know what happened. I wanted to know how they all turned out. Even with a well-written ending, I am still left wondering about what will happen to these characters, especially the three at the very end. I wonder if Kay will ever revisit this world. I hope he does and I hope it's just as deeply intense.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Sun Is Also A Star

Heartbreakingly perfect, The Sun Is Also A Star is simply an amazing novel. It tells the story of Daniel and Natasha and how two people who have never met can find each other and fall in love. Natasha is trying to stay in America, trying not to get deported, and her whole day is supposed to revolve around that. Then there's Daniel. He's supposed to prepare for and have the biggest interview of his whole life. Then they meet.

I really connected with Natasha and Daniel, as I am also a child of immigrants. It can be a difficult balance, trying to stay connected to the culture of your parents and being a part of the culture of the country you live in. Some people want you to be one way, others want you to be another. It's a wonderful thing to find someone who understands. I have friends who were in the same boat growing up, even though our parents were not necessarily from the same countries, we shared similar experiences. There is a struggle that I think maybe all children of immigrants go through, though maybe to different degrees depending on how "different" a parent's home country is. While Natasha is Jamaican and Daniel is Korean-American, they share similar life experiences. I really enjoyed the conversation about "where are you really from", as I have had that question asked many times. There's the food thing too.

Nicola Yoon creates not only complex, beautiful characters, but writes with emotion. The decisions that not only Natasha and Daniel make, but also Irene, Natasha and Daniel's respective parents, Charlie, Attorney Fitzgerald, and even the waitress at the restaurant, are full of heartache. Nothing is taken lightly, they all have deep, serious, inner lives that maybe our two main characters know nothing about. It comes through in the interesting style in which Yoon has structured her novel. I wonder if her first novel, Everything, Everything is written in the same style (a book that I absolutely now have to read). There were also great references to 90's grunge and a quiz that I watched Penny and Sheldon take on The Big Bang Theory, which made me so happy. A great plot, amazing characters and interesting style, I couldn't help but love The Sun Is Also A Star.

*I won The Sun Is Also A Star as an ARC from a Goodreads giveaway. Yay! 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Blast From The Past #6 - A Series Of Unfortunate Events


I can't believe it's been 10 years since I finished A Series of Unfortunate Events. I really loved those books. They were so quirky and unique. I'm just waiting for my children to be old enough so that I can read the series with them. The idea of reading them again makes me happy. I loved them then and I love them now. I am excited that 10 years later there's going to be a Netflix television series based on them, that these books are still popular and loved. Of course it's being released on a "Friday the 13th". I am sure they did that on purpose. It's such an "unfortunate" thing to happen.

I remember being excited for the movie too. I thought A Series of Unfortunate Events was fantastic. I loved the children, and Jim Carrey as Count Olaf was perfect. Meryl Streep was in it! Why did they stop at one? I don't really know. Money and scripts probably. You can only wait so long too, since they were child actors, once they age too much, it's not believable anymore.

Back to my past post... The post I wrote 10 years ago is part love of A Series of Unfortunate Events and part the last books I read in the series. Based on what I said in the post about the "extra stories" my hot/cold relationship with side stories is at least 10 years old. I remember being a bit disappointed about what was learned in The Beatrice Letters and The Unauthorized Autobiography. Some of it was good and they were good stories, but they didn't affect how I viewed the rest of the series or my reading of The End. I remember not wanting The End to be the end of the series. I wanted to know so much more about the Baudelaires. They're still children at the end of the series. What happened when they became adults? I've always wanted to know more. I also wonder if Lemony Snicket's most recent series, All The Wrong Questions eventually relates to A Series of Unfortunate Events. I should finish reading that series too.

So, 10 years ago, I finished reading a fun series. Now, I can look forward to watching (maybe binge-watching) a television show based on those books. 


Netflix series trailer: