Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Host


The Host was better than I thought it would be.  It wasn't perfect. I really liked the novel. It has an interesting premise and though it is still adolescent romance, it was an engaging story. I wanted the movie to be as engaging as the book. I had heard the movie wasn't; that it was bad. It received poor ratings and did not make what I think people expected from something related to Twilight. (Love it or hate it, Twilight made a lot of money.)


From what I had heard, I expected The Host to be completely toneless. It almost was.  The movie had the bones of the novel.  There were no gradual build-ups. The characters would meet, do what they're supposed to do, then they are suddenly in love, or forgive each other or hate each other.  Relationships, romantic and otherwise, need to develop.  They did not, they were whatever they were supposed to be.

Saoirse Ronan, who played Wanderer/Melanie was the bright spot for me.  Lucky for the movie, she was the lead actor, or they would have had nothing.  Ronan was lovely.  I think she was able to create two distinct personalities in Melanie, the human, and Wanderer, the alien who inhabits her body.  Ronan brought emotion to the characters and the movie, but she can't be expected to carry the whole thing on her own.

The movie existed at the same tone for the entire two hours.  There were not ups and downs except for the end during Wanderer's "final" words.  Everything else was even. The story from the book is a good one.  A movie with emotional valleys and mountains could have been great, it could have been better than Twilight.  It wasn't.  It wasn't horrid, at least.

(Wow... That's an awful last sentence to end on... Oh well.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Masked Mosaic

Masked Mosaic was an interesting collection of Canadian super hero stories.  I first heard about this book from Sarah at Workaday Reads, who I then won the ebook from. I was really excited to begin reading this collection. At first it wasn't what I thought. The super hero stories were dark. They deal with gritty, honest emotions and the heroes aren't just good. They are complex individuals. 

After about the first third of the book, something happened. I lost interest a bit. I think it was the story I read, it through me off. So I left it for a little while. Since it was short stories, it was easy to let it fall to the side. Then one day, I finished whatever book I was reading and I needed something, so I started reading the stories again and I was hooked more completely. Maybe I just like the latter two thirds of the collection better? Actually, that's not a maybe. I really, really enjoyed the rest of the stories. There was more heart, they were more exciting. From the story Kid Wonder to the end, that's where my favourites are. I loved The Seamstress Without A Costume and The Shield Maiden. There were so many great stories. The collection is definitely worth the time to see what Canadian Super Stories are like.

It seems that one of the editors, Claude Lalumière has another super hero short story collection.  I'd like to have a look at those stories and see if he collected another gritty group of heroes.  I'll also be on the lookout for all the wonderful authors who contributed to this collection.  It is a fantastic group of stories from a fantastic group of writers.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

100,000 Pageviews

It looks like sometime yesterday morning, I passed 100,000 pageviews.  Seems like a lot.  Is that a lot? Thanks to everyone who stops by my blog and reads my posts.  I've appreciated and enjoyed all the conversations they've created.  I look forward to more conversations about books, movies, and whatever else we come up with. *hugs*

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Raven Boys

The first and last lines of Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys are amazing. "Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she'd been told that she would kill her true love." It's a great first line. It's not just saying that she will kill her true love, but she's been told and told so often that she's lost count. She's so frightened of this fact (because this is a fact to her) that she doesn't date and will not even kiss a boy, love, like or nothing. I won't include the last line. It gives away too much. I feel like it sums up the tone of the entire novel. 

I was riveted. I enjoyed the book from the beginning, but something happened about halfway though and I couldn't put it down. It think it's when Blue and the Boys' stories really merge. I had to know what happened next. Some of the situations seemed a little far-fetched, but I didn't care. I pushed those thoughts out of my mind and dived deeper into the story. 

I appreciated the inclusion of a real life, bad situation. It was woven in to the supernatural stories of Blue and the Boys, but it also stood out. It was real and the reactions of the characters I found appropriate to how I imagine teens would react. I hope that was vague enough. I don't want to give anything away, but I thought the reality put up against the quest was grounding. 

The characters are what made the story for me. The boys and the women in Blue's house were two very different groups, but how they felt about each other is similar. I liked their relationships. I think their friendships are natural and believeable. (Except for the surprise from one of the boys. I did not see that coming; I loved Noah.) I liked that a boy saw a girl and wanted to talk to her. I liked the stuff that happened right before they talked. It seemed like something that probably happens all the time. 

One thing I'm having a bit of a hard time with is that Blue has no girlfriends. Not one. It's not that she's a nerd or unpopular, she's just weird...  Stiefvater addresses it in the context of the story, but really? That's the reason? There's not one other weird person at her whole school? Not even just a study partner? I know she has her mother and the other women in the house and I know they're all psychic, but they're her mother's age... It's fine. A friend would just complicate the plot, I suppose. 

I'm excited to read the next book in The Raven Cycle. I think The Dream Thieves is going to be every bit as captivating as The Raven Boys. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Star Wars: Jedi Academy

Star Wars: Jedi Academy was the cutest piece of Star Wars geekery I have ever read. I loved Jeffery Brown's writing and illustrations. I loved the young Padawan, Roan, trying to find his way. I loved the Jedi Temple being like a regular middle school for these kids. He wanted to be a pilot, not a Jedi!  With the backdrop of Star Wars, Jedi Academy taps into what it's like to be a kid. 

Even though the last page has nothing really to do with the story, I thought it was wonderful. I want a journal just like that. I want photos and drawings and interesting bits of life taped in. I think it's great to be encouraging kids to create journals like this. You don't have to be a writer or artist to record your feelings everyday, you just have to live your life.

I'm excited that a new Jedi Academy book is coming out. I'm not surprised, since this story only covered the first year. Is this going to be a trilogy? Or a much longer series? Either way, I think I'm hooked. My excuse will be that I'm going to start reading them to my daughter.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Buying Books for A Baby Shower

I buy books for baby showers.  All the time.  The last baby shower I was at, I bought for the parents-to-be, Ten Apples Up On Top and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?.  I love these books.  I love them because my children love them.  They weren't ones I read as a child, they were gifts.  Seeing my kids love them makes me want to spread the baby bookish love. I've bought loads of different books for showers, The Paperbag Princess, Goodnight Moon, Goodnight, I Love You and so many more. I've even included Go the F*ck To Sleep so that new parents can get a warning about how difficult it can be to put their child to bed.  I want to add, I don't typically buy only books (though I had a friend tell me to only get her books and pick the ones my children liked best).  Usually the books go with toys or something on the registry or a cute onesie.

For an upcoming shower I purchased, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and The Cat In The Hat. They are classics and loved by children everywhere.  I was told by someone, who asked what I had bought for the shower - well I don't think the parents are readers.  They disapproved of my shower gift.  I might have been offended, I definitely got defensive.  My reply was something like, they better become readers. There are so many benefits to reading to your children.  I could angrily list them all here, but if you're reading this, you probably know what many of them are.

What I'm wondering is: would you NOT buy books for a baby shower if you knew the parents weren't big readers?  I guess I think books are classic, can't go wrong, loved by children, gifts....

Monday, April 07, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I'm a geek; lots of people know it.  The Marvel Universe keeps delivering movies I am crazy for. Captain America: The Winter Soldier wasn't just about Captain America or even The Winter Soldier.  We learned more about Black Widow, S.H.I.E.L.D., and were introduced to Falcon. I thought Maria Hill was great and Agent 13 (Kate), might be my new favourite S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.  I really enjoyed the dynamic between Cap and Widow.  I also really appreciated Cap's friendship with Falcon.  Sam is just a guy, (a veteran) that Steven Rogers meets on a run one day.  They become friends, real friends.  Sam isn't Iron Man or Thor, they aren't thrust together because of an impending doom.  Sam being Falcon is secondary (though necessary to the plot).  I liked how their friendship grew.

I can't really talk too much about the plot without giving it away.  It was complex, but I didn't find it complicated. It put Black Widow and Falcon right next to Captain America, without taking away the driving force he gave to the movie.  It allowed us to see Peggy, what she did after Cap's "death", and who she is now.  It showed what S.H.I.E.L.D. and what Hydra were capable of.  The movie has made me more excited to see what's going to happen on this week's episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..  The show exists in the same universe as the movie, so if something bad happens in Thor or Captain America it is reflected in the show.  With what happened to Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., I wonder what is going to happen to Agent Coulson and his team.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier isn't just for geeks and Marvel fans.  It has a great story and excellent action sequences.  It's more than a comic book movie, it's a spy movie and an action movie.  I can't wait to see it again.


Sunday, April 06, 2014

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope


When I saw a book titled, William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope, I knew I had to have it. William Shakespeare's Star Wars was everything I expected it to be. I already knew the story, as most people who pick up this book would. As each scene came up I eagerly anticipated the Shakespeare-ization. Re-writing Star Wars in iambic pentameter doesn't make it "literature", but it does make it thoroughly entertaining. It could not have been an easy task for Ian Doescher.

One thing I didn't expect was R2D2. He is hilarious. I loved his insights. It was the most original thing Doescher could do with the task he had given himself. I also quite enjoyed the stage directions. They really seemed as though the author (or translator?) was imagining what a director would be doing with this story and a stage. I feel like this little book is ready to go if anyone wanted to put on a Star Wars stage production. 

There really isn't anything I can say about the story. It's Episode 4 as you would expect it to be.  It starts off with Leia. Then Luke. Then Han and Chewbacca. Obi-Wan does his thing. Luke uses The Force.  The Death Star blows up. Also, the Droids are being quite funny the whole time.  Though not necessarily for fans of Shakespeare, fans of Star Wars will enjoy this play. Those who are also fans of Shakespeare might like it even more.

I didn't even mention the illustrations!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Frozen

I saw Frozen last weekend and it definitely lived up to the musical hype.  The songs, the animated singing of the characters, the Broadway style and the movements, were fantastic.  It elevated the movie.  I can see why not just the movie, but the album is so popular. The music of Frozen was filled with energy and excitement. The songs are still playing in my head.

I loved the ending.  No spoilers, I'm just going to say that it isn't typical.  I heard rumours about the non-typical ending, so when it happened, I wasn't very surprised, but I was very happy.  That's all I should really say about it, except maybe mention again that I loved it.

There are princesses, a prince, a handsome poor boy, secrets and magic.  But it isn't about that.  It's about sisters.  We could maybe even stretch that to say siblings.  It is about the bond they can share, what they are willing to do anything for each other.  Elsa and Anna love each other and even a forced distance can not change that.

I keep wondering if I (or other people) would love the movie as much if the songs weren't amazing.  Yes? No?  Should I stop wondering? My daughter is asking to see the movie again. I'm going to have to buy it soon.  My son was riveted also, so I know that I have something that will keep them both entertained. Songs won't make a movie for my kids, though. If they like the music, they'll pay attention to just the singing, if they like the whole thing, then I've struck gold.  Maybe they've answered the question for me. Olaf, Kristoff, the trolls, are all a part of Elsa and Anna's story and are fun characters. Everywhere I go, I seem to hear kids talking about Frozen. I'll be hearing about it more once I get my own copy.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Lives of Girls and Women

I love Lives of Girls and Women.  It was every bit as wonderful as I remember.  It is the book which made me a fan of Alice Munro. Del is such an interesting, complex, character.  I could relate to Del.She struggles against her parentage, against expectations, to become a full person. Del is multi-dimensional. She is smart, interested in reading and learning, and it sets her apart from other girls her age. She want to be more, but doesn't dismiss the possiblity of love and doesn't ignore her sexual desires in favour of her brain. She lets her personal life interfere with her academic life, like so many people do; it's not realistic to fully compartmentalize. Del feels real and I think that's what makes the novel so compelling.

It's not quite a "regular" novel.  The book feels like slices out of Del's life, moving progressively from beginning to end, but occasionally circling back on itself.  Each chapter only deals with a certain theme or subject at a time.  It is cohesive as a whole, but I can also imagine how each section can be read on its own with completeness.  That's how I felt many years ago when I first read the novel and that's how I feel now.

Before I re-read Lives of Girls and Women, I looked at the pages.  Out of them stuck scattered, bright pink, sticky notes.  I wondered what they would say and if they would change how I read the book.  For the most part, they were the thoughts I probably had anyway.  Some did lead me forward, to look out for certain events or passages, if the note referred to something near the end of the page it was stuck too. Then I was looking for what I had referred to as "masculine" or "drowning".

On page 197 of my edition (pictured above) I couldn't help but feel drawn to this line, "I wanted men to love me, and I wanted to think of the universe when I looked at the moon. I felt trapped, stranded; it seem there had to be a choice where there couldn't be a choice."  The novel is clearly about women; through Del, we see the lives of her mother, Naomi, Naomi's mother, Fern and other women in the town.  There is more than one way to be a woman, though there may be scorn from other groups of women.  Del aspires to be different than all of them.  Though this wasn't touted to me as a feminist novel in school, I think it is.  Del doesn't talk about equal rights, but she doesn't want to be relegated into a typical female category.

I'm so happy that this was my Classics Club Spin book. I wanted to re-read it for the Club, I just needed the right nudge.  I also finished it today and I'm getting the post up with just a couple hours to spare. If I had the time, I could have easily read this book in a day.  It's not long.  The writing is fluid and magical (that's right, I said magical). It makes me eager to read more by Munro that I haven't yet (Friend Of My Youth maybe) and also re-read more (Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage? There's a movie coming out). I'm excited to see what the next Classics Club Spin brings me. Also, if you haven't read Lives of Girls and Women, why not?  Not much could have stopped me from finishing it today.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Why Have I Read Only One Book By So Many Authors?


I recently started asking myself the question that is the title to this post, why have I read only one book by so many authors?  There are authors, who after reading one of their books, I say I'm going to read more by them, but don't. They range from classic to contemporary, from serious literature to genre fiction, from very famous to lesser known.  I decided to compile a list:

Nick Hornby - A Long Way Down
Hanan Al-Shaykh - Only In London
Zora Neale Hurston - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Anna Davis - Cheet
Jeanette Winterson - Weight
Edith Wharton - Ethan Frome
Audrey Niffenegger - The Time Traveler's Wife
Rohinton Mistry - Family Matters
Rabindranath Maharaj - The Book of Ifs and Buts
Elizabeth Hay - Small Change
Francesca Lia Block - The Rose and the Beast
Karen Armstrong - A Short History of Myth

There were more, but these were the ones that stood out the most.  I liked all of these books, loved some of them. I intended (and still do) to read more by these authors.  Why haven't I yet?  I'm not sure. For many of these authors, I already own another book by them. Why are they still unread?  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book in a trilogy and I have the other two books!  It's embarrassing. Why haven't I read Salman Rushdie's Fury or Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry or Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth?  Can someone tell me?

I own a lot of books. An insane, bordering on hoarder, amount of books. Are they too distracting?  I don't know if I lack focus; I have read Family Matters and Their Eyes Were Watching God. Do I want to read ALL the authors, even if I can't read all the authors' books? Maybe something like that. 

I recently read The Last Policeman, by Ben H. Winters. Will I be reading more by him? 


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Elysium

Elysium is one of those "summer blockbusters" from last year. There were so many though, it was difficult to keep them all straight. Once I got a look at Elysium's trailer, knew the premise and saw who was starring, I knew this was a movie I'd like to see. The base of Elysium's premise was not new, but interestingly done. Elysium is not the first movie/story to imagine what will happen with an extreme separation of the rich and poor, but I haven't see the space station in the sky, looming over the poor before. It's as though the station is mocking those stuck in the pollution of the Earth. It hangs above people too poor to ever get there. It's also sad to think that instead of making Earth better, the rich merely escape it and continue to pollute it. 

I enjoyed Elysium, but I didn't love it. I really wanted to. I enjoyed Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and the other actors/characters on screen. The actions sequences were intense and well done. Something was just missing for me, some kind of spark or connection between me and what was happening. I feel like Elysium didn't quite meet its potential. I do recommend it, though, if you're a fan of grown-up sci-fi/dystopian stories.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Undead and Undermined


***Spoilers if you haven't read the previous nine books - though I'll try to be vague.***

Though I want to throw all kinds of love at the book, typing the the title of the post has me thinking... How is Betsy undermined in Undead and Undermined? By Laura?  Certainly not by Sinclair or Tina (not since the beginning of the series.)  Maybe by Marc?  By Garrett? Okay, maybe now I get the undermined. Sometimes it helps to see my thoughts in writing.

I'm really enjoying the way that the Undead series is going.  I know there are a lot of people who are not, but I think they're in the minority. If Betsy stayed the same ditz she was in Undead and Unwed the series would get stale.  Betsy is growing.  She's learning more about herself and what she's capable of. Asking for the shoes, the final confrontation with the Marc-Thing, her realization at the end about Laura, they are not the thoughts of Betsy in Undead and Unwed or even Betsy in Undead and Uneasy.  I was started to get annoyed with Betsy's behaviour too, how could she remain the same airhead for so long? That's probably why there is such a big gap between me reading book 7 and book 8. I know not everyone feels this way, but I'm glad MaryJanice Davidson is allowing Betsy to change. Betsy (and Davidson) still loves shoes, but I think Betsy is finally taking being the vampire queen seriously.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug


I enjoyed The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug more than I thought I would, though I did expect to at least like it.  I found An Unexpected Journey a little long. Though this second movie was only a few minutes shorter than the first, it felt shorter. There weren't as many scenes of the group crossing the countryside. There was a lot more action.  Perhaps there was more action in the movie than was in the actual book, but after An Unexpected Journey I've kind of given up on The Hobbit movies being like the book.  It's similar enough and though Legolas was not it The Hobbit I enjoyed seeing him and his bow. However, (SPOILER) love triangle with a dwarf? Really?  I like it, but don't like it at the same time.  I know they probably added the female elf to get a female into the movie, but only to be in a love triangle.  Hmm...

There were a lot of things I loved about this movie.  It was beautiful.  I actually really liked the elven prisons. I thought Legolas's relationship with his father was interesting and the King's perspective on the outside world.  I loved Bilbo.  I loved the dwarves staying with Kili... I love Kili in general.  I loved the piles of gold and the things peaking out of the gold.  I love that the movie kept me excited.

I was sorry that I didn't get to see The Desolation of Smaug in theatres.  Timing and children were at play here.  It looks like it would have been worth it.  I'm glad to have finally seen the second Hobbit movie and I'm looking forward to the third.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not This Again

Is there something fundamentally unemployable about me? Someone please tell me if there is.

I'm unemployed, AGAIN!  How does this keep happening to me?  By posting this, am I telling the internet I'm not employable?  I swear I am.  I'm a hard worker.  I'm smart.  I'm polite and friendly.  I could post my friggin' résumé up here....  Though this happened two weeks ago, I'm still mad.

Okay, so, it's not as thought I liked the job.  It was not me.  It was too mean.  I ate lunch by myself, which I tried to make a good thing and read a lot, but it wasn't nice and I didn't feel comfortable.  I didn't seem to have friendly chats with people, though I tried.  That's what you do with new co-workers, right?  You try to get to know them. I don't know if anyone was trying to get to know me.  I had moody co-workers.  I was frustrated by the lack of training.  I didn't feel like I belonged.  So, when the boss told me I wasn't a good fit, I couldn't say that he was lying.  My issue was that the reason he gave had nothing to do with my work or working ability, my intelligence or task completion.  It was all based on feelings. I talked to my Dad. He apparently had a similar issue in his working life.  He told me, whenever you work for a privately owned company, they could hire and fire as they saw fit because it was their business. It didn't matter if your work was perfect, if they didn't like you or their friend didn't like you, they'd let you go. I think that's what happened here.

What do I do?

Again I'm going to look for work... because I enjoy that so much.  I'm going to be pickier this time because I'm tired of not being employed for long.  I want permanence and stability.  Even though people will be interviewing me, I'm going to be interviewing them too.  I'm looking for a non-moody employer with proper HR procedures and a comfortable working environment.

Bah!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Last Policeman


The Last Policeman was good. I had a feeling it would be good, but it was better than I thought. I first encountered Ben H. Winters as the co-author of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and then with Android Karenina. When I saw that he wrote a new non-regency, non-romance novel, I was eager to check it out. Luckily, Goodreads helped me with that by giving me The Last Policeman as a first reads win. Also, how could I resist a pre-apocalyptic mystery?

Though I knew who the killer was after the second encounter with the character (while suspecting him during the first)*, the mystery was very interesting. It was an examination of typical motives or scenarios, with the added aspect of how those things changed in the current world climate. There's an added desperation with the knowledge that this potentially planet-killing asteroid is going to impact in six months. Behaviour changes, as do thought processes, risk assessments.  

As I find with most mysteries, I found the beginning a bit slow as we got to know the young detective Henry Palace, the victim, Peter Zell, the other detectives, the suspects and people in Henry's life. That did not last long. Soon, we were in the thick of things. There was suspicions proven, disproven and all the while Henry's sister, Nico, calling and calling.  I loved the storyline with Nico.  I have to know what happens with her and what she's doing.

I'll find out one day.  I didn't know it when I first was interested in the story, but The Last Policeman is the first in a seriesCountdown City is book two and already out. Book three, World of Trouble will be published in July and I have a feeling I'll be wanting that book too.  

*I could have been wrong. Also, figuring out who the killer was, wasn't about evidence. I was thinking about who the writer would choose, who would be surprising, not-obvious/least suspected, etc.   

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Before I Re-Read Lives of Girls and Women

For the Classics Club Spin, the randomly generated number decided I was reading Lives of Girls and Women, a modern and Canadian classic that I love. I first read it probably thirteen years ago (yikes!)  It cemented me as a lifelong Alice Munro fan and I've since read several of her works, though not all of them. The goal of the Spin is to have the book read and the post ready to go up on April 2nd.  I was so excited though, that I immediately went to the shelf, just so I could look at the book.  What was the first thing I noticed?  Bright pink Post-its.

I read Lives of Girls and Women for a Canadian Literature class back in University.  It was a wonderful, amazing class and I read some amazing literature.  I don't remember if I wrote an essay or anything about Lives of Girls and Women, but from the quantity of Post-its, I thought it was important that I keep notes.  I haven't looked at any of the notes yet.  I'm not sure I want to.  This isn't the first book I've ever re-read.  It is not even the first that I've found a little note I made in the book.  This is the first time I've picked a book to re-read and it is FULL of notes.  What I'm wondering is, how will this affect my reading of the story.  Will I let my old thoughts influence my new thoughts?  Will I wonder, what was I thinking, oh so long ago?  More than just my love of the story itself, these notes have me excited to re-read Lives of Girls and Women.  Has anyone had a similar experience?  Finding old notes while re-reading a book?

Side Note: This is probably why I haven't re-read The Handmaid's Tale

Friday, February 14, 2014

Undead and Unfinished


Half the time, I love time travel stories; half the time I hate them.* Going back into the past or forward into the future can be very revealing. You can learn more about a character's motives and personality.  We certainly learned a lot about Tina's loyalty and Sinclair's persistence with Betsy in Undead and Unfinished. When MaryJanice Davidson first wrote Undead and Unwed, she probably didn't think nine books later she would write a time travel story to explain more about Sinclair and Tina.  I wonder if nine books ago, Davidson knew where the Book of the Dead had come from or if time travel inspired her.  The glimpse into the future was very intriguing. One thousand years is a long time and clearly a lot can happen. I wonder if Davidson is planning on more time travel. I know that Book 10, Undead and Underminded is related to Betsy and Laura's time travelling escapade, but will there be more messing about the time line?

Here's where I'm a little more sketchy when it comes to time traveling in Undead and Unfinished.  It wasn't consistent.  This may get vaguely spoilery, so be warned...  Betsy and Laura go to several different times periods in which they are directly affecting Betsy's timeline (and Laura's indirectly, as she is Betsy's sister).  In three of these ventures into the past, Betsy needed to be there.  If she wasn't, things wouldn't have worked out the way they were supposed to, she was there, because she was always there; it was predetermined.  In one instance, however, Betsy goes back to a time when she merely regrets her actions.  She stops herself from doing something bad, which is great, but has surprising consequences when she returns to the present.  Her return home is part, "Thank goodness we can tell you the truth: we met you in the past." and "How did that happen?/This is different."  I don't mind that Betsy changed her past in itself, what I'm not a hundred percent happy with is that there was one trip different from the others.  I suppose that when she went into the future, it confirmed that events were not fixed and things could be changed... but I don't know.  I was happy with the result to the story, at least.

The end of the book, the epilogue, is really what made the story for me. I really enjoyed the entire novel, but those last pages, bam! So good. Very unexpected. I don't think I can wait very long before I read Book 10. 

*Examples...
Hate: Due to time travel, the last season of Fringe is not remembered by any of the characters. So frustrating. 
Love: The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells, time travel used as a social commentary in the class system of Wells's era.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Thousand Orcs

The Thousand Orcs is the first book in R.A. Salvatore's trilogy The Hunter's Blades, which is also the 14th book in The Legend Of Drizzt series. There are 25 books, I think.  It's a lot of books to read, but I've enjoyed each one and I expect to enjoy them all until Salvatore stops writing them. I started reading the series years ago, but it has been a long time since I read a Drizzt book, at least a year. I don't know what created the delay. Maybe I was really satisfied by the last book. Maybe there were too many other books got in the way. I'm going to start reading them more often again. Perhaps I'll catch up to my Hubby soon. 

The Thousand Orcs was exactly what I wanted from a Drizzt book. There was action, adventure and emotional turmoil brought to us by the Companions of the Hall. It was a book that had more mature companions, individuals who had grown, learning more about each other and themselves. There was also a sense of "ends" in the story. At first it was about the endings of particular ways of life. Bruenor's adventures, Torgar in Mirabar and Regis's quiet life. Catti-Brie and Drizzt were starting to see ends. Only Wulfgar might be the exception, though you could interpret his new found confidence as the end of his instability. 

Speaking of Wulfgar, he has a beard in this book, part of his maturing. Though this novel was published ten years ago, I couldn't help but picture Thor. Wulfgar wields a hammer, is large in stature and makes battle cries as he sweeps his hammer through enemies. The hammer is even enchanted to return to Wulfgar when thrown, though it's more like teleportation than telekinesis, if you know what I mean... There are worse people to picture than Chris Hemsworth. 

I'm happy to have returned to the Legend of Drizzt series. I'm looking forward to reading The Lone Drow and seeing how crazy Drizzt goes. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Spin Number is...

...20!

Will I read it this time? I definitely think so. I've been looking forward to re-reading Lives of Girls and Women since I first read it over a decade ago. It's why I put it on my classics list. Just the thought of it being my Spin book makes me want to pick it up and read it right now. Is it weird that I want to hug it?

What's your Spin book? Are you looking forward to it?

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Deconstructing Meals

I am the mother of two beautiful, wonderful, crazy children.  My daughter is 4 1/2 and my son is 2 1/2. What does that mean for me (and most parents) during meal times?  Picky eaters.  They're not as overly picky as I've seen some kids, but they're still pretty particular.  They're children; this is not unexpected.  What it can be is infuriating.  I refuse (REFUSE) to make more than one meal.  I know some parents do, one meal for them, another for the children.  No.  Not me.  To me, that's a waste of what little time I have after I get home from work.  It's also important to me that we sit together for meals.  That can't happen if I'm stuck making two dinners.

However, I still want them to eat.  One day (just a few weeks ago), my Hubby suggested deconstructing our meals for them.  What does that mean?  I made Chicken Fajitas.  An easy meal to deconstruct. Instead of putting everything in a tortilla and handing it to them, I put each item in its own serving dish so they could see what was being put on their plates. They ate all of it. The tortilla, the chicken, the vegetables. ALL of it.  They ate each component separately, but that didn't matter.  I only made one meal and I didn't have to fight to get the kids to eat it.  I figure anything that's going in a wrap or pita is easy to separate into its components.  Recently, I served pasta on one side of the plate and the sauce on the other.  Done.  Gone.  This week, I gave them deconstructed stir-fry.  Rice noodles, chicken and veg separated. Ate it all, the end.  

Do they always finish every single scrap of food on their plate?  No and I don't expect them too. They get full and we can [usually] tell the difference between genuine fullness and fussiness. After all, adults sometimes put more food onto their plates than they can finish.  I'm still using chili powder or teriyaki sauce or whatever; I do not spare the spice. They are just able to see the pieces of the whole before they consume it.

Image from here.
Recently Amanda at Food Riot wrote about only making one meal for her family. I love the title of her post, Mean Parent Confessions: My Kids Eat What I Serve Or They Don’t Eat.  I agree with all of it, every word.  In addition to not wanting to make two meals, I don't want my kids to be fussy/picky when we go out, as children and when they get older.  I feel like the Deconstructed Meals is a good way to get them to eat like us too.  They see us put all the parts of the meal together and often they copy what we do.  (For those who don't know, kids copy their parents.) Some foods they like to keep it separate (and that may translate into adulthood as my mother-in-law still likes plain pasta with the sauce on the side.)  As long as I'm making only one meal and they're eating it.... and maybe there's a reason there are so many partitioned children's dishes.

Do you agree?  Disagree?  How do you get your little ones to eat?

*Note: I do not mean "deconstructing" the way chefs seem to be doing lately.  It's not like I'm aiming for my kids to be trendy with their meals.


Thursday, February 06, 2014

Another Spin Around The Classics

I don't know what it is about the Classics Club Spin that attracts me.  I think I like the encouragement it gives to keep up with my classic reading.  To be honest, though, I didn't read my last spin book.  I just wasn't feeling the book at the time and I didn't want to force myself to read it, because I knew then I wouldn't enjoy it.  I've decided to seperate my list again the way I did last time, with an additional category at the bottom.  I guess I really like doing things my own way. I'm also hoping I'll actually read the selection on this spin's list. We'll find out what book on February 10th and hopefully I'll have it read by April 2nd!


Novels
1. Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood
2. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
3. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
4. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë

Short Stories / Novellas
5. Sherlock Holmes: A Study In Scarlett, by Arthur Conan Doyle
6. The Big and The Little, by Isaac Asimov
7. Dracula's Guest, by Bram Stoker
8. The Man Who Loved Islands, by D.H. Lawrence

Poetry / Theatre
9. Lady Lazarus, by Sylvia Plath
10. Queen Mab, by Percy Bysshe Shelley
11. Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmund Rostand
12. Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller

Children’s / Young Adult / Juvenilia
13. Tales of Angria, by Charlotte Brontë
14. Grimm's Fairy Stories, by Jacob Grimm & Wilhelm Grimm
15. The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
16. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter

Re-Reads
17. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
18. The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence
19. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
20. Lives of Girls and Women, by Alice Munro

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Book Jar

Inline images 1
Where are the little
slips of paper?
I've seen a lot of posts and pictures in the last year or so about Book Jars. Recently, I saw one on Book Riot and I've seen them around Pinterest. Book Riot and many of the pins on Pinterest refer to The Book Jar Page from Alex In Leeds.

I really like the idea of making a book jar. It's one I've started to consider.  I would not make one divided by genre, as part of the fun for me would be not knowing anything at all.  However, I don't know if I could stick to the slip of paper I pulled out. I've mentioned before that I can be a moody reader. If I didn't feel like reading that particular book, how many pulls would I give myself? Should I put a limit on myself? 

One Book Riot commenter mentioned the Goodreads feature of randomizing your "to-read" shelf (which isn't an option for the apps).  I thought that was a good idea; you just click on the to-read shelf and you have a book.  The problem I have is that I don't own everything on my "to-read" shelf, plus some of the books I have listed there are not even published yet, so going out to buy or borrow isn't an option. What do you do then?  Do you move down the list until you reach a book you own? Do you keep hitting refresh until a book you own pops up?  Plus, I also like the tactile sense of paper in a jar.  

If I make one, I wouldn't use it all the time. I'd likely only use it of I were in a slump or having a book hangover or for when I simply can't decide. I'd let myself have at least 2 (probably 3 or 4) pulls in case I wasn't feeling the first book. Having a hundred (or more...) unread books on your shelves can be pretty daunting. Maybe this would make my decisions easier. I wouldn't do it of it made it more difficult. Maybe I'll be putting another Book Jar post up here soon. Anyone out there have a book jar?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why I Don't "Panic" About How Much I Have To Read - Though Sometimes I Get A Little Lost


I've noticed during my time blogging, but especially the last couples months (end of the year, beginning of new year), bloggers apologizing for "falling behind" with their tbr piles or panicking because they haven't read as much as they wanted or promised.  I understand this panic/worried feeling.  I've felt it too.  When did I start feeling it? Honestly, I don't think until after I started blogging. I felt the need to keep up with other bloggers.  I was setting goals and I had to stick to them. Last year was the second time I used the Goodreads reading goal gadget and I admit to feeling happy with myself as I watched the bar move to completion, then increasing my goal and then surpassing my increased goal. It can be very exciting.

In 2013, I had less time to read.  That's partly because of the job I had. There was no lunch room, so I ate at my desk, with plenty to distract me.  I would get work related phone calls, that couldn't be ignored like I could with an email or fax.  I suppose I could have chosen to ignore the phone calls, but I didn't think my employers would be happy about that.  So, there were many lunch breaks that I didn't read at all.

The other main reason is that I have small children that like to take all my attention.  There are no lazy afternoons spent with a book, there is play, go, eat, change clothes, brush hair, diaper, etc. ad infinitum. By the time I get to bed, I'm exhausted.  Reading before sleeping is one of my favourite things, but lately, I can only manage 15 mins before my eyes unfocus and I have to put the book down before I fall asleep with it in my hands.  Sometimes I can't even manage that and pass out before I even crack the book open.  Then I had my employment issues keeping me down (thankfully not any more).

Are these excuses?  Yes and no.  Does it really matter?  No.  I'd like to read more, but if my head and heart aren't it in, if I'm too exhausted, if real life does what it does and gets in the way, that's okay.  It's okay if I didn't read as much as last year.  It's okay if I missed two or ten books I meant to read.  It's okay to pick sleep over reading.  I can't panic or worry about that.  I love books, they are a huge part of my life. However, if they become something I "worry" about, if they cause me stress instead of relaxation, then I'm doing something wrong.  The books I read are my escape, not my responsibility.

I admit to getting lost.  I get the blues or I fall into a slump.  I read a string of depressing stories and I don't know how to pick a happy book.  It happens.  I don't know what to read next and suddenly I've started three or four books when I typically only read one (maybe two) at a time.  Do I let it stress me out? No. Because when it is time for me to pull out of the slump, I will.  I'll grab an old favourite or I'll just take a break.  More likely than not, it's real life affecting my reading life anyway. 

I guess what I want to say is that I don't have to read a certain number of books or write a certain number of posts or whatever, in a year.  If I don't, maybe you don't either.  Reading, blogging, etc. shouldn't be work (unless it actually is your job).  It should be fun.  Yay, fun!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

UR, by Stephen King

Stephen King's Ur was fantastic. It had a bit of a slow beginning, but after Wesley gets the Kindle, the story is amazing. I really enjoyed Wesley's journey over the 60+ pages of Ur. He goes throughout some highs and lows and emotional extremes. I also really enjoyed Robbie. He was more than what he appeared to be and those are often my favourite kind of characters.

King published this novella in 2009. It revolves around a Kindle, back when Kindles only came in white. Was that really only 5 years ago?  Kindles and ereaders in general have come such a long way. Plus, all the apps to read on phones and tablets... the cloud readers for desktop and laptop computers... Five years doesn't seem like a long time to me, but I guess it is when it comes to technology.

Wes and Robbie did the right thing, even though they were going against the Paradox Laws.  I thought the concept of Paradox Laws was really interesting, something I hope King explores in other stories.  I also thought the "people" who enforced the Paradox Laws were interesting.  The Tower, the King, it was all very exciting for me when I got to that part.  Anything that touches on The Dark Tower series seems to make me happy.  It was a great surprise.  Ur was created for e-reading.  A 60 page story wouldn't be published on paper, but it's great as an ebook.  Reading it on a Kindle might actually add to the creep factor, especially if you could get a pink skin or cover (do they have those?)

Ur is a great read for any Stephen King fan.  I think it would also be a good story to jump in with.  It's short(ish) and creepy.  It revolves around a relevant topic and has relatable characters.  King is one of my favourite authors and Ur was a great representation of his style and sensibilities.  I wonder what story of King's I'll read next.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sleepy Hollow

I'm slightly obsessed with the new television show, Sleepy Hollow.  I never intended to watch it.  I thought a time travelling Ichabod Crane sounded ridiculous.  I was wrong.  I was flicking though the channels when John Cho caught my eye.  You might know him from Harold and Kumar and Star Trek.  I stopped to see what he was doing.  The answer: Sleepy Hollow.  He is not the star of the show.  His character, however, is quite interesting.  The stars are Tom Mison (Ichabod Crane) and Nicole Beharie (Abbie Mills); they are lovely.  It also starts Orlando Jones, who is simply fantastic in his role as Captain Frank Irving.

I've had to wait a month for a new episode.  Now I'm getting one tomorrow, but from what I hear, there are only three more episodes in the season, with the show ending this month.  Really?  Why isn't the show going until the spring?  These shows with short seasons drive me crazy.  One of the things I really like is the blend between "monster of the week" and an over-arching story for the season.  Every monsters gets us towards the final goal, but many of the episodes can stand alone.  Sleepy Hollow has good mystery, a cast that's not bad to look at and great stories.  I hope the next three episodes are as great as I expect them to be and next season comes along quickly.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Champion

Champion was an absolutely fantastic conclusion to Marie Lu's Legend series.  I couldn't put it down. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about reading it.  I had to finish it, so I wouldn't have to wonder about June and Day anymore.  I'm going to try to be vague about the details, but spoilers might ensue...  

The ending was fantastic.  I would never have guessed what Lu chose to happen with June and Day.  It was unique and I think it was special.  SPOILERS!!  I'm so glad we got to see them as adults.  I loved June's brief history of what happened after the final battle with the Colonies.  It was probably one of the best "Epilogues" I've ever read.  Though, I was sad when they didn't sail off into the proverbial sunset. Honestly, I almost cried, with Day lying there and June holding him. Spoilers contained.

I think I mentioned this when I read Prodigy, but I really enjoyed the two "versions" of future America.  The Colonies are very different from the Republic.  I'd be really interested in reading a story (novel, short story, whatever) from the perspective of someone living in the Colonies.  What do they think of the Republic? What are their daily lives like?  How do they struggle?  Would they rebel like the Patriots?  I would have loved to read a story about Kaede's life.  She was an amazing character.

I can't believe it's over.  I wish I could know more.  The world of Legend was rich and interesting and grew so much in Champion.  I loved Antarctica.  I would have loved to spend more time there.  The technology seemed fascinating.  The internet searching is something I can see one day happening.  The glasses and points systems were intriguing.  I'd also like to know more about Africa and Canada.  Though mentioned, they don't get visited like Antarctica.  I liked that June was able to see how the outside world views her little country.  She's raised thinking she is a part of a superpower, but it is not true.  I think the history lesson was important for her and us.

Legend is now one of my favourite series.  I enjoyed the world and the characters.  What they go through, the decisions they make and the situations that are thrust upon them are heartbreaking, dangerous and surprising.  Marie Lu might be a favourite author now.  I'm excited to see what she comes up with next.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Batman: The Killing Joke

I didn't mean to read Batman: The Killing Joke in one sitting, but I couldn't put it down.  It wasn't long anyway, just over 60 pages, which is quite short for a graphic novel.  This graphic novel is also different from others in the Superhero genre. Typically, the work starts out as comic books and then is collected into a volume. That isn't what happened here.  The Alan Moore and Brian Bolland came together and produced one work. The Killing Joke is one of the most popular Batman comics.  I was excited when I received it as a gift and I was excited when I started to read it.

I don't know what I expected.  Maybe I still had a book hangover from The Promise.  I found The Killing Joke dark.  It was brutal and violent and we can attribute most of that to The Joker.  I audibly gasped at one point.  It was a great story, reflecting the dark dichotomy of Batman and The Joker.  I had never read a Batman comic before The Killing Joke, though I'm a fan of superheroes.  If you only read one Batman comic in your whole life, this is the one to read.  I might be recommending The Killing Joke a lot in 2014.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise

I bought Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise as a gift to myself this year. I'm so glad that I did. The Promise was exactly what I wanted it to be. I loved Avatar when it was on TV and I'm really enjoying The Legend of Korra now. The Promise continues the story (with a bit of overlap) of Aang and his friends, as the journey to peace is not as simple as defeating the Fire Lord. The art is beautiful. The dialogue is fun, witty and entertaining, evoking the tone of the show. I can hear the voices of the characters as I read each page. 

I'm really glad I bought the library edition of The Promise, the authors have included thoughts and insights into the creation of this graphic novel. I enjoyed reading each one and it really comes across how much they loved the show and working on the graphic novel. I'm excited to read the next installment, The Search as the only thing missing from this exciting story was what happened to Zuko's mother. Any fan of the show would thoroughly enjoy The Promise and those who haven't watched the show would still enjoy a great story. 

Monday, January 06, 2014

Gingerale and Orange Juice

Wow.... this post has been sitting in my draft folder for MONTHS!  I totally forgot about it.  I considered deleting it but decided against it. Why?  Because I love Gingerale and Orange Juice.  Mmm.... So refreshing...

A while ago, I read a post from Wandering the Stacks.  It was about the book, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which I've never read and honestly never heard of until I popped by that blog.  The book itself sounds interesting, but that's not why we're here.

We are here because of Gingerale and Orange Juice. It was a drink mentioned in the book, so Stack Wanderer (don't know real name) decided to try it.  She had never drank that particular combination of beverages before.  It happens to be one of my favourites. I can't believe more people haven't had it. I don't like fruity drinks.  But Gingerale and Orange Juice isn't too sweet.  It's just right. I know many people have drank Champagne and Orange Juice, as I have also.  It's like a non-alcoholic version. Am I explaining it right?  All I really want to say is that if you haven't tried it yet, I think you should.