Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Wizard Returns

I'm not sure how I feel about the Wizard now. At first I thought he was one thing, but then he was something else. I thought the end was going to be predictable, but that last little bit, it made the story something different. The Wizard Returns, though not the longest, I think it is the most complex of Danielle Paige's Dorothy Must Die stories so far. Those "people" at the end, it's their fault, they messed up the Wizard's journey; things would have been different if they seemed more.... compassionate? Kindness goes a long way.

The Wizard Returns is another well thought out, interesting companion story. It teaches us about the Wizard and what happened to him between the time he supposedly left Oz and returns. However, I think it also raises more questions than answers and it definitely makes me more suspicious about the future. What is the Wizard really up to? Can the Order trust him? Can Amy? Can he even trust himself? I wonder if there are going to be more monkeys in the future books, monkeys the Wizard knows. I really don't want to give anything away; it's a story worth reading.

I read The Wizard Returns, No Place Like Oz, and The Witch Must Burn as part of Dorothy Must Die, Stories Volume 1. There are two published volumes right now, each with three stories. There are more stories being written, so I expect one more volume of stories will be published before The End of Oz. I actually thought for a while that Yellow Brick War was the end and I owned all the Dorothy Must Die books, but nope. There are more coming and I'm interested to see how this story ends.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Book Clubs

I don't do book clubs. I never have. Do you?

I don't like being told what to read. Or to have a deadline to read it by. It feels too much like school. Not that I didn't like school. I was an English major and read some fantastic novels, short stories, poems and plays over those years. Some I've since re-read, because I didn't feel like I got to enjoy them the first time around. I'd also have to go out and see people, which is not always something I want to do.

I was talking with a few people recently and they were discussing their book clubs. I mentioned that I don't belong to one and they were surprised, as they know I'm an avid reader. I told them the reasons why. They nodded, but provided a few different, convincing arguments as to why they found their book clubs enjoyable: 

- They read books they normally wouldn't, which I appreciate, I love discovering new books. 

- By listening to others, they gain a new perspective on a book, sometimes making them like it more than they did previously. I can definitely see that, though I've had the opposite be true too.

- They don't always finish the book. While finishing is preferable, it's not always necessary and the people they meet with have never made them feel bad for not finishing. That's great, but I know I'd put pressure on myself and then feel guilty if it didn't get done (even if I didn't like it).

- There's [often] wine. Well, right there, might be the most convincing argument of all.

After we talked about the book clubs (among other things), it left me wondering, should I look at joining one? One of the women there, about my age, with children, maybe next time I see here, I'll ask about her book club. Maybe I could just ask other ladies I know? I'm sure I could look online. Then again, maybe I will just stick to blogging about books. I'd love to know what other people think of book clubs. I'm still undecided.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Decade Ago

Over a decade ago I started this blog. The actual anniversary was July 9th. I was tempted to let this anniversary go by, with real life being a bit messy of late; however, I thought ten years of something should be noted. It's a long commitment that I've kept and I'm happy to still be doing this, writing posts and talking with great people. The first thing I did was read my first post; it was definitely a ramble. Apparently, I thought I might write about politics and fashion, as well as books. Umm... no. Maybe fashion was something that interested me at the time, but less so now, two kids and a mortgage later. I'm happy in flannel pants and a geeky t-shirt. Politics, well, I certainly have opinions about that, but I stay away from voicing them on the Internet. Mostly, because while I love the Internet, it can also be a scary place. Let's just say that I'm happy I'm Canadian. After 1014 posts, books is mostly what I've written about, along with bookish things. I also started writing about food a little while ago and a bit about parenting, when I starting having children.

I hit 1000 posts a couple months ago and that's when it really hit me, how long I've been doing this. In it, I posted a few stats. I thought about doing that again, going deeper, but then I decided against it. While I think reflecting back on the past is important, I also have let this blog flow where it wanted, and let my reading do the same. I used to read a lot of literary fiction, but now I read a lot of genre, most of which gets the blog label "fantasy". I read graphic novels now and I read more young adult, when I did not read a lot of those in the past. I have posted a lot about movies, though with the exception of Star Trek Beyond, not as much as I used to. I mean, I can only gush so much about Marvel movies. I don't write that much about television, as many of the shows I've enjoyed, end up being cancelled (genre shows mostly). Food is fun to write about, and I'm slowly learning how to take better pictures. Mostly my parenting related posts have been when I've been angry at other people in the way they relate to my children, though I stayed away from certain times other children have negatively impacted mine. Really, the evolution of the blog, writing when I want, about what I want, is probably part of why it's still going a decade later. I've never had a schedule and while I try to post often, I only post when I have something to say.

Without this blog, I would never have discovered some great people out in the world. From Yellowknife to Australia, there are wonderful blogs and bloggers everywhere. I love reading about the books they've read and the lives they lead. While the past year or so, has seen my busy-ness level rise, I still try to catch up and read the blogs, though not as frequently as I used to.

I've been thinking about spending this year, from now to next July, looking back at some of my past posts, a "Throwback Thursday" for my blog, to see what I was reading and watching 10 years ago. Maybe once a week? Just a thought. I wanted to see for at least today, the first book I ever wrote about. I first posted a list of books I had read the year previous to start the blog. Some really good books, and a couple not so good ones, some I should definitely re-read. But the first actual book review type post I wrote was for Memoirs of a Geisha. I loved that book. The post itself is pretty straight-forward, a few thoughts about the books and about Geisha in general. There's no picture, no links, just thoughts. My posts have certainly evolved. I remember when I first started, posting not taking very long. I'd post what I thought, then re-read for grammar/spelling, then that's it. No formatting, no anything. Why did that change? Honestly, probably from reading other blogs. When I started reading other blogs, they were visually so different that mine. While I didn't want mine to look like others (it started out with a plain black background and it hasn't shifted too much from that), I thought at least a book cover picture and a link to where someone could by the book was probably a good idea. They can definitely get more complicated now. I have nine different movie posters for Star Trek Beyond, plus the Rihanna trailer. I often change the fonts of my posts and try to coordinate the post title colour with whatever images I've used, though not always. Though content is still primary, aesthetics have definitely taken their place.

I'm going to change the background of my blog too. I've changed it, I think twice, in the past ten years. I feel like it's time for another change now. I've been working on something, I hope to have it up in a few days.

Thanks to everyone who has left a comment, stopped by, chatted with me about a favourite book or movie. I appreciate every word. I'm happy and surprised to have made it ten years. I wonder if I'll make it ten more.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Star Trek: Beyond

I'm such a geek. So even though this weekend was packed full of things to do, Hubby and I sacrificed a little sleep and went to see a late showing of Star Trek Beyond last night. Yes, it was definitely worth it. Before I get into how much I loved the film, the story, the effects, the characters, I just have to say that watching Anton Yelchin as Chekov was a little sad, but he was so good. I tried to "suspend my disbelief" and just enjoy his scenes, Chekov's time with Kirk and with Scottie, sharing looks with Sulu, being on the bridge, being on the planet. He was fantastic and I would have loved to see what he did in the future.

I only have one complaint that I'm going to get out of the way, something I didn't realize until Hubby pointed it out. It sort of has nothing to do with the actual movie. It was the trailers before the movie. There were no "geeky" trailers. I know that Comic Con was this weekend, so I know a lot of "big reveals" for trailers were happening, but we couldn't have a couple teasers? Suicide Squad is out really soon. How about Wonder Woman; Chris Pine is in that one. Dr. Strange? Fantastic Beasts? There wasn't anything? The trailers before Star Trek were just a little disappointing when we were expecting geekiness. Of course, I got over that fast when the movie started.

Of course it started with Captain Kirk, in another diplomatic position. A bit of humour, but later we realize how important it is to the story. I loved his introspection and later Spock's. I love Spock, both of them. I love Sulu and his family, Uhura and her necklace. I loved Jaylah, who I have just discovered played Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service. She definitely had the moves. I loved her house. I loved the friendship she develops with Scotty. She was genius and generous. She was loyal and independent. Krall was brilliant. The performance, the growth and the change in him, the mystery that surrounds him, just amazing; everything about who Krall was and is, who his people were, where the technology came from. That technology, those ships were scary and so destructive. The "disruptive frequency" was so awesome, so "classic".

The effects were good, amazing explosions, weapons fire and crashes. Those drones were really frightening though, swarming, fear-inducing. I really didn't expect anything less from the series or director. The plot was complex without being overly complicated. It included moments for heart, decision and humour.

Really, if you haven't seen Star Trek: Beyond, you should. It's fun, tense, exciting and dangerous. I'm looking forward to seeing it again. Below, is one of the trailers for your viewing pleasure:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Witch Must Burn

The Witch Must Burn is the second of the Dorothy Must Die short stories. It's all about our favourite Emerald Palace maid, Jellia. I don't know of it was just me, but she seemed older in Dorothy Must Die. But in reality, she's about the same age as Ozma. I just love her. Jellia is amazing. She's smart, but scared. She's trying to keep her head down, but knows something must be done. I like that Danielle Paige has written the story of how Jellia becomes involved with the Order. Life in Oz just hasn't been the same since Dorothy came back to town.

Also, Glinda is crazy scary. What I thought about her and the Scarecrow is true. She's an evil masterind and he's a mad scientist!! The poor Munchkins. Glinda and the Scarecrow are just terrible and I look forward to the stories that reveal how they became this way.

I really like that we get to learn more about Nox, though he's as aloof as ever. I wonder if we'll ever get his background story. Though he reveals bits about himself in The Witch Must Burn and Dorothy Must Die, I know we're not getting the full tale.

Though I've been getting a bit tired off all these series having extra short stories and novellas, reading No Place Like Oz and The Witch Must Burn, has been very revealing, and I think anyone reading the Dorothy Must Die series has to read these stories too.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

No Place Like Oz

No Place Like Oz is the first of the seven published companion short stories/novellas written by Danielle Paige for her Dorothy Must Die series (there's at least two more on the way). No Place Like Oz has really changed my perspective on the events of Dorothy Must Die. (There will be spoilers if you haven't read Dorothy Must Die). It has me questioning what we learn about Dorothy and her relationship with Glinda. I wonder who the real villain is, I wonder how the series will end up.

I really liked this perspective on what happens when you return from Oz. How can a person readjust to farm life after all that they see in magical Oz? Life in Kansas for Dorothy is dull and grey. Two years have passed, but all she can think about is Oz. She wanted so bad to get home to Auntie Em, her whole quest was about getting home, but what if you can't go home again? The story evokes real sympathy for Dorothy, the person seen as the villain in Dorothy Must Die. Her "friends" were just horrible. Even Auntie Em seemed to think that what happened to Dorothy at her party had been her fault. But what can you expect for a girl who was 14 when she went to Oz, who's 16 now and just wants a new dress, and who's friends make fun of her. Life is hard in Kansas, though simple. Life in Oz seems easy, but it's tricky.

I thought this in-between story, also gave us an interesting peek into the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion. They're not as scary as they grow to be, yet. This is when Dorothy could have steered them towards a positive light, at least maybe two of the three. The third might be working with a certain witchy someone, (who might be from Kansas/our world.) Was this always the plan once Ozma took over? They finally get what they want through Dorothy. By the end of the story, I'm wondering how much of a victim Dorothy is in this tale. Though I don't know how much the events of No Place Like Oz will affect the reading of the Dorothy Must Die series, I think it's a great read and a must if you want to understand Dorothy and her friends. I wonder if I'm going to feel this way as I work through the rest of the stories. 

Friday, July 08, 2016

Children of Earth and Sky

You know when you read a book, and you expect you're going to like it, but you don't expect to totally become obsessed with it? I didn’t expect to love Children of Earth and Sky. I thought I would enjoy it and I knew I wanted to read it, but it really blew me away. I saw the ARC of Children of Earth and Sky listed on the Goodreads giveaways, so I entered. Guy Gavriel Kay is a bestselling Canadian author, who for some reason I hadn’t read yet, but have always wanted to. There were three of his books listed and... umm... I won two of them (I’ll read the other one soon, because if it’s anything like this one, I’m going to love it.) It’s not a short novel either, I thought it was going to take me a while to finish, but once I got past the beginning, I couldn’t put it down.

The beginning is a little slow, but after reading the whole novel, totally necessary. Kay takes you on a journey, introducing his characters, some are main characters, some are minor characters, but all are important to the story. There's even a "cast of characters" in the beginning. As I read that, and moving though the beginning of the story, I was thinking I was going to need it. Admittedly, I did have to refer to it a couple times in the beginning, to remember who the Seressini ambassador was and who certain people were in Dubrava. But that's really it. Kay created such real and memorable characters, that the main ones, the ones you love, stay with you.

Danica was amazing. I thought she was brilliant. From the first moment we meet her and her dog, I knew she would be my favourite in this book. I love how she sticks to her mission, but also finds room for more. I love when she's with her grandfather. I love her instincts. I loved Zadek, Neven, Marin, Leonora and Pero. I read each page just to be closer to them, just to see what would happen. Marin was brilliant. I love how he grew and how he changed from the first moment he met Danica, to when they meet again.

I thought I was going to hate the khalif, but I didn’t. I thought I’d at least dislike most of the rulers, based on how many of the people lived, but I didn’t. Except for maybe the adviser in Obravic, he was terrible. What happened to all those people, based on his decisions, his indiscretions, is terrible. The khalif was nice, sort of. I liked his easy way with Pero. I liked that he just wanted and appreciated honesty. How rulers treated their children though, the khalif and Eudoxia, was just awful. I know they were both revered by their own peoples, heroes to their peoples, but to me, they were just opposite sides of the same coin. I enjoyed Eudoxia a lot though, liking her more than I expected.

The way women were treated in this novel was terrible. It's not that Kay was writing them poorly, Danica and Leonora were intelligent, multi-dimensional, fascinating women. It's that this novel is based on life during the 16th century. Women weren't equal back then (not that they are now), and there were a lot of women being used for their bodies or hidden away because of them. Fighting through that, there are some powerful women in this world, doing their part to make their own way, finding ways to change the minds of the men around them. Even women we only see for a short time, are finding small ways to make their own decisions. With women like Danica and Leonora, it gives hope to the women of that world.

I've read that Kay has described his novels as historical fiction with a quarter turn towards fantasy, and that's pretty accurate. There are all things you would expect from a story set in 16th century Europe, but there's just a little hint of magic, something "pagan" going on in addition to something else. I kept expecting that this would somehow result in the fall of the khalif and the Asharites, but maybe I've been reading too many epic adventures lately. This novel didn't need the fall of a kingdom, it just needed characters to live their lives.

Children of Earth and Sky was a fantastic novel, by an amazing Canadian author. I definitely want to read the other novels set in this world, as well as Tigana, since it's the other book of his I was lucky enough to win. It was really great luck to have had this book land in my hands. Children of Earth and Sky is a beautifully woven tale that transports you to another world.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Little Dorrit

Did I love Little Dorrit? Yes, I think I did. Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens, is very long. It's full of many colourful, interesting, complex characters. Once or twice, I had to use the internet to look up who someone was, since if they hadn't been mentioned for a while, I might have forgotten. Because Little Dorrit was LONG. Like really long. I thought Middlemarch was long (and it was), but Dickens was very generous with words. My one reprieve was that I could take a break. Little Dorrit is split into too "books", Poverty and Riches. So, when Poverty was done, I took a break. I read three other books, I think, in that time. I still wanted to know, longed to know, what would happen to Little Dorrit and Mr. Clennham, but I needed that break.

To stick it out for over 800 pages of Victoria Literature, the characters need to be compelling, and they were. I adored Amy Dorrit. She worked so hard to make her father happy, to give her siblings something, some meaning to their lives. They knew, but chose to pretend not to know, so much about Little Dorrit, the name she preferred for herself. Little Dorrit is just an amazing person, caring for her family and friends, loving, kind. I just rooted for her the whole time. I wanted her to be happy.

I wanted Arthur Clennham to be happy too. He seemed to long to be loved by his mother, but gave that up. He wanted to right some wrong he believed his father had done. He wanted Daniel Doyce to be a success. He wanted Little Dorrit and her family to be free. He spend time, money and emotion to better the life of the people he cared about. He thought he could be happy with Pet, but I'm kind of glad for him that it didn't work out (though not glad for her). When something terrible happened, though not his fault, he took all the consequences on himself. I was so worried about him, worrying that I might end up with sad ending, like Villette.

Because it was the characters that made the book for me, the last few chapters were the best. Dickens took the time to go back over the characters he introduced. We found out what happened to the Meagles, Merdles, Gowans and Casbys. We learn about Doyce and Pancks, and other residents of Bleeding Heart Yard. Dickens takes us on a journey of goodbyes, where he readers don't have to wonder what happened to all these people.

Though Little Dorrit was a lengthy tome, it was worth every minute. Dickens brought these places and people to life. Life at the Marshalsea, inspired by his father, was depressing, but could also have hope. Though the story didn't always take place there, the debtor's prison was the centre of this tale. How easily a man could end up there, how easily his whole family. How does a person ever get out without a stroke of luck? It was interesting how it was its own community, inside of London, how status was still maintained there. The Marshalsea seemed to have its own personality and change a person, as soon as they entered its walls. It really leaves you thinking about how far a person can fall and how far a person can climb back up.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Days Of Blood And Starlight

Days of Blood and Starlight was a perfect second book, middle story in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. It was a war book. It was a tale of sadness, longing, deceit and hope. Days of Blood and Starlight was also about Eretz. Karou's home is given life (and death). We learn about what happened while she was living her human life. We learn more about the Angels and the Chimera. We see brutality, loss, love, innocence and the results of war. There was so much violence and hatred throughout Days of Blood and Starlight, much different than Karou's quiet life and romance with Akiva in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. In this fantasy novel, there was a lot of reality seeping through.

Karou grows throughout the story, she learns about herself and those around her. She learns about trust, of others and of herself. She finds a connection to her old life, that helps her move forward in this one. Everything about Karou's journey was exactly what it needed to be. That goes for Akiva too. He learns more about himself, and his brother and sister. Akiva learns the lengths they will all go for what is right. Even Hazael and Liraz are more than what they appear, as are the Sphinxes. Though, Issa, Niri and Thiago are exactly who I thought they were. Laini Taylor created such wonderfully constructed characters, it doesn't matter what they look like, or if you can even see that, you can tell who they are by feel.

The ending though, a powerful, amazing ending. Such a setup for the final installment in the series. While not a total cliffhanger (which I appreciate), there are so many questions. What will the invasion bring? Will there be civil war? Will chaos break out? Will both worlds survive? Will Karou and Akiva be together in the end? Ziri? I need my feelings to settle down. After The Raven King and now this, I might needs something a little less tense next, just so I stop ignoring my Hubby (he knows I can't hear him when I'm reading). I'm excited to see where Laini Taylor takes Karou, Akiva and all the rest in this fantastical tale.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Raven King

For two days, The Raven King took over my life. I couldn't get any work done, sneaking away to read a page or two. I let the things I wanted to accomplish yesterday slide away. I just had to know what happened. Maggie Stiefvater created such a vivid world, full of characters I connected with. I had to know if Gansey would die, if they would find Glendower, if Blue's kiss could really kill, and what would happen between Adam and Ronan. More than any of the fantastical plots twists, the magic and the trees, it was the characters that had me wrapped up in their world. I loved Blue's mother, Maura, the Gray Man, Artemus, Calla, Declan, Neeve, Piper and the best addition to their world, Henry Cheng. Henry was amazing, curious, wondrous. I loved the way he connected. Because it all seams to be connected.

I also doesn't seem to be over exactly. (Minor Spoilers) With what Henry's mother says to the Gray Man during their encounter, that makes me feel like there is something that should be happening there, a journey. To me, it seems like those who are left in the end, split off onto (at least) three different paths. Another series perhaps? A book that focuses on each of their journeys? They're not done. These characters have other stories to tell.

I appreciated that the story didn't just focus on Gansey and Blue. I loved them, I loved their relationship, watching it develop and grow. However, I am glad we got to see a lot of Adam and Ronan, how they felt, how they were navigating the world and how that world could change.

I had been anticipating The Raven King ever since I finished Blue Lily, Lily Blue (in November 2014!), which I also adored. Now that it's over, lasting only two days, I don't know what to do (besides getting all those things I wanted done, finished). I don't know what to read next. I am toying with the idea of re-reading the whole series. After picking up The Raven Boys on a whim, I didn't anticipate that this would become one of my favourite series. The Raven King and The Raven Cycle was worth every heart-racing minute.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Polaroids from the Dead

Last summer, I acquired a bunch of books. Sale books, plus books for charity, plus a friend's book purge. Seriously, I can't stop myself sometimes. Either from the friend's purge or from the charity sale, I received a copy of Douglas Coupland's Polaroids from the Dead. I wasn't really looking for this book, I just saw "Douglas Coupland" and picked it up. I've read several books by him, including his iconic Generation X (though I prefer The Gum Thief). I didn't know what I was getting until I was looking through all my newly acquired books. Polaroids from the Dead is full of pictures. The Dead? The Grateful Dead. The pictures are from a Grateful Dead concert that took place in 1991. The first section of this book containg (fictional?) stories all taking place at this concert, inspired by the pictures. It was an interesting snapshot of time.

This books if full of 90's snapshots. Places, peoples, things. Coupland addresses parts of his life in the first half of the 90's too. What he did, where he went, a German reporter he dragged around Vancouver. I think that man got more than he bargained for. There were a lot of moments that hit me, that took me back into the past.

One thing that hit me strongly, was the letter to Kurt Cobain. Coupland had started writing it while Cobain was in Europe and finished it after his death. That really took me back in time and out of everything that the second section of the book contained, it really stood out to me. I wasn't a big fan of Grunge back then. Instead I was listening to some Bad Boy and R&B, with reggae and boy band pop thrown in. But I knew the big songs from Nirvana (and Pearl Jam), I liked their songs. I understood the music, saw it everywhere. When Kurt Cobain died, it was a big deal. Coupland certainly seemed to feel it like so many people did back then.

Before starting Polaroids from the Dead, I had been hearing about the anniversary of the OJ Simpson trail. I was young when that happened. It was all the adults could talk about. It dominated television. I remember watching Simpson try on the glove. I remember hearing about Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman, watching their grieving families on television. It didn't really hit me though, I think because of my age. But it hit the adults. The anger, the disbelief. I remember being brought together into one of the larger classrooms with other students so we could all watch the verdict together. It was actually one of the first times I realised how different the American and Canadian justice systems could be, and that's when the tragedy of it finally sank in for me. Polaroids from the Dead was written shortly after. Coupland talks about Brentwood and OJ Simpson, how it all can be forgotten, but I don't think it has been. Partly because of the impact that trial had on other "celebrity" trials and crimes since. But also because Simpson still got into trouble and didn't stay out of the spotlight. Everything that Coupland wrote about Brentwood was deep and interesting. I wonder if it still applies to the area now. One of the oddest things about it was how close Nicole Brown Simpson and Marilyn Munroe lived to each other. But is it odd considering the people who have lived in that area? The entire third section, The Brentwood Notebook was an interesting study of the area.

In the book, Coupland mentions Princess Diana. As I'm reading his brief comparison of the Princess of Wales to Marilyn Monroe, it made me sad. I checked the year the book was published and the year of her death and I confirmed it, she was still alive when the book was written. His comparison of her to these Brentwood women seems like it was timely and unfairly accurate.

Things have changed since Polaroids of the Dead was written. It's almost a history book. It's a time capsule. If you're interested in the 1990's, though this book doesn't have everything (it was published in 1996), the first half of the 90's is very present. It's the perspective you can't get from someone looking back, it's from somone in it, living it in the moment.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Book Of Life

I can barely breathe for how much I loved The Book of Life. I'm suffering from a major book hangover and it is all Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont's fault. I just love them. I love Gallowglass, Jack, Sarah, Ysabeau, Father Hubbard, just everyone. Emily and Phillipe! I often talk about endings, something I really think is important, but the beginning. The first chapter is amazing and heartbreaking. You just want them to be able to hug, to touch the ones they love. I won't say anymore, because it might ruin the awesomeness.

I can't get over Diana's confrontation with Peter Knox. It's just amazing. It's perfect to the story. I just want to see it, bloody and crazy! That entire sequence, really leans this installment of All Souls towards the horror side. It was scary and tense, and when Diana was standing there with the arrow, I just wasn't sure what was going to happen next, which made it perfect. I loved the unpredictability.

Diana's confrontation with Satu too, was perfect. Satu just went one step too far. I'm with Diana, she did what she needed to do to protect her family. I wish she could have done more, though I think there's the possiblity for leaving it open in a future novel. (Yes, more novels, please.)

There are a lot of characters in the All Soulstrilogy. Did we need more? Yes, when the character was Janet. She was perfect, exactly what the story needed. I like what she represented. She gives Diana hope for the future. I loved her attitude too. Her all-knowingness, her sarcasm, her confidence. She was a perfect addition to the cast of characters.

Like the first two books, I really liked the history talked about (lived?) in The Book of Life. It wasn't nearly as much as in Shadow of Night and possibly less than in A Discovery of Witches, but Diana (and Deborah Harkness) is a historian, so history just has to come up. I appreaciated that we came out of the Elizabethan age though and were talking about Phillipe's past and World War II. The historical aspects of these novels are a big part of the appeal for me.

The Book of Life is simply amazing. Just wonderful. I don't know what could be made better. Honestly, this might be one of my favourite books now, definitely a favourite series. It has a little bit of everything. It's literary, historical, romantic, with vampires, witches and a splash of demons. I could gush about every little thing in this novel, but I don't want to give anything away. What I think is that more people need to read this novel. I can't wait to read what's next (another book about Diana and Matthew) from Deborah Harkness.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

My To-Read List

Like a lot of readers, I have a "to-read/to-be-read" list. Actually, I have two. One, I started probably over a decade ago. It's a spreadsheet of all the books I own and highlighted are the books I haven't read yet. Some time ago, it stopped being my go-to list when I'm considering what to read next. What my spreadsheet lacks, are all the books I don't own, all the books I have yet to purchase, books I have yet to discover. A few years ago, I discovered Goodreads. At first it was just fun, the app scans the barcodes of the books and puts them on the shelves. Then I started getting more active on the site, exploring, discovering books without having to leave the comfort of my home. Often, if I'm not reading about books, I'm thinking about books and researching books. This caused a veritable explosion of titles being added to my to-read list.

One day, I looked over at the number, well, let's just say that it was over 1200. I thought to myself, no way, there is no way I can read all those books. How did I let it get so big? Well, the Recommendations tab is full of temptation. I love book browsing, so I browsed and added. Not long after I noticed my climbing to-read number, I read a blog post (I can't remember what blog though - sorry), where they blogger culled their Goodreads to-read list. Yes! That's exactly what I need to do. I didn't sit down and do it all at once. I picked away at it, when I had time; when I needed a break from work, I scrolled through some books and started deleting. I tried to have a system. If I owned the book, I kept it on the list. Though, I'm a little more willing than I used to be when it comes to giving away books I haven't read yet, but if it's here, it's on the list. If a book is by an author I've read (and liked), it stayed on the list too. Those are the easy choices. What about all the other (hundreds) of titles? I tried to apply a little logic to the situation. If I couldn't remember what the book was about/why I added it, it was gone (though sometimes if I liked the cover, I'd read the synopsis just to make sure, but most likely, it was deleted). I was also eyeing the "added" date. If it was a couple months ago, then I read the synopsis again and made a decision. If I added it in 2012 and hadn't at least purchased it yet, it was most likely removed. By just keeping these few points in mind, I was able to cut over 300 books from my list. It makes me feel lighter.

I've always said that there are more wonderful stories out there in the world for me to read than I have time for, and I know there are readers out there that feel the same. Even with 300 less books on that list, I know I'll never run out of stories to read. My problem is choosing what comes next.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Glass Sword

Why did I do this to myself? Why did a read Glass Sword when the next Red Queen book isn't coming out until sometime next year? I wanted a book with excitement, adventure, complex characters and the unexpected. Because what happened at Corros was unexpected. Not all of it, but the big things. Like Elara. Like Shade. Like Mare and Cameron.

Glass Sword is definitely a book about Mare's transformation. She's not the girl, the thief, from the Stilts anymore. She's not "Lady Mareena", the princess they were trying to create. Those girls are gone. Mare is the lightning girl, the rebel, the reluctant leader, a sister, a friend, someone who is hurt and hurts others. She becomes more complex as her role becomes more complex.

As exciting and interesting as the plot is, the characters are what make this story for me. Cal has been through so much, I wonder where he will end up, especially as there are 2 more books coming. I wonder about Mare's family. There's something about her father and maybe Bree. I love Ada, she has so much potential, Cameron too. I wonder about the children, the rescued girl with her teenage guard, though maybe that was just a moment, it's one that stayed with me. Kilorn too, he grows and I'm not sure what he will become, but I think at heart, he will always be there for Mare. I have a prediction about Farley. It's kind of obvious, but I'm sure it's meant to be a surprise in book three. It will definitely change her and probably the Colonel too. There's love, hate, revenge, sacrifice, betrayal everywhere. Anyone can do anything because they're all being pushed to the edge.

I wish Victoria Aveyard would write faster, but that's silly. As much as I'm going to be itching to read the next book in the series, I want it to answer questions, to be every bit as exciting and fun (and sad) as Glass Sword.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Steel Cut Oats - Part 2

I talked a while ago about Steel Cut Oats versus Rolled Oats. Both healthy, but the former apparently more so. I've been eating rolled oats for ages, they are warm and the perfect breakfast for a chilly morning. I didn't even know steel cut oats existed for a long time. The more I read about them, the more interested I became. Less processing, more protein, a different texture, preferred by every blogger, writer, foodie that I read.

Have I fully converted to steel cut oats versus rolled oats? Mostly, but not totally.  There is a convenience factor that steel cut oats will never have over rolled oats. They both taste good, but different. I think steel cut oats taste heartier.  There's something more substantial about a bowl of steel cut oats. The first time I wrote about steel cut oats was ages ago. I meant to write a response about it sooner, but time got away from me... and I went off oatmeal for a while. After a winter of trying different recipes, I'm back to eating oatmeal and I have only made rolled oats twice, maybe three times since September. Steel cut oats is just what I want now, what I think of when I say to myself, I want oatmeal.

I have made it two different ways. The first I tried was stove top, which is messy, especially if I walk away for a minute and it boils over (I try not to, but children). It was the easiest to try first. At least, that's what I thought. There's a lot of stirring that needs to happen. I also had to make sure I paid attention to the thickness, so that the oats wouldn't get too dry. Paying attention is not something I can totally do when I'm getting the children ready for school. It tastes good, but it takes more time than I'm willing to give on an average morning.

The way I like making it the most is in the slow cooker. I didn't think I would, but it is. I do about 1 cup of oats to 3 cups of almond milk. Even if I make it on the stove top, I'm using almond milk. I'm not trying to be super healthy or anything, and I love regular milk. My Hubby is lactose intolerant, so we typically have both soy milk and almond milk in the house. I experimented with making it with all three milks, with both methods. Soy milk didn't thicken right and I found regular milk gooier than I'd like. So, crock pot or stove top, I prefer almond milk. Also, the almond flavour goes well with the ingredients. I also use an amended version of this Chai Oats recipe I found on Pinterest (don't leave it overnight! Like 3 - 4 hours or it dries out). I make a big batch, then refrigerate it. I take a bit out everyday, add some raisins and a little more milk, then microwave it for a minute. That's what I like on a busy morning, microwavable goodness.

So, have I completely converted to steel cut oats? No. Sometimes I don't have any in the fridge and don't have any time to cook it on the stove, so I'm microwaving rolled oats like I've always done.  I'll always have rolled oats too, because of baking. Do I prefer steel cut oats? Yes, but I don't always have the time to make them. I suppose I'll always have 2 kinds of oats on hand now.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Steel Scars

I love Farley. I really enjoyed Steel Scars and everything we learned about the Scarlet Guard, the Lakelanders, Farley, her team, and Shade. There was just so much going on. At every moment, we learned something new about the world Victoria Aveyard created in Red Queen. There's so much going on, not just in Norta, but everywhere. Steel Scars opens up the world, the possibilities for where this series can go; it's not just a Nortan problem, I think we're going to deal with Silvers and Reds on a global scale.

I enjoyed the different perspective too. What was happening with Farley when things were happening with Mare? What really sparked Farley's interest? There's so much depth to the character, more than just the leader of the Scarlet Guard in Norta. She's a friend, a soldier, a daughter. Farley is someone we can root for, someone we can connect with. She has lost and sacrificed. Steel Scars gave so much, it was exactly the story I needed to read.

Monday, May 02, 2016

I Didn't Finish My Spin Book

I thought I had more time, but nope. Today is May 2nd and my Classics Club Spin book is only halfway done. I finished the first "book" to Little Dorrit, entitled Poverty. I will be starting the next half soon.

So far I like it. I like Arthur Clennam, and of course Amy Dorrit. I'm interested to see how their relationship continues to evolve. I think his mother and her father are horrible, as are her siblings. I'm wondering what's going to happen with Pet, Gowan, and the Barnacles. Little Dorrit has a complex plot and I'm enjoying all the twists and turns. I look forward to continuing the journay with Arthur and Little Dorrit.

1000 Posts!!!!

Excuse the exclamation marks. I looked over to my sidebar, as I got ready to write a post about the book I'm currently reading, Little Dorrit and noticed that my published post count was at 999. That's a lot. At least I think it is. That makes this bit of babble, my 1000th post. Since that's pretty momentous, I thought I would take the time to look back at my posting history.
First with some stats:
Most used Label: Fantasy
Most read author: Stephen King

Okay, so why was the breastfeeding post the most viewed one? Were people finding my post while looking for information on the "controversy". I don't even have a lot of info in the post, just a quick blurb and the link to the blog where I first saw it. Was it the most viewed because it has the word "breast" in the title? If so, then I suppose a lot of people were disappointed when they clicked the link. I hope that's not true. I hope people wanted to learn about breastfeeding.

At least the second most view post is something bookish, though it does have the word "knickers" in the title. I only vaguely remember the story. I remember being really interested in Leonora Carrington's art. I am pretty sure the story is worth the read and the art is worth the time to appreciate.

Apparently I read a lot of Fantasy books and watch a fair number of Fantasy movies and television shows. Not really surprised. I'm a nerd at heart. My last fantasy story read was Queen Song, by Victoria Aveyard, my last fantasy movie was Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. I typically used the label "fantasy" losely to include most genre fiction.

Am I surprised that my most read author, since starting this blog, is Stephen King? No. I've been reading his books since I was 13. Though, after looking at my blog, I have now just discovered that it's been a year and a half since I read one of his books. Yikes! How have I missed out on one of my favourite authors for so long? I think I'll be reading Full Dark, No Stars soon. Or maybe something older, like Night Shift or 'Salem's Lot. I don't know. Maybe that's the problem, I have too many options.

About a year and half ago, I looked at a year in reading. It was an interesting study in the choices I made for that 12 month period. I thought about doing that again for this post, but maybe I'll save for my next big milestone, which is coming up soon. I started this little ol' blog in July 2006. Guess what year it is now! I can't believe it's been almost 10 years. So much as happened in that time, but I think I'll leave the reflecting until then.

I've loved the evolution of my posts, from the simple smattering of thoughts, to the in depth analyses of character and plot. I loved the ones filled with pictures and ones that were just words. I like that I try not to constrain myself and will post about whatever I want (which is mostly books) and choose to keep other things to myself. I'm excited to see what the next 1000 posts will bring!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Posting About Delays

I was going to post something about why I haven't posted anything for the past little while. I was going to talk about the stuck feeling I have because of personal life issues (I still have a job). Honestly, I don't want to. It's too much, maybe too personal at this point. I know other bloggers do, but I just can't. Instead, I will leave you with a pretty book cover, of a book I'm hoping to pick up soon.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Queen Song

There will definitely be some spoilers if you haven't read Red Queen. If you have read Red Queen, while you don't need to read Queen Song, it certainly makes the background of the villain more interesting and more diabolical. She was planning for a long time. She's seriously evil. She has no saving grace, just a desire for power. If she ever has a redemptive moment in a future story, I will be shocked.

Queen Song is the first of two companion stories written for the Red Queen series. Victoria Aveyard flushes out Cal's mother, the first wife of the King. Coriane is a kind girl, not made for life at court. We learn that Cal is a lot like his mother. She loves machines, building things, figuring out how they work. She finds her talents wasting away, except for when her father needs something repaired. Coriane and Julian's father is terrible. At best he ignores Coriane, at worst, he trades on her position, to the downfall the of the whole house. He uses her skills, but then scolds her for her dirty hands. Coriane is never allowed to be happy, even once she becomes queen. I also think Coriane would have like Mare.

With everything that happened, I'm left wondering what King Tiberias IV actually died from. Did Robert actually die of a broken heart? If he did, it's so sad. I wonder if he had been around, if Coriane might have lived, or at least might have figured out what was going on. Plus, her guard was definitely helping Elara, right? Basically, this story made me even more suspicious of anything that happens around Elara.

My only problem with the story is that I found the ending a bit abrupt. I knew what was going to happen, but I feel like there could have been a longer descent into madness. A confession of something between Coriane and Sara? I just felt like stuff happened right at the end, then the story was over.

Queen Song was a good story. While the focus was Coriane, I feel like we learned a lot about Elara too. She's in it for the long game. Since I picked up Cruel Crown, I'll be able to read Steel Scar soon and maybe learn what the Reds were doing while this was happening to the Silver Royals.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dorothy Must Die

So, that was different. Amy Gumm is different. She's not exactly angsty. She's angry. She's had a hard life. She's not some family-loving, idyllic, country girl. She's lived through bullying, abandonment and poverty. Anger fuels her, but deep down, I think she's a good person. Being a good person is something she's clung to even in her most depressing times, living in her trailer with no wheels.

Once Amy met Ozma, I totally called what was going to happen with them. However, Dorothy Must Die has many surprising moments. Deaths I didn't see coming, the question of loyalty, hearts being cut out. Author Danielle Paige puts Amy though a lot, creating situations I don't if another author would for their main character. There's a lot of knives and bloods. Also, magic fuelled by anger. I wonder what fuels all the magic users we've encountered.

My only qualm is that Amy seemed to accept everything a little too quickly. Though, I imagine if you wake up in a strange place after a tornado, Oz probably would seem like a good guess. Maybe I just read the book too fast. If I put a little more time between chapters, would everything seem to have taken longer for Amy? Maybe, but that's not going to slow me down.

I'm also wondering if I should be reading the Oz books now. I've seen the movie, I know the story, but Paige seems to take a lot of things from the original texts. I've been meaning to read L. Frank Baum's stories for a while, maybe now is finally the time.

I'm excited to read The Wicked Will Rise and Yellow Brick War was recently released. There are also a lot of novellas to read before I read the end of the series, two paperbacks' worth. I'm intrigued by the stories, based on these crazy characters (the Tin Woodman, Lion and Scarecrow are nuts) and I wonder how they became who they are in Paige's story. Danielle Paige's Dorothy Must Die is a unique twist on an old tale.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

I have to be honest. I thoroughly enjoyed Batman V Superman. I know that critics have definitely not liked it. It's not a short movie and there is a lot of fighting. But I thought Batman V Superman kept the story moving and kept the audience engaged. It was entertaining and I definitely did not feel the length the way I did with Man of Steel. It was thoroughly entertaining. Henry Cavill was a good Superman. Ben Affleck was a good Batman too. Gal Gadot was a good Wonder Woman. She might have been the highlight of the movie for me. She was tough, definitely a warrior, with her own story to tell. I'm looking forward to the Wonder Woman movie.

Was the movie perfect? No, but most movies aren't. I don't think people should go in expecting a Marvel movie. This is DC/Warner Bros. playing catch up. They want to create there own superhero universe. The way they introduced some of the other characters though, I thought was really good. It didn't take up a lot of story time and I think it kept the movie from being too crowded. It also gave us a hint of what's to come. Honestly, the hints we got of Aquaman and Cyborg were clever, just a taste, but intriguing. I feel like I'm going to enjoy the Flash. I love Grant Gustin's Flash on TV, so the new guy has big shoes to fill, but those images of him and the Batman thing, I thought was good. I know like a lot of people, I wasn't a fan of casting Ben Affleck as Batman, especially after Christian Bale, but I think he did a good job. He was brooding when he was supposed to be, he showed caring for his people and some charm around the ladies. He isn't a young Batman either, Alfred says that he got too old to die young. He has armour to support his continued fighting and he has grey hair. All good choices for the role.

I have never seen such a big difference on Rotten Tomatoes between critics and audiences. What did the critics expect? What did anyone expect? The fighting was good. The effects were good. The use of 3D during the Wayne sequence at the beginning was well done. The 3D overall could have been used better, but I've had that complaint with every movie except Star Trek: Into Darkness, so whatever. I liked the foundation created for Bruce and Diana's relationship. I liked the hints from Luthor about what's to come. Lex Luthor is the catalist for the future. He gathered the files. He was on the ship. I wonder what he'll be up to next.

I  feel like I'm defending the movie. I've read so many bad reviews that I think are just nit-picking and snarky. I think word-of-mouth is going to work just fine for Batman V Superman. Even with critics hating the movie, it still made over $400 million on the weekend. I've talked to enough regular people who feel the same way me and my Hubby do, so I think the DC Universe will do just fine. I was not disappointed with the movie and I am looking forward to more DC comic book heroes being brought to the big screen.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Shadow of Night

I love the All Souls series so much. I don't know what it is about it. It's historical, paranormal, romantic, literary and mature. There's family, love, loss, betrayal and magic. Shadow of Night was everything I wanted in Deborah Harkness's sequel to A Discovery of Witches. It might even be better. There was an amazing flow to the story, it took its time, but had a sense of urgency.

I loved the introduction of the new cast of characters. I loved Gallowglass. I loved Annie and Jack. I really enjoyed the interpretation of historical characters. Elizabeth I was fantastic. Christopher Marlowe was nuts. I wonder if they're going to talk about what happened to them in the next book.

The next book! I can't wait to read Book of Life. Shadow of Night was a perfect second book. Yes, it left me with questions about the overall story that started with A Discovery of Witches, but the story of just this novel completed nicely. Matthew and Diana arrived, then they left. There wasn't a crazy cliffhanger ending, which I appreciate. There's so much left to discover though.

This story had me hooked from the beginning. Every time I opened it up, I read for longer than I intended. Shadow of Night had me up late every night. I just had to know what happened. I'm still itching to know. I could totally stop what I'm doing to dig into the next book right now. I'm in for a serious book hangover. But I should have a break between books, because I can't keep ignoring life for Diana and Matthew's story.