Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Transformers: Age of Extinction

So, I think watching movies while I do housework is going to be a thing for me. First it was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and now it is Transformers: Age of Extinction. Usually, this is the kind of movie my Hubby and I watch on the big TV, with a snack and a blanket. However, Hubby stated sometime ago that he didn't want to watch it. He is a huge fan of the original animated series and was so grossly disappointed by the second and third movies, they put him off Transformers on the big screen. Instead of convincing him to watch it, especially with so many movies out there we both want see, I decided to finally just go for it. With the iPad propped up and the laundry laid out, I pressed play on Transformers: Age of Extinction.

It was better than I expected. My husband did have a point, the last two Transformers movies didn't leave me expecting much. I knew there would be explosions and girls in short skirts/shorts. Everyone would be pretty. I didn't realize Kelsey Grammar was in this movie, though. That made me happy. I liked the father/daughter dynamic. I liked the boyfriend. The CG was amazing. I had fun watching. That's all I really need while I'm folding laundry and making dinner. It was long though. I don't know why it needed to be 2 hours and 45 minutes. Also, I don't think many inventors look like Mark Wahlberg. Or am I wrong? It doesn't matter. I was entertained.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Emily Dickinson - Three Series

Emily Dickinson - Three Series is the collection of Emily Dickinson's poems, which I had to read as an ebook, since I could not find a complete printed collection in store.  Also, the complete ebook was free. Not a bad deal, right? I wrote a bit about my reading experience last week. I decided to include it on my Spin list, even though I started it a while ago, because I needed the motivation to finish it. Reading one or two poems in between novels was not cutting it anymore. Plus, I've been wanting to share what I've been reading. 

It's just so difficult to talk about all the poems, but I feel like I should, like each one deserves a moment of its own. They deserve more than just the glimpse into her work that I'm going to give here.

I think most literary people (any many non-literary people) are familiar with Dickinson's The Chariot:

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 't is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

I remember reading this poem more than once during university, for various classes. Something about it must have stuck with me, because now I've read all of her poems. All those poems and all that reading has left me with eight pages of notes and highlights that I want to go back to and read again as I read the poems.

I decided to read the poems slowly. Many of the poems are short, some are only four lines, so I decided reading them like a novel would be a waste. I wanted to take my time, think, feel each poem. I may not write about each poem, but I can go through the eight pages of notes and highlights and pick a few things to share.

The poem titled in the collection, In A Library, is great.  It starts:

A precious, mouldering pleasure 't is
To meet an antique book,
In just the dress his century wore;
A privilege, I think,

I just love it! The entire thing is an ode to books and libraries. It spoke to me.

As light as this poem was, there are many that have darkness, that come from some deep, solitary place. There are also others that seem to be observational, looking at the beauty of nature especially. There are times when I feel like she's talking about herself and others where I feel as though she is reacting to the outside world.

The Lonely House stood out for me as poem with a bit of a story. It had a good creep factor too, a poem for Halloween maybe.  The third stanza

How orderly the kitchen ’d look by night,
With just a clock,—
But they could gag the tick,
And mice won’t bark;
And so the walls don’t tell,
None will.

The walls don't tell what? Who's in my house? Maybe I'm reading too much into it.

I want to talk about The Mystery of Pain, but instead I'll just include the link. I'm nervous about looking too deeply at it.  There's pain there and maybe Dickinson wanted to solve the mystery of her own.

This one also stood out for me:

Death is a dialogue between
The spirit and the dust.
“Dissolve,” says Death. The Spirit, “Sir,
I have another trust.”
Death doubts it, argues from the ground.
The Spirit turns away,
Just laying off, for evidence,
An overcoat of clay.

I don't even know what to say about this one, I just want people to read it.

But for a new part of the emotional journey:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

This is actually the second time I've posted this poem on my blog. I think it's my favourite in the entire collection. 

There are just so many, too many. 

This one, near the end of the collection, almost had me crying:

We never know we go,—when we are going
  We jest and shut the door;
Fate following behind us bolts it,
  And we accost no more.

I read it shortly after the deaths of Alan Rickman and David Bowie, as well as news of the death of the oldest person in the world.  Rickman and Bowie were 69, but the former oldest person was 112. The poem just made me think that we never know when we are going to go, 69 or 112, sooner or later. I don't even know if that's what this poem is really talking about. 

Many of the titles (all?) are arbitrary, added posthumously. Some aren't even the same across all collections. Most of the poems are just numbered. I suppose that is because she only published handful of them in her lifetime. I wish she had published more in her life, but I suppose that's what many people have wished. I think that I might start re-reading the poems, just always have them on my tablet and between novels and stories, when I want a little clarity or burst of emotion, read one of her poems, a cycle from beginning to end and around again, always with me. Is that crazy? I don't know. I just find the idea comforting and isn't that what you want from what you read.

I don't think there is enough time in my world for an in depth study of her work, maybe back when I was studying in University. Let's just say, I recommend her work, from the well-known to the lesser-known and that Dickinson's work is something I see myself continually returning.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Inside Out

Why do Pixar movies make me cry? Wall-E, Up and especially Toy Story 3. Now Inside Out. Thank you Netflix for making this available. As soon as I saw it, I knew that it was the perfect movie for my daughter and her friend to watch on their sleepover. We all watched it. Inside Out was so good! I have to watch it again. There's just so much going on, but it's not complicated. It's a children's movie, but is so full of emotion and amazing storytelling, that everyone will love it. Seriously, if you watch this movie and don't feel at least a little something... I don't know. 

This guy.
I love the learning, that Joy and Sadness often go together. Emotion can be complex. Growing up is hard. I love that the emotions learn and it is reflected in the way Riley learns. Getting a peak inside the parents' minds were fantastic too. All the minds. You learn about emotional development, but it's such a part of the story that you don't even notice.

The imaginary friend, Bing Bong, did me it. I actually thought I was going to get through the movie okay. I was thinking, what were people talking about. My friend said that she teared up. It was emotional, but I wasn't feeling the sadness. Until Bing Bong, specifically, the end of his arch in the movie. I'm watching this movie with children, so I had to hold it together, but definitely dabbing at my eyes. Inside Out has definitely joined the ranks of Disney Pixar tear jerkers.

It's a team effort.
There are definitely tense moments for younger or more sensitive children. My little ones needed some parent cuddles to get through some parts, but in the end, the loved the story. I've been wondering if they could watch some of the sadder Pixar choices and I think if Inside Out is any indication, I should be picking up a copy of Wall-E. Inside Out definitely lived up to the Pixar standard.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

So, I decided to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles this weekend while doing work in the kitchen. I don't know why. Maybe because I knew I wouldn't need to pay serious attention. That sounds kind of bad, but I wanted something that I could have on while wiping and chopping and washing. Yay for Netflix on the iPad! It makes housework a little less boring.

As for the movie, it was better than I expected. The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was on TV when I was a kid. I remember getting the April O'Neil action figure one year (though I had wanted a Michelangelo or Raphael - but I was a girl, so whatever). With every movie, every remake, they've changed something from that original cartoon series, though pizza seems to always play a part, no matter the decade. This version has been updated, the Turtles don't yell "cowabunga", though they sneak it in. Shredder looks pretty wicked in this movie, that's not just armour, it has an "Iron Man" quality. I like the bad guy's nefarious plot against the city. I like that April fights against type-casting in the news world, wanting to be a serious journalist. I wouldn't mind sitting down, relaxing and watching it on my TV instead of the little tablet. The movie was fun and entertaining.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Ebooks and Emily

The Poems of Emily Dickinson – Three Series Complete....

It just ends. Bam, it’s over. So much time invested and there was no preamble, just the last poem, then the index of first lines. That’s it.  The index takes up the last 15% of the ebook. So I thought I had 15% more poems… or at least 10%. I’ve come to realize that the last few “pages” of ebooks are often ads for other books (by the author or similar authors) or acknowledgements or something. I knew there was an index at the end, but I didn’t think it would be so big.  I guess I should have checked. That’s been my one consistent complaint about ebooks, sudden, expected endings. It was just so abrupt, I feel thrown.

So, if anyone decides to read the complete works of Emily Dickinson, remember that any ebook edition potentially (and the Kindle edition specifically) ends at 85%.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Captain Marvel: Down

Down was thrilling, the second volume in Captain Marvel (Marvel NOW!). It gave me more of the ending I was expecting in In Pursuit of Flight, but did I like it better? I don't know. It was pretty cliffhanger-ish. It was so good!

So, there might be something wrong with Earth's Mightiest Hero. Maybe it's her health, maybe it's her ego, maybe it's an enemy. Or all those things. Carol Danvers wants to hold on to a little bit of normal, but she has a neighbour that makes a good point. When a "superhero type" moves into a building to try and "be normal", they put that entire building in danger. The first example that comes to mind is the Baxter Building. How many times has the Fantastic Four been attacked? What about Stark Tower? Tony better be paying his employees a lot to work there. Of course, this is why so many heroes have secret identities. Peter Parker wants to protect Aunt May, Superman wants to protect Lois Lane (this is the only DC example that has come to mind). But everyone KNOWS Carol Danvers is Captain Marvel. Boom! Target right there on that nice little building you live in. At least Stark Tower has security.

The ending though, was just so exciting. I was surprised, happy and hooked. The more I read of Captain Marvel, the more I want to read about Captain Marvel. The other doctor coming in at the end and name dropping, the missed calls, Captain America visiting, Tony Stark calling, Wendy, I loved every bit of it. The same thing that happened with the art in In Pursuit of Flight happened again here, but sooner. I'm deciding to get over it. Different is fine as long as it's still good and it was. I loved the characters' expressions, the choices in angle and colors. Captain Marvel: Down was another hit for me.

Please note, that the conclusion to this trilogy is actually Avengers: The Enemy Within, not a Captain Marvel title. Just so anyone interested knows what they're looking for, and if In Pursuit of Flight and Down are any indication, it is worth the look.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Throne of Glass

The main character of Throne of Glass, Celaena, is an assassin, an 18-year-old, female assassin, who has been living in a death camp! How could I resist that? I liked Celaena a lot. I like Dorian too. Choal was the character for me though. I loved Captain Choal Westfall. Something about him, I don't know. He won my heart. I enjoyed reading, as he slowly changed his mind. I liked that all the characters went through a journey. They started as seemingly one thing, thinking one way and by the end they were something else. I liked the growth and learning. I liked the unexpected moments. Though I totally knew who was drawing under the bed. 

One thing I thought there would be more of was Celaena fighting and maybe....assassinations? She's supposed to be the most feared assassin in the land, but she doesn't spend as much time as I expected fighting. It happens, but it seems like it happens when we're not looking. Though she has some pretty kickass moments...and she does spend time recovering from her year in a death camp, I just thought there'd be more. 

I wondering what is going to happen next. Not just to Celaena and the relationships with those around her, but to the continent. What is the king going to do next? What about Elena? There's something happening in the land. 

There are 5 published books in Sarah J. Maas' series (as far as I know), 4 novels and 1 collection of the prequel novellas (which are all available individually as ebooks). I'm so excited to read them. Knowing how many books there are opens up the possibilities for life and death. I enjoy long series (though I'm not especially good at keeping up with them) and I am looking forward to reading more of the Throne of Glass. 

For those who want to make sure they're saying it right.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight

I love Captain Marvel. She might be my favourite after reading In Pursuit of Flight. I am so happy that my Hubby bought this and several other Captain Marvel volumes for me. Sometimes I hesitate buying comics, as I know once you start, you might never stop. Some series go on forever, more so in the superhero world.

I love how real and wonderful Captain Marvel is. In Pursuit of Flight sees Captain Marvel in a state of transition and unsurity. It also finds her in an "Avenger" situation (but that's okay, it's just a Tuesday). Captain Marvel learns about herself and who she wants to be, while trying to solve a mystery. I loved the characters we get to meet, the Banshees and Helen Cobb.

So, here's my one problem. About 2/3 of the way through the graphic novel, the art changed. It was still good, but different. Also, though it was good, I preferred the art I started out with. It was the art that first struck me as Captain Marvel and Captain America were having their conversation about Mar-Vell. I don't know what it was exactly, but there was emotion in that art. In Pursuit of Flight collects #1-6 of Captain Marvel - Marvel NOW!, was there a reason the art was changed at issue 4? Was it for the story or did someone leave? Maybe I'd rather not know.

One thing I also appreciated was that this volume was contained. There are graphic novels that follow in this series, but In Pursuit of Flight was a complete story. I've read a few books lately that didn't conclude well. They left the ending with a set up for the next installment. I'm so happy that didn't happen with In Pursuit of Flight. Though I am very excited to read Down, there are no nagging questions. Completeness makes my happy.

The costume. She has pants! There is zero clevege. The colours are great. The headpiece is so great. I don't think I could be happier with Captian Marvel's look...  Honestly, I'm always excited when a female superhero gets pants. Because really, why are you fighting crime/aliens/Hydra/whatever, in a bathing suit? It's not realistic and though the fantasy is great, I connect with what is real about the characters. Captain Marvel's emotional questions are real and part of what makes her compelling and appealing. In one graphic novel, I think I am now fully invested in Carol Danvers and the choices she makes in the future.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I know most people have probably seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens by now. (I won't say all, I know there are a few people who haven't seen it yet.) I also saw it a while ago. So, I'll just throw down a smattering of thoughts, because I am so excited by this new revitalization of the Star Wars franchise.

I love Rey. I love Finn. I really liked General Hux. I liked what we learned about this generation of Stormtroopers. They totally made BB-8 the most adorable droid ever. Now, knowing who Kyli Ren is, I know who Rey is and I can't wait to see if my prediction is true. I loved Han and Leia. Han! I wouldn't have minded a little more Luke, but I understand the choice. I can't wait to find out more about what happened between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, as I think there is so much more to learn.

I think J.J. Abrams took what was amazing about episodes 4, 5 & 6, and infused that into the new movie. I also feel like where the older characters are in their lives now is a believable progression from where they were left at the end of Return of the Jedi. I would have liked a little more at the end, but they have to make us excited to see the next film, right? I am so excited to see where Rey and Finn take us next.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Kinky Boots

Go see Kinky Boots. It is so much fun!! The music, the costumes, the BOOTS! I spent a lot of the show looking at the footwear. I want a lot of what they were wearing. 

There's also a great message about acceptance and being yourself. There's passion, excitement and sadness. There's humour, unexpected humour too, as an audience member took an extra second to get a joke made by Lola while talking to Charlie about her father. The rest of the theatre was quiet, waiting for the dialogue to continue. This person laughed and the actors were thrown off. Then the whole theatre starts laughing again. It was such a perfect moment. I loved when they broke the forth wall. I loved the actress who played Lauren, she was hilarious!  Also, the slightly shorter blonde Angel, for some reason stood out for me, though all the Angels were amazing. The factory workers, Pat and Lola doing the tango, Don! 

I'm going to stop gushing now. Just go see it

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reading in 2015

Goodreads did this thing, where it shows you your year in books, with stats and everything! There's no way to export it properly though. I can Tweet, Pin and post is on FAcebook, and of course, share it to my Goodreads profile. So, maybe I took a screenshot of the top bit with my stats. That's cool, right?

I don't know what it is, I like being able to see what I read like this. I wish it had some kind of pie chart thing, where I could see it broken down by genre, just so I could know what my 2015 reading looked like.

I also thought I'd throw together an image of all the books covers for the wonderful books I've read.
Wonder how I made that image....

I read some amazing stories this year. I look forward to all the books waiting for me in 2016! 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

The end. The end made the whole book for me.  I was enjoying Daughter of Smoke and Bone the whole time, but I was slow to get into it in the beginning, I think that's because I started reading it just a few days before Christmas. I raced through the middle on Boxing Day; I must have read at least half the book in one sitting. My Hubby had to remind me to go to bed.

Karou is such a unique, interesting character. She talks about things, admits things, that other girls in Young Adult literature never admit to, which is what got me in the beginning. Moving forward in the story, I thought she was one thing, but before the end, I came to realize she was something else, something unexpected. I love that Karou surprised me. She grew and changed as her knowledge did. She did not end the book that same as when her story began. Not even close .

I loved Akiva. He also went from being one thing to another. He was hard and soft, serious and romantic. For a minute though, can we talk about the whole staring at the girl while she sleeps thing? It isn't just for vampire books. I don't care that Akiva (or whoever) thinks the girl is the most beautiful thing ever, don't watch them sleep. It will always make my eyes roll, no matter how much I've loved the book.... and love this story I did.

I am so excited to see what happens next, to see more of the other world. The way that Laini Taylor blended the story together, moved from one world to another, slipped in memories and feelings. Taylor wove her story together to create a tapetry of worlds and characters. I'm so excited to find out what happens with the rest of this exciting series.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Annual End Of Year Survey – 2015 Edition!!

So, I did this weeks ago and totally thought I posted it.  Oops! Better late than never!  Here is the 2015 End of Year Book Survey, hosted by The Perpetual Page Turner.

Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 38

Number of Re-Reads: 2

Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy

2015 Questions

1. Best Book You Read In 2015?
It’s a tie between Ruin and Rising and A Discovery of Witches

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Fangirls Guide to the Galaxy, I still enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it the way I thought I would.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

Umm… Shatter Me and A Discover of Witches maybe?  I didn’t expect to enjoy the books as much as I did.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
I don’t really “push” people to read books. I supposed the book I suggested most to read was Mockingjay, before the movie came out.

5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
Starter: Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler, just amazing
Sequel: Siege and Storm, by Leigh Bardugo
Ender: Ruin and Rising, by Leigh Bardugo (a fantastic series)

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

Umm… A bunch?
Andrew Pyper
Deborah Harkness
Jasper Fforde

I don’t think I can pick between them.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi.  It’s non-fiction, which I don’t read a lot of, but I want to read more.  I’ve actually read a couple non-fiction books this year, so yay!

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
A Discovery of Witches, which I may have already mentioned a few times (and we’re only on question #8)

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
None?  I don’t re-read much, and when I do it’s not something I just read the year before.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
The Eyre Affair or the covers for The Grisha series.

11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Thursday Next

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
I don’t know about “life-changing”, but the most thought provoking books I read were Embroideries, The Flying Troutmans and Death of A Salesman

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
Dawn of the Dreadfuls, I’ve had it forever and finally got around to reading it earlier this year.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?
MacBeth had a lot of great quotes and here is just one:
"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing." – Act V, Scene v
Depressing, but darkly beautiful.
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
Shortest: MacBeth (I’m not including the Short Stories I read.)
Longest: A Discovery of Witches (by one page over The Diviners)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
The Girl Who Played With Fire, I think.  It was a shocking, cliffhanger, ending.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Evie and Jericho, from The Diviners, even though I feel like Evie is going to end up with Sam, based on how I think the story will go, but if she ends up with Jericho, I would be so happy.
Also, I would have liked Thursday with Bowden in The Erye Affair. There’s lots of books left in the series, so who knows.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Hattie and her niece and nephew from The Flying Troutmans

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Wild Seed, by Octavia E. Butler

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
The Eyre Affair because of What Red Read.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Matthew De Clermont from A Discovery of Witches. Also Nicolai from the Grisha Trilogy.

23. Best 2015 debut you read?
I didn’t read any.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The world in the Grisha trilogy.  It just came to life.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Star Wars Jedi Academy: The Phantom Bully and Return of the Padawan, MG graphic novels that are just super cute.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
The Flying Troutmans, the whole thing is just so tragic.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
The Demonologist, by Andrew Pyper

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
I think it’s a tie between Ruin and Rising and A Discovery of Witches.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
The Waves, by Virginia Woolf.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
I think The Diviners, because I kept being frustrated by Evie’s decisions.

Book Blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?
Seeking a Little Truth

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I heard Andrew Pyper speak about the process of writing.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?
Umm… all of them?

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
I got a new job. So, Yay! But also, it’s a lot of work and it has totally cut into my reading blogging time.  After spending 8 hours (minimum) a day staring at a computer screen, I don’t want to do that when I’m done working. I need a better blogging app for my phone or tablet.  Just finding a better work/life balance is what I need too.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
I’m surprised, my most popular post this year has been my thoughts on Jane Austen’s classic, Northanger Abbey.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I don’t know…. Let’s just go with my most recent read, As Birds Bring Forth The Sun and Other Stories.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I participated in the Classics Club Spin twice this year with The Waves and MacBeth.  I look forward to the next Spin too!

Looking Ahead – Books 2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?
Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?
The Raven King, by Maggie Steifvater

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
I don’t really keep up with debuts. I just go with whatever catches my eye or what others are talking about.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?
The Raven King…. Should I find another answer to this question?

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?
Finally find a work/life(blogging life) balance that makes me happy.

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
Not that lucky this year.  Maybe next year!

Happy Holidays Everyone!!

Happy Boxing Day! - Merry Day After Christmas!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate. We've had a great, though busy time so far. My children got a ton of Lego.  I didn't realized when I mentioned it, that every grandparent was going to get that for them. We also got some for them, so I imagine we will be stepping on tiny, pointy pieces for the next few months.

I am really excited by the presents my husband got for me.  I tweeted it yesterday.  

Look at how well my husband knows me. Every present I opened was a gasp or squeel of joy. It was so thoughtful.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and is relaxing with their wonderful new gifts, friends and family.

For those of you braving the malls today, Good Luck!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

As Birds Bring Forth The Sun and Other Stories

I was so excited when I received a copy of Alistair MacLeod's As Birds Bring Forth The Sun and Other Stories. Years ago, I read the title story, in a collection of Canadian stories, From Ink Lake and was just captured by the beautiful writing. The words brought to life the Cape Breton landscape. When the collection containing this amazing story was offered to me, I had to take it. I'm going to say a few sentences about each story as I read them, though they all deserve so much more.

The Closing Down of Summer is a sad tale.  It is beautifully written, but my heart breaks a little for the narrator, who seems trapped in his life.  I wish they could escape and do so much more.

Winter Dog is a beautiful story, but again, a sad one. It was a timely story too, as the story began with the first snowfall before Christmas. It's a reminiscence; the  narrator looks at his children playing and at the dog that visits from across the street and he is reminded if a dog who looked similar, who saved him, but was not long for the world. The memory is strong, but somehow hidden.

To Everything There Is A Season is another beautiful story taking place at Christmas. It is sad to think if crossing the threshold to the adult side of Christmas, but is has to happen eventually. It is also sad to return home, though warmly welcomed, to see something once thought steady, has changed.  I lived this story. So much emotion in just a few pages.  

Second Spring is an interesting story. It's about growing up, I think. There's a thorough description of butchering, which was...strong. There was a lot about farm life, things I didn't know. But mostly it was about the narrator, from seventh to eighth grade and how much can change in a short amount of time. 

Why do all these stories have to be so sad?!?!

The Tuning of Perfection was heartbreaking in just a few pages. I loved Archibald. I felt for him, for his losses and how his family seemed to slip away from him. This story speaks to lost heritage and to desires. Maybe the best story of the collection thus far. 

As Birds Bring Forth The Sun is a haunting and tragic take. Maybe even stronger on this second reading.  Is is another sad tale from Mr. MacLeod. The first time I thought it was sad and mysterious. I found myself wondering about the dog. This time, I'm not wondering so much about the dog, but what spectre might be following this family, real or imagined. I'm wondering about family legends and how long they last. I also see different things in the story when it is in the context of this collection. The Gaelic, the loss and family. Now that I've read it again, I think this might be the best story in the collection, the one that can connect them all. 

Vision has many levels. It is about literal visions as in "the second sight". I really liked and felt for the narrator, retelling a tale of his father. It was deeply sad, maybe the sadest tale of all. It was not seeing what was in front of you.  It was blindness, the narrator's father and the old woman with cats. Vision is a story I feel like I will have to read again.

There's a lot of Gaelic in MacLeod's collection of short stories. It is a part of everyone. You can tell that it was something he grew up with and had a deep impact on his life. Each of these stories is piece or slice of their particular narrator's life, and it is a piece that has had a deep impact. Jane Urquhart writes the afterward in this edition. You can tell by the way Urquhart talks about the stories, how much she enjoys them and MacLeod. She has a deep appreciation for the stories, their emotion and their "universal" themes "told though intimate moments". Do I agree with Urquhart that the themes are universal? Migration, family, love, loss? Yes, I suppose I do, though when I read the stories, I didn't think that way. Instead, I appreciated the beauty of the writing and the sadness of the tales. It's definitely a collection I can see myself coming back to in a few years. 

I feel lucky that As Birds Bring Forth The Sun and Other Stories and MacLeod's other collection, The Lost Salt Gift of Blood came to me. Both collections were eventualy published together as Island, but I'm glad I have them seperately. I wonder if the themes or feelings of the other stories will be different. For right now though, I'll allow myself to ponder the lives of Alistair MacLeod's amazing characters.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Emily Dickinson!

The Classics Club Spin number is 19!  That means Three Series (aka the poems of) Emily Dickinson. I actually started reading this some time ago, like over a year. I read the first series over the course of a few months, but then I slowed down. It is a lot of poems, like A LOT. I still read them, but it has been down to a few every month, usually inbetween whatever novels or short stories I'm reading. Whenever I've made a Classics Club Spin list the past few times, if Random.org comes up with Dickinson's number, I include it.  I want to finish the poems.  I want to finish them before my list becomes due.  With the past few spins, I've hoped to get Dickinson, because I know it will be the motivation I need to finish the complete poems. I think I can do it. February 1st. Ya, sure. No problem.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Classic Spinning

I just saw this post.  Ahh!  I've been behind on my blog reading and I just happened to be thinking, I wonder when there will be another Spin.  Bam! Here it is.  The rules are here.  20 books randomly (thanks to Random.org) from my list:

1. Discourse on Method, by Rene Descartes
2. The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe
3. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
4. Medea, by Euripides
5. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë
6. Appointment with Death, by Agatha Christie
7. From the Earth to the Moon, by Jules Verne
8. Grimm's Fairy Stories, by Jacob Grimm & Wilhelm Grimm
9. The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton
10. The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
11. Daisy Miller, by Henry James
12. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
13. Sherlock Holmes #1: A Study In Scarlett, by Arthur Conan Doyle
14. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
15. Tales of Angria, by Charlotte Brontë
16. Dracula's Guest, by Bram Stoker
17. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Tom Stoppard
18. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
19. Three Series, Complete, by Emily Dickinson
20. The Cat In The Hat, by Dr. Seuss

I do want to read more classics this year, so this is a good way to start.  I'm excited to see what the number will be!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Book Storage

I have run out of shelf space. More than run out. I have 4 bookcases, with shelves doubled up with paperbacks and others fronted by hardcovers. I don't need just one more bookshelf, I need at least two. To try to alleviate the weight and allow my book buying to continue, I thought I'd make a "book tower". Basically, I stacked a bunch of hardcovers up to my chest. I made the tower two books wide, to try to distribute the weight and leaned my husbands Ivanhoe sword against it (yes, we have some replica weaponry), to try to hold it up. After a couple weeks, it can tumbling down. (I'm going to blame the children.) For a while now, they've been left in small stacks on my living room floor, behind the rocking chair. 

What do I do with them?

I think they're going to end up on the shelf in my room. On the bottom of the shelf I have boardgames. I love boardgames, but these are ones we haven't played in ages and they're just sitting there. Do I remove them to the basement and put the books there?  I might be able to jigsaw them into fitting. The games would go into the storage in the basement. Why don't the books go there? Well, I've realized that it's about emotional attachment. When I see the games, I don't really feel anything. I don't even really notice them. When I look at books, I think about their stories. I think about what happened, what they mean and how I felt when I read them. I remember and it makes me smile. Having the books closer to me, might just add a little happiness into that corner of my day. So, I move the books, right?

I was browsing Pinterest, when my sneaky daughter came up behind me and announced, "We should do that!" What did she see? A book Christmas tree. I told her that would be nice and we have more than enough books to do it, but not enough space. We'd have to get rid of our actual Christmas tree to do that and no one wants that. I could build one in her room, but there wouldn't be much room for anything else. Plus, this doesn't seem like the permenent solution I want.

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Discovery Of Witches

Reading A Discovery of Witches was an obsession. It was desperately romantic, historic, literary and full of magic. Deborah Harkness blends paranormal, romance and historical fiction into one amazing novel. I don't know if I can express how much I loved this book. It is not a short novel, well over 500 pages of history and intensity. Harkness is a historian, like Diana, the main character. She also loves wine (and had a wine blog), this trait comes out in Diana's love interest, Matthew. Harkness's love of both history and wine permeates the novel, but it is seamless, as they are easily taken as traits belonging to Diana and Matthew. Harkness makes the pages of alchemical manuscripts come alive through Diana's descriptions of them. Matthew adds depth to history with his "recollections". The way she writes about history is with love. It makes me want to read one of her historical books, maybe The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution? That's how wonderful I am left feeling after a Discovery of Witches, I will read anything Deborah Harkness writes at this point.

I adored every character. Diana and Matthew were brilliant. It just wasn't there relationship that was wonderful, it was how they existed apart from each other before coming together.  They had careers, pasts, goals for the future. I loved Diana's need to understand the past and Matthew's scientific inquiry. For a minute there, early on in the story, when Matthew is watching Diana sleep, I wondered if I'd end up with grown up Bella and Edward, but thankfully nope. Still, guys, it was creepy. Harkness seemed to "address" the creep factor, showing that it was wrong within the story, not some romantic gesture.

I loved Marcus, Matthew's vampire son. He was young and full of energy. I loved his context within Matthew's family. I loved Matthew's family. Diana's family, just wonderful.

I enjoyed the relationships that developed between the witches, vampires and demons in the house. Marcus and Em seemed to have a special connection. Marcus and Nathaniel too. I wonder if they'll get up to trouble in one of the future books. Sarah and Matthew also developed some kind of respect and understanding. The growth of Diana and Ysabeau's relationship was interesting. I am excited to see them all under one roof.

I loved all the places they went too. Oxford, a castle in France, a small town in New York. They were each so different from each other, but Harkness made them all feel real.

I'm not going to be satisfied until I get my hands on Shadow of Night and see what Harkness has in store for her star-crossed lovers.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Overbite was a race to the finish. I just had to know what was happening. I did not expect the twist with Father Henrique and his guards. It was a nice surprise in a story where my main focus was finding out who Meena was going to end up with. I just needed to know. Lucien? Alaric? The end, it was great. I would have liked a little more romance, especially at the end, especially with Insatiable as a precedent, but I still enjoyed Overbite.

I appreciated again that though Meena was in love with a vampire, she didn't get all swoony every time he was around. She valued her friends, her family and her job. She didn't want to be turned, she wanted to live. Meena wasn't desperate to be with any man. She desired one (or two), but she that wasn't the focus of her life (though it was a big part of the novel). She wanted to save people. She wanted to figure out the mystery. 

Acording to Goodreads, Meg Cabot is working on a third Insatiable book. They cite Cabot's website, but when I look, I see no mention of it. I hope it's true though. I want to read it. I want to read more of Cabot's books. Overbite, was an entertaining read and I looked forward to more fun stories.