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.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

On The Extra Stories In A Series


I read my fair share of Young Adult Fantasy and Science-Fiction series. They're fun, entertaining and some full of interesting ideas. I ready Adult Science-Fiction and Fantasy too, but I'm going to stick to YA right now. I'm thinking about all these series that have companion short stories. Some are prequels, some are re-tellings of scenes from another character's point of view, some are about what has happened in between novels. Not all series have them, The Hunger Games, for example. It's three novels, that's it, the end. Then there is a series like Delirium with so many extra tales, that though originally published as ebooks (as all these extra tales first are), they published a paperback edition too, though most leave their companion tales as ebooks, like the Grisha trilogy.

Though there are other series that leave out the extra bits (like Uglies from Scott Westerfeld), I feel like there are more who have at least one ebook tale (like Legend, by Marie Lu) and an increasing amount of others who are publishing their multiple ebook shorts in paperback form (Shatter Me, by Taherah Mafi). Why am I thinking about this?  Recently I read Red Queen. It was great, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm itching to read Glass Sword. I own both novels. I picked them up recently (at a very good price). However, Cruel Crown was not available to purchase. If it was there, would I have purchased it? Probably, yes. While I have skipped companion ebook short stories in the past, when there is more than one, I feel more of a pull to get them. What might they reveal about the characters I love, the ones I hate, the history of the world? With Red Queen a recent read, I'm left wondering if I should buy the paperback, the two ebooks separately (a cheaper deal) or just skip the stories.

As I type this, read what I've written, I think I might be feeling companion story burn-out. Why do the majority of series (at least the ones I've read lately) have these extra bits floating around? Some of the short stories I've read have been brilliant, like Leigh Bardugo's The Witch of Duva and Little Knife. Others I've been less fond of, like alternate perspectives, where I know what's going to happen (I like a little tension or mystery in my stories), especially if they don't tell me anything I didn't already know. I have a similar problem with prequels, a story is nice, but I want to learn something. The Assassin's Blade was a collection of prequel stories done right. They had their own plots and we learned a lot about the main character and even had hints about what could happen in future novels. I guess I am just wondering, why can't their be more series like The Hunger Games? A bunch of novels I loved. I'm not saying just trilogies either. Uglies is a series of 4 books. I just... I don't know... There are just so many... I want to be able to pick up the books and read them, without having to search online to see if any other stories exist. (I have to say, I do appreciate the ones that are free.) But why can't it be bam, bam, bam, done? If I hadn't joined Goodreads, I probably would have missed most of these stories (Thanks, Goodreads, for links on where to read them too.) It's just burn-out, that's all it is. Right? Bah! Whatever.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Avengers: The Enemy Within

Yes. This. So awesome. I love Captain Marvel. Avengers: The Enemy Within, might be an Avengers title (third in an Avengers Assemble arc), but this was all Captain Marvel. The Enemy Within concludes the story started with Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight and continued with Captain Marvel: Down. I think that there's enough backstory that you can probably get away with not reading the two Captain Marvel titles, but everything makes so much more sense if you do. Also, they're awesome.

Basically, I am gushing about The Enemy Within. It's a total love fest. I loved the story. Kelly Sue DeConnick continues her amazing writing about my new favourite hero. I loved the art. The artist of the last comic within the graphic novel hasn't been my favourite over the series, but the style is so recognizable and familiar to me now, that it seems connected with Captain Marvel's story.

Also, the cover, paired with the title is a little misleading. That's all I'm going to say about that.

This does make me want to read the other Avengers Assemble stories. There are so many great characters. The more I read of Spider-Woman in these books, the more I want to read her stories too. She even makes a joke with Captain Marvel about having "Spidey-Sense", which she actually doesn't. Her personality leaps off the page and I have really enjoyed her easy friendship with Carol Danvers. Also, her fighting with the Hulk was pretty cool. Abigail Brand was really interesting too. I really liked when Bruce Banner stopped by Carol's apartment and made a joke with one of her friends about being confined in tight spaces. The action, art and humour combined to make The Enemy Within a thoroughly entertaining read.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Kingsmen

I kind of loved Kingsmen.  I loved Harry, Roxy and Merlin. Valentine was great. Eggsy was amazing. Kingsmen did some things I didn't expect, which I appreciated. I love having a moment where I gasp out loud because of what has happened. It was a sad, awful, shocking moment, and one I did not see coming.

I totally forgot Samuel L. Jackson was in the movie. He's so awesome. Totally not Nick Fury in this one. Kind of reminded me of his Pulp Fiction character, I don't know why. Maybe the swearing? It got my Hubby thinking about Pulp Fiction too. The whole thing had a bit of a Tarantino-esque vibe to it. The style was definitely it's own thing, the amazing action sequences, very visually gripping. No time to look away. They were quick, but slowed down at the right moments. It was more about the way people died, limbs cut off, being sliced in half, bone. Maybe the combination of that, plus Samuel L. Jackson had me thinking Pulp Fiction. The woman with the sword legs though, that was brilliant and totally unique. Also, why not? If this is who you were, then you lose your legs, why not attach swords to the prosthesis. It makes sense (in the story world).

I liked the plot too, the boy who lost his father, and is trying to take care of his mother, thereby can't live up to his potential. I also love the way the story comes full circle. My problem with it is the mother. Was she so heartbroken that she shacked up with any guy? Did she need money or security? Why didn't she make better life choices for her and her son? I wouldn't have minded a little more story, just a quick conversation of what happened between husbands. We know what Eggsy did, but not about his mother's choices. I know I'm being picky, but it bothered me a bit when watching the scenes of her in their apartment with the new husband.

I really liked the end. The sequences of heads, the colours, the music, it was all really good. The bar scene also, the suit. I'm glad I finally got around to seeing Kingsmen and I look forward to any sequels they conjure up.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Little Prince

Why had nobody told me about the ending? Why had I never heard of it before? Of course I'd heard of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's, The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince), but I had never read it growing up. I knew it was a classic children's book, published in French, but translated into many languages (the most translated French book, apparently). I'm always looking for books to share with my children and based on language level alone, I thought this would be a good one to read with my daughter. Plus, there's a movie now (and you have to read the book before you see the movie). But the ending! The ending! It was so unexpected, I almost cried.

The Little Prince tells the story of the Little Prince, a boy, stranded in the desert with a crash-landed pilot. As the pilot fixes his plane, the Prince tells the story of how he came to be in the desert, that he's from another planet (asteroid) and visited other planets (asteroids), before deciding to come to Earth. He also tells the narrator of the discoveries he makes once getting to Earth. He's so innocent, but holding back. There's something he's not saying and it frustrates the pilot that he doesn't answer questions. I love that the Prince must have his questions answered though, like a child asking and asking the same thing until you stop to answer them. The Prince is curious, kind and full of imagination.

Will I read The Little Prince with my daughter (and eventually my son)? Will we all see the movie? Yes. Once I get over my heartbreak.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Red Queen

I totally jumped onto the hype-train and picked up Red Queen. It was definitely worth it. I had to pull myself away more than once, so I could deal with real life (those children aren't going to feed themselves). Red Queen was just so immersive, sucking you into Mare's story, wondering along with her about Cal and Maven, thinking beyond her about Cal and Maven, Kilorn and Farley, Shade and so many more. Victoria Aveyard created a complete, full world, that you get to discover as Mare moves through it. As she moved from place to place, I realized that this wasn't just a fantasy world. There was technology present. There was a map of the world from "before". The world changed long ago. It makes you question where the Silver's abilities came from? Were they magic or mutations? Was this world fantasy or dystopian? Both? The more I think of it as dystopian, the more it makes sense, especially if I give it a post-apocalyptic, X-Men spin and imagine Magneto won dominion over the humans.

Some of the relationships in Red Queen reminded me a bit of Shadow and Bone and as with Shadow and Bone, I was hoping I was wrong. I also wonder if we'll have a death scene like at the end of Ruin and Rising, though from what I've seen, the Red Queen series will be more than three novels. The relationships, all the relationships, Mare and her family, the princes, Farley, Walsh, Lucas, were more than what they appeared on the surface. Cal and Maven too, they acted one way, but felt another, about each other and the people around them. I am excited to see how they grow and change over the series.

I know I have compared Red Queen to other stories (I could probably continue to do so). I think that with the media, books and movies, that surround us now, it's easy to draw inspiration from other stories, whether they be comics, fantasy or science-fiction, and everything else out there. It's also easy for a reader to understand a "telkie" or "magnetron's" ability because of those stories. While Aveyard does describe what the characters can do, when she says, a burner controls fire, we really don't need much more information than that to understand what is going on. Maybe Aveyard pulled from everywhere, from every fantastical story to stir together and create this intricate world.

The ending was great and I love a good ending. The novel finishes nicely. The story concludes, but with an ending that makes you excited for the next book. I wouldn't call it a cliffhanger though. It's more of an enticement. This is where Mare is heading, this is how she feels and this is what she wants to do. You want to continue the story with her, but you aren't frustrated by where Aveyard concluded this tale. I think Red Queen was amazing and the perfect read for me right now. It deserves all the hype and praise it gets.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game was heartbreaking. I don't know why I waited so long to watch it. It was a brilliant film. I think it was worth every bit of acclaim that it has received. I loved Benedict Cumberbatch. I think I get why everyone loves him now. I haven't watched Sherlock, but I'm interested to see more of him. Everything about the way he portrayed Alan Turing, brought the character and time to life for me, was fantastic. I loved his relationship with Keira Knightly's character, Joan. I loved Joan, her struggles to be thought of as an equal, the sadness because her mind wasn't getting used.

They worked so hard, Alan Turing, Joan and the whole team, to break Enigma and end the war (World War II). They succeeded in their goal, even though there were doubters, people who didn't believe a machine could break the code. Their relationships, the ups and downs, the Russian spy, I wonder how much of that is true and how much is artistic liberty. It also makes me think such a brilliant mind lost, because of "hormonal therapy" to change his "predilections". You might as well try to "pray the gay away." I know it was a long time ago, but it makes me angry. I also feel like someone, a friend, the guy from MI6, should have helped him. What more could have come from the mind that invented computers if he had lived? (I know that the potrayal of Turing isn't the only theory regarding his death, but it is commonly held.) I'm going to stop being angry and instead be impressed that a film could make me feel so strongly. If you haven't seen The Imitation Game, you should, it deserves to be seen.

Monday, March 07, 2016

The Spin Number Is....

8!

Which means I have to read Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens by May 2nd. That's probably the book on my list I wanted to read the least.  I'll do it though. I mean, I do want to read it. I own a copy. I guess after Middlemarch I'm just not in the mood to read something else so Victorian. I did enjoy David Copperfield and Great Expectations when I read them, though. I'm sure it'll be fine.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Time For Another Classics Club Spin!

I love the Spin. (Rules are here.) My list of 20 was generated by Random.org. Tomorrow the Spin results will be in. Which book will it be?

1. Medea, by Euripides
2. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
3. Grimm's Fairy Stories, by Jacob Grimm & Wilhelm Grimm
4. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
5. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
6. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
7. Sherlock Holmes #1: A Study In Scarlett, by Arthur Conan Doyle
8. Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens
9. The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence
10. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
11. Tales of Angria, by Charlotte Brontë
12. Dracula's Guest, by Bram Stoker
13. The Cat In The Hat, by Dr. Seuss
14. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
15. Under The Knife, by H.G. Wells
16. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë
17. Stories from Hans Christian Andersen, by Hans Christian Andersen
18. Queen Mab/The Daemon of the World, by Percy Bysshe Shelley
19. The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe
20. Daisy Miller, by Henry James

I'd like the first book that came up. Medea would be a re-read, but it's been so long! I also want to read more Vonnegut.  Some poetry might be nice too. I'm not really feeling the Dickens though, after just finished Middlemarch and there are two of his books on the list!  I suppose we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Middlemarch


Middlemarch is a total soap opera.  There’s relationship drama and political intrigue.  It takes place during an interesting political point in history, where part of the political problems come from the “Reform Bill”. The business subversion and debt is abundant. Money and love seem to motivate everything, whether wanting or lacking. I could see Middlemarch done in 4 or 5 seasons… or one crazy mini-series.  (It has been done.)  I don’t think it could ever be a proper movie, there’s way too much going on.  So much so, that I would occasionally forget who a minor character was and have to look them up (thanks, Internet). Middlemarch was not an easy read, but it was worth it.

What kept me reading was George Eliot's brilliant characters. I loved Dorothea Brooke and Will Ladislaw, emotionally invested in the outcome of their lives. Their relationship was so natural and grew through genuine affection. The relationship was a huge contrast when compared to Lydgate and Rosamond. She frustrated me so much! I felt so sorry for Lydgate. Mr. Brooke was so doddering. I really liked Farebrother and wished I could have known how his life ended up. Bulstrode was a perfect character. For me though, it always came back to Will and Dorothea. They were my favourites, eager to find out what would happen to them. Eliot contrasted Dorothea and Rosamond quite a bit in the novel. One dark-haired and one light, but maybe the darkness represented Dorothea's depth of thought and emotion, while the light was Rosamond's feelings, her shallowness. I was excited when the two finally encountered each other.

Middlemarch takes place in the past for the narrator/Eliot, as she refers to how things were and the "Reform Bill". It's an interesting perspective on 1829-1832 from someone who is living in the 1870s. There are moments of apology for things happening 40 years earlier. I wonder what kind of social changes happened in those 4 decades for Eliot to occasionally take that tone. 

I also liked the cheeky tone that Eliot sometimes used: "Society never made the preposterous demand that a man should think as much about his own qualifications for making a charming girl happy as he thinks of hers for making himself happy. As if a man could choose not only his wife but his wife's husband! Or as if he were bound to provide charms for his posterity in his own person!— When Dorothea accepted him with effusion, that was only natural; and Mr. Casaubon believed that his happiness was going to begin." Was this something women and men had started to think about? About each other's happiness and not just it being one-sided?Were men regarding women's feelings? I think this is something Lydgate and Mr. Casaubon should have thought of. Fred Vincy seemed to consider it.

Let's talk medicine for a minute. Lydgate's professional goals were all about discovery and explanations for things. Why didn't people like that back then? Superstition? He seemed so much more advanced than the other medical men in Middlemarch. "He not only used his stethoscope (which had not become a matter of course in practice at that time), but sat quietly by his patient and watched him." Just, wow. Why wouldn't it be used all the time? From Eliot's comments, in the 1870s, stethoscopes were commonly used, but why did it take so long to catch on? People knew where their hearts were, right? Why wouldn't you want to have a better listen too it? This really caught my attention.

Though I kind of hated Mr. Casaubon, I felt sorry for him too. He just didn't get it. He didn't understand Dorothea. He didn't understand what marriage was, I think. Why did he ever decide to marry her? So he didn't have to hire an assistant? He had no faith in her, but she was so trusting with him. She never had bad intensions, but he couldn't see that. "Dorothea told him that she had seen Lydgate, and recited the gist of her conversation with him about the Hospital. Mr. Casaubon did not question her further, but he felt sure that she had wished to know what had passed between Lydgate and himself. "She knows that I know," said the ever-restless voice within; but that increase of tacit knowledge only thrust further off any confidence between them. He distrusted her affection; and what loneliness is more lonely than distrust?" It is so true, what is more lonely than distrust in a relationship? 

Will and Mr. Casaubon speak of the same woman: "I have not spoken too strongly now," said Will, leaning back against the angle of the wall. "There are certain things which a man can only go through once in his life; and he must know some time or other that the best is over with him. This experience has happened to me while I am very young—that is all. What I care more for than I can ever care for anything else is absolutely forbidden to me—I don't mean merely by being out of my reach, but forbidden me, even if it were within my reach, by my own pride and honor—by everything I respect myself for. Of course I shall go on living as a man might do who had seen heaven in a trance." One see the woman as heaven, the other with distrust. Why are their perspectives so different? Is it age? Life expreiences? General disposition? I don't know that Casuabon ever was really socialized with the world beyond his studies, where Will was all about the world. They are so very, very different.

I loved the language of the novel too. Eliot could craft a sentence, pour emotion into metaphor, "the years had been perpetually spinning them into intricate thickness, like masses of spider-web, padding the moral sensibility". Though it was a long read, with many devoted hours, phrases like that grabbed me, had me waiting for more.

I first read Middlemarch a long time ago, back in University, but honestly, I couldn't remember anything about it, except that I liked Dorothea and Will. I am so happy to have re-read it. It is definitely a novel I can see myself reading again in the future and it's one I would recommend to those who like a good story.