Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Time For A Vacation! The Top Ten Beach Reads!

This week, the Broke and the Bookish want to know what are the Top Ten Books That Should Be In A Beach Bag (your perfect beach reads!). I think this list is going to be a bit different for everyone. My idea of a beach read and yours might be completely different. In no particular order, here is what I’d read if I had all day to lay outside.

1. The Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse series, by Charlaine Harris. – I love Sookie and all the characters in these books. I’d breeze through them, hoping the entire time that Sookie finds happiness.

2. The Undead series, by MaryJanice Davison. – I love Betsy! She’s irritatingly wonderful.

3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins. – I love Katniss and Peeta. The books are exciting and sure to make me feel like I’m doing more than lying around.

4. The Shopaholic series, by Sophie Kinsella. – Plus anything else I’ve ever read by her. Kinsella’s books are quirky, funny and light. Just what I’d need after reading about all kinds of supernatural creatures and teenagers killing each other.

5. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. – Whenever I think of this book, I can’t help but smile.

6. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson. – I’d also likely want the other two books in the series, I just haven’t read them yet.

7. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith – What’s a vacation without some Zombie Mayhem?!

8. The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood. – A little more serious, but an easier read than some of her other books. It can’t be all love affairs and bloody violence. I wouldn’t want my brain to go mushy.

9. The Gum Thief, by Douglas Coupland. – Again, another more serious choice, but it’s an easy read and I find the style of the book fun and interesting.

10. The Legend of Drizzt series, by R.A. Salvatore. – When I feel like a hero, Drizzt is there. He’ll fight for what’s right and save the day!

I almost included Buffy Season 8, but the problem I think I would have with graphic novels is that I would finish them too fast. I also nearly included the Twilight series, but they’re huge! I don’t mean it would take me long to read them, just that they’d be heavy. This is the only list that’s ever made me kind of want a Kobo or Kindle or some other kind of eReader. I like the idea of taking 40 books with me to the beach. I know I cheated a bit with this list. There are 5 different series on the list. Oh well. What books would end up in your beach bag?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ponies, by Kij Johnson

Kij Johnson’s Ponies recently won the Nebula Award for best short story (actually tying with some other story that isn’t available online to read). I first became interested in reading this story after Teddy Rose reviewed it earlier this month. It sounded really interesting and the review was favourable, so I saved it, then after hearing it won the award, I didn’t want to wait anymore.

After the end of the story, the first words that came to mind were, Holy Crap! and, What just happened? The story was fantastic. I couldn’t believe the ending for a minute. When they describe the Ponies, they’re all very much in the My Little Pony vein. They’re brightly coloured with sparkle and shine. That’s how I was inclined to picture them, with their little girl owners running around, both wanting to have friends. It’s just such a crazy, sad and shocking story.

I liked how this place (with little girls who can only be friends if they have a Pony and only if that Pony is like all the other Ponies) takes bits of our contemporary lives to make the story seem more real. They have Wiis, Rock Band, Coke Zero and diet Red Bull. They also don’t use names; they seem to have user names based on their position in the social group. Barbara, the main character, is the only one with a real name. The names make me question whether this is happening “in real life” or if it’s happening virtually.

I can see why Ponies won the Nebula Prize. It’s incredible. Kij Johnson draws on our lives now to create the lives of little girls then. It’s something I can almost see happening, though I hope it never does. It’s a short, short story, only three pages when I printed it out. Ponies packs a punch for just three pages. I think it’s worth the time to read. I’m also interested in seeing what else Kij Johnson has written.

Sidenote: The artwork is from Chris Buzelli. It goes very well with the story. Tor.com has a gallery of his work, with a link to his website and bio.

Thanks to John Mutford for hosting Short Story Monday at The Book Mine Set.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Word of the Week!

Two new words this week…

From In The Skin Of A Lion

Pelmanism (pg 189): A system of training to improve the memory; a memory card game where a pack of cards is spread out face down and players try to turn up pairs.

From The Dark Tower: Battle of Jericho Hill

Rictus (chpt 5): A bird’s gaping mouth; any open-mouthed expression.
It is used to describe Walter’s non-smile.

Learned any new words from your books this week?

Blogger Issues

Sorry to all the bloggers I didn't get to say hi to this weekend.  Blogger's been a bit funky.  I think things are looking better, but we'll see.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Oprah's Book Club

I keep hearing about this all over blogs and media outlets.  Yes, you have to admit, Oprah did some great things for books sales.  There are probably authors out there who owe Oprah for bringing them on her show.  Oprah even got her viewers reading the classics.  Click below to look at the effect Oprah had on a just a few authors' book sales.

The Oprah Effect: Closing the Book on Oprah’s Book Club Nielsen Wire

The Dark Tower: Battle Of Jericho Hill

 I don’t know what I can say that I haven’t already about The Dark Tower graphic novels. I’ll try to keep it brief. The Battle Of Jericho Hill was an amazing installment and ending to this graphic novel arc. This is the real end of Roland’s youth. I knew a fair amount of what was going to happen before I even opened the book because they talk about the battle in the last two or three novels of the series. It was the details of the battle that were more shocking. Somehow, I kept hoping for a different outcome too.

There’s one thing that has been weighing on my mind since the last installment; I really want to know what happens to John Farson. On the Stephen King website he is described as the enemy of Roland’s youth (though someone wrote a more detailed blurb about him on Wikipedia). It’s true; Farson is only ever a threat in the past, where the graphic novels take place. In the novels, he is gone and it is Walter O’Dim/The Man In Black (he has many aliases) and the Crimson King that Roland battles. Some believe Walter and Farson are the same man. It is suggested that they are in Wolves of Calla but that they are not in The Dark Tower VII. This is clarified in the graphic novel, The Gunslinger Born. They also are seen talking to each other throughout the graphic novel series. But what happens to him? He doesn’t just disappear.

Battle Of Jericho Hill also marks the final graphic novel in which Jae Lee will be an artist. Since The Gunslinger Born it has been Jae Lee and Richard Isanove who have been the creators of the fantastic Dark Tower comic art. In the next installment, the beginning of a new arc, we’ll have someone else joining the team. After all that, what I really want to say simply is that The Dark Tower: Battle Of Jericho Hill was great. I enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to the progression of a series that I’m glad isn’t over.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Best and Worst Book to Movie Adaptations For The Crazy Blog Hop

Book Blogger Hop

This week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books gets her prompt from Britta from I Like These Books"What book-to-movie adaption have you most liked? Which have you disliked?"

Not too long ago (well, in February), this was a Top Ten Tuesday list. There are quite a few on that list that want to take the top spot. So I’m going to give you three. I really liked the adaptations of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Interview with the Vampire and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. You can look back at the list for the reasons why.

The worst one is easy. The Time Machine. It had nothing to do with the book! Nothing! It was so terrible; it made me want to cry. Well’s book is brilliant. It’s a fantastic examination of class structure and what it could possibly lead to. I spent the entire movie waiting for it to be like the book and except for the names of a few things, it never was. It was such an utter disappointment. I’d recommend the book without question, as for the movie, I wish I could strike it from memory.

Now, I’m having Blogger problems again. It was working when I was at home last night, but doesn’t want to work for me at the office (not that I should be blogging at the office). I hope Blogger fixes its problems soon.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why I Love Margaret Atwood: Finding What Is Unique About An Author for the Literary Blog Hop

Literary Blog Hop

Another essay topic! That’s what I thought when I read this week’s Literary Blog Hop prompt from The Blue Bookcase. Talk about one author that you love and why his or her writing is unique. Please be specific. The first author that came to mind was Margaret Atwood. (I don’t think I’ve read enough of her stuff; I have a healthy stack of her work on my shelf and of that I think I’ve only read half.) Before I began my post on why I think Margaret Atwood is unique, I thought I would first read the response on The Blue Bookcase from Christina. What struck me most about her response comes in the second paragraph. She writes:

“It's about the word "unique," and the fact that it is an absolute. Absolutes, like "equal" and "perfect," technically cannot be used with modifiers like "more," "very," and" less." Something is either unique (totally one-of-a-kind, unlike any other) or it isn't. And yeah, I know that language evolves and nowadays everybody uses absolutes just like any other adjective and blah, blah, but just humor me for a minute. Let's assume that in order for an author's writing to be unique, it has to truly be UNIQUE. The trouble with that assumption is that I would have to have read everything anyone has ever written in order to know whether the elements I consider to be unique are actually unique. Get it? Obviously I'm not going to be able to make that kind of a judgement… . Real uniqueness is a pretty tall order.”

After reading Christina’s take on the word “unique”, it made me question my response. While I think of Margaret Atwood as a unique writer, how do I really know? I suppose I don’t. What I do know is that of all the authors I read, I find her unique and I hope that I can explain why. I’ll try not to make this an essay, unlike my Hop post on April 28th.

I’ll keep to one aspect of Atwood’s writing. What I find unique about Margaret Atwood’s work is her ability to write in different genres, while keeping all her work literary. She writes intense dystopian novels, my favourite being The Handmaid’s Tale. She then moves from the future to the past with a work like The Blind Assassin. She then goes further back into the past with mythological works like The Penelopliad. All three are works I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend. She also writes poetry and children’s literature. Though her work is often called feminist, I don’t think that matters. Men and women alike can relate to the characters in Atwood’s books. It’s about the quality of literature.

It’s not an essay! Now if only blogger was working I could have this post up Thursday afternoon…. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Who is your loved/beloved unique author?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Battle Over Original Content

I found this while reading The Oatmeal today.  The Oatmeal is a comic blog run by a guy who makes fun of everything.  Some of it's really funny, some if is less so, it's almost all crass, but most of the time I enjoy it.  It's become so popular, there's even an Oatmeal book, which you can find on The Oatmeal site if you are so interested.

Below is a link, not just to an Oatmeal comic, but to a problem he is having.  Apparently, there's a website called Funny Junk that has Oatmeal comics all over it without any credit or link back to the original artist.  The Oatmeal is not the only comic site to have this problem.  Click the link below for more info.
What should I do about FunnyJunk.com? - The Oatmeal

I decided that I would check out this site before deciding anything.  On it I found a *rebuttal to The Oatmeal and any other comic that is claiming the same issue.  Essentially FunnyJunk is blaming its users , saying that they are the ones posting The Oatmeal and other comic images.  If you are so inclined to read them, some of the comments from the FunnyJunk users make The Oatmeal seem tame in comparision.

As someone who posts original work on the internet (though not comics), I found this interesting.  Of course, there's the big risk that there will be someone, somewhere, who will take your work without crediting you.  I hope that never happens, but it could.  So what should The Oatmeal do about FunnyJunk.com?  What would you do if someone took your work without crediting you?  Whenever I post a blurb or an idea I found on someone else's blog, I always link back to them and most times I leave a comment telling them that I've posted this link on my site.  Why pretend?  How does benefit you?

*Note: The person/people who run FunnyJunk need to proofread better.  Their letter is terribly written.

**Update:  Apparently, FJ sent a reply to Oatmeal, seen below the original comic and, of course, The Oatmeal has created a comic in response.

Authors From A – Z, Almost

I thought I posted this a while ago… I’m going to blame baby brain…

I saw this meme on What Red Read and wondered if I had favourite authors for each letter of the alphabet. Well, the answer to that question is, no. I decided that I’d make an alphabetical list of authors I’ve enjoyed and think that others should read too, though there are a few favourites in there. Can I make it from A to Z? We’ll see.

A: Margaret Atwood
B: The Brontës (I know they’re more than one person, by I couldn’t pick one.)
I: Anosh Irani
K: Stephen King
L: Harper Lee
M: Yann Martel
O: Michael Ondaatje
P: Sylvia Plath
R: J.K. Rowling
S: R.A. Salvatore
T: Miriam Toews
W: Virginia Woolf

So I’m missing Q, U, V, X, Y and Z. I want to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, but I don’t even own it yet. I do own The In-Between World of Vikram Lall by M.G. Vassanji, but I haven’t read it yet. I’ve never read Jane Urquhart, but maybe I should pick up a copy of Sanctuary Line? Maybe I should read some Yeats. I could not find any authors who have a last name starting with X. Is that crazy? I was looking on Amazon.ca. If anyone knows of one, please share.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Don’t Lie About Books

This week’s Top Ten topic from The Broke and The Bookish was one I almost skipped. They want to know what are the top ten books you’ve lied about, whether lying about reading them, liking/disliking them etc. Like the title of this post says, I don’t lie about books. I don’t feel I need to. You just have to read my reviews to know or ask me any question and I’ll tell you the truth. Here are some examples of my truthiness.

1. The Twilight Series, by Stephenie Meyer – I loved it. I think Bella is a terrible role model and Edward is a jerk, but I loved those books. I couldn’t put them down. They’re huge and I read the 4 books in less than two weeks. I bought the novella too. If you read the reviews I wrote about them oh, so long ago, you’ll know what my gut reaction was and how I couldn’t put them down.

2. Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackery – Thackery’s great literary work is the one I continue to hate on. Some books, I’m tempted to give a second chance, but not this one. Ever.

3. I know people love Alexander McCall Smith and his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. I’ve not read this series, but I’ve read two other books of his, Dream Angus and Heavenly Flirtations. The former I reviewed here. Heavenly Flirtations came first and Dream Angus was his second chance. I don’t think I’m inclined to make it to his big series.

4. The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie, by Alan Bradley – On the surface seems like a book I would love. I described it at a family dinner to my sister-in-law and step-father-in-law and we all share a love of books. They both think it sounded interesting and wondered why I didn’t like it. This is a good example of, just because it’s a best seller doesn’t mean I’m going to like it.

5. I extremely dislike James Frey. It’s difficult to hate someone you’ve never met, so I refrain from using that word. Nothing anyone could say would ever convince me to read one of his books. Ever.

I thought five examples were enough for this one. These are all things that if you read my blog, you’d know. I don’t think one should lie about books. Admittedly, when I don’t like a book, though I say so, I try to find something good to say, unless I really hate it. I rarely leave a book unfinished, but if I don’t finish it, I wouldn’t say otherwise. Maybe I don’t understand this topic. I don’t know why anyone would lie. To sound smarter? To be included? Let me know.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Two Doctors, By M.R. James

Did Dr. Abell wish ill on Dr. Quinn? Perhaps. Quinn not only gained the desired services of Abell’s former servant Jennett, but was also taking his patients. Quinn wasn’t doing it on purpose; they all just wanted to come to him. There was something about Abell that put these people ill at ease, including their rector. The narrator is asking for help. He (presumably a he, given the era in which this story was written) has found a collection of papers in an old ledger he acquired. He is asking the reader if they also think there was some supernatural work at play.

Apparently, this is part of M.R. James’ style; he was the creator of the “antiquarian ghost story”. He used more realistic settings and stayed away from the Gothic. He wrote during the early twentieth century and his ghost stories are thought to be some of the best in English Literature. If this is the case, I wonder which or whether any current horror writers have read him.

I’m not sure what I thought of the story itself. Two Doctors was definitely interesting. Did I enjoy it? I don’t know. Maybe I’m too tired these days to be reading something written in such a dense style. Initially I was confused. The story is only eight of the pages in my Oxford Book of English Short Stories, but I found that I kept having to go back and re-read a paragraph or two that I just finished, so I would know what was going on. I didn’t dislike the story. It just left me feeling ambivalent towards it. I think it’s one of those stories I’m likely to forget in a few weeks.

You can read the story here or here.

Thanks to John Mutford at The Book Mine Set for hosting Short Story Monday.

A Peek Into Real Life

My baby girl turned 2 on Tuesday. (It's been a busy week with all things related to her birthday.)  She's giving a hug to her baby brother, due in early July.  The photo was taken last weekend by my brilliant friend, Kelly.  Check out her website here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In The Skin Of A Lion

I adore Patrick Lewis as a main character. He’s so multi-dimensional and intriguing. I can never guess what he’s going to do next. All the people we meet in this story are held together by Patrick, or rather, their influence is felt by Patrick, making him turn left instead of right. I also think that many of his problems stem from first, the death of his father and second, his relationship with Clara. Of course, if neither of those things happened he wouldn’t be such a great character and this wouldn’t be such a fantastic story.

In The Skin Of A Lion is the second novel by Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje, originally published in 1987. I first read this novel about nine years ago and it became one of my favourites. It was for a 20th Century Canadian Literature class I was taking, where I read some really amazing books. Now, almost a decade later, I’ve read each of Michael Ondaatje’s novels and though I’ve enjoyed them, his first two are still my favourites.

I also don’t usually reread novels. I have felt that there are so many good books out there that I should be getting through my ever growing library. After reading some great bloggers and talking with some bookish friends, I’ve decided to reevaluate that stance. Though In The Skin Of A Lion had become one of my favourite books, I had a difficult time remembering details of the plot and all the characters. It all came back to me in my second reading and though I’ve read many books in between the first and second reading, In The Skin Of A Lion still reaches me and I think will stay with me more than before.

I love that this is a story takes place in a city I know. The main setting is Toronto, during the 1930s and I get to read about familiar landmarks being built, like the Bloor Street Viaduct. Ondaatje takes real events and weaves the fictional life of Patrick Lewis into them. It is brilliant and detailed. I also enjoy that a large part of the plot is the plight of immigrant workers, they were paid very little for dangerous work and were often not credited for the work they did. Patrick’s third meeting with Alice takes place at a rally, which different groups of immigrants hold in order to discuss their plight. Though born in Ontario, Patrick and Alice identify with the immigrants and live among them.

In The Skin Of A Lion has been described as post-modern, and in my opinion it is. I know that can put some people off. Don’t let it. This is a great novel with an incredible cast of characters. I’ve been focusing a lot of character development lately and this novel is a great example of how even secondary and minor characters can grow and change over the course of a novel. In The Skin Of A Lion remains one of my favourites.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Where Did You Go? I Want To Know More About You.

This week The Broke and The Bookish want to know who are our Top Ten Minor Characters. How minor are we talking here? A flash in the pan or a secondary character? Something in between? Here are my top ten in no particular order.

1. Ofglen from The Handmaid’s Tale – Ofglen’s influence on Offred is important. I think it impacts her behaviour greatly. I wish Ofglen could have won.

2. Lady Pole from Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Though not one of the main characters, Lady Pole does play a major role in the lives of Strange, Norrell and their friends. Lady Pole is the catalyst for so much of what happens.

3. Thresh from The Hunger Games – Who is Thresh? We don’t really know. He’s big and strong and a good representative of his District. He’s seen as a threat. The careers want him on their side, but he wants nothing to do with them. He shows feeling for Rue that the reader didn’t necessarily expect. Without him, the Hunger Games would have ended differently for Katniss and Peeta.

4. Claudine from the Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampires series – Claudine is Sookie’s fairy godmother. She looks out for Sookie. We learn her lineage, what she wants to become and it is sad when she is no longer part of the story.

5. Patrick Danville from The Dark Tower and Insomnia – Patrick is a child when we first meet him in Insomnia. He must be saved because without him, Roland, the Gunslinger, can not fulfill his quest in The Dark Tower. What happened to Patrick, though, between his childhood as a promising artist and his task helping the last gunslinger?

6. Nicholas Temelcoff from In The Skin of a Lion – Without Nicholas we would have no Alice. Without Alice, Patrick Lewis would be a very different man. Nicholas is a catalyst. I wouldn’t have minded if we could have known his family better.

7. Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice / Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Charlotte is a good friend to Lizzy. I wish I could have known more about her motivations in marring Collins. I have to say, I love the role they gave her in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! It’s crazy and she becomes even more of a motivating force for the zombie slayer, Lizzy Bennet.

8. Ruth from Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister – Ruth sneaks up on you. You think she’s just the mentally challenged stepsister, but she’s so much more.

9. Zeb from The Year Of The Flood – Who is Zeb really? Where did he come from? How did he hook up with the Gardeners? I think he was just using them as a cover for his rebel behaviour. I also think he really cared about Ren, Toby and Amanda.

10. Tina from the Undead series – I’ve always wondered how Tina became subservient to the vampire she created. Was it because of prophecy or was it something else?

Honourable mention to Mary Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. While the other sisters’ lives are paramount to the plot, Mary (the middle sister) gets forgotten. Shouldn’t the mother be trying to marry her off too?

Who are you favourite minor characters?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Word of the Week!

From In The Skin Of A Lion:

Detritus (pg 145): Pieces of rock broken off by ice, glacier or erosion; debris.
Personal Note: I don’t know if it’s just me, but this is one time where I think they author could have just used the word “debris”. “Detritus and chaos” versus “debris and chaos”, I think it might have been easier for the reader to understand. What do you think?

Sumac Bracelet (pg 146): Sumac – any variety of shrubs or small trees of the Rhus genus, including poison ivy and poison oak. Or, a sour spice popular in the Easter Mediterranean made from the berries of the plant.
Personal Note: I’m inclined to think that the bracelet was made out of poison ivy or oak, but that still seems weird.

Learned any new words from your books this week?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Literary Blog Hop

Literary Blog Hop

This week’s question is an interesting one; I struggled to answer it.
What books have you read that have been hyped as literary and, in your opinion, were not?

First I tried to think of books that people said had literary merit, but just turned out to be a mystery, fantasy, romance, etc. In that regard, the first book that came to mind was The Da Vinci Code. Though it uses a lot of art and history in its story, I don’t think it’s really “literary” in what is meant at the Blue Bookcase or this Hop. To me, The Da Vinci Code is a mystery. It’s a very long, researched, involved mystery, but I wouldn’t call it literary. It was also one of the most hyped books of the last decade.

What books do you think have received too much literary hype? Or hype in general?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thor (3D)

It’s been a while since I did a movie review. Probably because I rarely go out to the movies anymore… Thor was a movie I didn’t want to miss. I’ve really enjoyed most of the Marvel Comic movies and Thor was no exception. Unlike most of the other superhero films, I didn’t know much about Thor going in, I think just the basics. That definitely did not take away from how fantastic the movie was.

Thor is a great superhero action movie. I think the plot was well thought out, the dialogue was great. There were moments of intelligence, seriousness and humour. There were also some great actors in the movie that I was surprised and happy to see. Thor was exciting and the 3D was worth the extra few dollars (for a change).

I loved Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. I know there might be some comic fans unhappy about the switch in profession. Originally, Jane was a nurse (something I only recently learned; in the newest Avengers cartoon she’s a paramedic). In later comics, she’s a doctor, who’s in charge of various staff (changing with the times, I suppose). In the movie, Jane is an astrophysicist trying to learn the reason for the disturbances in the night sky. Of course, these problems are a sign of problems in Asgard. I like that they made Jane an astrophysicist. I don’t know exactly how else she would have come into contact with Thor, since they almost entirely eliminated his “Donald Blake” secret identity. I hope the comic fans don’t hate me for saying that. Maybe because of the change in profession, we’ll see more of Jane as she works with SHIELD and possibly in the Avengers movie (or that could be wishful thinking on my part).

I also really like our first peek at Clint Barton/Hawkeye. He’s a SHIELD agent with attitude!

Thor is hopefully the first in a summer full of great and exciting heroes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

You Deserve A Kick In The B@##$! - Top Ten Jerks In Literature

This week The Broke and The Bookish want to know about our Top Ten Jerks In Literarture. Were they jerks all the way through, did they pretend to be jerks or did they learn and overcome their jerkiness? There would be more descriptions of these guys, but I’m trying to keep the spoilers to a minimum.

1. Prince Ronald from The Paper Bag Princess – I know I had him on my bitch list, but sometimes being a bitch is more about attitude than gender. In any case, he makes both lists.

2. Finnick Odair from Catching Fire & Mockingjay – He comes off at first like a pretentious hot guy, who uses his looks to get whatever he wants and expects women to fawn after him. How wrong that assumption is...

3. Jimmy from The Year of The Flood – Jimmy might be the main character of the previous book, Oryx and Crake, but in The Year Of The Flood he’s a major a$$hole. He knows how to mess with a girl’s mind.

4. Eric Sinclair from the Undead series – Eric basically tricks Betsy into making him the King of the vampires. He uses destiny and prophecy as an excuse, but I’m still not sure he has Betsy’s best interests at heart.

5. Edmund from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – Edmund suffers from serious sibling rivalry. Even though he can sense that something is wrong, Edmund still goes down the darker path, putting his brother and sisters in danger.

6. Edward Cullen from Twilight – First, he makes Bella think she smells, then over the course of the series, he is completely insensitive to her emotions. He shouldn’t be the teenage romantic ideal, when he makes decisions for the relationship unilaterally and the girl he can’t live without has to deal with the repercussions. Is he too old for communication? How about they talk things through?

7. Lestat from Interview with the Vampire – If he was also just more honest with Louis, they could have avoided centuries of heartache.

8. Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series – Maybe the real jerk is Lucious Malfoy for raising, essentially, a racist son.

9. Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility – I think Willoughby really cared about Marianne, but his love of money was greater.

10. Wickham from Pride and Prejudice – He’s a user and a loser. Austen created some great cads. Wickham makes Lizzy think Darcy is horrible, not that Darcy helps much with that. Then he goes after the most naïve of the Bennet sisters. He’s an opportunistic pig.

Darcy from Pride and Prejudice almost made my list, but that would be three Austen men and I thought that would be too much. This list was almost too easy. Who do you love to hate? Do you ever wonder how an author can come up with such and Asshat?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Bring Forth a Wonder, by: George Bowering

I’m not sure where to start with George Bowering’s Bring Forth a Wonder. Maybe I won’t start with the story’s content. Bring Forth a Wonder is another of the stories from the collection, From Ink Lake, which I’ve mentioned a few times before. It features stories from the most well known Canadian authors, like Margaret Atwood, to others whose work is less recognized, like Alice French. Bowering is one of those I’ve never heard of before, but after doing some research, I’ve come to discover he is a prolific Canadian writer. His work is mostly in poetry, but he has also written ten novels, nine collections of short stories, four memoirs and lots more. Where have I been that I haven’t heard of him before? I thought I was doing pretty well on the Canadian literary front.

Am I going to read any of these works? I don’t know; who knows what the future will bring? If I do, it won’t be based on this short story. It was a bit odd for me. There was a lot going on for a ten page story. Maybe it was doing too much for its small space. The story starts out with a couple of Indian men (meaning First Nations) fishing. One is young and trying to prove himself a “man of the tribe”, the other is probably ten to fifteen years older. After their conversation, which I thought was interesting, the story shifts to the present day and it is actually the story of a writer, who is writing a novel about two Indians. He doesn’t like the way the story was going and changes it. This happens a few times in Bring Forth a Wonder. We also learn about why the author has left Canada to come to Italy to write about life in the Canadian past. Maybe it was a bit too much metafiction for me, or maybe not metafiction enough.

The story was definitely and interesting part of From Ink Lake. It didn’t put me off the author, it just didn’t attract me to him either.

Thanks to John Mutford at The Book Mine Set for hosting Short Story Monday.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Word of the Week!

This week, one of the words came from an unexpected source…

From Reality Check at the Toronto Star,

Castigating (in the second of the larger paragraphs): To punish, criticize severely, to reprimand severely.

My other source, was much more expected…

Ablutions (pg 43): The act of washing or cleansing the body.

Supine (pg 49): To lay back, be lethargic or passive. It’s apparently an old word.

Feldspar (pg 53): Any of a large group of rock-forming minerals that, together, make up about 60% of the earth's outer crust. The feldspars are all aluminum silicates of the alkali metals sodium, potassium, calcium and barium.
This one was a little technical.

Friday, May 06, 2011

If You’re Ever In Town… (Crazy Blog Hop)

Book Blogger Hop

I really like this week’s question from the Hop: "Which book blogger would you most like to meet in real life?"

I didn’t know how to narrow it down to just one. I decided to let everyone know about four bloggers, all of whom I follow and enjoy.

I’d really like to meet John Mutford at the Book Mine Set. I don’t know if/when that’ll happen since John’s way up there in the Northwest Territories.

Even though I’m not sure of her real name, I would like to meet Teacher from Whatcha Readin’, Books? We just seem to have really similar reading tastes and especially to dish over Stephen King.

I’d also like to meet Red, from What Read Red. I just always seem to end up on her blog!

Finally, I’d want to meet Mayowa from Pens with Cajones. He hasn’t posted in a while, but that’s because he’s working on his own writing!

It really was difficult to pick. There are so many great and interesting bloggers out there that I’d like to meet. My Google Reader is full of them. Who would you like to meet?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Why Can't Good-Looking Women Be Geeks?

I read this post on Stargazing today and was thoroughly irritated. From Stargazing:

"This is somewhat annoying. Someone at Film Drunk decided that women have to be lying when they describe themselves at science-fiction/comicbook fans and that they only do it to pander to men/boys. Which makes sense, because why else would women do anything? Am I right?"

Film Drunk even put together a reel of clips from talk shows with hot actresses confessing their nerdiness.  Some of them, ya, I think they might be saying they like Star Wars just to help promote whatever movie they're in, but others seem really genuine...  like when Rosario Dawson spoke Klingon or Megan Fox started naming off cartoonists. 

Besides that... I think I do okay in the looks department (when I'm not pregnant or recovering from pregnancy) and I'm a geek.  Just read all the Sci-fi/Fantasy/etc stuff I have all over this blog.  It's not like I "pandered" to my geeky, D&D loving husband with talk of Star Trek and comic books (FYI, he admits that I know more about the Marvel Universe than he does).  It's not like I don't have a hot, tall, blonde friend who loves Dragon Age and the recently released Dragon Age II (they're Xbox games).  Who are these "Film Drunk" people to decide hot chicks can't be geeks?  Can't women have diverse interests?  Why are they trying to place all attractive women in a box?  It just irritated me... a lot.  Click the link below to check out the Stargazing post and watch the video.

Not Another Post About Canadian Politics! Summerizing Last Night's Election

This Magazine has a clear and consice summary of yesterday's election.  They also provide links to other sites for more in depth information.  If you want a better understanding of what happened to Canadian Politics, check out their article.

What we should know:

1) There is Conservative Majority, which means they have free reign for basically the next four years.
2) The NDP is the official opposition.  No one called this until two days ago.
3) Due to severe Liberal losses Michael Ignatieff has now resigned.
4) The Bloc has been smashed with the NDP taking away many of their seats (and confidence).
5) Elizabeth May, the Green Party leader is the first Green MP in Parliament.
6) Canadians need to vote!  We had a better showing than 2008, but we're still only barely above 60 %.  More people need to vote!

Again, go to This Magazine for more information.

You Have to Read This Book!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and The Bookish is asking us about Books I'm So Happy Were Recommended To Me, what are the books that you probably wouldn't have picked up without a good recommendation? In no particular order:

1. The Hunger Games Trilogy – Thanks to my co-workers for recommending these books, as well as the hordes (am I actually exaggerating?) of bloggers. I devoured them!

2. Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 8 series – Thanks to one of the aforementioned co-workers, Sarah, for making me read them. I was a fan of the show, but was always hesitant on whether I should read the comic/graphic novel series. I’m glad she brought her copies into work so that I could take them home and read them.

3. The Twilight series – Thanks to the same co-workers that recommended The Hunger Games. Of course it was the summer before the first film came out that I read these books. At the time, they were as addictive as anything I’d ever read before.

4. The Handmaid’s Tale – It was actually assigned reading in one of my University classes. So many of my friends in high school told me how much they hated Atwood and I never ended up in a class where I had to read her, so I never chose to pick up one of her books. I’m so glad that The Handmaid’s Tale was part of that University class. It’s now one of my favourite books and made me a life-long Atwood fan.

5. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Thanks to the same co-workers, plus the bloggers, plus my husband’s step-father (step-father-in-law?) for recommending this book. I loved it and have been patiently waiting for the third book to come out in paperback, since I heard the second and third book are very much connected. However, with the Swedish movies out and the Hollywood ones on the way, I don’t know how much longer I can wait to read them.

I couldn’t quite get to ten. If you count the individual books in a series, I’ve actually got 16 books on this list. Does that count? I suppose I either don’t listen to other people’s recommendations a lot or I don’t have that many real life bookish friends to recommend things to me. Mostly, I just go where my interests and moods take me.

Monday, May 02, 2011

A Design for Life, by Emma Jones

This week, I’m happy to report that I discovered a new source for online short stories. Glossolalia publishes flash fiction, stories of 500 words or less. I enjoy a good bit of flash fiction. I’ve even read stories that were only six sentences. Each story on Glossolalia comes with a photograph. So far, I think they are fitting to the story to which they are paired.

I was perusing through the stories when the photo that accompanied A Design for Life caught my eye. At first, the reader thinks that the narrator is speaking about one thing, but then there’s a twist at the end. That’s right, a 500 word story (or less) with a real, surprising twist at the end. It’s difficult to go more in depth into the story without giving the whole thing away. I suppose that’s a part of reading/review flash fiction. The story is good, interesting with a surprise. Less than 500 words and I’m interested in reading more work by Emma Jones.

Thanks to John Mutford at The Book Mine Set for hosting Short Story Monday.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Word Of The Week!

I started a Word Of The Week feature/event/whatever last summer. I had been frequently coming across words I didn’t know and thought I’d share them with the blog world. Well, then I went and got myself pregnant. So there was sickness among other things keeping me from continuing to post this. I miss doing it though, so I’m going to start it up again. I will likely only post on weeks where I find a word or words I want to share. Also, my baby is due at the beginning of July, so if it stops for a while again over the summer (likely the whole blog will be on pause), don’t be surprised.

I’ve decided, to make things simpler for myself, to use Wiktionary and Wikipedia as my sources for definitions. If I can not find a definition/explanation on one of these two sites, then I’ll go out into the interwebs to find something. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll try to glean a definition from the context of the story.

From In The Skin Of A Lion:

Naphtha [Lamp] (pg 14)
• Naturally-occurring liquid petroleum.
• Any of a wide variety of aliphatic or aromatic liquid hydrocarbon mixtures distilled from petroleum or coal tar, especially as used in solvents or petrol.
• A naphtha lamp is what young Patrick used to light his home one evening.

From Herman Wouk Is Still Alive:

Assignation (pg 7 – if you print it)
• An appointment for a meeting, generally of a romantic or sexual nature.
• Modern usage of the word has narrowed the meaning to an agreed upon place for illicit sex. The earlier use of the word was broader an in general more innocent.
• A reader might think that assignation is being used in reference to the two women in the van, but it’s actually referring to the elderly couple at the rest stop.

I hope I find the time and the words to post again next week. Anyone else come across a new word or two?