Friday, April 25, 2014

The Dream Thieves

I couldn't resist Maggie Stiefvater's second book in The Raven Cycle. The Dream Thieves was captivating. It shifted focus of the story to Ronan, Gansey's oldest friend among the group. We continue to get chapters with Blue, Gansey, some much needed time with Adam, and, like The Raven Boys, the villain. The Dream Theives, however feels like Ronan's book. I wonder if the other books will shift focus again, which I would like.

Ronan is a wonderful character. He is unique and complex. He even has a twist at the end, just to make things even more complicated. Though we learn so much about Ronan and his family, the novel still leaves me wondering about Declan. There is something we don't know about him yet.

I like that Blue's family and the boys are growing closer. There seems to be a member of Blue's family with an affinity for each of the boys. Calla is for Ronan, Persephone for Adam. Orla is bit for all of them though.... Who gets Noah? It's an interesting contrast of the teenage boys and the adult women. I wonder how things will play out with Mr. Grey and Butternut...

There are a lot of questions still. I'm excited for The Raven Cycle to continue. The growth of the world, the changes in the characters, are intriguing. I'm itching to know what happens next. I'm also very interested in reading Steifvater's other books. I'll be on the lookout, though, for the release of the yet to be titled Raven Cycle #3

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Fool was hilarious. It was funny and cheeky and thoroughly entertaining. Christopher Moore has written a lot of books, and I know several people who are big fans. At first, I didn't know where to start. Should I start with Bloodsucking Fiends or Sacré Bleu? LambFool kept staring out at me from the bookshelf. A retelling of King Lear, I had to read it.

Pocket was an interesting, complex character. As the fool, he had access to more information than anyone else and could manipulate the nobles from behind the scenes. Many did not expect the fool to be so intelligent. His origins were not what I expected. Raised by nuns in a convent, Pocket had an interesting perspective and a large working knowledge of Christianity. For a time, he thought he would become a priest, a member of the clergy, perhaps copying tomes for the bulk of his life. Then he had to get himself thrown out. I think the below quote really sums up Pockets attitude about most everything.

"You might think that it was cruel of her to spend her only time in contact with the outside world telling lies to a little boy, but then, the first story that Mother Basil had told me was about a talking snake who gave tainted fruit to naked people, and the bishop had made her an abbess." (pg 67)

Pocket is referring to the anchoress, someone who is supposed to be praying for the sins of the king. She is more important than he knows.

There is a lot of shagging in Fool. A lot. There is swearing and snogging and shagging and this novel is not for the faint of heart. Everything is written humourously; this is a very funny book and it's meant to be. However, if you don't want to hear about wanks, tossers and such, be warned.

(Did you know that when I typed "fool" into Google, the first thing that came up was stock investing advice?  Seems counter-intuitive, no?)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Host

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Masked Mosaic

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

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

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

Sunday, April 13, 2014

100,000 Pageviews

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

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Raven Boys

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 11, 2014

Star Wars: Jedi Academy

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Buying Books for A Baby Shower

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

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

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

Monday, April 07, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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

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

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

Sunday, April 06, 2014

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

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

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

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

I didn't even mention the illustrations!

Friday, April 04, 2014


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Lives of Girls and Women

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

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

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

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

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