Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Wizard Returns

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

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

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

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Book Clubs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Decade Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Star Trek: Beyond

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Witch Must Burn

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 14, 2016

No Place Like Oz

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

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

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

Friday, July 08, 2016

Children of Earth and Sky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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