Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness


The ending was beautiful. The words were poetry. Sentences evoking complex imagery. It was an artful ending that I am glad I stuck around for. I loved the funerals and the wedding. I loved the uniqueness and the craziness of Jamat Guest House. I thought it was the perfect place for Anjum. In the end, it was the perfect place for them all. Arundhati Roy created a tapestry of words. I am very glad I won The Ministry of Utmost Happiness from Goodreads.

What grabbed me in the story was Anjum and the Hijra. The discoveries and secrets of Anjum's mother were captivating. I needed to know what happened next in Anjum's life, every moment, every adventure, the sadness and happiness. I really enjoyed reading about the Hijra and how they all lived and loved. Though sometimes a bit crazy, Anjum's life captured my imagination. She suffers so much, yet comes out of it with a home. I still want to know if Anjum gets to live out the rest of her days in peace.

Tilo, the other main character, was also very interesting. She seemed too modern for modern India. She was irreverent about caste, class and etiquette. I liked Tilo. I thought she was unique, which is probably why she was loved by thee different men in the novel. I just felt we spent too much time on her story. I liked Garson Hobart, Naga and Musa. But my favourite part of their love square is towards the end with Tilo and Musa. They are some very interesting situations the three men find themselves in over the years. Tilo has a quality about her though, a grace that I connected with. Still, I felt her part of the story was too long. I wanted to get back to Anjum and Saddam and the baby. I wanted to know what was happening in the graveyard and how the blind Imam was.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness was not an easy book to love, but I did. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Everything at the end, in the Jamat Guest House was wonderful and the characters went through a lot to get there.


Sunday, October 01, 2017

Lumberjanes: Friendship to the Max

Lumberjanes: Friendship to the Max was so much fun. It was exactly what I expected and exactly what I needed. I loved Jen. Jen is the best camp leader the girls could have asked for. Jen wanted to have adventure, but her first priority was always the safety of the girls. We learn more about the personality and motivations of someone we only saw as “in the way” for the Roanoke campers.

I like that in this volume we get to see more of the camp. There are more cabins, and they are filled with more girls. Their safety is Rosie’s top priority. We also get introduced to new and unique characters. Diane was interesting. I wasn’t sure where she was going to lead the girls. I also liked that we learned more about the boys camp. Who was the bear lady

The bull coming out of the woods thing was pretty funny

I wish Lumberjanes was longer. There was an issue of another comic at the end. It was good, I just expected more Jo, April, Mal, Molly, Ripley and Jen. And Rosie. Who is Rosie? I want to know so much more. I have the next 2 volumes and I know there are at least 4 more after that. I’m hoping we’ll find out more about Rosie in one of them. Because I think the Lumberjanes camp is no accident. There’s definitely something going on.

Also, Jen’s happiness at the end made me happy. Molly and Mal made me happy too.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

It's been a while since I posted about food or even tried new recipes. I am blaming the children. My son especially is going through a very picky eater faze. I have been sticking to a particular set of foods just to make sure the children eat. You know what they're not picky about? Chocolate Chip Cookies! These are chocolate chip oatmeal cookies from a recipe I have had for almost 15 years. I got the original recipe from a website called Meals.com, which doesn't seem to exist anymore. Like so many recipes, I've made some changes. I have more brown sugar and less white sugar. This time, I also used a mixture of dark chocolate chips and semi-sweet. I also always use butter, not margarine. They didn't last very long. I took some in for my coworkers for a potluck. They were all eaten. The ones I left at home did not make it to the day after. It made me really happy to see people enjoying the cookies.

Since I can't find the original recipe, I found a couple that are close.

This is from Betty Crocker.

This is from All Recipes

(I don't know what the rules are for posting a recipe from a website that doesn't exist anymore.)

I'm really glad I printed off this recipe, which I highly recommend of any recipe you find online that you know you will continue to use.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Blog Facelift

I decided to give my blog a little facelift. The background picture is different; it is from an ice storm last winter. I kind of love it, the way the ice coats the branches of the bushes, the clarity of the ice, but also the harshness of it. I changed my profile picture. The old one was from when I first started this blog over 10 years ago, so definitely time for a change. The fonts are mostly the same, the colours are different though. I've also made social media connections easier. On the sidebar, I have some pretty icons I got from here, and I used the instructions I found here. I like written instructions with screenshots better than video. There is no pausing and it's quieter. I don't need the kids hearing it and asking me what I'm doing. I changed the theme the blog is based on. It's similar to the old one, but I think it lets the background picture through better. I'm thinking about changing the layout, but I'm not sure. I'm fairly happy with the way it looks now. Different, but not too different.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Queen Of Shadows


That was a neatly perfect ending. Is that giving away too much? I have mixed feelings about that end, to be honest. It did everything I wanted it to, in a beautiful, horrific, exciting way, but I would have liked one twist. I guess there was a twist, but it wasn't really a surprise to me. When it happened, I was like, oh ya, that makes sense

The characters though, are what made Queen of Shadows so amazing, and what keeps me coming back to the Throne of Glass series. I loved the other two female characters that we got to explore. Lysandra was someone we met along time ago, but in Queen of Shadows, Sarah J. Maas explores her thoroughly. She is so much more than she appears. She is forging a path for herself, becoming her own person, instead of what others expect her to be. I also just loved Nesryn Faliq. She was brave, strong and independent, and she loved. Maas created a character that was fierce, but also emotional. There is also more than just what's on the surface with her. I'm excited to see where Nesryn goes next.

I really liked how Maas dealt with Aelin and Chaol's relationship. Part of me wanted it to be different, but I understand why it was that way. It seemed natural, based on what happened to both of them in Heir of Fire. I'm excited for more Chaol. He has been a favourite for me since the first novel. I feel like his loyalties and morality have been constantly tested. He's been through so much and deserves his own story to explore those changes.

I wonder what will happen with Dorian. He has also been through more than his fair share of grief. He's not that young prince we met in Throne of Glass. He has loved, he has suffered loss after loss. He feels as though he has caused pain. Dorian's feelings about his friends, his family and himself are complex. I wonder who he will eventually become. I wonder what new relationship lies on the horizon.

I really liked the dynamic between Rowan and Aedion. Adversarial, brotherly, comrades, soldiers. They developed their own understanding, outside of their relationships with Aelin. I wonder if we'll see more of Rowan's former compatriots, specifically one who will have a big impact on Aedion's life. Will it happen in the next book? It adds to the incentive to read Empire of Storms soon.

I'm interested in how Maas will expand Eleria, as the location of the main story seems to be shifting. I hope that doesn't give too much away, but there's a big world out there and Adarlan is only one small part. What will happen in Terresen? What about the mountains? The other countries?

I was talking about books with a new friend the other day' she was asking who my favourite authors where. I gave my "usual" answers, but I also realized that Sarah J. Maas is now one of my favourites. I've read all but one of her currently published books. I'm always on the look out for when something new is coming out (Tower of Dawn). Where I hear she's touring, I check to see where. Like other favourite authors, there are some books I've liked better than others, but I've enjoyed them all. I'm excited to see what else Maas has in store for her readers.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Wonder Woman 2: Guts


Wow. That ending was nuts. Diana, Hermes, Zola, wow. I couldn't put it done. Wonder Woman: Guts was fantastic. It was exciting, full of action, emotion and the unexpected. It was a great, maybe perfect sequel to Blood. Hermes! I thought one thing, then it was totally something else. Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and the team did a fantastic job. 

I don't know if I could have been more excited by what Guts did with all the characters. Diana, of course, was amazing. I loved seeing more of Apollo. We got to see Artemis, Demeter, and Persephone. The time with Hades, his whole story, left me a little heartbroken, but also with hope. I wonder if we'll see more of him in the future. The characters were explored and made three-dimensional. 

I'm not sure what else to say... If I say much more, I'm going to give away the end, because Hermes... Demeter... damn. Otherwise, I'm just gushing about how much I enjoyed this book and I am very much looking forward to more Wonder Woman from The New 52.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Defenders


The ending was fantastic. I thought it was over, but there was more. There was a little more story to be told, a little more about these characters that needed to be said. I really liked how The Defenders brought everyone together, not just Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, but Colleen and Misty, Karen and Trish, their friends who have helped them with their secrets, who just want them to live their best lives, are finding connections with others like them.

I'm looking forward to everything after this. I want more of all of them. I want more Jessica, more Luke, Matt, and Danny. Also, I want the Daughters of the Dragon. I really liked how the secondary characters had their own growth, moving their stories forward, trying to put things together, but also try to not hinder the Defenders. Some of them had real moments of bonding. Karen and Trish, looking at the board, sharing their worry was a great moment of quiet, in the midst of the fighting and chaos. 

I just wish the start was was a little better, more energetic. The initial fight was good, but after that, I feel like I spent 2 episodes waiting. I wanted them to be together sooner. I get the whole, look at where they are now thing, but the excitement happened when they were together. That fight in the white hallway, with Jessica’s scarf on Matt’s head was brilliant. It was what I had wanted from Iron Fist. The Defenders was so exciting, I could watch it again. I’m looking forward to seeing more from these characters and to the next time they team up. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Avengers Assemble: Science Bros.



Avengers Assemble: Science Bros. was hilarious. There were so many funny moments. There were so many pages where I had to show my Hubby. I kept saying to him, "You have to read this." (I also may have mentioned that this collection is by Kelly Sue Deconnick, who wrote all those Captain Marvel comics that I love.) The relationship between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner was fun. It was easy, like I think it aught to be, like two people who have known each other for a long time. I really enjoyed the first interaction with them and "The Captains". They're just making breakfast, talking about science stuff, and Bruce Banner calls Tony Stark's science, "razzle dazzle". Captain Marvel just eggs them on. Then they talk about a colleague who is missing, then there is a bet. Then they go on an adventure, with Thor and Spider-Woman. Again, like with the Captain Marvel books I've read, I loved Spider-Woman. I loved her attitude, her humour, her relationship not just with Captain Marvel, but with Hulk too. If I'm going to start reading any new comics, they will definitely be Spider-Woman (not counting the Deadpool and Wolverine books my Hubby picked up). The end though, with Wolverine and especially Spider-Man, was just great. Yay!

Let's razzle dazzle!
The actual Science Bros. adventure is just the first part of this collection. A wonderful amazing part, but it's the only part of the collection I have a problem with, even though I really, really don't want to. The problem is not with the fantastic story. It's not with any of the scenes or plot. It's with the way the first artist drew/coloured/designed Spider-Woman (I'm not really sure how it all works in the comics world). I kept asking myself (and sometime the Hubby), why was it necessary to show her butt-crack? Is her suit so tight, it is constantly going up her butt? Is her suit painted on? The same artists did not do the whole book, and for the first time, I was happy about it. I was tired of seeing Spider-Woman's cleavage through her full-body suit. I really don't want to complain about the art too much, not in a book that I otherwise loved. The expressions on the faces of all the characters throughout the story were amazing, really showing their feelings, their anger, annoyance, fears, and caring. Just when one image had Spider-Woman looking practically like she didn't eat, with skinny arms, no hips and belly button indent, I thought my head was going to explode. When the artist changed, I could easily tell, mainly because Spider-Woman no longer looked like she was sporting body paint. 

(My rant is done.)

We get to see more than just those first few Avengers. We are also given a Black Widow adventure, which gives us hints into her past with Hawkeye, and a deeper look into the "red in her ledger". It was a fascinating, interesting story, which included some (needed) support from Spider-Woman). Afterwards, we get a visit from Vision. We find out about the aftermath of the end of his relationship with Scarlet Witch. He's hurting, a machine, but so much more. He's in pain. There were parts of their story I didn't know about, like what happened to his children, so I had to look it up. I really enjoyed his conversation with Captain Marvel, and I really liked the end. It makes me want to read the New Avengers.

One of the best group shots ever!
Science Bros. is definitely a book I could read again. If I need a laugh or some light in my day, it is not a long read. Like the last Avengers Assemble I read, Science Bros. had many of my favourite characters that I could be engaged by, entertained by, but not overwhelmed. There was never too much going on, it was all just enough. Watching Captain Marvel and Wolverine share popcorn was a great moment. I enjoyed Spider-Man's cheekiness. Science Bros. has easily become one of my favourite graphic novels, the second in a series I am thoroughly enjoying.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Anne Of Green Gables


I cried. I had to suck it in though, and quickly dry my eyes so that my children wouldn't see, since we were in the car. It was a bit of a long drive home from where we were, and since my Hubby was driving, I was happily, excitedly, reading Anne Of Green Gables. The end just got me right in the heart. My feelings... my FEELINGS! (Not that my children would have seen my tears, involved in their own car ride activities.) 

My Hubby noticed though, steeling some glances at me before asking, "Are your crying? Why are you crying?"

"The book, the book made me cry. "

"What happened?"

"I can't tell you." *sniff

"Did all the hobbits die?"

*I give him a stern look. 

"What? I was joking."

(Telling me all the hobbits die is what he did when I read Lord of the Rings shortly after we started dating. Now whenever I have book feels, he asks me if the hobbits died.)

This is the second time I have read Anne Of Green Gables. The first time I read the book, I was in grade seven or eight maybe. I didn't remember much of the exact story, just impressions of Anne and Marilla. I did remember the scene with Gilbert in the schoolhouse when Anne resolutely decides to hate him. I did not remember how much Anne grows up in this novel. She's goes from 11 to 16. Grown up life began so soon back then...

I loved Anne. I loved her exuberance, her fierceness and her imagination. Anne was loyal and hardworking, but would get lost in her dreams. There was joy, excitement and adventure. There was also pain, anger and sorrow. Anne's story was every bit as wonderful as I remembered. 

Though I always intended to reread and finish the series, my time in Prince Edward Island at the beginning of July inspired me to pickup the novel when I got home. Something about being there, visiting the Anne of Green Gables Museum, seeing Lucy Maud Montgomery's things and learning more about her life, connected me to her stories. Anne of Green Gables, is just one of those quintessentially classic Canadian books. Children across the nation and the world read it. It's been made into countless adaptations. I know there is a new one, I haven't seen it yet though. 

The hope that Anne has, as she arrives at the Cuthberts, after having so much sadness and hardship in her young life, calls out to everyone. She moves beyond it, works hard, and makes the people she cares most about proud. Anne of Green Gables really is one of the best books I have ever read and I am looking forward to when my children are old enough to read it too.


Saturday, August 05, 2017

The Dark Tower

I wanted to love The Dark Tower. When I heard that a movie was finally going to be made based on Stephen King's epic novels, I was so excited. I have read all The Dark Tower novels. I have read *most of the graphic novels. This series, the way it has been woven into many of King's other works, is probably my favourite books series. From the trailers though, I could tell this movie was not going to be like any of the books. So that is the mindset I went into the movie with, and any fan of King's novels, should not expect the movie to be like the books.

When we walked out of the theatre and I asked my Hubby what he thought of the movie, he said that he liked it. It was entertaining. I hesitate to say that I "liked" it, because I feel like a proper adaptation of the first Dark Tower book, The Gunslinger would be amazing, a dark, gritty, blend of western and fantasy. There was so much of the mythos that they just touched on, without fully exploring. But it wasn't terrible. I was engaged, I wanted to know what would happen next... because the story was so different from the books, I really didn't know what was going to happen.

The best part of the movie for me was Idris Elba. He can be anyone, in any movie, and make it better. He was thoughtful, harsh, yet caring, the way Roland should be. Also, I have to mention, the sound of Roland's guns was fantastic. I know that it doesn't seem important, but Roland's guns should sound like hand canons, and I feel like they did. This is an entertaining movie, with some good acting. If you haven't read the books, it is probably something you will enjoy. If you're a fan of the novels, just be aware of how different the movie will be.

* I own all the graphic novels that have been published, I just haven't read them yet.

The trailer, so that you know what you're in for.

https://youtu.be/GjwfqXTebIY

Friday, August 04, 2017

Stopping for Strangers


Stopping for Strangers is a well-crafted collection of depressing stories. Someone always seemed to be dying or getting their heartbroken in the end. People were constantly losing something. I just wanted Daniel Griffin to give us some kind of hope. They were engaging, involving, rounded, full stories. I just wish there was a happy-ending occasionally or some kind of positive feeling mixed in with the rest of the story, even if the end isn't happy.

I won this slim volume of short stories from the 49th Shelf ages ago. (There was a mix-up too, where I didn't received the book for months.) I'm sorry I didn't read is sooner. As I often do, I'm going to comment on the stories that really stood out to me.

Promise
That ending blew me away. One sentence and it darkened the entire story. It was brilliantly placed. The timing was perfect. The story was just long enough for that sentence to have impact, for it to slap you across the face.

The Leap
The Leap is painful, heart wrenching. Depressing. I wanted to be done, but I also wanted to know how Marv was going to turn his life around. The story was so full of pain. 

Stopping for Strangers
Stopping for Strangers was weird. I was scared for a bit, the story had a horror element to it. But there was something else underlying everything too. So much was left unknown. 

Mercedes Buyer’s Guide
A stand out for me, Mercedes Buyer’s Guide was interesting and probably least depressing of all the stories. There was still something missing from the lives of the characters. The husband was missing some kind of life satisfaction. The wife was working towards a better education. The children were missing time with their mother. Barbara was missing maybe the things she wanted. Something about the end though, left the story with a different tone than the others. The tone said to me that maybe this family would stay together and maybe they would all be alright. 

I liked Stopping For Strangers. Though dark, it was interesting. I'm happy that I won it and glad I finally read it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming


I loved Spider-Man: Homecoming more than I thought I would. I heard it was good, really great, but I feel like I've seen SO MANY Spider-Man movies over the years, that part of me was seeing Homecoming just because it was part of the MCU. But nope. The end, the ENDS, were amazing. The different endings definitely elevated the movie for me, but all of it was great. The beginning was hilarious, the middle was fantastic. It was exciting, entertaining, there was character growth, and they used the 3D well. I don't know if I could have asked for more.

Tom Holland was adorable. He was the sweet, goofy, adolescent Peter Parker I wanted. He was a nerd. He was a super-nerd, fully in hero-worship of Iron Man. His relationship with his best friend was great. His crush was lovely. I loved his relationship with Aunt May. The videos he takes were so much fun. I loved how much he wanted to be a hero. For the people who haven't seen Homecoming yet, I don't want to get too much into how much Peter Parker grows, as each event becomes an experience for him to learn from.

Michael Keaton is amazing. AMAZING. For a moment, my mind went all the way back to Beetlejuice. He's so animated, serious, loving, crazy, determined, the Vulture is perfect. You can sort of understand his motivations, but he just seems to let things go to far. He is extreme. Toomes is a complicated character, one you can easily love and hate.

I also have to say how much I loved Zendaya. Her character was hilarious. She was perfectly messy, not a stalker, just observant. She was quiet, intelligent and thoughtful. She appreciated the people who became her friends. I fell for that character.

Also, Flash was the Flash I remember from when I was growing up. He was a complete a$$hole. He was a perfect jerk. His behaviour at the party was perfect. I loved what happened to his car.

I'm nervous but excited about what going to happen to Peter's friend Ned. It'll be something bad, right? No way he's going to be "the guy in the chair" forever. When he was that guy though, and the teacher comes in, and he gives the answer to what he was doing, normally, I wouldn't pay any notice to that particular response. However, my cousin took his daughter, who is a couple of years older than my daughter, to see Spider-Man. She loved it (of course), but she looked at her father and asked what that word meant. I know that this is really vague for people who haven't seen the movie, but I feel like I'll spoil the moment if I give too many details. What I am left with, though, is wondering if my daughter will ask us the same question when she sees the movie.

If you haven't seen Homecoming because you've seen too many Spider-Man movies, don't worry. There's no origin story. There's a reference to how he got his powers, but we are not seeing Peter Parker discover his powers, he's not coming to grips with the change. He has had his powers for a while. He knows how to use them. He made enough of a name for himself already, for Iron Man to have recruited him in Civil War. After that taste of what Spider-Man is like, we get to see an exciting continuation to his story.



Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Orc King

I needed more Drizzt in my life and The Orc King delivered. The amount of time that passed from the end of the last book, The Two Swords to the beginning of this one through me off. I thought the beginning would start closer to the end of The Two Swords, but it is months later. My Hubby reminded me that sometimes, that's just the way it goes with Forgotten Realms novels. (Plus, these are two different series within the Legend of Drizzt series). The Orc King is the first book in Transitions and I am wondering if that series title has more than one meaning. Something happened in the Forgotten Realms/Dungeons and Dragons. The book was published a while ago and my husband thinks it was around when a new Player's Handbook came out. When the D&D roleplaying game gets updated, all of Faerûn can change. R.A. Salvatore sort of refers to the change within the context of the story. The other, (more important to me) transitions are with the characters, the "Companions of the Hall". Catti-Brie is not the warrior she once was, accepting a new role. Wulfgar is making a major change as well. There is a change in the Silver Marches. Dwarves, Orcs, Elves and Humans are all transitioning, changing, and their future is not what they thought it would be.

Can I talk about how much I love Catti-Brie? I've always loved her. I was happy to see how her relationship with Drizzt has progressed. They speak so openly and honestly to each other, it's great. There are no ulterior motives and if one wants to know something, they just ask. Their conversation about Innovindil was interesting. I also appreciated that Catti-Brie had her own growth and change separate from Drizzt. She's forging a new and unexpected path, and I am excited to see where it goes.

I found Bruenor to be frustrating in this novel. I mean, I think I understand all his motives, and I think he was hearing everyone's comments and advice throughout the story, but he was so dismissive. I really like how Hralien balanced him out though. I hope to see more of this elf in future stories. I really liked Wulfgar's change too. I am not sure what role he will play in future stories, but I think he is where he belongs, as though his arc over the last 17 (wow!) books has finally come full circle. I don't know what else that character could do while in Mithral Hall, besides fight, of course.

I wonder what will happen next. I know they will keep looking for Gauntlgrym. I just wonder about the Orcs. I wonder about the Kingdom of Many-Arrows and Mithral Hall. The relationships, the dynamics between races, how it will all change. This is the Transitions series, after all. I expect that there will be a lot of changes coming. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Avengers Assemble

I picked up Avengers Assemble because it was listed as the first book in a series that included Avengers: The Enemy Within, which I had read as part of a Captain Marvel series. When I looked at what other books were part of the series, I saw Science Bros. and knew I had to get them. I am really glad I did and Avengers Assemble is a great first book. Brian Michael Bendis does a great job at bringing everyone together. The story could feel overloaded, but it focuses where it needs to focus and offers snippets of Spider-Man and Mr. Fantastic comments, and others, where necessary. 

The story focuses on the "core" movie Avengers at first, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Thor. There's a problem. They have to solve it. The problem is really big and they need space help. Enter the Guardians of the Galaxy. Then there's some space adventures. Maybe a couple of the guys die. Also, I'm pretty sure Thor and Gamora were flirting, but that was before the deaths. I've only recently started reading comics/graphic novels more regularly, so (spoiler?) is Thor and Gamora a thing? Because that would be cool.

The art was great. Fun, spacey, earthy, expressive. The colours were great. I loved all the battle scenes. I liked how it was organized, how the art lay on top of each other. The big scenes had an epic feel, but the artist was able to bring the story back into focus for those character moments, like with Hawkeye and Black Widow.

I do think there was a good balance of character and story. Though with so many characters, there wasn't a lot of "growth" happening, we got so see characters meet for the first time and show off their personalities. Rocket and Hawkeye's interactions were great. Drax was direct. Hulk showed emotion and fierceness. There was a lot packed into this book. I didn't find it overwhelming though. It was engaging and exciting. I'm even more eager to read Science Bros. and I wonder how it will all end. (Thanos!)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Court Of Wings And Ruin

I looked at A Court of Wings and Ruin and thought, well, that's shorter than Mist and Fury. Nope. The pages are just thin. The edition I have is a healthy 699 pages. There was a lot packed into those 699 pages. I don't think I have my head around it all yet. 699 pages and I can't believe it's already over. Sarah J. Maas made me want a long book to be even longer.

[Spoilers if you haven't read the first two books in the series. Vague spoilers for A Court of Wings and Ruin] 

A Court of Wings and Ruin starts off where we left Feyre, in the heart of the Spring Court, playing Tamlin's injured love. Revenge for what was done to her sisters is on her mind. However, her duty to the Night Court rules her decisions. I thought there would be more time with Feyre at the Spring Court, but like with the last book, what I thought was going to happen and what actually did, were two different things. I liked that we got to explore Prythian. Other Courts needed attention. There was a race across the land. There was bonding, there was revenge. People got to know each other in ways that they never expected. Characters grew and changed, taking on different roles as the land around them changed. I liked that we got to know the other High Lords better. Until now, we only really knew Rhys, Tamlin and Tarquin. I REALLY hope we get to spend more time with Helion, because there are some great secrets that need to come to light.

I feel like for the most part, Feyre and Rhysand's story is over. Especially with Tamlin's final moment in the story.  I know there are more books in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series to be published, but I feel like they will be about other characters. A book about Lucien and Elain, maybe one dealing with Queen Vassa, maybe the same book. A book that takes us deeper into the Dawn Court, the Day Court, Winter and Autumn. Each Court, each "royal family" has so much history, is filled with secrets, they could fill their own books. There are three novels and two novellas coming out in the next five years (according to Goodreads) and I could easily read them all.

I want to know not just about the High Lords, but about the characters I've come to love. What will happen with Mor? She revealed a pretty big secret, her reasons why keeping it silent are understandable, but they have had a cost. What will happen with Azriel? He has a bond with Elain, but where can that lead? What about Amren and Varian? Will we see them in the Summer Court? Will Tarquin see his dreams fulfilled? What will happen to Eris? I feel like somehow, he is misunderstood, and like Rhys, he's been playing a game, hiding his real self.

I really loved this novel, the entire series. I could read it all again. I was actually surprised there weren't more twists at the end. More "endings". But I suppose that also leaves us with more to explore in the future. A Court of Wings and Ruin has left me with a serious book hangover. When I think of what I want to read next, all that comes to might are the characters of the series, what could have been, what may be still, what will never be. I couldn't have asked for a book or series to grip me more.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Wonder Woman


Yes. Just, yes. Wonder Woman was everything that I hoped it would be. Diana was amazing. She was tough, determined, strong, sensitive and iconic. I don't know if I could have loved Diana more. I loved her insistence about training. I loved her directness. Gal Gadot was strong and brilliant, emotional and expressive. She brought Wonder Woman to life on screen with class and independence. Her performance, seeing Wonder Woman up there kicking ass, having a formidable presence, but also being a part of a deep, complex story, was wonderful.  I loved the emotion in the story. I loved that the story made sense, that it was Wonder Woman's origin, but that it also tied into the DC Universe and looks like it will lead nicely into the Justice League movie. I hope there is a lot of Wonder Woman in that movie.

Wonder Woman was my favourite part of Batman V Superman, and I was so very much looking forward to finally seeing her movie, but I was also worried. While I thought the DC Universe stories were okay (I don't hate on them as much as I've seen others), they all disappointed me in some way. So though Wonder Woman looked amazing, and I thought she should have had a bigger role in a movie with the title Dawn of Justice, I was still worried that this film would not live up to my expectations, that it would be like the DC films before it. Seriously though, how has there never been a Wonder Woman film before this? Wonder Woman is 76 years old. There are at least 6 Superman movies I can think of off the top of my head and 8 of Batman. Honestly, I know there are more, but looking them up will probably frustrate me. You know what, let's get back to how awesome the Wonder Woman movie was.

Watching Diana transition from her sheltered life on Themyscira to the world of man was interesting. She knows a lot, over 100 languages and she's read countless books. She's studied and trained hard. But she is not prepared for how women are treated. She is not prepared for the laws that govern the world. She is not prepared for the clothes. I would not be very happy with some of the clothes either, though the outfit Diana settled on seemed to fit her personality well. 

I loved when Diana and Steve were on the boat together. I really enjoyed Steve Trevor. He didn't take over the story. He was the guide with whom Diana could understand the world of man. Through him, she also saw how there was good and evil in everyone. She saw how people make choices and can change. Steve had the typical instinct to protect Diana, but once he saw what she could do, once he learned, she leaped into battle with a cheer; he needed her. Would it have been nice if he trusted her abilities at her word? Yes, but I also think about the World War I era and that this would be typical male behaviour. 

I also have to say I really loved that French village. Diana was amazing there (and everywhere). Her/Steve's men were great there too. In that village, they all learned more about each other, about who they really were and who they could be. It would have been easy to let them be who they seemed at first, but movie let us see more in them, see their goodness.

I want to see Hippolyta again. I want to see what happens when Diana goes home. I want to see how the relationship with her mother has changed and what other changes there may have been on the island. We deserve another Wonder Woman movie. Wonder Woman is easily the best movie DC has made in a long time. I hope they keep that going and everyone watches this fantastic story.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Unless


Unless was art. From the first chapter, this simple, yet complex tale struck me on an artistic level. It fully deserves every award and accolade it has ever received. I don't even know if I can fully describe how much I loved it. Carol Shields' Unless is definitely one of my new favourite books. As I was reading it, I felt it happening, felt myself falling more and more into the story, the characters and the craft of the words. I felt myself fearing the end, fearing the reveal as to what caused Norah's change. Ends can make or break a book for me, but this ending was a bit surprising, but also sort of what I had hoped it what be. I say only a bit surprising, because if I think back to some of the things Reta talked about with her friends, her arc and the story's arc throughout the novel, it is not that surprising. I feel like subtle literary hints were dropped. Of course, they were expertly weaved into the story.

Part of me feels like, why didn't I read Unless years ago? I've only had this copy for about a year (that's not that long compared to some of the unread books I own), but it was published in 2002 and it's by a great Canadian author. I feel like maybe I aught to have read it when I first read The Handmaid's Tale. The other part of me, the maternal part I think, is glad I read it now. I connected with Reta. Though my children are much younger, I also struggle with finding stories, whether books, film or television, with strong female representation. Not just for my daughter, but for my son too. (I'm going to stop there before I get too political and I'll stick with Reta's story.) The letters that she writes grow more and more scathing. I really liked when she said, you couldn't include Virginia Woolf? (I'm paraphrasing.) But she was right and she was connecting it with trying to figure out what happened to Norah.

There's so much in Unless. Motherhood, marriage, women, friendship, mentorship, all ran throughout the story. I found myself questioning Reta's relationship with Danielle Westerman. I don't know if I liked her. Though I always tried to remember that she was 85 and had been used to a certain dynamic with Reta. Now there was a change. Not just with Reta's home life, but Reta had other projects she was working on too. I felt that Danielle expected Reta's feelings to always be like hers, and they weren't. I reminded me of a bit of a parent-child relationship, where you expect your adult child to be more like you than they actually are, then are surprised. Reta's editor was driving me a bit nuts too. He just wouldn't let her talk, she couldn't finish a sentence. All the changes he wanted to make were infuriating. Unless invoked strong emotions with every chapter. It was a great, consuming read. There are so many more aspects I could explore and I look forward to finding more in future readings.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Wonder Woman: Blood

Wonder Woman: Blood was a surprise. Not just because I didn't know what the story was about, but because it was a present. I received Blood, along with Guts, Iron, War, and Flesh. I intended just to flip through the book, as I am currently reading Unless and I don't typically read more than one book at a time. But I couldn't put it down. There was some weird guy, with these three women drinking champagne, there was a bloody battlefield, there was an interesting gentleman with very different eyes, and there was a woman brandishing a shot-gun at him. Connecting all of this was Wonder Woman. Though really, also connecting all of this, was Zeus.

Suddenly, Diana has this woman to protect, brought to her by Hermes. Everything spins after Diana meets her. I really liked Zola and Hermes. I like the trio that they created with Diana. I'm interested to see how their relationships develop through the rest of the series. I have a feeling Zola at least, will be with Diana for a while. Also, Strife. I have mixed feelings about her. She causes a lot of death (and strife), but she's cool. She's irreverent and she understands things in a way others don't. It's definitely a love/hate relationship.

I really like the expressiveness on the faces of not just Wonder Woman, but the other characters as well. I also found the hard black lines in some of the images appealing. I also really liked the pencil sketches on the reverse side of the covers. I found the art engaging, complementing and heightening the story. I couldn't have ask for a better blend between writer and artists.

I read that there was some controversy though, when this story first came out, because it changed Wonder Woman's origin. Though I'm a little unsure whether or not I like that aspect of the story, I'm not surprised that there was a change. Isn't that what The New 52 was supposed to be? I just feel, with all the movies and new stories coming out now, changing part of a superhero's origin story is not a big deal, as long as it's not changing the essence of what makes that hero who they are. Wonder Woman is still a badass. She's tough, but caring. She is who I have come to expect her to be. MY problem with this Wonder Woman book (and the series, until Volume 7), is that there are no WOMEN working on it. I'm not saying that the men who created this book didn't do a good job, because I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I'm just saying that I wonder if that is why when Zola came out, she was wearing underwear instead of pants or shorts. So, I have mixed feelings about it.

In the end, I very much enjoyed The New 52 - Wonder Woman: Blood and I intend to read the entire series. I think it has gotten me closer to knowing this amazing superhero and made me even more excited to see what they do with the film.

Friday, May 12, 2017

ARQ


I like a sci-fi Groundhog Day and that's what ARQ gave me, but it had a twist. The twist at the end, that one second, elevated the movie for me. I saw the trailers for this Netflix movie ages ago, but hadn't gotten around to watching it. Then I found myself with some free time and looking for some entertainment. Ren and Hannah are not your usual couple, the trailers were deceptive with that. Every time loop gave us a new surprise.

Through each loop we learn about Ren and Hannah. ARQ starts right in the meat of the story. There is no preamble, no getting to know the starring couple, there's the bed, the time noticed, the attack. With each loop, Ren learns more. Then Hannah does as well. They learn the truth. They learn about each other and the world beyond. The whole situation is crazy. Who do they trust? Do they escape? Do they try to stop the machine? How many loops has it been? That's the question that has really stuck with me - How many loops has it been? How long does each loop last? Is it days? Months? Years? Finding that border, seeing beyond, really made you think.

ARQ is not the first Netflix Original I've watched, but it was the first movie. It has gotten me interested in watching more, not that I need to add more to my queue. ARQ had action, interesting characters, and a story full of twists and surprises. It was exactly the entertainment I wanted. 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps.

Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps. is part of Marvel's Secret Wars, specifically Warzones, and it takes place on Battleworld. I was only a little familiar with Secret Wars, so I wasn't sure what to expect here. Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps takes place in an alternate reality. Captain Marvel is the chosen of Doom and she leads a squadron call the Banshees. The Banshees include characters we're familiar with in connection with Carol Danvers, like Helen Cobb. They live on an army base consisting entirely of women. The only men they seem to ever see are the male members of the Thor Corps. These women are pretty badass. Captain Marvel and the Banshees are elite, and they're smart. They figure out something is wrong with the world, that there aught to be something beyond the sky, that it's not just a void. It was really interesting watching them puzzle through the mystery of their world and the mystery of Captain Marvel's powers.

I really enjoyed Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps. I liked seeing Carol as part of this team. I liked how they all stuck by each other, supporting and believing in each other. I liked watching them try and solve this mystery, science versus doctrine. I enjoyed Kelly Sue DeConnick's story and David Lopez's art. I loved the style that calls back to the early 20th century, but combined with fantastical technology. Though there were things I really liked about Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps, I'm not totally happy with it. I want to know what happens next. I want answers. I want to know what they discover, if they make it. I read an article saying that the end of Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps was like a goodbye letter from Kelly Sue DeConnick, a metaphor for her (and her team) leaving Marvel and Carol Danvers. Well, that's lovely, but it did not leave me with a satisfying conclusion. If you are a Captain Marvel fan, Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps is a must-read, but don't except a neat ending.

Monday, May 01, 2017

A Study In Scarlet

After reading A Study In Scarlet, I can see why so many people have fallen for Sherlock Holmes over the years. He's an ass, but clever. He is charming to Watson, but the Scotland Yard Detectives dislike him, yet are constantly needing him. They want to be better than him, because he's the best. Even thought they use his skills, they take credit for his work. No wonder he gets so jaded! Holmes is funny, serious, intelligent and irreverent. He's an amazing character.

In this first case, Arthur Conan Doyle keeps the plot seemingly simple. We get to know Watson, as the story is told initially from his perspective. We discover Holmes as Watson does. I can imagine that when Doyle first wrote this story, people would wonder who this man was, with his strange behaviour. Now, we learn about Sherlock Holmes as we grow up and his being an investigator is not a surprise. I read A Study In Scarlet waiting for Holmes' attitude. At the beginning of the story, Watson and Holmes have not yet met. After they do, Watson is fascinated by Holmes' studies, peculiarities and personality. They are just discovering each other. They are not the partners we are used to seeing.

Another unexpected part of the tale was the back story of the crime. Though Holmes uses his deductive reasoning and skills to discover the killer, Doyle delves into the motive. He gives us the tale of a family, who was from the state of Utah in America, and all the events that led to the murder in England. It is sad, emotional, and creates sympathy in the reader. I wonder how many, or if all of Sherlock Holmes' tales will have this element. It is a short novel (novella), so I can't really say too much more. Though we know Sherlock Holmes, A Study In Scarlet was not a tale I was familiar with and it was interesting discovering Holmes and the secrets of the mystery.

A Study In Scarlet was also my Spin book. I'm always happy to participate in the Classics Club's Spins. They remind me to read those classics that have been sitting on my shelf for too long. I wonder what other classics were read for today.

After all the fun of A Study In Scarlet, and getting a taste of Doyle's writing, I am looking forward to reading more Sherlock Holmes.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Shadow Land

I loved The Shadow Land. I think it might be one of my favourite books this year. I won an ARC of Elizabeth Kostova's latest novel from Goodreads, and I am so glad I did. Everything about the story drew me in. The misplaced ashes, of course, were a unique way to begin the story. Alexandra's determination was special. She was an amazing person. She was emotional, and had purpose. I loved how she felt about Bobby, about Neven, Stoyan, Jack, her parents. The trauma and guilt of Alexandra's childhood shaped her life, her goals, and led her to this place. Bulgaria. A country I do not know much about, but now I'd like to learn more. The Bulgarian perspective is not one I've read when it comes to World War II and what happened after the war. It was hard, scary and sad. People blaming other people, being punished for not doing anything wrong, or not agreeing with the new government. It seems like it was difficult to just live life. Alexandra learns about this country, about where she has decided to live for no greater reason than the memory of her brother.

As beautiful as the writing is and as interesting as the country is, it's the plot that moves the story forward. The urn and the mystery that unravels is unique and unexpected. Alexandra is just trying to return someone's precious property and she gets sucked into this incredible tale, along with an unsuspecting taxi driver, who has secrets of his own. I really enjoyed the duality of the plot, Alexandra's story, moving along with Stoyan's. Stoyan's story was simple, but extremely emotional, Alexandra's story was also emotional, but more complex. 

I love a good ending and the end of The Shadow Land was wonderful. I loved how the stories met, how they came full circle. I loved the discoveries, the drama, the unexpected. The tension was fantastic, I was scared for Irina and Lenka. I really enjoyed the quieter chapters after the climax. I like that we got a hint as to what the future might hold for the main characters. I loved the friendships that developed through this story, across generations.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Shadow Land, loving it more than I thought I would. It was brilliant and beautiful. It captured the imagination. It didn't let me go until the end.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast was magical. I didn't see it opening weekend, like I (and my husband) wanted to. Instead, my sisters-in-law wanted to have a girls weekend, us and our daughters. They loved it. We all thought it was wonderful. But I can't talk about it because my Hubby wants to see it too. I'd go again. It might be a bit too scary for our son though. There are some intense scenes. My daughter did get upset at a couple parts, if you've seen the cartoon, you know which parts I'm talking about. It was still good though, she said the movie was amazing and it was okay that she got upset because she was worried or sad for the characters.  My one sister-in-law admitted to tearing up at the end too.

Everything is taken a step further. A step more danger, a tick more excitement, a little more depth and story. We learn about Belle's mom, we find out more about the Enchantress, and how it is important to treat everyone with kindness and compassion. Every character was a bit more than before. I want to watch it again. I enjoyed the actors, the sets, the costumes, the songs. I thought everything was seamless. More than my enjoyment, for this movie, my daughter loved it and that's what I was really looked for when we went to see it. I'm so happy that she did and I look forward to more of these live-action adaptations.