Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Wrath and The Dawn

Curses, magic, stories, what more could I want? Shazi was brilliant. I loved her. I loved her strength, her defiance, her heart. She had a depth and range of emotion that I appreciated, especially in someone so young. I don't want to give too much way, but the end, with her, the fire, Jalal, that was fantastic. Heartbreaking. Also, her father. Watch out.

I enjoyed The Wrath and The Dawn. I knew I would, but I was surprised how much I did. Sharhzad is brilliant, but it's not just the storytelling, there's is something else about her that bewitches the Caliph. Khalid, King of Kings, has met his match. Their relationship goes through so many changes. The dynamic changes too. It's interesting to see Shazi exert her power over others. She's the charm and wit to his venom, I think. Renée Ahdieh has certainly created an interesting pair.

Tariq is interesting too. I'm left wondering about how he will change and what he will do by the end of the series. I really like when an author flips a character like this. We think Tariq is one thing, a heroic noble, but by the end, I'm left wondering what else he is. The person I feel really bad for is Rahim. He goes along with his friend, thinking he is helping Shazi, but he would rather be patient. I wonder what Rahim will do in the end.

I wonder what Sharhzad's father will do in the end too.

The Wrath and The Dawn is a young adult novel, so I'm really hoping for a happy ending. I also know that, from other books I've read, that just because something is young adult and written with a younger (than me) audience in mind, it doesn't mean that there will be a "happily-ever-after" ending. With these characters and their conflicting emotions, the curses and magic, I'm wondering if this could be one of those cases where happiness is only a hope.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Lost In Space

I love the Robot. I really do. I almost wished they named him, or called him something other than "Robot". I'm hoping for more Robot in Season Two of Lost In Space. For those that don't know, Netflix's Lost in Space is a remake of Lost in Space from the 1960s. Which, incidentally, is a re-imagining of the novel, The Swiss Family Robinson. (The whole remake thing isn't new, it's just a lot more common than it used to be.)

I never watched the series from the 60s. It's before my time. Though I have watched shows from the 50s and 60s, this one just never hit my radar. I had, of course, heard of it. "Danger, Will Robinson" is part of our culture, isn't it? I knew there was a family named Robinson, a robot and a kid named Will. The Robinson children are the stars of the show. They're smart, unique and talented. They're brave and loyal. Will is surprising, Judy is intelligent, Penny is sassy. I really enjoyed all the changes they made to the original, though again, I never watched the original to really compare. I liked that the mother was a brilliant rocket scientist, and used it to solve their problems. I liked the relationship between Maureen and John. It's complex and real, something people can relate to. The whole Robinson family was really relatable, even if they were "lost in space."

I know I'm a bit behind the times, as this came out in the spring, but I really liked it. I'm wondering what's going to happen to the Robinsons, Don West and "Dr. Smith". With the way Season One ended, there are so many possibilities.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo

I loved this book. I hadn't watched Last Week Tonight with John Oliver in a while, but I saw a clip of John Oliver on one of the late night shows (was it Seth Meyers or Stephen Colbert, maybe both). He was talking about A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. I know this all happened a few months ago, but I recently was reading the book with my children and they really enjoyed it, especially my son (who is on the cusp of going from picture books to chapter books). They love that love wins, that you can't stop two people who love each other from being together.

They are so cute!
There are all kinds of things I could talk about when it comes to A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, but for me, that my children enjoy the book and easily understand the message of love is so important. The proceeds from the book go to The Trevor Project and Aids United, which is fantastic. It's a big middle finger to the current American administration, which is pretty funny. If the children didn't get the message though, I don't know if the book would have the same impact, I don't know if it would be a bestseller. Part of me hopes that Last Week Tonight puts out another children's book, because if Marlon Bundo is any indication, it would be great.

Check out the episode:

Monday, September 10, 2018

Classics List

The deadline I gave myself for the Classics Club has come and gone. It came and went 9 months ago. Some life-related things got in the way. I was having a hard time with reading and blogging for a while there. But that's just life.

What do I want to do now?

My priorities have shifted. I'm still reading and I'm still reading classics, but just not as much as I meant to when I started this challenge. I usually choose books based on how I'm feeling and how I'm feeling lately is busy. That does not often lead me to a classic, though I did manage to read more than half my list in those 5 years. I know it should be more, especially with all the short stories and poetry, but the last 2 years have seen some life changes.

I still plan on reading through the list. I hope the new moderators at the Classics Club will let me continue to add my reviews to their ever-growing list and keep me as a member. Now that it does not have a specific goal date, I have let the list grow, as other classics catch my eye. Though, if I do that, I may never actually finish. Part of me is okay with that. I am also left wondering if I should give myself a new deadline. The end of this year? The end of next?

Any classics readers out there? Anyone not finish their 5-year goal?

Sunday, September 09, 2018

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Leigh Bardugo's, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic is a collection of all Bardugo's Grishaverse stories. Some of these stories I've read when they were available at Tor.comThe Too-Clever Fox is still haunting and important, giving me chills to read it again, five years laterLittle Knife is definitely a teaching story. We learn about trust, being used, and dreams fulfilled. I can't explain how much I connected with the daughter and the riverMy favourite of the stories was The Witch of Duva and I think it still is. It really changes up the idea of the step-mother. Also, who was the real witch of that tale? It's the story that pushed me into the GrishaverseThe Tailor and The Demon in the Wood are not in this collection, since they aren't "folktales", but stories about specific characters in the Grisha series. I would love to have all these stories together though. I love Bardugo's writing style and I enjoy when she writes these Grisha fables. I think each of the stories deserve something to be said about them.

The first in the collection is Ayama and the Thorn Wood. Like Bardugo's other stories, this is another where things are not what they seem. Ayama's relationship with her sister is special, even unlikely given their parents. Her relationship with the Beast is special too, but not unexpected. I really felt Ayama's pain, really connecting with her. I think that the story did to me exactly what it was intended to do.

The Soldier Prince is creepily haunting. It's sort of a dark take on The Nutcracker. There's a lot of selfishness in this story. It starts with the fancy merchants, then Droessen, but we see it throughout. Though the end could be said to encourage the nutcracker's selfish desires, it could also be said that he acknowledges his sense of self, cogito, ergo sum. So, maybe it's about desire, maybe it sprinkled in a little philosophy about existence.

The more I read of When Water Sang Fire, the more excited I became. I realized where the story came from, and it was brilliant.  I loved Ulla. I wish she had the opportunity to spend more time with her brother. I wish she could have learned more about her parentage. By the end, I was excited and scared. I knew what was going to happen. I knew it would be bad, not just physically, but emotionally. The ending was beautifully dark.

I’m so glad that Leigh Bardugo continues to write Grisha folktales. They are creative, inspired, and impressive. I’ve found myself connecting with each of them for different reasons. These stories continue to make Bardugo one of my favourite writers and the Grishaverse one of my favourite worlds.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Writing Course Fail

I didn’t fail the course, I just didn’t finish it. Again.

I wrote for the WCYR blog a post about tips to keep writing in the summer. I even did some of the things I wrote about (carrying around a tiny notebook is very easy). One thing that was harder than I expected, was keeping up with a short and easy writing class. I signed up to participate in Sarah Selecky’s Six Weeks, Six Senses summer writing course. Every week for six weeks, I received an email with the assignment. For three weeks I did well. I was feeling good about it too. Then week four rolled around and something happened. I think the busy summer just got busier. On the last day before school, I felt like I should try to get at least one more is the assignments finished. It didn't work out. Technically, it is still summer. Maybe I will get the course done by September 21st.

I did other things from my list. I joined a summer writing group. I attended bookish events. I talked to other writers. I wrote to prompts. I read, a lot (reading is one of my favourite things to do). Somehow though, this writing course, which I tried so hard to treat like a real course, which I tried to "attend", like my summer writing group, just didn't work out. In addition to the summer social life, the day job went a bit nuts in August. In the end, I didn't finish.

It feels kind of like a fail. Like I failed. This feeling is the reason I don't sign up for other courses or groups. I just don't think I will be able to do it. It's the same reason why I haven't done more reading challenges, not to mention that I failed the Classics Club Challenge. Life gets in the way. When I have those few precious free moments, there are other things which seem to take priority. Is that bad? Should I continue to try these online courses?

Maybe it's the online thing. Like the writing group I belong to, if it was somewhere I had to go to, I'd be more likely to finish? Maybe. I attend (almost) all the WCYR events. I'm a computer/techy person... Maybe because there is no one holding me accountable, I feel less of an obligation. These online courses though, they're free. FREE. I like not having to pay for writerly learning. Is that part of the problem too? I suppose if I take a third course and this happens again, I'll be able to really see the pattern instead of just worrying that there is one.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Gathering Darkness

Why did I wait so long to read Gathering Darkness? It might be my favourite of the series so far. Morgan Rhodes creates such complex, interesting characters. It's almost impossible to completely love them or hate them. There's some part of even the best intentioned characters that you don't like or even hate. You find sympathy for those that you thought you hated. There's love between these characters too, real, messy, complicated love. Not just romantic love, in Gathering Darkness we find love between friends, siblings, parents and children. So much of that love is mixed with anger and hate. How will it all unravel?

That ending was everything. Lots of great things happened throughout the story.  Tension, fights, daring escapes, and magic were all blended together to create a captivating and entrancing story. I spent a lot of nights staying up too late reading. Even with all that amazing story, the end was everything.  The ending was all the excitement and intrigue of the rest of the book condensed into the last 10%. Rhodes surprised me with what happened to the characters. There were a lot of things I didn’t expect. Things I thought would happen after reading the first Falling Kingdoms book have not held up.  Characters who I thought were good I think really are the villains, people who I thought would get together, are actually in love with someone else. There’s so much lying, so much selfishness, but also selflessness.

There are three more books in this series. There is so much possibility. I have no idea what is going to happen. I don't know if by the end Mytica will still be standing. I don't know if it will go back to being three countries or if the island will unite under one banner. I don't know if the looming empire will take over. I don't know how magic will play a part in all of it. There's just so much unknown, but that's okay, I'm excited about it. I know Rhodes will make it flow, I know that it will make sense in the Falling Kingdoms world. I know that I will get wrapped up in the story again and I hope I am surprised by every ending.