Thursday, August 25, 2016

Suicide Squad

Easy come, easy go....

Amanda Waller is terrible, amazingly terrible. Seriously, who's the real bad guy? I know some of her comic history, so only some of it was surprising, but when she comes face to face with the team? What?! She's certainly someone who blurs the line, maybe erases the line.

I really liked how we knew the Suicide Squad were bad guys, but the movie created sympathy for them. Except for Diablo, I felt sympathy for him from the start. Diablo wasn't a saint by any means, but he knew what he was capable of and he wanted to stay in control.

While it's a bit brutal and totally wrong, I like that the movie shows Joker and Harley Quinn's relationship from the beginning. He made himself the perfect girlfriend. Did Dr. Quinzel get a little too close to the Joker, yes, but, well, he certainly took control of her and pushed her over the edge. Yet Harley isn't just Joker's girlfriend. She has friends and is loyal to them.

I enjoyed Deadshot's story too. They definitely wanted you to know what he was, but he also had someone he cared for. (I wasn't 100% sold on his shopping outfit though.) I think a lot of these "bad guys" had someone they cared for, a lover, children, a brother, so those people were used to "humanize" them. But these were also not nice people.

Also, I kind of loved Flagg.

I appreciate that they didn't reveal the big bad in the trailers, we didn't even see a full image of the evil (unless I missed it), which I thought was a mistake they made with Dawn of Justice. The audience needs surprises. That being said, the plot was a little....thin. I understand that they wanted the thing they were fighting to be "evil" instead of just "bad", because otherwise, why would these guy care? But, I don't know... The plot did afford back story and bonding between the characters. So, you know, it was okay. In the end, I enjoyed the movie and was happy we went to see it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Books From Before Blogging

I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday in a really long time. This week's topic grabbed me though. This week, the bloggers from The Broke and the Bookish wanted to know the top Ten Books That Have Been On Your Shelf (Or TBR) From Before You Started Blogging That You STILL Haven't Read Yet. Since I recently started looking back at my blogging past, having passed my 10th blogging anniversary, I started to wonder, what books have been sitting on my shelf, unread, for over 10 years? My posts on Suicide Squad and The Humans are going to have to wait, because I need to know this now.

1. Appointment with Death, by Agatha Christie - I own 4 of Christie's books, why did I stop reading at 3?

2. It, by Stephen King - What is wrong with me? King is one of my favourite authors and I've read loads of his other books, but not It?

3. The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton - I picked it up on the cheap after having reading Ethan Frome and it's just sat on my shelf.

4. Fury, by Salman Rushdie - Again, I got it on sale, after having read Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and it has just sat there.

5. Jacob's Room, by Virginia Woolf - I took a class on Woolf, but Jacob's Room was not one of the books we read. I bought it anyway.

6. Almost all of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles - My Hubby and I were both reading these books. I was also reading Rice's Mayfair Witches books. Somehow I have never made it past Tale of the Body Thief. I will soon though (maybe).

7. A Perfect Pledge, by Rabindranath Maharaj - I read Maharaj's short story collection The Book of Ifs and Buts and loved it, so I picked up this novel... and it's followed me for years.

8. War and Peace, by Leo Tolsoy (can we include Crime and PunishmentUlysses here?) - They're long and scary. Based on length alone, I'm more likely to read Crime and Punishment than the other two.

9. The Tiger Claw, by Shauna Singh Baldwin - I don't know why. It just hasn't been read yet.

10. From Ink Lake, edited by Michael Ondaatje - It's a collection of Canadian short stories. Seems like my kind of thing, but nope. It's sat on my shelf as long as the rest of them.

I thought there would be more, but last year I started making an effort to read the books that I've had for a long time. That's part of the reason I got around to reading Tale of the Body Theif. Seeing this list has reminded me how much I wanted to read each of these books when I bought them. Hopefully, I get to at least one of them soon.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child

I loved it. I really did. I loved grown up Harry, Ron and Hermione. I loved grown up Draco. I love the moment of envy and connection he has with Ginny. I loved their children. Albus and Scorpius are unique and different from their fathers. Yet, Albus is more like Harry than he realizes. I loved Rose and wish we had more of her. I enjoyed the whole story. How the characters changed, then changed again. I loved the glimpse of darkness. The Augery. I loved the Harry Potter series and The Cursed Child is a great addition.

Now I'm eager to see it. I hope the production travels. I hope Harry Potter and The Cursed Child comes to Toronto and I get to see it. I'm sure the tickets will be insanely expensive, but I already talked to Hubby, who is also a huge fan, and we'll just splurge. Yes, we're already planning and the play has only been open in another country for just a few weeks.

Yes, this is very much a play. There are definitely some descriptive, beautifully written stage directions, which lend themselves to the telling of the story, but The Cursed Child is a published script, and those are stage directions, not an artfully crafted descriptive paragraph. I've talked to people who have had a hard time with reading plays in the last, not just Shakespeare, but anything non-novel. I've never had a problem with that. Though I would agree seeing a play is better than reading one. I felt that way after reading Death of a Salesman and Cyrano de Bergerac. But really, this is Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling. If you want to know what happened to Harry, Hermione, Ron and many of the rest, this story is a must-read.

I could gush, I could write all kinds of spoiler-y things, but I won't. I'll just say that this story is amazing.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Blast from the Past #1 - A Series of Unfortunate Events

I finished the last five books of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. I took these books (among others) on my honeymoon. Why? I don't know. Not typical honeymoon reading material. Certainly different than the books I read on my recent vacation. I said it was the "perfect poolside read" and maybe they can be, if what you want is fun, exciting and easy. They're books for children, so I probably didn't have to do a lot of thinking while reading them. 

The post looks weird. I chose Courier for the font, for whatever reason... I think because Lemony Snicket writes letters on old typewriters. There are also no pictures and no links. Now, there's always at least one picture, no matter the post. I also include links to the books, authors, series information and anything else I think else related to the post. Not back then. It's also kind of spoilery, so don't read it if you haven't read the books. Apparently I didn't know about Spoiler Warnings back then.

10 years later, I still think they're great books. I'll probably start reading them with my daughter in about a year, maybe sooner. They have a darkness to them, but they're cheeky and they are about the children solving these problems. I'm looking forward to re-reading them with her.

So this is my first "Throwback Thursday" sort of post. I think I'll keep doing it, though it's throwing me to see how "uncomplicated" this post was. I wonder what next week will bring.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Vacation - The Books

One of the best parts of a vacation is the extra reading time. However, I didn't read the books I thought I was going to. I downloaded some YA, some sci-fi, some fantasy to my Kindle and iBook apps. I brought along Tigana, a book I won from Goodreads, which I thought would be perfect for my very long car rides, but nope.

You can read a bit about my trip in yesterday's post, but this one I thought I'd focus on all the books. I had started The Wicked Will Rise right before we left, so it was the first book I read on this trip. Afterward, something about the car, the busy-ness, the heat, I ended up reading a few short romance novels. I don't read a lot of romance in general, but I have read some. Many stories I read have a "romantic element", but they're not usually the focus. 

When it was time for me to pick something new, there was one story that jumped out at me. I had downloaded it a very long time ago and thought the plot sounded interesting. It also described itself as a romantic comedy and when I finished The Wicked Will Rise, I thought it would be fun. Then one thing led to another and suddenly I had a whole digital stack of romantic reading material. They were all good, but the ones I liked the most had a good story, and an interesting character or two trying to find herself or himself. There were family issues and/or career issues often weighing on their decisions. They, of course, find that one person who can help them balance their life or whatever. Some of the books were steamier than others. Nothing was too outlandish, I don't think. I thought I'd post a few thoughts about each "vacation book", since they were all read in a two week span. So, here they are, in the order I read them.

The end was a bit like, Bam! I don't know what's going to happen next. Amy Gumm is not the girl from Kansas anymore. She's a badass witch. She's a Wicked Witch. She is very special. The Order of the Wicked see it, Glinda sees it. They all want her and I wonder what she'll choose.

I was a little disappointed in Pete's behaviour. I had figured out the dual-identity thing in Dorothy Must Die, but I was a little surprised at how easily he could be dismissed. So, I understand the choice he made, sort of. It was still a glaring mistake.

I really liked that we got to revisit the Queendom of the Wingless Ones. The queen herself, there's so much more to her than we first realize. I really liked Bright and Polly. I liked that not too many new characters were introduced. We got to know the people we had already met better, and we got to know Oz better as Amy made her journey, searching for Nox and the remnants of the Order.

I'm really not sure what's going to happen next, but I'm excited to find out.

Let's Be Just Friends was cute, though the title trips me up every time I try to type it or say it. It's about a male/female friendship. They're best friends. Should they be more than friends? The story is short, but a lot happens. Over a year goes by and the relationship between the friends, Rose and Tyler changes. Friends, more than friends, less than friends? There's a lot of twists, other love interests, poor decision making. Rose and Tyler are at Harvard Law, so young, but not too young. It was enjoyable.

Have you ever watched The Wedding Date? Well, this is kind of like that.  I really thought the story was interesting, the game show was a unique tool that moved the plot along. Kate was neurotic, but cute. Joel was amazing and more than what he seemed. I hated the Ex and the Lady Dragon. They were just terribly perfect antagonists. I think there could have been more sexual tension, though I did like that Kate was a grown up, who understood that her child had to come first. I also liked that Joel was multi-dimensional, not just eye candy.

Seized by Love had a unique and modern story. I liked that Lizzie and Blue had gotten to know each other over the course of the year. I thought Lizzie's secret was not something Blue, or anyone, would have ever expected. Her relationship with Blue, was tense, then not, then angry, then tense again. I also really appreciated that Lizzie was her own person. She had a family, a business, and responsibilities. Those things remained a priority throughout; she wasn't going to change for Blue, she wanted him to understand. I don't know what it was exactly, the heat, the story, the independent character, but after reading Seized by Love, I really wanted to read more stories by Melissa Foster.

She's a hockey player! The main character, Billie-Jo Barker, one third of the Barker Triplets, was an Olympic, professional, hockey player. She comes home due to injury and isn't sure what to do with her life. She desperately misses hockey though, and when she joins the local team, the men don't like it. Like several of the romance stories I've read recently, it's a small town. So there are rumours, fights, innuendo and her car gets very damaged.

Not that Billie is completely innocent. She might have more hockey skill than all the men in the town, but she isn't perfect. A long time ago, back when she was known as just a jock, before going off to the Olympics, something happened. I kind of saw it coming as Stone skirted around it, but it was still a doozy. I really liked, for some weird reason, that Logan had this secret that he had to tell Billie, but hers destroyed it. I really enjoyed this story and I might read the rest of the Barker Triplets stories.

I hesitated about this one, but because Melissa Foster wrote it and it was free on Kindle, I downloaded it. I wasn't sure I liked the idea of a therapist falling for her patient, no matter how hot he is or how much she thinks she can fixed him. In the end, I enjoyed the story. Their relationship started outside of therapy. When things start to get heated, I think Danica reacted appropriately. I think Blake could have controlled himself a little more, but that was part of his problem.

What I really liked was how Danica's life wasn't just work or this new romance, but she had a life, interests. She was a Big Sister and I liked how she was concerned about this girl. This second storyline was full, not just filler. The relationship between Danica and Michelle was important to how she grew as a character. Danica is flawed, she is self-conscious and hides behind her professional exterior. It isn't just a man that has her accepting herself, but other aspects of her life too. I think that's why I kept coming back to Foster, her characters are looking for more than love.

This is my favourite book by Foster so far. I loved Dr. Daisy Honey. The name is hilarious and it plays a part of the story. I liked Daisy's parents and her best friend. I thought the decision she had to make was interesting. I liked that Luke was not the reason she made that final choice. I liked that she got to resolve her troubled past with the small town girls who were mean to her. There were so many issues touched on, bullying, health care, alcoholism, domestic abuse. It was a full story, with a fairly decent variety of situations the doctor had to deal with.

I also liked that Luke wasn't a bad boy that Daisy had to "tame". He was settled. He had been building his ranch and business. He was at a place in his life where he wanted to find that special someone. He didn't decide to suddenly stop his serial dating or scratch some kind of itch. He got reacquainted with Daisy and he wanted to get to know her. While it was definitely a steam story, it was grown up, not just "adult". I mean, the whole thing with the drunk man in the tub was just great (though terrible). Also, I hope her best friend gets his own story.

Speaking of future stories, most of these ebooks have a little sneak peak of the next novel in the series. The one after this, Fated for Love with Luke's brother Wes, sounds fun. The main character is a librarian! Callie just seems super sweet and I'd like to see them interact outside of the library.

For the last of my road trip stories, I read Laini Taylor's novella that is a companion piece to her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. Why did I change gears for the final leg of the the trip home? I think part of it was that I couldn't download Fated for Love on the road. The other was that I really wanted to read the story. I recently got the final book in the series, Dreams of Gods and Monsters and I want to read it. Before I can read it, I had to read this.

I'm glad I did. It's a cute side story, featuring Karou's best friend, Zuzana, and the boy she's pursuing. I like the perspective of a regular person trying to go one about their life, while their best friend is involved in supernatural pursuits. I also enjoyed Mik's perspective and his surprise at the end. He's such a sweet guy. I hope he does okay in the final novel.

Night of Cake and Puppets didn't expand a lot on what we already knew about Karou and the world of this series. It was a good stand alone story, you definitely don't have to have read the series to appreciate the magic that happens between Zuzana and Mik. I think it was a good way to end the trip as we cruised home, a feel-good kind of fantasy story.

That's it. Certainly enough. It was a great trip, filled with a lot of good reading. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Vacation - The Trip

My son didn't want to be left behind looking for turtles.
My family and I have just gotten back from a trip to the American South. We were there primarily visiting my husband's family. It's been nine years since we made this trip; post-marriage, but pre-children. Driving 14 hours to his uncle's house is a lot different with two little ones than it is when you're young and childless. I could talk about the long drive and the visits and the swims, but one of things that has really stuck in my mind is all the differences between here (Canada) and there. I didn't expect there to be a lot. I watch American television and movies. I have American friends and family. It's not as though I had never been there, but it had been a while. My Hubby and I made a few comments regarding the differences, and I think this is the first time I really noticed them and took note. I thought I would share some of the differences I found.

Family swim time.
Tires - Hubby told me something I didn't know as I took the wheel for the first time in the States. The "tire regulations" were different. Apparently, you can dig deeper treads into tires, once they start to flatten, so he wanted me to be careful while driving next to big trucks.. While I didn't see any tire blowouts myself, I saw bits, pieces, chunks and almost entire tires lying at the side of the interstates. Sometimes not just on the shoulders, but in the middle of lanes. It was a little freaky.

Wobbly Tires on Trucks - Which was something else freaky. Nothing like driving behind that transport truck and the tires just don't look stable.

Speed Limits - 70 mph is unusual for me. Our major highways have a maximum speed of 100 km/h, approximately 62 mph. 70 mph converts to about 112 km/h. So, driving 70 felt like speeding, but fine. However, there were SO MANY people driving faster than 70. I was on parts of the interstate where 70 was basically slow.

Cars At The Side Of The Road - Why? Why are people pulling over at the side of the highway? A lot. There were just so many. The exits, whether for gas stations or Rest Areas, weren't far. You couldn't make it a couple more miles? Stopping where people are zooming by at 80+ mph just seemed extremely unsafe.

Tim Hortons - I know it's a very Canadian thing to notice, but I missed Tim Hortons. There were some near the border, when we crossed into Buffalo. On the way back in Ohio, we could tell we were getting closer because there was Tim's, and we had to stop at one. 

Starbucks - Does not have lactose free milk, at least not in the ones that we stopped at. After 2, we stopped trying. It's not for me, but for Hubby. I felt bad going to Starbucks when he couldn't get what he wanted. Soy milk just doesn't taste the same.

Our favourite pool.
Wine in Walmart - We picked up some wine in Walmart. It was where we were suggested to go. Which is great, I think. We can get wine in our grocery stores here, and recently beer, but not Walmart. Walmart seems super convenient.

The Heat - I know people complain about Canadian winters, but how about Southern summers. Too hot to be outside? There are ceiling fans on porches! Every other person has to have a pool. I sweat without moving, in areas where I don't usually sweat. I felt like I was on fire, like I might actually get a sunburn (I had one once.) Also, the air conditioning is always cranked. Yes, I would not be able to survive down south without the AC, but I'm also Canadian; if I want to put a sweater on, maybe it's too cold inside. I think it might just be where you grow up too. I'm used to our winters; everyone down there is probably used to their summers.

Olympic Coverage - This is probably one of the things I missed the most. What I didn't know is that Olympic events aren't always aired live in the States. A neighbour of Hubby's uncle explained that because a network laid down a whole lot of money, they make these stories about the athlete, then air them with the competition. What? I have 4 to 6 stations airing the games as they happen. One major network and then the rest are the sports channels. Sometimes a station will stop Olympic coverage to air the Blue Jays game or another sporting event, then go back to the Olympics. Was it just the station that was chosen (not by me)? Are there stations in the US that air all of the Olympics? Please let me know if I'm wrong. Though, I did have to experience the opening ceremonies in the US. I missed CBC when that happened.

I found the TARDIS!!
I have to say though, everyone was nice to me. I was a little nervous, being non-white, going to the American South with their current political climate. I don't talk politics here very often, if at all. But I have to say that to one of his aunts, my husband pointed out that if a certain candidate won their up-coming election, I might not be allowed to visit again for a while. I don't know if that made a difference to her or to his uncle, but he wanted to show them real life versus abstract consequences. Besides that one short conversation, it never came up. Everyone we interacted with was kind. I didn't feel terribly out of place and I was treated like everyone else. I don't know if that's because we were staying in nice areas, as both families we stayed with are well-off. We went to science centres, indoor play parks, and shopping malls and I didn't have any problems. I hope that I'm able to go back soon and continue to always have positive experiences.

I am glad to be home though. I missed this country. Though the trip was a lot of fun and I hope we can do it again sometime, but I'm happy to be back in Canada.

Monday, August 01, 2016

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Wow, just wow. I loved Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Thorns and Roses, much more than I expected to. I've read Throne of Glass and the prequel novellas to that series, so I expected that I would enjoy A Court of Thorns and Roses, but it really was amazing. I don't know if I would classify it as "Young Adult" though. It was racy, full of sexual tension, beyond romantic and also very violent, full of killers and victims. I appreciate in what I've read of the series, that Maas has said it's for an "older" Young Adult crowd. This is not a teen or "high school" romance. Feyre, the main character, is 19, technically an adult, and the youngest of her sisters, though young enough to attract the "older" teen readers. The fairies are old, centuries old, but for the last few decades, they've been fighting a "blight" in their land. There are no young, rebellious teen fairies, fighting to win Feyre. Tamlin is a Lord, trying to protect his people.

I read in an interview with Maas that A Court of Thorns and Roses started out as a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, but turned into something different, though she paid tribute to the source material. After reading the book, the beginning is definitely reminiscent of Beauty and The Beast, but it grows into so much more. (Also, there's a girl with a bow, hunting to feed her family, so where have I heard that before?) Apart from its origins, A Court of Thorns and Roses has a life of its own. It is Feyre's tale, starting with life as provider for her broken family, then life as resident of the Spring Court, then so much more. About halfway through the book, I started thinking about the plot, in that there wasn't really one. I mean, stuff happened, after Tamlin brought Feyre to his estate, plus the cause of him bringing her, but they were little things, a bad fairy here, a party there, but no big battles. Feyre watched the life of the fairies around her unfold, move on from day to day. The first half, maybe even two-thirds of her book, is about her and her relationships with the people around her and how she evolves. The writing was so amazing though, I didn't notice that all that was happening was painting and parties, romantic longing and tension. Feyre was an amazing protagonist, carrying the story through her feelings and how she saw the world.

Tamlin was an interesting Beast, of course more than he appeared at first. I think that's just how it is with Maas' stories. He was rough, but gentle, forced, but easy. He was caring, considerate, restricted, but want to be free. I loved his connection with Feyre, but also with the others around him, Lucien and Alis. He cared about his people, and even fairies of other lands.

I just want Lucien to be happy. His story is so tragic. Not just before he becomes part of the Spring Court, but during and after. He suffers for his love and for his friendships. I also really want Nesta to be happy. I hope she is around in future stories. I think she deserves her own prince, someone who can help her move past the hurt in her heart. Rhysand is so complex and deep. I'm excited to learn more about him too. I know the next story takes place in his Court, so I'm eager to see how his relationship with Feyre and with the other fairies change.

As I was looking into this book, I came across a blog post by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner, which I think perfectly sums up why you should read this novel...and she made it a list, which is awesome. If you need more reasons to read A Court of Thorns and Roses, go check it out.

A Court of Throns and Roses gave me a serious book hangover. I'm excited to see how Feyre handles herself in A Court of Mist and Fury. I expect the story to be complicated and full of twists and turns. It also seems as though this will be another long-running series from Maas. Eight books are listed, with two already here, that means there are six more to come. I imagine that I'll be excited about each one.

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.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Little Dorrit

Did I love Little Dorrit? Yes, I think I did. Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens, is very long. It's full of many colourful, interesting, complex characters. Once or twice, I had to use the internet to look up who someone was, since if they hadn't been mentioned for a while, I might have forgotten. Because Little Dorrit was LONG. Like really long. I thought Middlemarch was long (and it was), but Dickens was very generous with words. My one reprieve was that I could take a break. Little Dorrit is split into too "books", Poverty and Riches. So, when Poverty was done, I took a break. I read three other books, I think, in that time. I still wanted to know, longed to know, what would happen to Little Dorrit and Mr. Clennham, but I needed that break.

To stick it out for over 800 pages of Victoria Literature, the characters need to be compelling, and they were. I adored Amy Dorrit. She worked so hard to make her father happy, to give her siblings something, some meaning to their lives. They knew, but chose to pretend not to know, so much about Little Dorrit, the name she preferred for herself. Little Dorrit is just an amazing person, caring for her family and friends, loving, kind. I just rooted for her the whole time. I wanted her to be happy.

I wanted Arthur Clennham to be happy too. He seemed to long to be loved by his mother, but gave that up. He wanted to right some wrong he believed his father had done. He wanted Daniel Doyce to be a success. He wanted Little Dorrit and her family to be free. He spend time, money and emotion to better the life of the people he cared about. He thought he could be happy with Pet, but I'm kind of glad for him that it didn't work out (though not glad for her). When something terrible happened, though not his fault, he took all the consequences on himself. I was so worried about him, worrying that I might end up with sad ending, like Villette.

Because it was the characters that made the book for me, the last few chapters were the best. Dickens took the time to go back over the characters he introduced. We found out what happened to the Meagles, Merdles, Gowans and Casbys. We learn about Doyce and Pancks, and other residents of Bleeding Heart Yard. Dickens takes us on a journey of goodbyes, where he readers don't have to wonder what happened to all these people.

Though Little Dorrit was a lengthy tome, it was worth every minute. Dickens brought these places and people to life. Life at the Marshalsea, inspired by his father, was depressing, but could also have hope. Though the story didn't always take place there, the debtor's prison was the centre of this tale. How easily a man could end up there, how easily his whole family. How does a person ever get out without a stroke of luck? It was interesting how it was its own community, inside of London, how status was still maintained there. The Marshalsea seemed to have its own personality and change a person, as soon as they entered its walls. It really leaves you thinking about how far a person can fall and how far a person can climb back up.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Days Of Blood And Starlight

Days of Blood and Starlight was a perfect second book, middle story in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. It was a war book. It was a tale of sadness, longing, deceit and hope. Days of Blood and Starlight was also about Eretz. Karou's home is given life (and death). We learn about what happened while she was living her human life. We learn more about the Angels and the Chimera. We see brutality, loss, love, innocence and the results of war. There was so much violence and hatred throughout Days of Blood and Starlight, much different than Karou's quiet life and romance with Akiva in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. In this fantasy novel, there was a lot of reality seeping through.

Karou grows throughout the story, she learns about herself and those around her. She learns about trust, of others and of herself. She finds a connection to her old life, that helps her move forward in this one. Everything about Karou's journey was exactly what it needed to be. That goes for Akiva too. He learns more about himself, and his brother and sister. Akiva learns the lengths they will all go for what is right. Even Hazael and Liraz are more than what they appear, as are the Sphinxes. Though, Issa, Niri and Thiago are exactly who I thought they were. Laini Taylor created such wonderfully constructed characters, it doesn't matter what they look like, or if you can even see that, you can tell who they are by feel.

The ending though, a powerful, amazing ending. Such a setup for the final installment in the series. While not a total cliffhanger (which I appreciate), there are so many questions. What will the invasion bring? Will there be civil war? Will chaos break out? Will both worlds survive? Will Karou and Akiva be together in the end? Ziri? I need my feelings to settle down. After The Raven King and now this, I might needs something a little less tense next, just so I stop ignoring my Hubby (he knows I can't hear him when I'm reading). I'm excited to see where Laini Taylor takes Karou, Akiva and all the rest in this fantastical tale.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Raven King

For two days, The Raven King took over my life. I couldn't get any work done, sneaking away to read a page or two. I let the things I wanted to accomplish yesterday slide away. I just had to know what happened. Maggie Stiefvater created such a vivid world, full of characters I connected with. I had to know if Gansey would die, if they would find Glendower, if Blue's kiss could really kill, and what would happen between Adam and Ronan. More than any of the fantastical plots twists, the magic and the trees, it was the characters that had me wrapped up in their world. I loved Blue's mother, Maura, the Gray Man, Artemus, Calla, Declan, Neeve, Piper and the best addition to their world, Henry Cheng. Henry was amazing, curious, wondrous. I loved the way he connected. Because it all seams to be connected.

I also doesn't seem to be over exactly. (Minor Spoilers) With what Henry's mother says to the Gray Man during their encounter, that makes me feel like there is something that should be happening there, a journey. To me, it seems like those who are left in the end, split off onto (at least) three different paths. Another series perhaps? A book that focuses on each of their journeys? They're not done. These characters have other stories to tell.

I appreciated that the story didn't just focus on Gansey and Blue. I loved them, I loved their relationship, watching it develop and grow. However, I am glad we got to see a lot of Adam and Ronan, how they felt, how they were navigating the world and how that world could change.

I had been anticipating The Raven King ever since I finished Blue Lily, Lily Blue (in November 2014!), which I also adored. Now that it's over, lasting only two days, I don't know what to do (besides getting all those things I wanted done, finished). I don't know what to read next. I am toying with the idea of re-reading the whole series. After picking up The Raven Boys on a whim, I didn't anticipate that this would become one of my favourite series. The Raven King and The Raven Cycle was worth every heart-racing minute.