Monday, May 27, 2013

Falling Kingdoms

Falling Kingdoms was intense.  There are so many ups and downs, you don't know who is a friend and who is an enemy.  Your friend can become your enemy in a blink and the enemy of your enemy can become your friend.  Morgan Rhodes creates interesting characters, full of depth, who change over the course of the novel.  You think you're going to love or hate someone, but by the end you change your mind.  Can I wonder about some characters out loud?  Are Lucia and Cleo going to end up like Valoria and Cleiona? Are they going to realize they're related (because I think they're related)?  Will they end up finding the Kindred themselves?  Will Jonas and Cleo team up and save the world?  Will Magnus be good or bad?  What will Alexius do?  I have so many questions.  I can't believe I have to wait until December for Rebel Spring!

It was easy to forget that this was a Young Adult novel.  The relationships were so complex, there were multiple story lines going on, all interwoven, coming together in the end.  The things that happen to these characters are very adult, you forget that none of the main characters have yet to turn 18.  They're so young, but you don't really notice.  Only that first scene with Cleo, Mira and Aron, do they really show their age.  Otherwise, for the most part, I forgot that this was a book directed towards that teen audience.  I think any lover of fantasy will enjoy this novel.  I've seen it called Game of Thrones for teens.  I haven't actually read Game of Thrones (I'm sure I'd enjoy it, but...), but from what I've heard, I can see the comparisons.  It's about the search for power; in this case the ones searching are a bit young.  I really can't wait to see what the rest of this series brings.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dead Ever After

I love the last line of Dead Ever After. (I'll try not to be spoilery, but there might be some vague ones...) Thirteen books later, I think Sookie has learned who she is and what she is capable of. She isn't searching for someone or something. She is happy with the person she is. I don't think that it's about who Sookie ends up with, though I like the man and I totally expected it. I think the series has been Sookie's journey to herself. It is her over coming her perceived disability and becoming strong and independent. She's beyond needing a man. Having one is nice, but she isn't going to let it define her.

Dead Ever After was fun and entertaining. It had a mystery to solve, which I've always liked about the Sookie Stackhouse books. We had an appearance by every man in the series that Sookie had been involved with, which I think was very exciting and appropriate as this was the final novel. I loved Karin; if they thought about it too much, I think she and Pam would turn Sookie because they'd want her as a friend forever.  I also think Karin might have found someone nice in Sookie's woods. I was excited to see all of Sookie's friends, her houseguests. I really thought the courthouse scene made her see herself more as others see her.

Charlaine Harris's dedication was to her fans. It was nice, but also like a pre-apology for what was to come in the story, because she knew not everyone would be happy. In her acknowledgements she also mentioned her fans and said that she's always given her best and tried to create the best works possible. It seemed really genuine to me. I know there's been a lot of hate going on for the last few books and I admit the last three (especially book 11) weren't as good as the others.  I also heard about the spoilers posted for this one (which, if you post spoilers, how about spoiler warnings or hiding your spoiler-filled Goodreads review, because those are supposed to be the rules.  I wasn't trying to find spoilers.) I just started the book feeling bad for the author. I don't know if people are going to agree with me, but this is my opinion and everyone is allowed to have an opinion.  I guess I'm surprised by the amount of hate for a book that a lot of people haven't read, that started months before it was even released.

I was satisfied with the end to Sookie's story.  Not everything/everyone was tied up, but I think that's what After Dead is for.  If it's a coda or appendix or short story collection, I think I'll like it....  I thought Dead Ever After was an entertaining final novel.  Sookie Stackhouse had her ups and downs, but it was fun.  I'm glad I picked up the first book and continued on through all thirteen.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness was fantastically awesome.  I'm a geek and this was action packed, laced with awesome geek moments.  It was what I wanted from the sequel to the last Star Trek movie. I loved Kirk, Spock, Uhura and the whole crew.  I think the plot was a little busy, but whatever.  Even the 3D was excellent.  I actually had a moment where I kind of moved my head out of the way of something that felt like it was coming at my face.  The entire first sequence of the movie hooked you right in.  

My girlfriend and her husband came to see it with me and my Hubby. She had never seen any Star Trek incarnation before.  Ever.  No Original Series, no The Next Generation, nothing.  She had not see the last movie until her husband sat her down to watch it the night before we went and she said she liked it.  So my friend came to Star Trek Into Darkness with nothing but the last movie in her mind.  She really enjoyed it too. That's something I like about where the Star Trek franchise is now and where it looks like they're going.  A long time fan like me can watch the movies and love it, love the references and enjoy all the great moments between Kirk and Spock.  Someone new, like my friend, can watch just the two latest movies and enjoy them.  We talked about some of the references to the previous Star Trek movies, but not knowing they were there didn't diminish her enjoyment of the movie. The references, etc.,  were so seamlessly woven into the movie, that a fan might not even see them all at first.

That concludes the spoiler free portion of this post.  If you venture further, there will be points about the characters and plot.  I'll still try not to give too much away, but be warned.

Dr. Marcus!  I took me a little bit to figure out who she was, but I got it before the end.  Then I had to explain it to my Hubby.  It's been a long time since we've seen Dr. Marcus.  I can't wait to see how this will develop and I'm looking forward to... stuff.  
When Kirk said, "It's what you would have done." I nearly lost it.  So, good.  Then Spock did the yelling of the name.  Also, so good.  That entire reverse from the other movie was fantastic.
Kirk wants to know what it's like when Spock and Uhura fight.  He gets to find out!  When Uhura and Spock have their fight in the shuttle, I think it was hilarious.  (Though Spock doesn't so much "fight" as "emphatically argue".)  I think this new Spock is a bit more emotional than the last.  I think it's Uhura who is doing it to him.
My Hubby called it "phone a friend", Spock calling Spock when he has a question.  Paraphrase: "I vowed never to tell you anything that could change the course of your destiny.  That being said, here's everything you need to know to defeat this villain."  Is he going to be in all the Star Trek movies?  I didn't think he was going to be in this one.  Shatner must be pissed.
Redshirts!  I appreciate Kirk making them change.  Did they die?  Now I can't remember.

It was so good.  Yay Star Trek!  (I'm such a geek.  Ugh.)

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Spin Has Spun At The Classics Club

The chosen number for the spin is... 6!  So, what was my #6? Villette, by Charlotte Brontë. Quick summary from Goodreads:

"Arguably Brontë's most refined and deeply felt work, Villette draws on her profound loneliness following the deaths of her three siblings. Lucy Snowe, the narrator of Villette,flees from an unhappy past in England to begin a new life as a teacher at a French boarding school in the great cosmopolitan capital of Villette. Soon Lucy's struggle for independence is overshadowed by both her friendship with a worldly English doctor and her feelings for an autocratic schoolmaster. Brontë's strikingly modern heroine must decide if there is any man in her society with whom she can live and still be free."

Sounds like a pretty modern tale. Villette is thought to be the best of all Brontë's novels. It's one of the books I thought would be challenging. It's been called existential and psychoanalytical. It's a little intimidating, though I've read Jane Erye (and loved it), so I'm familiar with the style. I'm eager to start the novel, but I pre-ordered a certain other book... something to do with mountains... it is released tomorrow and I am really looking forward to it, so I might wait to start Villette until June... Though now that I've written this post, I kind of want to start Villette right now. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I'm having trouble deciding between two types of Camomile.  I really enjoy drinking Camomile in the evenings.  It contains no caffeine and it has relaxing properties.  I often have a  cup after the children are asleep, while I read or write or watch tv.  It has only been about a year since I started drinking it and now it's a regular part of my evening.

Can you believe Teavana doesn't sell Camomile?  The sell some fruity thing that has Camomile it in.  Ugh.  Not for me.  In case I haven't mentioned it before, I don't typically drink fruity teas.  In general, they're too sweet. When I asked the sales person at the store why they didn't sell Camomile, her response was that it was too common and I should get it at the grocery store.  (Wow.)

Fine.  Except that most Camomile teas come with either mint or lemon flavouring already in it.  Really?  Why is it so difficult to find plain Camomile? Eventually, I actually came across two (the only two I could find) brands that had plain Camomile.  Twinings used to be the only one.  So I bought it.  A lot.  Then one day I was at the grocery store and the Lipton Pyramid teas caught my eye.  There was another Camomile! I was so surprised, I had to buy it, not because I disliked the Twinings, but because there were now two Camomile teas at the grocery store!  But, can someone tell me why I can't find a link to this tea online? Or even a picture?  It's new, only a few months since I first saw it, but come on!

I think the Lipton might have a stronger flavour than the Twinings, but it's so difficult to tell in such a mild tea. Anyone drink Camomile and have a preference?

Note: pregnant/nursing women should NOT drink this tea because it causes uterine contractions!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Classics Spin

I've decided to participate in the Classics Spin.  I didn't join the first Classics Spin.  I like to read books as the mood strikes me, as I've mentioned on this blog before.  But I don't know.  This time my mood is telling me to join in.  Will I actually participate?  Probably, since I'm sort of saying I will by posting this.  I've got a variety of options below.  I have some children's stories, poems, short stories and genre tales, even a work of philosophy.  Some are long and some are very short.  Honestly, most of these titles are what I would consider "easy" compared to some of the other works I have on my Classics list.  It'll likely be June by the time I get to whatever my spin number is.  I'm not in the mood for difficult. However, to make it a little scary/potentially challenging, I did pepper a few "difficult" works in there.  I wonder what I'll be reading next month.

1. Emma, Jane Austen
2. Stories from Hans Christian Andersen, by Hans Christian Andersen
3. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
4. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
5. Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood
6. Villette, by Charlotte Brontë
7. Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
8. Appointment with Death, by Agatha Christie
9. Lyrical Ballads, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth
10. Discourse on Method, by Rene Descartes
11. A Selection of Poems (1. Life), by Emily Dickinson
12. Grimm's Fairy Stories, by Jacob Grimm & Wilhelm Grimm
13. The Man Who Loved Islands, by D.H. Lawrence
14. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
15. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
16. Lady Lazarus, by Sylvia Plath
17. The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe
18. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
19. The Cat In The Hat, by Dr. Seuss
20. Dracula's Guest, by Bram Stoker

Are you going to Spin?  Any thoughts on the works I've chosen?

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas was awesome.  I loved every word.  I might have to hunt down more books by John Scalzi. I picked up Redshirts, because, well, it's about Redshirts!  I love Star Trek, mostly The Next Generation, but I have a place in the sci-fi part of my heart for the original and all the others series too.  Redshirts is so funny!  Yes, it grabbed my attention because of the title, but the synopsis really pulled me in and all the great things I kept hearing on the interwebs convinced me that this was a book I had to read.  It was funny and quirky and ironic.  I loved the main character.  Andrew Dahl was thoughtful, intelligent and honourable.  He may have been and Ensign on the Intrepid but he was the leader to his group.  I was also very excited by his conversation with Hanson at the end of the story.  Very meta.

I liked Maia Duvall, but I didn't like all her behaviour.  She was the only female lead character. There were a lot of other women in the novel, Collins led Xenobiology (and her last lines in the book were great); there were captains, security officers, scientists, everything.  I might even say there was 1:1 ratio of the supporting characters in the book. Am I just being prudish about Duvall? Everything she did forwarded the plot.  I don't know.  Though, now that I think of it, maybe she was just part of a play with archetypes.  Finn certainly could be considered a specific type of character, the brutish, overtly masculine male.  By the end, Finn and Duvall (along with Hester and Kerensky) became more. Nevermind, Duvall is fine the way she is. Maybe what I'd have liked is another leading female character?  I don't know if that works if we're altering typical science-fiction characters.  

This is what Redshirts makes you do unexpectedly, think.

I'm going to take a quick moment to mention how much I love John Scalzi's dedication.  It's probably because I also heart Wil Wheaton, Joe Malozzi and Brad Wright for geeky reasons involving words that start with "Star".

I really enjoyed the way the novel ended, with Andy and Hanson (funny and awesome), but I also was so excited to read the Codas.  Getting to know these "other" characters was really interesting and made the story even better.  Nick was hilarious.  Hester/Matthew was amazing.  The actual end of the book with Samantha Martinez was brilliant.  Each Coda was packed with emotion that you wouldn't necessarily expect after reading the novel.

Also, for some redshirt fun:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Prodigy (Legend #2)

What?!? That was a fantastic ending!  I could have yelled at the book.  It was dramatic, building on the excitement and action of the entire story.  So much was built into that final moment.  Marie Lu really knew what she was doing when she wrote the end of Prodigy.

I also really like the ending because when Legend ended, Prodigy almost had to pick up where it left off.  With Champion it could begin almost anywhere.  It doesn't have to be the next day. The time spent with June and Day in the first two books is only a couple months.  I feel like Champion could start the next day or months later.

I should really stop talking about what I think will happen in the third book.  I think I'm suffering from a book hangover.  (Maybe even a double hangover since I'm still thinking about Janie and Their Eyes Were Watching God.)

Prodigy was a fantastic sequel.  As much as I enjoyed June and Day, I was really interested in Tess.  She's not the little girl we see through Day's eyes.  She's a young woman, like June, with all the emotions that entails.  We also see how capable and intelligent she is.  I hope we get to see more of her.  I also hope that all the nice feelings I (and the characters in Prodigy) have about Anden are well placed.  He could be everything they are hoping for or he could be seriously and severely twisted.  Also, that whole thing with Razor, I totally saw it coming, from the moment they met him.

I have one small issue with Prodigy and Legend.  June is 15 years old.  15!  Why are all these men not concerned by how young she is?!  Anden is 20, which is less weird than Thomas, who has to be in his mid-twenties.  At least Day is the same age at June.  I understand that she's a prodigy and very mature for her age and smarter than most people, but still.  It find it a little weird.

The new world details we get in Prodigy had me hooked too.  The Republic and the Colonies are two different avenues that I think represent what America could become.  A country rule by the military or one ruled by consumerism.  The Colonies actually reminds me a lot of the world in Continuum.  It's all about the Corporations.  I wouldn't have to worry though, because Canada (and Mexico) sealed their borders.

Prodigy was everything I could have wanted in the sequel to Legend.  Marie Lu wrote some fantastic actions scenes, with a plot and characters that kept me more than engaged.  I devoured Prodigy and I can't wait to see how the story ends.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Enid's Near Canadian Adventure, by Peggy Bracken

It's been a few weeks since I participated in a Short Story Monday.  Mostly because I've been engrossed in some amazing novels.  I'm reading another one that I'm really enjoying, but I started to feel that short story itch.  As I was considering what short story I would read in between novels, I saw Enid's Near Canadian Adventure.  With a title like Enid's Near Canadian Adventure, I couldn't resist reading Peggy Braken's short story.  It's quite short, consisting of two letters, one from Enid to her friend Maeve and the return letter from Maeve to Enid.  It's written in a sort of slightly modernized Jane Austen-esque style, which I found interesting.  Enid seems to be very melodramatic and inclined towards extremes, which Maeve points out in her replay.  These aren't the pretty, kind, supportive sort of letters you might read between Lizzy and Charlotte in Pride and Prejudice.  Maeve's reply to Enid is a bit brutal.  

It was an interesting story.  I'm not quite sure if I liked it though.  Something about it irked me.  I think I liked the style of writing, I am often drawn to epistolary stories.  Maybe I didn't like Enid.  I'm not sure I liked Maeve either.  I didn't dislike them.  I'm not sure how I feel about them.  Maybe disconnected?  If someone else reads the story, let me know what you think.

Short Story Monday is hosted by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Their Eyes Were Watching God

I've been lucky lately.  This past month, I've read some fantastic stories.  Their Eyes Were Watching God was simply amazing.  I could write/talk about this novel for hours, but I'm not going to. I'm going to try to stick to what engaged me most.

If you haven't read Their Eyes Were Watching God, why? Read it. Now. I know that the dialogue can be difficult to follow at first, but after a while, you notice that Hurston followed a pattern.  Ah = I, keer = care, skeered = scared, etc.  Not the whole book is like that either, only the dialogue, though the dialogue is important. Zora Neale Hurston creates Janie Crawford, a young black woman in the 1930s. We follow her life as she searches for who she really is and I think in the end, the Janie who sits talking with Pheoby, that's who she really is.

I have disliked a lot of introductions I've read lately, but I liked the one by Mary Helen Washington at the beginning of this edition. Yes, there are still some spoilery moments that I had to skim, but maybe it wasn't so bad because this was the second time I've read Their Eyes Were Watching God. Washington spoke not just of the story, but of Hurston's life. I think it is important to know what Hurston's struggles were when this book was published and what they continued to be after publication.  

Apparently Hurston's contemporaries were mad she wasn't writing protest literature.  That was what you did if you were a black writer in the 1930s.  I don't know if I've ever read any "protest literature". I had never heard of Richard Wright before reading the introduction to the novel.  He was the writer of the time and disliked Hurston's work.  What Hurston wrote was a novel about a part of America that people didn't get to see at the time; she wrote characters that could be real people.  She also wrote about a strong woman searching for herself, making her own choices.  Janie was unique.  Hurston wrote a feminist novel.

Minor Spoilers...

There's a scene where Janie and Mrs. Turner are speaking. Both these woman are lighter skinned and Mrs. Turner refers to the other people in their community as "black negroes" and other more derogatory terms.  She's very angry against the black negroes, she blames them for white people not accepting lighter skinned people like herself and Janie. Tea Cake is too black for Janie.  It was a very provocative scene.  

You know what it reminded me of?  An episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  It was a very long time ago that I saw this episode, so I'm not completely clear on the details.  A woman, she's a friend or something of the Banks family.  She gives Ashley (played by Tatyana Ali) a brown paper bag and tells the girl that her goal should be to be lighter than the bag.  How she is supposed to achieve that, I don't know, but Ashley kept comparing her skin to the bag.  (If someone knows what episode this was or could clarify the details, I'd appreciate it.) Hurston, who wrote this novel in 1937, still speaks to modern issues.  I know Fresh Prince was a show of the 1990s, but it's not really that long ago.  It chills me to think that there could be people right now telling little girls and boys that their skin is too dark.

Okay...  Back to the novel... with vague spoilers...

Read it.  Because it makes you think.  It makes you feel for Janie and even for the people that surround her.  It makes you wonder why Janie couldn't just run her own life from the beginning and how should could stay with Jody.  It even makes you wonder why she is with Tea Cake, though he treats her better than anyone else.  Janie is intelligent and clearly beautiful.  She was a rich character that I connected with immediately.  That's what drew me into the novel more than Hurston's lovely prose or the interesting plot.  Janie was a star on the muck.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

On My Other Blog...

On my other blog, I have some exciting news (exciting for me anyway).  I finished the first draft of a non-fiction project I've been working on.  I've let it sit for a week and I'm going to read through for the first time since finishing.  I'm very anxious.

I tend not to post to much about my creative endeavours here, but in case you're interested in another aspect of the crazy that is me, go on and have a look.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Maybe I'm Not A Light & Fun Reader

This week I found the Broke and The Bookish's top ten topic more difficult than usual.  Apparently, I don't read a whole lot of "Light and Fun" type stories.  There are a few though.  Let's see if I can make it to ten.

1. Anything by Jane Austen - They're classic, but they're romantic.
2. The Shopaholic Series/Anything by Sophie Kinsella - Kinsella's books are hilarious and my go-to read when I want something light.
3. The Undead Series, by MaryJanice Davidson - Undead might be about vampires, but Queen Betsy is hilarious.  I have to catch up on this series.
4. The Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse series, by Charlaine Harris - I started this series when I needed something light to read.  There's a fair bit of violence and sex, but whatever, it was light for me.
5. The Mortal Instruments/The Infernal Devices series, by Cassandra Clare - I've read the first three books in The Mortal Instruments series and I found them quick, fun reads.  Maybe not light?  Again, a fair bit of violence in these books.  

So, not even close to ten...  I find a lot of the Young Adult Dystopian series I've read in the past couple years "fun", in that they are quick and enjoyable reads, but they deal with some heavy/dark subjects and I don't know that they qualify for this list. Even some of the series I have up there might not really be what the topic intends.  I guess I'm not really into "light" books.  Oh well.  Maybe I'll discover some this week looking at everyone's lists.  Any recommendations?

Monday, May 06, 2013

Iron Man 3

 Iron Man 3 was a great movie. Across the three movies, Tony Stark goes through, what I think of as, a full character arc. He learns so much. As much as I enjoy the awesome suits, the action and the sarcastic humour, it's the characters that have made me love Iron Man 3.  I loved Pepper.  She's really become someone who can hold her own with the over-the-top Tony Stark.  Also, I loved what they did with The Mandarin.  It was so unexpected, I enjoyed it, though I don't know if everyone will. AIM!  Killian!  Extremis!  They all worked so well.  Don Cheadle is a fantastic War Machine.  He's also another character that can hold his own with Tony Stark.  I enjoyed the 3D, which I'm not sure is necessary, but I still liked it.  The movie was flashy without taking away from the story.

I could go on about how much I loved this movie.  Could I nit-pick it?  Maybe, but I don't want to.  Will people disagree with me?  Probably.  But this is all just my humble (and excited) opinion. I was entertained. Thoroughly.  

Also, how cute are these posters?

Friday, May 03, 2013

Classics in May: The Club Meme

This past January, I joined the Classics Club.  I've given myself 5 years to read 60 different classic titles.  I've included more than novels.  On my list I have classic short stories, poems, plays and children's books.  I've decided to participate in my first monthly Meme because I really wanted to talk about the novel I'm reading.

The meme topic is:
- Tell us about the classic book(s) you’re reading this month. You can post about what you’re looking forward to reading in May, or post thoughts-in-progress on your current read(s). -

I'm currently reading Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston.  It is the current Classic Club Sync Read.  I had actually been planning on reading H.G. Well's The Time Machine, but when I saw this as the sync read, I was excited.  Hurston's amazing novel was already on my list of 60 as a re-read.  I first read it in a "modern" American literature class* I had taken while in university.  I remember loving the book, but so many years and books later, I couldn't really remember what happened.  I knew there was a storm and something bad happens.  Knowing that something bad happens, but not remembering what it was has been making this a very tense read.  I'm a bit scared for Janie every time I turn the page.  Honestly, it's almost like reading it for the first time.  I have about 30-40 pages left.  I'm sure I'm going to get it done this weekend.  I've been staying up past my bedtime for the last week reading.

I'm thinking that I'll still read The Time Machine this month.  I've been feeling like I want to read more science-fiction lately and this is a genre classic.  It'll also be a re-read.  I was trying to spread my few re-reads out, but I'm going to blame the sync read for interfering with my planning.

What classics are you enjoying this month?

*The class was actually called something like American Literature from 1890-1960, but I can't remember what the exact dates were.  I just say Modern because it's easier.