Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Back At 2016

The past few years, I've been posting a long survey looking back at the previous year. I'm not doing that this year. I don't have it in me. 2016 was not a great year for me. Real life could have been better. Besides the personal stuff, I keep looking at world news. I look at the upcoming leader of the US, I look at polar bears, I look at Aleppo. Everything makes me feel like the apocalypse is getting closer and closer. I'm worried for my children. I'm worried about the world they're growing up in, which I thought was going to be better than the world I grew up in. Isn't that how things are supposed to go?

Okay, I'm going to stop talking about this stuff. Before I start rambling about Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds and start crying.

Instead, I'm going to use Goodreads' handy infographic thing and look at the wonderful stories I read this year. 

I can't embed it, so I screenshot the top. Little Dorrit certainly was a long book. It was quite good too. Hard to Get is a short story, so I'm not surprised it was the shortest book. Though on Goodreads Heir of Fire is the highest rated, I think I liked Crown of Midnight better, which I also read this year. I am not surprised that The Little Prince is the most "popular" book I read this year. It's a classic and that movie came out, which I haven't seen yet; the book broke my heart a little. I really do like this Year in Books, I like looking at the stats. It gives me a moment of happy reflection.

Getting an image of all the books didn't look quite right since I would need to zoom out a lot and then the books would look tiny. Instead, I screenshot my books from the 50 Book Pledge.

I read a lot of graphic novels this year... and romance too. There was a lot of science fiction and fantasy. There were a lot of exciting stories. For reading, it was a good year.

There were other good things about the year too. My children turned 7 and 5. They're doing well at school. One of my best friends got married in a magical forest wedding. My baby cousin got married (she's not a baby anymore) in a gallery. So, a lot of good things, good moments that I'm grateful for. I'm just hoping for more of them in 2017.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Wishing everyone the best for the holiday season, and hoping for the best in the new year!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Blast from the Past #9 - A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal

Ten years ago, I shared my favourite poem, A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal, by William Wordsworth. It's still one of my favourite poems. It's up there with The Raven (which I will blog about soon, I think) and Rime of the Ancient Mariner. A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal doesn't tell a story the way the other two do, but there's mystery in it. It's a beautiful, haunting poem, so Romantic in its evocation of emotion. I remember studying it in school, trying to unlock its secret. Sometimes, that make me like poems and stories less, but with this one, I just loved it more.

So, here we are again:

A slumber did my spirit seal; 
I had no human fears: 
She seemed a thing that could not feel 
The touch of earthly years. 

No motion has she now, no force; 
She neither hears nor sees; 
Rolled round in earth's diurnal course, 
With rocks, and stones, and trees. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Rogue One

Wow. I don't know if I really have the words to explain how I feel about Rogue One. It was a fantastic movie. Admittedly, it took me a minute to get into it. Not just the prologue bit, but after the first sequence. Maybe because I kept thinking of Luke Skywalker's beginning and his family's farm. Maybe it was something else. Maybe I was waiting for more connection between the little girl and the rebellion. When it came, it was great.

I loved Jedha though. Everything that happened was amazing, not "good", but interesting, engaging and giving you a deeper insight into what the Empire was capable of. Because Rogue One was dark. It was war. There were battles and losses. So many. Too many for these people. The characters were amazing. Jyn Erso, Cassian, Bohdi, K2 and all the rest. They had fears, hopes, dreams. I wanted a happy ending for all of them.

I really like how they made Rogue One into its own story, but still connected it to the rest of the Star Wars films. It wasn't just what Jyn, Cassian and the others were doing, but seeing familiar characters, getting glimpses of what they were doing when we weren't seeing them in the previous films, I think was really important. There were some surprises there too.

The end hit me hard though. It was so emotional. I didn't know how to feel. I wanted things to be different, but they couldn't be. Even though it's not what I wanted, I think it had to be that way, to keep the story going, to even add meaning to that first Star Wars film. Rogue One was everything it should have been. I am eagerly anticipating the future Star Wars stories.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Blast From The Past #8 - Beautiful Lies

Apparently ten years ago in December I only blogged twice. A bit different from how my blogging habits grew, so it was a little unexpected. In the first half of the month, I read a book called Beautiful Lies, by Emilie Richards. I seemed to have had mixed feelings about it. It was a romance novel, that based on the previous post, I thought was okay. There were unexpected things that happened (apparently), and I always like that. Beyond what this post says, I have zero recollection of this book. I still own it, it's on my shelf, but if you had asked me before today I had read it, I might have said, no.

So I looked up the synopsis of the book and that is what I remember. I remember reading the synopsis and thinking it sounded kind of interesting and that I would give it a try. I think there's a boat in it too...

Do you remember every book you've ever read? I've read a lot, and I like to think that I at least vaguely remember what I've read. Some books I remember more than others, but if I've enjoyed it, the story aught to leave some kind of impression. Right? Though it would be hard to come up with a book that I have read, but forgotten.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Stay Fly

I think I'm just in a comics sort of mood. I can't get enough of Captain Marvel and Stay Fly was great. I really enjoy Captain Marvel's personality. She's so brash, but she's fiercely loyal and she loves so strongly. Everything she does seems to be big, I don't know if anyone would accuse her of being subtle. I do, however, wish the story was more coherent. I know that Stay Fly is a collection of individual comic issues, but they usually follow an arc, and this did, it was just a little everywhere. Though, (SPOILER) the Christmas stuff seemed seasonally appropriate and a pleasant surprise.

Like with Higher, Further, Faster, More, I loved the art. The cover is hilarious and definitely not "pretty" like the last volume. Besides the depictions of Captain Marvel, I really liked Rocket. I liked the expressions, the continuity, the color. Kelly Sue DeConnick, David Lopez and the rest of the team did an amazing job bringing Captain Marvel to life. Also, she was put in some interesting situations. The thing with her cat was funny. It was a unique twist that I just didn't see coming.

Also, the more I read of Captain Marvel, the more I love Spider-Woman. She's hilarious and I really enjoy Carol and Jessica's friendship. I wonder what Captain Marvel is like from Spider-Woman's point of view. I was also interested in seeing Tracy again. I wonder how all that is going to end. Stay Flay has definitely kept me hooked and I'm excited to read the next installment of Captain Marvel.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Blast From The Past #7 - Ella Enchanted

I can't believe how old this movie is! It's been 10 years since I watched Ella Enchanted but it's actually 12 years old, first released in 2004. I know the movie isn't critically great and that it's yet another Cinderella retelling, but something about it always charms me. I don't know if it's the singing or how sweet Ella is or how terrible the fairy-godmother's gift is, but every time it comes on television, I watch it, even if it's just for a few minutes. Something about it lightens my mood, and in these current times, I think that's something we all need.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Heir Of Fire

That's how it ends? Some of it surprising, some of it not, and in this situation, I appreciated both. Heir of Fire is the third novel in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. The non-surprising parts kind of had to happen, since this is a book in the middle of a six-book (not including novellas) series.  Many the Mistward/Doranelle events, I think, needed to happen in order to advance Celaena forward in her quest. The events back in Rifthold, with Chaol and Dorian (among others) were where I was more surprised. I am worried about all of them. What's going to happen to them? I know Chaol is not on the path he thought he'd be on. Dorian and Aedion certainly aren't. Celaena, I think, is exactly where she should be.

Rowan and the other residents of Mistward, were an excellent addition to the series. The characters added perspective to the events of Adarlan, because they're across the sea, in another continent, where there is still magic and they are ruled over by a beloved king. Through these characters, the world of Erilea is expanded, there are other kingdoms and other rulers. We are left wondering what role these people will play in Celaena's story. 

Also, what role will the witches eventually play. That storyline, completely separate from Celaena, as these seem to be people she has never met, was full of surprises. Yes, witches and Yellowlegs have been introduced, but the prominence of them in this story is almost a warning.

I don't want to give anything away, but I have to say that while there is a cliffhanger ending and this felt like a "middle" book, it was enjoyable. There was a lot of emotional and skillful learning. There were tense moments. There were times when I wasn't sure who would live and die. There was some fun peppered throughout too. I am excited to read the rest of the series and not sure what will happen next.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Tigana was epic. That was the first word that came to mind while thinking of what to say about this very long, fantasy adventure. It was epic in scope and breadth. My edition of Tigana is 803 pages, including Guy Gavriel Kay's Afterword. I'm including the Afterword, because it should be read. It is beautifully written and it is about Tigana's lost culture. The way to get rid of a culture and language is to outlaw its name, burn it's books, destroy its art and replace them with that of the conqueror's. Though Brandin uses sorcery to accomplish this, the idea and occurrences of erasing a culture is rooted in history.

Tigana could have easily been two books, if not three. There were “parts” to the book, separations in time. There were breaks that could have easily been conclusions to create a trilogy or duology. Though, how often have we read series that we thought could have been just one big book? There is just so much going on, the stories of the different characters are deep and interweave in incredible ways. There's so much thought put into every chapter. I was excited, and pleasantly surprised, that I won a second book from Goodreads by Guy Gavriel Kay, but its length was definitely daunting.

Though the story and the world were large and complex, it was the characters that kept me wanting to know more. For me, Devin was the star. It was his journey from farm-boy to singer to freedom fighter that got me hooked. I really loved all the characters, but I was always wondering, who is Devin going to end up with, is he going to fight, will he live in the end? Devin's journey was the journey of the reader, thinking one thing, then learning another. Devin and his companions are what grounded the story for me.

I appreciated that Catriana was not your typical girl or damsel. The contrast between her and Alais was interesting, but more so, both of these strong women and the "boy crazy" Svetlana. Catriana had a warrior's heart, wanting to make up for past deeds that weren't her fault. She grew so much throughout the novel, her anger dissipating a bit, or at least it became more fine-tuned. She also found hope, which I don't think she necessarily had in the beginning

I didn't know what to think of Baerd at first. He was quiet, keeping his secrets close. Then we learn so much more. There were no flat characters. Kay keeps us guessing with all of them. By the end, Baerd became one of my favourites, the hope I had for him built throughout the story and makes me wish for only the best for him.

A possible prematurely grey, prince without a throne, Alessan binds the group together. Without him, who knows what would have happened to Baerd? What would Catriana have done with her life? Though I'm pretty sure Devin would have ended up pretty famous anyway. Alessan struggles for what is right. He wants to restore Tigana, but he is also looking at the bigger picture.

The Tyrants were an interesting pair. We meet Alberico first and he's terrible. He's a conqueror in the worst way. He leads through intimidation, fear and money. He tortures for the pleasure of it. He kills to make himself feel better when he's down. No one is loyal to him because of faith or trust, they just want to be on the right side when his sword comes crashing down. If he wasn't a sorcerer, I feel like the people would never have let him win, more than that, his men might never have fought for him.

I thought Brandin would be the same, but he's not. He's a conqueror that we can sympathize with. He knows love and grief. His uncontrollable grief is the crux of this tale. Brandin actually shows that he cares for people. He has depth and a complex web of emotions. How I ended up feeling about him by the end was complex too. I wanted him to be okay, but he was still a brutal conqueror. The difference between him and Alberico was that there were people who were truly loyal to him. He was a king in his own land and his army followed him because of that. He didn't have to pay them the same way Alberico did. He engendered loyalty and trust from many of his people. When he talked about Fionavar, it made me immediately want to read The Fionavar Tapestry, (just like how Children of Earth and Sky made me want to read The Sarantine Mosaic.) Brandin had love in his heart.

Brandin believed that a conqueror could unite the Palm, which is what Alessan wanted, but not by his enemy. It's interesting how their lives paralleled, made even more complex when you think of Dianora. Her story ran parallel to that of Devin's and was equally important. Dianora was probably the most complex character in the entire novel. She loved and hated Brandin, when you read the novel, you can see why. Sometimes I wonder if she told him the truth, if the end would have been different. I wonder if he would have understood what she did and forgiven her.

All these brilliant, amazing characters crossed the Palm, north to south, east to west, on their quest. They mapped the world out for us. They were amazing, complex and had me wanting to know what happened. I wanted to know how they all turned out. Even with a well-written ending, I am still left wondering about what will happen to these characters, especially the three at the very end. I wonder if Kay will ever revisit this world. I hope he does and I hope it's just as deeply intense.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Sun Is Also A Star

Heartbreakingly perfect, The Sun Is Also A Star is simply an amazing novel. It tells the story of Daniel and Natasha and how two people who have never met can find each other and fall in love. Natasha is trying to stay in America, trying not to get deported, and her whole day is supposed to revolve around that. Then there's Daniel. He's supposed to prepare for and have the biggest interview of his whole life. Then they meet.

I really connected with Natasha and Daniel, as I am also a child of immigrants. It can be a difficult balance, trying to stay connected to the culture of your parents and being a part of the culture of the country you live in. Some people want you to be one way, others want you to be another. It's a wonderful thing to find someone who understands. I have friends who were in the same boat growing up, even though our parents were not necessarily from the same countries, we shared similar experiences. There is a struggle that I think maybe all children of immigrants go through, though maybe to different degrees depending on how "different" a parent's home country is. While Natasha is Jamaican and Daniel is Korean-American, they share similar life experiences. I really enjoyed the conversation about "where are you really from", as I have had that question asked many times. There's the food thing too.

Nicola Yoon creates not only complex, beautiful characters, but writes with emotion. The decisions that not only Natasha and Daniel make, but also Irene, Natasha and Daniel's respective parents, Charlie, Attorney Fitzgerald, and even the waitress at the restaurant, are full of heartache. Nothing is taken lightly, they all have deep, serious, inner lives that maybe our two main characters know nothing about. It comes through in the interesting style in which Yoon has structured her novel. I wonder if her first novel, Everything, Everything is written in the same style (a book that I absolutely now have to read). There were also great references to 90's grunge and a quiz that I watched Penny and Sheldon take on The Big Bang Theory, which made me so happy. A great plot, amazing characters and interesting style, I couldn't help but love The Sun Is Also A Star.

*I won The Sun Is Also A Star as an ARC from a Goodreads giveaway. Yay! 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Blast From The Past #6 - A Series Of Unfortunate Events

I can't believe it's been 10 years since I finished A Series of Unfortunate Events. I really loved those books. They were so quirky and unique. I'm just waiting for my children to be old enough so that I can read the series with them. The idea of reading them again makes me happy. I loved them then and I love them now. I am excited that 10 years later there's going to be a Netflix television series based on them, that these books are still popular and loved. Of course it's being released on a "Friday the 13th". I am sure they did that on purpose. It's such an "unfortunate" thing to happen.

I remember being excited for the movie too. I thought A Series of Unfortunate Events was fantastic. I loved the children, and Jim Carrey as Count Olaf was perfect. Meryl Streep was in it! Why did they stop at one? I don't really know. Money and scripts probably. You can only wait so long too, since they were child actors, once they age too much, it's not believable anymore.

Back to my past post... The post I wrote 10 years ago is part love of A Series of Unfortunate Events and part the last books I read in the series. Based on what I said in the post about the "extra stories" my hot/cold relationship with side stories is at least 10 years old. I remember being a bit disappointed about what was learned in The Beatrice Letters and The Unauthorized Autobiography. Some of it was good and they were good stories, but they didn't affect how I viewed the rest of the series or my reading of The End. I remember not wanting The End to be the end of the series. I wanted to know so much more about the Baudelaires. They're still children at the end of the series. What happened when they became adults? I've always wanted to know more. I also wonder if Lemony Snicket's most recent series, All The Wrong Questions eventually relates to A Series of Unfortunate Events. I should finish reading that series too.

So, 10 years ago, I finished reading a fun series. Now, I can look forward to watching (maybe binge-watching) a television show based on those books. 

Netflix series trailer:

Monday, November 07, 2016

Dr. Strange

I love Dr. Strange. It was weird and wonderful. There were serious and dark moments, there were light and funny moments. Dr. Strange is the story of Dr. Stephen Strange, brilliant, egotistical neurosurgeon, who gets into a car accident and forever alters the path of his life. There's so much I could say about Dr. Strange. I thought he was great, Christine Palmer, The Ancient One, Wong, Mordo, all great characters who showed depth, the capacity for change, and the ability to believe. There were surprises, things not shown in the trailers, which I always appreciate and have come to expect from Marvel/Disney. Visually, the movie was amazing. The world creating, the world bending, adding layers, adding the multiverse. I totally love Benedict Cumberbatch and Rachel McAdams more than I used to. They were so fantastic.

This is a bit difficult, to write about the movie, without giving things away. My favourite parts are all spoilers. But I won't do it. Because that's not me. On Friday morning, I was online and I happened to scroll by a comment on the movie which gave away a part of the after-credits scene. Friday morning! The movie hadn't even been out for 24 hours yet. This person went to a midnight screening and then ruined one of the surprises. Did they give away the plot or say what the surprise was about? No, but it still took something away from me and I'm guessing from anyone else who happened by it. I wasn't even looking for Dr. Strange stuff. So frustrating. "Spoiler Alert" or don't say anything. (Sorry about the rant.)

I supposed I could say that now and then talk about all my favourite parts and the amazing plot, great characters and fantastic effects, but I don't think I will. It would probably end up just me gushing about how much I enjoyed the movie anyway. What I will say (again) is that this was a fantastic Marvel movie and a great way to introduce magic into the MCU.


Thursday, November 03, 2016

Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster, More

I love Captain Marvel so much. She's just amazing. She fights when she needs to fight, she stands up for people, she cares. Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster, More was a great beginning to this Captain Marvel series. She's done with her illness from the last series and she is moving forward with her life. I definitely love her new apartment and her roommates. I love her new love, but I don't see that necessarily working out. I also love her new ship and the AI that goes with it. Tony Stark definitely builds good stuff. Kelly Sue DeConnick is carrying on Captain Marvel's story with fun and adventure.

I have to say, the art in Higher, Further, Faster, More is fantastic. I love Captain Marvel's expressions. I love all the faces throughout the story and the expressions the artist gives them. David Lopez does a great job. He's the artist for the next Captain Marvel graphic novel too, so I'm looking forward to more of his work. A good artist can really lift a story.

After the seriousness of Captain Marvel's last arc, it was nice to have a fun story. There are aliens, spaceships, fights and explosions.  There are the Guardians of the Galaxy and a few other surprise encounters. I'm excited to see where Carol Danvers goes next.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Road of the Patriarch

I missed this pair, Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxle are amazing. I just love them. Whenever they're around, things get interesting. Jarlaxle is still fun and vibrant. He has so much personality, but he can still take out a squad of soldiers. The care he shows for Entreri is interesting. It's not what other drow expect, and he definitely doesn't show it the way others would, but I think it's genuine. Entreri is going through some things, memories are surfacing, betrayal is felt deeply, and none of it is really accidental. Road of the Patriarch was exciting and exactly what I wanted it to be, R.A. Salvatore definitely delivered in this fantasy tale.

The end though. All of them. The end that wasn't really the end. I mean, just when I think it's over, there's more. I knew something like that was going to happen with the half-elf. I mean, not exactly what happened, but the general idea. Then the actual end, with the journey into the past, the memories. Those yucky, yucky men, taking advantage of the poor. It was slightly horrifying that this is where Entreri came from, but kind of understandable when you think of the journey to who he is by the end of this novel. Road of The Patriarch made two villains, into characters you could sympathize with and understand, the entire Sellswords trilogy managed to do that. Salvatore did not disappoint and I am excited to see what happens next with these characters.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Blast From The Past #6 - Reading Douglas Coupland

I've read a few books by author, Douglas Coupland. The first I ever read though, was Hey Nostradamus!. I remember that I had always wanted to read something by Coupland, he was the author of Generation X, after all, as well as being a prolific Canadian writer. I was hooked by this story. The power of Hey Nostradamus! led me to read Generation X, Eleanor Rigby, The Gum Thief and more. I enjoyed The Gum Thief maybe way more that I should. Without reading that first book by Coupland, I might have missed out on some fantastic novels.

Coupland has written so many novels. I have three unread ones downstairs, including Generation A, the "sequel" to Generation X. I should definitely read it, especially since bees play a part in the story. There are just so many books that he's written. I still have to read JPod, Worst. Person. Ever. Bit Rot, and it doesn't seem like Coupland is about to stop writing. This desire to read all these books would not have started if I did not read Hey Nostradamus! ten years ago and think it was brilliant.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Humans

I loved The Humans. I really loved it. The unnamed alien narrator was brilliant. I thought every bit of his comments about life on Earth were spot on and hilarious. Some observations from the narrator (who is Andrew, but not really Andrew), are just funny: "unfathomably pointless eyebrows"; but also true: "The manners and social customs too are a baffling enigma at first. Their conversation topics are very rarely the things they want to be talking about." Matt Haig created a compelling, interesting, complex character, who has to deal with our complex world.

Many of the quotes really hit me, especially in the currently global and political state. Or societal state. Or feminism: "I could write ninety-seven books on body shame and clothing etiquette before you would get even close to understanding them."

Matt Haig wrote The Humans from the perspective of an alien visitor, who has taken on human form, and is trying to fit in, though he also has a pretty awful mission. In his trying to fulfill his mission, we the see the world from the outside, in. I wonder if The Humans might contain everything that has ever made Haig frustrated about life in our world.

"Oh, and let’s not forget The Things They Do To Make Themselves Happy That Actually Make Them Miserable. This is an infinite list. It includes – shopping, watching TV, taking the better job, getting the bigger house, writing a semi-autobiographical novel, educating their young, making their skin look mildly less old, and harbouring a vague desire to believe there might be a meaning to it all."

There are just so many quotes. I have not highlighted so much from a novel since University (not that I highlighted the actual novel). Most of these are from the beginning of the novel when the alien is trying to figure out human life.  With the idea that they are being said by an alien impersonating a human, they are just so insightful. They are blunt and honest. It is the main character's honesty and innocence (ignorance?) that had me from the beginning. I also couldn't help but think, this super advanced civilization sending an alien to live among us, they couldn't have coached him better? Or given him clothes? The beginning would have been less funny, though.

The journey that not-Andrew goes through though, is just amazing. He knows nothing, but also everything. He learns so much, he moves beyond the numbers. Not-Andrew is amazed with what he is capable of. The Humans is really one of the best books I've read this year (so far). It's funny, but layered with emotion. I really didn't know what was going to happen at the end.

So here are way more quotes than I think I've ever included in a post before, but I just love them. I also tried not to include anything spoilery.

"Once there, I had several immediate reactions. First, what was with the weather? I was not really used to weather you had to think about. But this was England, a part of Earth where thinking about the weather was the chief human activity."

(I'm sure the English really appreciated this one. Also, weather is also a hot topic in Canada.)

"This was, I would later realise, a planet of things wrapped inside things. Food inside wrappers. Bodies inside clothes. Contempt inside smiles."

"Understandably, a human needs to know what kind of book they are about to read. They need to know if it is a love story. Or a murder story. Or a story about aliens. There are other questions, too, that humans have in bookstores. Such as, is it one of those books they read to feel clever, or one of those they will pretend never to have read in order to stay looking clever? Will it make them laugh, or cry? Or will it simply force them to stare out of the window watching the tracks of raindrops? Is it a true story? Or is it a false one? Is it the kind of story that will work on their brain or one which aims for lower organs? Is it one of those books that ends up acquiring religious followers or getting burned by them? Is it a book about mathematics or – like everything else in the universe – simply because of it?"

"Yes, there are lots of questions. And even more books. So, so many. Humans in their typical human way have written far too many to get through. Reading is added to that great pile of things – work, love, sexual prowess, the words they didn’t say when they really needed to say them – that they are bound to feel a bit dissatisfied about."

(I love the quotes about books!)

"Humans, as a rule, don’t like mad people unless they are good at painting, and only then once they are dead. But the definition of mad, on Earth, seems to be very unclear and inconsistent. What is perfectly sane in one era turns out to be insane in another. The earliest humans walked around naked with no problem. Certain humans, in humid rainforests mainly, still do so. So, we must conclude that madness is sometimes a question of time, and sometimes of postcode."

"Basically, the key rule is, if you want to appear sane on Earth you have to be in the right place, wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, and only stepping on the right kind of grass."

"She came to see me in my room, while a nurse watched. It was, of course, another test. Everything in human life was a test. That was why they all looked so stressed out."

"Remember, during your mission, never to become influenced or corrupted. The humans are an arrogant species, defined by violence and greed. They have taken their home planet, the only one they currently have access to, and placed it on the road to destruction. They have created a world of divisions and categories and have continually failed to see the similarities between themselves. They have developed technology at a rate too fast for human psychology to keep up with, and yet they still pursue advancement for advancement’s sake, and for the pursuit of the money and fame they all crave so much."

"As well as religion, human history is full of depressing things like colonisation, disease, racism, sexism, homophobia, class snobbery, environmental destruction, slavery, totalitarianism, military dictatorships, inventions of things which they have no idea how to handle (the atomic bomb, the Internet, the semi-colon), the victimisation of clever people, the worshipping of idiotic people, boredom, despair, periodic collapses, and catastrophes within the psychic landscape. And through it all there has always been some truly awful food."

"Where we are from there are no comforting delusions, no religions, no impossible fiction."

"A human life is on average 80 Earth years or around 30,000 Earth days. Which means they are born, they make some friends, eat a few meals, they get married, or they don’t get married, have a child or two, or not, drink a few thousand glasses of wine, have sexual intercourse a few times, discover a lump somewhere, feel a bit of regret, wonder where all the time went, know they should have done it differently, realise they would have done it the same, and then they die. Into the great black nothing. Out of space. Out of time."

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Blast From The Past #5 - Flowers and Henry James

If you look at posts from the first half of October 10 years ago, you'll find several of my wedding photos. I remembered this: people from my real life used to look at my blog. I wonder if they still do. I was asked by friends and family to post photos, so I did. It's not something I do much of anymore. I think I've gotten more private as the internet is.... well, you know. I'm not linking to all the posts. I think there of five of them, but if you want to check out a bit of my wedding day, it's all still there. While I may not post a lot of personal photos anymore, I'm not going to take down the ones that are already here.

I couldn't let this post go by though, without mentioning The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. This ten-year-old post was written after the second time I read this story. It might be my favourite of all James' tales. I read it first in University and just loved it. This might be another story I have to read again!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Thank You To...

Whoever handed in the money my Hubby forgot.

Last weekend, my Hubby went to the grocery store, picked up a few things and got $100 cash back for the weekend. He forgot the money. That night, as we were preparing to go to sleep and talking about what was happening the next day, he remembered. Naturally, he was freaking out. I calmed him as best I could, but still, it was something to freak out about. All we (he) could do was head to the store in the morning with the receipt and tell them he didn't receive the cash. Out on my errands, he texted me. The store had the money set aside. Someone had handed it in. A kind person, maybe the next person behind him in line, handed the money in to the service desk. I was set aside, waiting for a person with the right receipt to come in and claim it.  This person didn't have to do that.  It was a fair amount of money. They could have pocketed it. They didn't. They did the right thing, thankfully for us.

To whoever returned my husband's money, to anyone who has ever returned anyone's forgotten money, lost wallet, dropped phone, forgotten keys, misplaced jewelry, and the like, Thank You.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Luke Cage: Episode #1

Maybe I couldn't wait. Maybe I've been so excited for Luke Cage that I had to watch it on my lunch break. (It's cool though. I didn't actually skip work.)

So I saw episode one and I'm hooked. Just like Jessica Jones, just like Daredevil. That first scene, it's so simple, yet says so much. He's starting over. He's hiding. He still misses his wife. There are so many looks, so many moments, that had me riveted to the screen. I'm going to keep the rest of this brief, as the show hasn't even been out for 24 hours yet.

- Cottonmouth reminded me of Fisk, so much.
- I love Alfrie Woodard.
- The jail! Backstory! Yay!
- The cop ;)
- I love Pops.
- That one kid was crazy.

I know Claire Temple is going to be in the series, but I wonder if we'll see anyone else from the Netflix shows. Also, Mike Coulter is amazing. His portrayal of Luke Cage since Jessica Jones has just been fantastic.

The trailor... you know, in case you haven't seen it already.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Blast from the Past #4 - Daisy Miller

I wish I had written more about Daisy Miller when I read it 10 years ago. She seems like such an interesting and multi-dimensional character. I only vaguely remember the story. I remember Winterbourne. Were there some kind of ruins? I remember his affection for Daisy. I remember Daisy being a unique person for that time. 100 years later, would Daisy's behaviour have been so shocking.?What would I think if I read the story again? I should read it again. I've enjoyed everything I've ever read by Henry James. The Turn Of The Screw is one of my favourite stories. Could Daisy Miller become a favourite too? It's not long. Will it be like when I read Appointment With Death after looking back at The ABC Murders? Don't be surprised if I read Daisy Miller again.

Also, there's a huge spoiler at the end of the post, which I didn't include in the image, because it's about the ending. Sometimes I like talking about endings, because they can be dramatic, but ten years later, I had forgotten the ending and have now spoiled it for myself. Good job, Me.

Looking at these posts from my early blogging though, I'm still wondering when I starting putting pictures in my posts. Or links. Or doing any kind of formatting at all.

About last week, part of me wants to delete it. It feels so personal... I don't know if I'm going to do another post like that for a while.

I'm still very happy I decided to do Throwback Thursdays. I am finding looking back at my old posts quite enlightening.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rebel Spring

The world that Morgan Rhodes has created is beautiful. Mytica is a mysterious island, where King Gaius has forced three countries into one. The island is one with hidden magic, with magical beings watching it. There is a magical treasure to find and these beings are influencing the mortal world. They should all be working towards the same goal, but maybe not. The story is rich, with enough movement that I can't say where it will all end. With such a fantastic world and plot, it is the characters that have me coming back.

When I started Rebel Spring, I was so excited to find out what happened to the characters from Falling Kingdoms. Cleo and Jonas, Magnus and Lucia, all had such open ends to their stories. But I didn't expect the new characters to grip me just as much. Lysandra is amazing and Prince Ashur is intriguing. The Watchers gave me more than one, what the f@#$?! moment. I can't wait to see where these characters are going to go. Rebel Spring is full of unexpected twists and reveals. Morgan Rhodes created such a high intensity sequel, it had me hooked into this series more than the first book.

I really like that the book opens with Lysandra. Even though I wanted to know about the other characters, Lysandra's story is important. It also gives you a good idea what the tone of this novel is going to be like. There's a lot of death. There's torture and destruction. Blood will be spilled on the land, Gaius is the King of Blood after all. Lysandra also concludes this story, making the novel more complete than if the ending has less of her.

Also, Prince Ashur! He is going to be a wild card. I wasn't sure how he was going to fit into this intense, complex mix of characters, but he did his job. He's getting in there. He's learning and forging alliances, among other things. I'm excited to see what he does next. I wonder who he'll side with or if he has an agenda all his own.

That moment between Cleo and Lucia, what is going to come from that? Cleo has lost everything. Her entire life has changed and she really is lucky to be alive. She's long gone from that spoiled princess. She's learning to be a leader, to be strong, to be smart. She's learning to believe in magic. I want her to make the right decisions, but between Jonas and Magnus, Lucia and the king, I'm not always sure what that's going to be. Her relationship with Jonas is what I thought it would be, but her relationship with Magnus is something different.

Is Lucia going to be a villian? I can't tell. I don't want her to be. I think she has the potential to join Mytica together in a way unlike her father, but I don't know if she's capable. How much is she going to be influenced by others and by her own power? Is she going to lose herself? I feel like Rhodes initially wrote her as an innocent girl, being controlled by her adoptive father, but I'm not sure about that any more; she's not the girl she used to be.

I need to keep reading this series. Except for Cleo, the King of Blood, and maybe Jonas, I can't tell who the heroes and villians of this story are going to be. Anyone could choose to do anything. Many of their decisions seem personal, but they will effect the whole of Mytica.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Homemade Burger

The lighting in my dining room is
bad. I should have taken the picture
I know it's fall now, and the last hot weekend was probably last weekend, but I just have to share this homemade burger recipe. It's not winter yet, after all.

Ted Reader's recipe has served me well. I made a couple changes, as I always do. Follow the link to see the original recipe. My changes are below.

Here's the burger recipe, with my minor changes:

3 lbs ground beef
4 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 red onion (it calls for white onion and a whole one, but I like red better and one onion is too much.)
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1.5 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 or 12 buns (depends on how big you want your burgers. I would not do 6)
Mix it all together well.

When I make burgers for the four of us, I make 1/3 of the recipe. I make the burgers about 1cm thick and about a big around as my hand. When they grill, they shrink and thicken, if you know what I mean. I have a friend that I gave this recipe to and she dices some jalapeños to add to the mix. I definitely have to try that version.

You know what makes this burger great? The butter. It just gets absorbed into the meat and the burger is so moist. I feel like it's practically impossible to dry this burger out - and I might occasionally set my grill on fire. This is without a doubt, my go-to burger recipe. I hope you get a chance to enjoy some more barbecue time before the fall chill sets in!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Paperbacks and Hardcovers

I'm thinking of switching to paperbacks for a certain author. This author's books are HUGE! I think they might be getting bigger too. In general, I'm a hardcover fan. I don't know why. I think it's partly an aesthetic thing. They're big and tall and sturdy. They just give me a feeling that I think a lot of book lovers, no matter their preference can relate to. As I've gotten older, my preference for hardcovers has grown.

However, they're not cheap. I'm a book lover who also likes a good price. I buy from sales, bargain bins and used bookstores. If there's a book I want and the paperback is significantly cheaper than the hardcover, I'll go for the paperback. (I do have moments where I want paperbacks too.)

Which brings me back to this particular author. A book has come out that I want. But it's HUGE! In hardcover, this book and future books by this author would take up a lot of space. Space that I don't have. Even though I'd have to wait, waiting for paperback might be a good idea. Also, the hardcovers from this author seem to be getting more expensive. I'm pretty sure all of the books I have from this author are hardcover, which makes the decision more difficult. It'd be switching formats. Do I want to do that? I think I do. The uniform-ness of that author's books, might look nice, but in general, I don't tend to need books to match, it's just because all of these do.

I know I could just get the book from the library, but I'm a book hoarder. I accept it. Though the library has been getting more appealing as I run out of space.

So, that's it, right? I'm waiting for the paperback?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Blast from the Past #3 - It Is All About The Comment This Time

I had a hard time deciding which post from the first half of September 2006 to talk about. Was I going to look back at An International Episode, a story written by Henry James, or was I going to talk about the time I got "corneal ulcers" (my eyes are fine now, so no worries). On the surface, one definitely seems a little more interesting than the other (I think). However, what left me thinking was the comment someone left on the An International Episode post. It's a comment I never responded to, yet didn't delete. I just wasn't sure how I wanted to handle it. I guess I ended up with the old tried and true, "ignore it" solution. It kind of worked. It went away. I hadn't thought of this specific thing for about 10 years. Now though, I'm doing this thing where I look back at posts from the past and talk about them. I'm looking at how I felt about something and if those feelings and impressions have changed over the years. Like with last week's post, they can influence me now.
I didn't include the name, but you can see it if you go to the original post.

The comment may seem innocuous at first, just someone recommending a book, but it irks me. It's presumptuous. The commenter, whose blog I never visited because of my annoyance, assumes I'm Indian, which I'm not. It's something that's happened to me my whole life. I get it, I know I "look Indian", as explained to me by, like, a hundred people and I'm probably not exaggerating as this has been occurring since puberty. From that tiny little profile picture (which I aught to change, as it's been 10 years), this person assumed I was Indian . Also, I know it's different now, but it used to say in my "About Me" blurb that my parents immigrated from Trinidad and I was born in Canada. Admittedly, I do have some Indian heritage from several generations ago, but you wouldn't know that from reading my blog. The commenter recommended a book to me, entirely based on the presumption of my being Indian (and because the commener apparently lived in her neighbourhood). Not that I don't want to read Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake. I actually picked up a copy a few months ago, so I have it, with the intention of reading it. It also sounds like something I would relate to because of the immigration themes, as I have read a a few books from immigrants, Indian and otherwise, and find they often have similar issues. Not because the Indian part will "hit home" with me. Really, this person just sounds like they were trying to make a connection, but they didn't do it in a way that would get me to respond.

Have I blown this out of proportion? Maybe. Maybe the comment just represents something I've had to deal with my whole life. Presumption about my ethnicity, people asking where I'm "actually" from, people not liking or believing the response when I say I'm Canadian, is a decades old battle. Somehow, for some people, saying I'm Canadian is not good enough. Occasionally, I don't get "you look Indian". Sometimes people randomly speak to me in other languages, assuming I would know what they're saying. Just a few weeks ago (specifically, the night of the Tragically Hip concert on the CBC), someone spoke to me in Portuguese because he thought I was Brazilian. Seriously? Yup. I laughed it off. We were at a party and I wasn't going to let someone ruin our time. Though I did make fun of him and tried to point out what a dumb thing that was to do. He was older too. I find I get less of this from people my age or younger.

So, 10 years ago, I ignored the comment and this person, whoever they are. This came just a couple years after two different job situations in which I had to deal with some.... things. One was terrible; the other was more a steady stream of annoyance.

I know I usually don't talk about this kind of stuff; I like that my blog is about books and movies and in general, things that make me happy. I even thought about deleting all this once I wrote it. I don't even know how coherent it all is. It seems like a bit of a rant. The comment, these memories, and even a recent event, brought up such strong feelings in me. I'm a little hesitant to share these feelings on the internet, but today I'm feeling brave.

I feel like I should have some kind of concluding sentence or statement here, but I don't know what else to say. It's not like this kind of thing is going to "conclude" for me. At least it happens (to me at least) with less frequency than 10+ years ago. I guess for today, that's all she wrote.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Undead and Unsure

Perfect Laura is just awful. She's the Anti-Christ though, so I don't know what I expected. I can't elaborate without spoiling the story. I let what she did sit with me for a bit, but she makes me so angry. MaryJanice Davidson spent several books, possibly since Laura was first introduced, setting up the ending to this novel. I didn't see the full twist coming though. Some of it was expected, but not all. Did she always know she was going to do this? Sometimes, I still can't believe it, what a terrible girl and such a cold-hearted thing to do.

Undead and Unsure is another entertaining installment is the Undead series. Whenever I want something fun to read Queen Betsy is there for me. Like the other Undead books, Undead and Unsure had a quirky storyline and piled together is an unlikely cast of characters. Really though, I loved the baby storyline. Dr. Taylor coming in and trying to tell everyone something was wrong, but NO ONE listened? How everything distracted them from what should have been a horrible situation? Those moments were the best for me. I also really liked the hellfog. That strengthened the sister versus sister storyline. I still have to say, the best part of the story was the end. The epilogue made the book so much better. It caused me to be a little astonished and a little mad too (in a good way). It also made me very excited to read the rest of the series. I know the final book in the series will be out soon, but I have two more to read before I see Betsy's end. I hope it's a happy(ish) one.

Can I also mention how excited it was to get some of the story from Sinclair's perspective? His tone was different, it was nice to hear him, the way he thinks and some deeper truths into who he is. Reading him from Betsy's perspective has long kept him at a distance. I feel like he's deep, thoughful and loves his wife. I hope that more books will have his perspective and maybe the perspective of other members of their family. I always enjoy the Undead books and I look forward to more.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Appointment With Death

I wish I could figure these stories out before the end. Sort of. I thought it was, who it was, for a few pages, but then some of the stuff that Poirot said, threw me off. It's all about the psychology of the crime, at least in this case, though coupled with evidence. It's hard to figure out stuff too when so many people are lying.

Appointment with Death is another wonderful and interesting Agatha Christie mystery. I love Hercule Poirot. He's so different. He's unassuming, soft-spoken, but he sees everything. He sits and speaks with all the interested parties, but he doesn't play much of a part in the first part of the novel. The first part of the novel establishes the Boyton family. We are introduced to the victim as she is in life, and the people who surround her. We meet her children, a family friend and the people who are travelling along side them. This part of the novel gives us an idea of motive, but also what might happen as a result of the matriarch's death.

I loved Sarah King. She was the star of the book for me. She was a woman, travelling on her own, who was also a doctor. The other medical person, Gerard, showed her respect, as did everyone else in the camp. Christie definitely wrote some strong, intelligent, formidable female characters. Sarah King did allow her feelings to get in the way. Though she was certain of "anything medical", her feelings definitely influenced her. From her first conversation with Dr. Gerard, I just loved her confidence.

The ending though, that was a serious surprise. Not just the figuring out of what happened, Poirot going through each member of the assembled party in classic Christie style, but after. The obituary... I won't say anything else, because I don't want to spoil it, but this was Christie at her best. Also, the epilogue was lovely. The reunion was great.

I'm so glad I finally read my fifth Agatha Christie classic. Appointment With Death is everything I wanted to be and I recommend it to any Agatha Christie fan.

This is also #26 on my Classics list. (I'm so behind.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Angel Catbird

Wow. I'm totally hooked. I guess instead of "resting on her laurels"* Margaret Atwood can pretty much write and publish whatever she wants. So, instead of being a "nice, literary old lady"** Atwood decided to write a fun, funny, graphic novel. Angel Catbird is so fantastical, so unbelievable, that you just have to go with it. It's almost satirical in some of its absurdity.

Angel Catbird takes some of the superhero tropes and makes them so obvious. Mutations, chemical spills, powers from animals, loss of a "loved one", secret identities, they're all right there. The main character is a nerdy scientist and he gets turned into Angel Catbird, and he's beautiful. I loved the art in this story. The drawing, the colouring, the detail was lovely. I couldn't help but be drawn in by the cover and by the images of Angel Catbird and the Half-Cats. Cate Leone was fantastic, easily moving between professional and alluring. Count Catula was just fun.

I have to admit though, I was not totally happy with the end. I know that Angel Catbird is the first volume in the series, but I would have liked the ending to be a little more satisfying. It's not really a cliffhanger, as we know the bad guy's next step, I just wish the beginning of the story felt more complete. Instead, the first volume of Angel Catbird felt almost like the first episode of a television series.

I have to say, I love the note from Johnnie Christmas in his sketchbook, with the character drawings of Cate Leone, saying that he hadn't really done any "sexy" comics before and Atwood told him how to do it. That's Canada's nice, award-winning, literary lady. With all the stuff she comes up with, I want Margaret Atwood to write forever.

*From Atwood's introduction to Angel Catbird.
**Also from the introduction.