Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: 5 favourite beginnings and 5 favourite endings

 Hosted by: The Broke and Bookish

 This week's TTT  asks what our favourite beginnings and endings are.  I'm at the mercy of what books I was able to bring with me, so these are lines from the books I have at my bedside.  I thought I'd switch things up and play a little guessing game with you.  I'm leaving the quotes below, feel free to guess what books they belong to.  If guessing games aren't up your alley or if you want to double check if your guesses were right, head here.  I'll also have explanations on why I love the lines so much.  Don't worry, I'll leave you with a clue!  The quotes come from novels written by these authors:

Jane Austen
Clive Barker
Deb Caletti
Arthur Golden
Mette Ivie Harrison 
Madeleine L'Engle
Robin McKinley
Jaclyn Moriarty 
Garth Nix
Philip Pullman


1.  "There are dragons in the twins' vegetable garden."

2. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

3.  QUICK!

Before you read another word, write your own FULL name in every box on this page! Don't be afraid!  Your Notebook is meant for writing in!

4.  "The magic in that country was so thick and tenacious that it settled over the land like chalk-dust and over floors and shelves like slightly sticky plaster-dust.  (Housecleaners in that country earned unusually good wages.)  If you lived in that country, you had to de-scale your kettle of its encrustation of magic at least once a week, because if you didn't you might find yourself pouring hissing snakes or pond slime in the teapot instead of water.  (It didn't have to be anything scary or unpleasant, like snakes or slime, especially in a cheerful household - magic tended to reflect the atmosphere of the place in which it found itself - but if you want a cup of tea, a cup of lavender-and-gold pansies or ivory thimbles is unsatisfactory.)

5.  Three is the number of those who do holy work;
     Two is the number of those who do lover's work;
     One is the number of those who do perfect evil
                                                         Or perfect good.


1.  "The stuff of legend?  No.  We are merely the end of it, that is all," said George.

2.  "So Lyra and her daemon turned away from the world they were born in, and looked toward the sun, and walked into the sky."

3.  "Life and our love for others is a balancing act, I understand then; a dance between our instinct to be safe and hold fast, and our drive to flee, to run - from danger, toward new places to feed ourselves."

4.  "Then she wandered off, following a zigzag path along the border between Life and Death, her tail wagging so hard, the tip of it beat the river into a froth behind her."

5.  "But now I know that our world is no more permanent than a wave rising on the ocean.  Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper."

Do be a dear and vote in my polls, they only have a couple days left, so show some love!  And a reminder, this week's PulseIt read is The Summer I Turned Pretty (which incidentally I just read this weekend and will have a review for next week sometime. My review is pretty much going to say you should read it, so go do that while it's still free!).  And that's it for my TTT - what was on your list? 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Five (3)

1.  I have an air conditioning unit!!!  Of course now the temperature has dropped by 20 degrees so I don't need it, but I'm happy anyway.

2.  I started watching Graceland this week and it stars the lovely Aaron Tveit as the lead actor.  Finally!  I've only seen him in side roles so far, and was pleasantly surprised when he appeared in Les Misérables and discovered not only is he very easy on the eyes, but he's got quite a good voice as well!  It made me want to watch him and Eddie Redmayne all over again (as well as Samantha Barks of course).  I don't particularly care for the musical or the movie (although it was decent), but I could listen to (and look at!) the three of them aaaaaalll day.

3.  Two weeks ago I transported my lovely glass pitcher I've owned for almost a decade from across the country. Last week I watched as it cracked under the heat of near-boiling water, flooding my counter and floor with a litre of water.  In my defense the glass was about an inch thick and I'd put hot water in it before so I thought it would be ok...but clearly I've learned my lesson in a rather tragic way.  RIP beloved glass pitcher.

4.  This week I learned that apparently if you google "draco hermione fanfiction hermione raped by ron", my blog pops up at #144 on the list.  Or it did a few days ago.  Things I never thought I'd ever be associated with...I'm more than a bit horrified.  Also that is very oddly specific and rather disturbing.  And other than mentioning dramione in my last post, I'm not entirely sure how I fit into this search.  In fact I think I'm beginning to feeling ill again thinking about this...

5.  I got a lovely comment from an anonymous reviewer who unfortunately deleted their comment, or I would have replied to it, so I figured I'd make a mention here instead.  He or she gave me some very nice compliments, as well as some very helpful suggestions on how to improve my blog.  Always feel free to add suggestions on how to improve my blog or posts, they are always welcome! (Well as long as it isn't along the lines of you suck, go die) I'm still a newbie here - I may have had my blog for years but I didn't actually start really using it until this year - so I need all the help I can get!

Reminder that Poison Princess is free to read on PulseIt until Sunday night and to vote in my polls!

And that's it for my Friday Five!  How has your week been?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

In which the Blogger sheepishly returned...

So for the past week I have been holed up in my apartment reading fanfiction.  Don't ask, I've no idea what prompted this slip in sanity.  I'm going with the fact last week it was in the 90s and I had no air conditioning, so I'd been staying up til about 5 in the morning when it was cool enough to sleep.

I figured since I have absolutely nothing to show for my week long disappearance, I'd write a post about fanfiction authors/stories I really enjoy, so those of you not into fanfiction in the slightest are going to have very little interest in the rest of this post.  I will say that although it gets a bad rap, I've read some stories that I might even enjoy more than the original.  For some reason I have an easier time finding really, really good authors on fanfiction than I do on fictionpress, which is a shame because I love finding original stories.  But that's a post for another day. (But feel free to send me recommendations from either site - my favourite authors seem to have all disappeared in one go)

Skip Beat

SkipBeat is what got me into fanfiction in the first place.  The authors I list are AMAZING and for a lot of the stories you don't need to know the original story, they easily read like they are 100% original.

Leavesfallingup - he also has an account on fictionpress.com you should check out!  I honestly recommend all of his writing, but if you want somewhere to start to gauge what he's like, try Imperial Entanglements.

Jhiz - Again, I recommend any of the stories.  She? does a lot of really cool challenges.  Check out The Ringer for a great drabble story or Trails End for her Western challenge.

Bobapearl - Again, I recommend all the stories.  If you want a completed one to try, check out A Threat She Never Saw Coming, but she's just started a new story that is really awesome called Against Each Other

Rutoh-chan - She does a lot of one shots, but you should really, really read Broken Slipper.

 Harry Potter

Warning, most of these stories are going to have lemons at some point during the story.

Romione: Firsts and Lasts by Wazlib88 - I've never been a Ron/Hermione shipper until I read this story and it's just...PERFECT.  Consider me converted.

Dramione: When Love and Hate Collide by RZZMG - I've always been a pretty big Draco/Hermione shipper, and RZZMG does a good job exploring the connection between the dark mark and what happens to the personality
                     A Hundred Storms by arielx - This deals with Draco and Hermione returning after the war to finish their 7th year at Hogwarts (and there's a big bad after them, but no one knows who!)

Snape/Hermione: Pet Project by Caeria - I'm a HUGE Snape/Hermione shipper (don't look at me like that).  The stories tend to be the darkest and most well developed, and this one is no different.
                              Chasing the Sun by Loten - All of Loten's HP stories are Snape/Hermione pairings and they are all extraordinarily well written

C.Queen writes for a lot of different pairings, many of them dealing with the next generation of Harry Potter.  Most of her stories are on the more humorous side, but be warned a lot of her works are slash, which I'm not particularly into.

Kayly Silverstorm also writes for a lot of pairings, and the names listed are not always romantically linked.  She's working on a story with Harry/Snape NOT slash, but set after the war and very dark.  Stages of Hope is a funny story (Sirius Black is head of Slytherin) set in an AU that Harry and Hermione stumble into (again, not a Harry/Hermione pairing.  I've never liked that pairing honestly it's just weird), although it too gets quite serious eventually.  Then of course there's my favourite pairing with When a Lioness Fights.

And that's it for my oh so productive last week haha.  I like other fandoms, so feel free to head to my profile and see what else I have in my favourite stories/authors list.  I'm always on the lookout for new authors/stories so feel free to send things my way, fanfiction or original.  And I'm a very bored beta at the moment as both my current authors seem to be stuck, so feel free to ask me to look over your stories!

Last but not least, this week's PulseIt freebie is Poison Princess by Kresley Cole, and don't forget to vote on my polls!  They end in a week and both of them are tied at the moment, so help me out here :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Thing About The Truth - Lauren Barnholdt

Before I start the review, just a reminder that I've got two polls on the side of the blog I would LOVE for you to take, and this week's Pulse It freebie read is OCD Love Story - go check it out before Monday!


From Goodreads:  In this humorous love story from the author of "Two-Way Street", an unlikely romance is the best sort of surprise—but the wrong secret can ruin everything. Kelsey’s not going to let one mistake ruin her life. Sure, she got kicked out of prep school and all her old friends are shutting her out. But Kelsey’s focused on her future, and she’s determined to get back on track at Concordia High.

Isaac’s been kicked out of more schools than he can count. Since his father’s a state senator, Isaac’s life is under constant scrutiny—but Concordia High’s his last stop before boarding school, so Isaac’s hoping to fly under the radar and try to stay put for a change.

When Kelsey and Isaac meet, it’s anything but love at first sight. She thinks he’s an entitled brat, and he thinks she’s a stuck-up snob. So it surprises them both when they start to fall for each other. Kelsey’s happy for the first time in months, and Isaac’s never felt this way about anyone before. But nothing’s ever completely perfect. Everyone has secrets, and Isaac and Kelsey are no exceptions. These two may have fallen hard, but there’s one thing that can ruin it all: the truth.


I loved the characters – even though they deal in stereotypes that is how we think about things especially in high school.  If the story continued to only work only on stereotypes, then it wouldn't have worked, and that is the pitfall most YA novels run into when they use stereotypes.  The book really explores what we expect to see lined up with what facade people put up juxtaposed against what each person is really thinking and feeling.  This is especially helped by alternating chapters with Isaac and Kelsey as the first person narrator.  The alternating chapters as narrators also helped us to really get to know the characters.  It was funny, insightful, and exactly how real life works as Kelsey and Isaac both describe the same events in their chapters. A lot of books written with a guy narrator in the YA genre (if written by a female author) get a bad rep because the guys aren't believable as guys unless they are written as jerks.  This is one thing I felt like Barnholdt really got.  We see Isaac fall in love with Kelsey, and he is really in to her.  It's sappy and cute and funny, and still somehow exactly what a guy falling in love is like.   Clearly, the alternating narrators really makes this story work.  It also helped add to the tension as the story flips from before and after the event between characters.  SO EFFECTIVE.  I was lucky I was reading this in ebook format or I would have looked at the ending...at least a lot sooner than I did. (What can I say?  I just can't read a book without looking at the ending before I get there)

Unfortunately I had some other issues with the book.  Particularly with the ending, but I'll get there in a moment.  A big part of the book focuses on parental relationships.  Neither Kelsey nor Isaac is in a good place with their parents.  But after all the negativity, there are no resolutions, no steps to try and solve the issues between the characters and their parents.  If you aren't going to do anything but say the parents suck (when it would be easy to not have them be terrible people), and it has no purpose in the plot, why bring it up at all then?

While the suspense is awesome in the book, the big reveals feel sort of anticlimactic, and a little unbelievable honestly.  Of course this is filled with spoilers, the sort I won't even make a spoilers post for, so I can't tell you much about what happens.  One thing Barnholdt does very well is make her characters relatable, and she is a master at building suspense.  I wish the follow through was as good (and honestly in most books it probably would be – her build up is just so amazing that any conclusion feels lackluster in comparison).

This is the third book by Lauren Barnholdt that I've read, and I have to say that while I generally really like her characters, there is always something missing in the story for me.  Two-Way Street felt like the entire plot was implausible in pretty much every possible way, and I liked Sometimes It Happens more, but I hate books where the bff is shown as a bitch and the bff.  I liked The Thing About Truth the most out of all three books, but I felt like the drama wasn't as big a deal as it was made out to be, and then the event happens so quickly that the drama is done in a flash (the first event is described in like two sentences).  I could have forgiven it a little more if once we found out what the big deal WAS, then the drama got dragged out a little bit, because the resolution was wrapped up in about a chapter after we find out what is going on in the first place.  And while it wraps up on the romantic level, there is one HUGE question I have about the practical life level, and I want it answered!!  But of course I can't tell you what it is :)  Feel free to commiserate with me if you've read the book!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Top Five Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

Before I begin this, I beg forgiveness if I am wrong about any of these authors.  I feel like I must be, because all of them have many books out, so I must just be missing all the buzz about them (partially I am sure because not all of these are YA authors and I don't hear much buzz about non YA authors).  It's also why I'm only choosing 5 authors, for fear that I am wrong and will get lots of scathing comments haha.  In any case, even if they are popular, they are good enough that no matter how much recognition they got, it would never be enough!

As always, in no particular order:

1. Deb Caletti - Author of Honey Baby Sweetheart, The Fortunes of Indigo Skye, The Six Rules of Maybe and many, many more.  I have never once come across anything about Deb Caletti or her novels unless I am actively looking for it.  Those of you have seen a few of my TTT lists know I am obsessed with her writing!  She has beautiful prose, really well rounded characters, believable and gripping plots - and in my opinion is the best contemporary YA author out there bar none.

Interested in Deb Caletti?  Check out my favourite Caletti novel, The Nature of Jade.

2. Juliet Marillier - Author of the Bridei Chronicles, Sevenwaters series, The Light Isles - and again many, many more.  While always set in the fantasy world, she has such a wide array of genres within that genre.  All of her series have a strong historical fiction background, most with strong mythological elements from the culture it is set within, and many of them are based off of traditional fairy tales, such as The Six Swans, The Frog Prince, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  I'm unsure as to whether her novels are YA or not, so I might label them NA.

Check out the first Marillier novel I ever read, Daughter of the Forest, the first in her Sevenwaters series.

3.  Chris Bohjalian - Probably best known for his novel Midwives, he has also written Skeletons at the Feast, Secrets of Eden, and The Law of Similars.  His books come in many different..styles, I suppose you could say.  His novels like The Law of Similars and Midwives explore human nature and morality, whereas Skeletons at the Feast is historical fiction, and The Double Bind is...sort of unclassifiable other than that it is set more or less in the modern day. 

The Double Bind is what really made me love Bohjalian.  It really blew me away - the writing is beautiful, but brutal, and definitely not for the faint hearted.

4.  Jasper Fforde - I've actually heard some buzz about Jasper Fforde recently, but he seems to be better known in British circles.  His Thursday Next series is what Douglas Adams would have written if he had set his story with time travel and novels and escaped character terrorists.  He's HILARIOUS, and you should really read The Eyre Affair, first in his Thursday Next series.

5.  Gabrielle Zevin - She's written Elsewhere, the Birthright Series, as well as adult novels like Margarettown.  Her settings range from the afterlife to a dystopian future featuring a mafia crime lord's daughter.  You never know where her stories will take you! Her third book in the Birthright series is coming out in October which I am very excited for!  Her books are so diverse, so I'll give you two recommendations:

As a reminder, this week's Pulse It feature is OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu.  

On a sidenote, some of you may have noticed the two new spiffy polls I added - I would be deeply indebted to you if you would vote on what books you'd like to see me review!  I am hugging you gratefully in advance :)

And that's it for this week's TTT.  What's on your list?

Enclave & Outpost (Razorland Series #1 and #2) - Ann Aguirre

 Before I start this review, I just wanted to note that my younger readers (or those of you who are squeamish) may not want to read this review and especially the book because it deals with some very, very dark subjects.  This is also a suuuuuper long review (I ended up summarizing a good bit of the novels which I ordinarily try not to do), so if you want to know about the books without having to read the entire review, skip down to the bit where I summarize my feelings in the Overall section.

I read both of these books in one night (as well as 1.5, but it’s just a shorter story following Deuce’s bffs, so I won’t go into it here)!  I love the world that Aguirre sets up in our post apocalyptic future (and not one that far in the future I might add).   I honestly think her world building is probably my favourite part of the books, particularly in the first book.  I also enjoyed her characters, even if I didn’t necessarily like them all as people.  While at a first glance they might not appear to bring anything new to the table, they are easy to relate to and bring up issues about blame and forgiveness that I thought were really interesting and that I don’t often find in YA fantasy.

The first book opens with a quick background on where humans are now.  Small communities are spread underground, and they have to have very strict control on population and hygiene because communities are easily wiped out with lack of food and disease.  There are three categories people are sorted into when they come of age: Breeder, Builder, and Hunter, each with more prestige attached respectively.  Deuce has always known she wants to be a Hunter, a job that requires members to protect the community from what we would call zombies, as well as scavenge for any food in the tunnels.  Each hunter works with a partner, and Deuce is paired up with Fade, the only person in the community who was brought in as an outsider (they allowed him to live because he survived for a few years on his own without help, and was therefore seen as useful to the community).  Until she was paired with him, she never questioned the rules her community set, and this questioning gets both of them exiled to the Topside, which is seen as a death sentence.
While I can see the rules coming off as strict and unreasonable, for the most part I actually agreed with the community leaders, and I think that is part of the reason why the book isn’t one I’d put on my favourites list.  When survival is the only thing you can think of, putting people in strict roles and not allowing marriage for love, only allowing certain people to have children…yes it seems despicable.  But communities that close to complete destruction simply don’t have the capability to support more members.  Of course, when (spoilers), obviously things have gone too far.  So again, while I would never wish the lifestyle on this community on anyone, I also feel like it is feasible this is how communities would be run after an apocalyptic event like the one in their world, and that a lot of knowledge would be lost.

In the middle of the first part of the book we are introduced to a community of people Deuce nicknames the “Burrowers”.  They more closely resemble what we would call dwarves (in the physical and mythological personality sense) and have evolved to adapt to their environment.  Not a whole lot of description is given to their community structure, but I loved that Aguirre not only put in varied ways societal structures, she also had people evolve to adapt to the post-apocalyptic world physically, not just socially.  

After Deuce and Fade make it Topside, they stumble into gang territory.  Topside in the city, everything is run by various gangs.  It’s survival of the fittest, and that only applies to boys.  While below, where Deuce is from, people don’t live long likely because of malnutrition and humans being unsuited to living underground, people don’t live long topside because it is eat or be eaten.  Boys never grow to be old because they die brutal, violent deaths.  This is where the story started getting really dark for me.  Girls are seen as objects.  They are rape victims, beaten into total submission to the “men” in the gang.  And not only are they raped, more specifically they are gang raped.  This is the environment Deuce and Fade stumble upon when they are captured by gang members.  

 I don’t want to summarize the whole novel (which is sort of what I’ve done so far I guess haha), but they gain two members to their party:  Tegan and Stalker.  And here is where I got really torn on my feelings on the book and where many of you will get outraged.  Stalker is the leader of the gang that captured Deuce and kept Tegan captive.  Where Tegan was gang-raped and had not one, but TWO still births.  Where Stalker was the ultimate figure of power.  Deuce and Fade force Tegan to travel with Stalker, her only option to simply return to the city and be eaten by Freaks or be forced back as a gang victim.   While Stalker himself did not rape her physically, by leading those who did and making her powerless, in a sense he is still one of her rapists.  And even if he didn’t rape her, that this was common place means he definitely has raped other girls, and as the leader, probably many, many other girls.  Despite this, Deuce feels a connection with him as she too has done unspeakable acts (letting her people kill an 8 year old boy) that she would not have done had she known what she does now.  Stalker was raised in this gang rape culture, and it is the only way he is able to rise to the top.  This book and the next try to explore whether he should be forgiven and whether it was his fault at all.  Those are questions you will have to ask yourself.  That being said, I was disgusted at how easily he IS forgiven in the book, and if you are going to pose those questions, you can’t just pretend that part of the character doesn’t exist.  Even WORSE is when Deuce questions why Tegan didn’t fight until she died instead of being raped.  It is NEVER the victim’s fault.  And this is another reason I am torn – I believe that is how Deuce would react.  At this point she doesn’t understand vulnerability.  Later in the books she admires Tegan for her strength to go on, so this is not a message that continues through the book.  On the other hand, that is a message that should never, never be sent especially in a book aimed at young adults.  I feel like this is either a situation Aguirre should have left out of the books, or if Aguirre felt that including it was important she should have dealt with the situation using a great deal more finesse than she did.

The first book ends where the second book begins – the third civilization we deal with.  This one is a return to a much more religious time.  Women’s roles have been dealt a blow that returned us back centuries.  There is much gossip because of Deuce’s lack of education, dress, and her skills at fighting.  Women are expected to be charming and pretty, nothing more.  Deuce finally finds a family and gains quite a few more traits that make her more human and likeable.  The bulk of discovery about the Freaks’ evolution is described here, and there is a brief love triangle.  By the end of the book Deuce has been exiled due to superstitious beliefs, especially perpetuated by the women in the community who are threatened by Deuce’s challenge to their accepted social roles.  This is another area where I was frustrated.  To my memory, it is almost entirely the women in society who act this way.  There are a few men who believe that Deuce dressing as a man and fighting makes her wanton, but they are not in positions of power the way the women are.  All the men in positions of power support Deuce and act rationally, whereas most of the women don't.  I kind of find that offensive, that this blow to feminism appears to be perpetuated by women.  I don’t disagree that some women WOULD act this way, but I find it hard to believe men would be more welcoming to this change than women.  The only woman I remember accepting Deuce as she is, is her mother figure, and she does that lovingly, but reluctantly.  She is shunned by the rest of the women in society.

Throughout the series they show the evolution of the Freaks.  They begin as what we expect of zombies - mindless humanoid creatures who feast on human flesh, and their own flesh if one of their own kind is injured.  But then they start showing signs of sentience – creating war and ambush strategies, their own villages and social structures, as well as expressing facial emotions.  Especially in the second book they start to show what appear to be true hatred towards human beings as a race, seeing us as mortal enemies (a sentiment that is returned wholeheartedly).  Freaks now have families – yes even little Freak children and wives. This poses a whole new batch of morality issues that weren’t there before.   With the dawn of more human attributes and a definite ability to make conscious decisions as a human would, does this change them from being just evil (to humans anyway) beings?


I thought the world building in this was amazing.  The questions asked about what makes us human, and what is unforgivable were very thought provoking.  That being said, the way rape and rape culture was dealt with especially in the above questions were…almost unforgiveable.  While I applaud Aguirre for trying to question how much Stalker was at fault, his transgressions were too easily forgiven, and more appallingly, Deuce originally sees the victim at fault.  The way women are dealt with outside of Deuce in the last two cultures we encounter are….horrifying and frustrating respectively.  
I enjoyed the books, particularly for the outstanding world building, and the action and adventure aspects were excellent as well.  If my above statements about women sound like you wouldn’t be able to get beyond these scenarios, then this series is not one for you.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Five (2)

As always, check out My Summer Girl Books, who was the creator of The Friday Five!

1.  I started reading Mansfield Park this week (finally!) and went to this elaborate daydream involving me getting all dolled up in one of my grandmother's retro dresses and reading in the park only to have a swoon worthy young gentleman come sweep me off my feet because he saw what I was reading and how beautiful I was and just had to talk to me.  That dream was quickly shattered as I realized that
     A.  I have a swoon worthy young gentleman already, he's just in Korea at the moment
     B.  No straight guy gives a damn about Jane Austen novels
     C.  I don't have air conditioning and if I put make up on it would melt off in five minutes and it's too hot to wear anything but shorts and a tank

I did, however, read in the park and was astonished when I saw an unkempt looking fellow strolling along in an open bathrobe.  At which point I went home.

2.  You know it's not so bad here without AC.  Most of the time.  My biggest issue is that half of my windows (namely the one in my room) don't have screens and...well mosquitos.  I get a minimum of 2 new bites a night, and one sadistic mosquito took a chunk out of the bottom of my foot.  Which is just cruel.

3.  I've been going through this weird period film craving (probably why I started reading Mansfield Parl) and I must have watched 3 BBC miniseries over the past couple days.  Speaking of, I watched The Devil's Whore (or Mistress as it is listed on Netflix) and it is SO. FREAKING. GOOD.  It's on Netflix until the 18th (15th?) so go watch it!  It's got Michael Fassbender and an almost unrecognizable John Simm (some of you may know him as The Master from Doctor Who).  And just oh my goodness.  Swoon worthy men AND women, English Civil War (a time not often explored) and just why am I still explaining this to you?  GO WATCH IT.

4.  Also speaking of period films (I really hate that term by the way.  It makes me think of something girls watch while sobbing into their ice cream containers) I watched The Moth and it stars Jack Davenport (you know that bad guy turned martyr from Pirates of the Carribean) and I had forgotten just how attractive he is.  He's a perfect dark, misunderstood man a la Darcy or Rochester or Heathcliff.  Too bad we already have loads of adaptions of all of those (I'm gearing up to watch Tom Hardy as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights which I've never watched before). 

5.  I worked out yesterday for the first time in months and now I'm hobbling like an old woman.  But it'll be totally worth it in the end!  I hope...

And that's it for my week (as you can see, largely uneventful).  How was your week?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Movie Adaptions

 Hosted by: The Broke and Bookish

I learned a lot of things making this list:

1.  There are so many books I didn't know had been made into movies!  I am torn between excitement and apprehension.
2.  As much as I harp on hating movie adaptions, clearly I'd forgotten how many of them I loved as I had a hard time narrowing down this list to 10.  And here I was thinking I'd be doing a half and half list!

 As always, this list is in no particular order.

1. The Princess Bride - This is the only movie to my memory that I loved more than the book.  I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I watched to movie every week well into my teens (Cary Elwes *swoon*)


 2.  James and the Giant Peach - I read every Roald Dahl book I could get my hands on when I was a kid, and of course James and the Giant Peach is a standard!  I was torn between picking this, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or Matilda which were all excellent movies, but the artwork in the movie for this was really beautiful (and I liked Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator more anyway).  On a sidenote, The BFG has always and will always be my favourite Dahl children's book (but I've never seen the movie)


 3.  To Kill a Mockingbird - This is a standard on everyone's list (or at least everyone I know).  The film cemented Atticus Finch in everyone's mind as best dad ever (and of course Gregory Peck is fantastic), and is known as one of the best films of all time.  The book is a classic in its own right and is a must-read if you managed to get out of high school without reading it.


4.  Memoirs of a Geisha - I am so, so glad I watched the movie before I read the book.  The movie's cinematography is just beautiful, the music is astounding (hello, Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman?!?), and the acting is phenomenal.  It is one of my all time favourite movies, and it wouldn't have been if I'd read the book first.  Because when I read the book...anything I felt about the movie was blown out of the water.  The book is also in my all time favourite books.  In fact because of this I made a new resolution to watch the movie first if at all possible so that I don't automatically compare it to the book!

5.  Lord of the Rings - I feel like this is going to be mentioned in a lot of lists (or I hope it is)!  While the movies left out a lot of what happened in the books, I feel like they were an excellent overall representation of the novels.  The novels themselves are so dense it would be impossible to include everything in the movies.  It's been close to a decade since I last read them, but I remember becoming completely absorbed into the story!

6.  Pride and Prejudice - As you can see from the book cover, I don't mean the Colin Firth movie, and before anyone gets outraged, it's simply because I've never had the chance to watch the Colin Firth version (although I really, really want to!)  The book is another one of my all time favourites and to be honest while I loved the film, it's the soundtrack that really sold me.  Thibaudet is a fantastic pianist, and clearly a beautiful composer as well.


7.   The Secret Garden -  Frances Hodgson Burnett is another childhood favourite of mine.   I loved both this and A Little Princess, but that movie can't compare to The Secret Garden.  The gardens were so beautiful!  And it's another great soundtrack (can you tell I'm a musician?).  I had a huuuuuge crush on Dickon, and of course it has the great Maggie Smith!


8.  Fight Club - This is another instance where I watched the movie before I read the book and again wouldn't have liked the movie if I had.  They completely changed the ending!  That being said I thought both endings were really cool, so it wasn't all bad.  Starring the wonderful Edward Norton as well as Helena Bonham Carter who is amazing in everything was pretty much sold me.


9. Stardust - Surprisingly, I may actually like the movie more than the book (so I kind of lied about Princess Bride being the only one).  I really enjoyed both though.  Again, I watched this before I read the book, so clearly this is working well for me!  Michelle Pfeiffer is deliciously evil and oh my goodness Robert DeNiro as a gay pirate...priceless! 


10.  Howl's Moving Castle - While I enjoyed the book a lot more than the movie (mostly because the book makes sense and the movie doesn't), there are so many great things about the movie!  Particularly Billy Crystal as Calcifer in the English dub (although I hate, hate, HATE Christian Bale as Howl and Calcifer is therefore the only reason I watch the dub).  And of course it is a Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli film, so it's going to be awesome.  (Any guesses on my two favourite Studio Ghibli films?)


And that's it for this week!  What was on your TTT?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Brutal - Michael Harmon


Goodreads:  With her martyr-doctor mother gone to save lives in some South American country, Poe Holly suddenly finds herself on the suburban doorstep of the father she never knew, who also happens to be a counselor at her new high school. She misses Los Angeles. She misses the guys in her punk band. Weirdly, she even misses the shouting matches she used to have with her mom.

But Poe manages to find a few friends: Theo, the cute guy in the anarchy T-shirt, and Velveeta, her oddly likeable neighbor—and a born victim who’s the butt of every prank at Benders High. But when the pranks turn deadly at the hands of invincible football star Colby Morris, Poe knows she’s got to fix the system and take down the hero.

With insightfulness, spot-on dialogue, and a swiftly paced plot, Michael Harmon tells the story of a displaced girl grappling with a truly dangerous bully.


I think books like these are important to keep awareness and dialogue about bullying open.  That being said, while I think the issues in the book are important, the execution wasn't there.  Poe, the protagonist, isn't always the most likeable person.  She's extremely confrontational, and in many ways ends up being a bully herself, although she tends to point this towards figures of authority and power (i.e., parental figures, teachers, and "popular" kids).  Poe brings up many valid points about bullying.  Most conversations about bullies don't involve dealing  the bullies themselves (at least in my experience) - they instead tell the victims how to try and avoid the situation.  I agree with Poe that this doesn't solve the problem and often makes the victims feel like it is their fault.  I thought her views on teachers and school rules promoting continued differences in popularity were very interesting.  I had never thought of the role of adults in school bullying, and in some cases I can understand her point (although as a potential school teacher I disagreed in many cases and find her examples out of the norm).  Despite her many valid points, I thought her solutions were too extreme (and the other characters don't support Poe's solutions and also point out Poe's tendency to bully, so I am in no way suggesting that these views are what the book is promoting).  After all this however, no potential solution to bullying was ever posed!  It's the point of the whole book!  Or at least that's what I thought the point was...

I did like that in her own way, Poe is a bully, but of course doesn't think of herself that way.  It also shows the popular girl..Anna maybe?  I can't remember her name.  There's a scene where Anna? gives a note saying she's interested in Velveeta (the kid who gets the brunt of bullying), or that she wants to meet him.  Instead he gets beaten up by a couple kids off the football team.  While Anna? had no idea that was what was going to happen, she didn't see what she did as wrong (at first).  I think it's important to show that bullies don't see themselves as villains.  They're everyday people, and they don't see what they are doing as hurtful or wrong (or at least not most people and not always).  After all, Poe is a bully at times, and she's the main character (hero) of the story!

There were a couple of inconsistencies throughout the story that really bothered me.  For example, it's implied that Velveeta fights back against the bullies by unconventional means, but every scene we deal with involving Velveeta show him as being helpless.  He's described by the adults as manipulative and unsafe, but again there are no examples of him acting as either.  It's like Harmon tried to make him a more complex character instead of just quirky, but the sinister aspect really doesn't fit (and is never more than mentioned).  And I REALLY didn't understand the ending.  I can't really say anything without spoiling, but everything wraps up really neatly and it just feels really, really weird.  I also thought it was really weird that the book really centers around Poe's parental issues, and while she works on things with her dad and that is an active and growing process, her relationship with her mother is really toxic, and there's not a lot of resolution there.  Or rather process of resolution.

I think the biggest reason this book didn't speak to me is Poe.  I just really didn't like her character.  She's overly confrontational and is one of those people who chooses to hate things solely because everyone else likes them.  She fights the system for no other reason than  simply fight the system.  She thinks she is superior because of this, and treats everyone else like they are idiots.  She likes to pick fights - and not GOOD fights, any fights really.  She likes to prove herself right, and it is done in such a negative way!  When she and the Theo meet and they have their first conversation I thought it was the most pretentious thing I've had to sit through, and I've got a lot of those under my belt.  I don't know how to describe how and why these things bothered me so much, but they really did.  It's one thing to believe something and fight for it, and another to just go out of your way to destroy what everyone else believes in, just because they believe in it.  Sorry...I've lost all cohesive thought ability.

Everything To Do With Books sums up my feelings on the book so, so well:  It [Brutal as a book dealing with bullying issues] was realistic even if Poe wasn't.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Friday Five (1)

This is an idea I stole got from My Summer Girl Books whose banner I also stole borrowed.  You should definitely go check her out, she's got all sorts of cool things on her blog!

The Friday Five is something that lets readers get to know the blogger.  And honestly, while I love blogging about books (duh, it's the point of the blog) it gets to feel like work and then I disappear for a couple weeks (...or years...).  I'm adding this because I love reading MSGB's Friday Fives, and just because it seems fun!  So with no further explanation (because I think it'll be obvious what the point of TFF is once you start reading) here's my Friday Five!

1. Happy belated Independence Day to those of you in the states (and happy 4th to all the rest of you with normal fourth of Julys).  I came to an important realization in the midst of holiday celebrations last night.  I totally understand why dogs freak out about fireworks.  When you are stuck in a house (like a dog.  Mostly because you are dog sitting, hence the being stuck in the house in the first place) it sounds like you are in the middle of a war zone!  It's terrifying!  And the whole house shakes and light flashes are going off and the screaming fireworks...*shudder*  Let's just say that fireworks shows are significantly less pleasant when you are hearing them, not seeing them.

2.  I came to another unpleasant realization last night, as I had to drive my mom's car instead of mine.  I love car almost as much as my instrument...but maybe it isn't that everyone else drives like they have a sports car...I think my poor baby just doesn't accelerate anymore.  I somehow doubt my mom's Honda Fit is prime sports car driving.  It just feels like it is in comparison.  I still love my car! It's still awesome!  I refuse to bow down to my friend's ridicule that I drive a VW and not a truck!  (Honestly, what would I do with a truck?)

3.  I feel like this week had a lot of rude awakenings for me.  I've been babysitting a lot of young kids - the oldest being 10 years old.  And none of them know any of the music that I listen to (which isn't odd in and of itself, but it is when I try and play only songs that have been on the radio).  The ten year old knew the name Coldplay, but that's it.  THEY DON'T EVEN RECOGNIZE THE BAND NAMES.  I'm quickly heading to an age where what I listen to is going to be considered classic.  I feel so old...

4.  But on the upside - I got my baby back!!!  I had to send my instrument off for repair ), and it's been gone for A. Whole. Month.  Last year I took a month off to travel in South America, but before that I don't think I've had a month off of playing since I was in seventh grade!  It's terrifying to have that much time off (especially when I planned for like..2 weeks max).  And I have a gig in a week so I'm freaking out a little bit.  But I will prevail.  And absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I'm psyched to be able to play again.

5.  It's been a wonderful month home (An unexpected month.  I changed my ticket.  Twice), but it's time for me to head back to my school home next week.  I'll get to see my cat Lily when I get back which is exciting, and I also get to revel in not having air conditioning for a month, which is not exciting (but hey if you were going to get a super awesome expensive air conditioner for $30 if you waited til the end of July, wouldn't you?)

And that's it for my first Friday five!  Remember to go check out My Summer Girl Books and I'd love to hear about your week!  Send me a link to your blog or post it in the comments!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

June Reading Wrap Up

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I'm trying this new resolution where I review every book I read...which quickly got changed to every YA/teen book I read...but as you'll see I didn't do so well with that resolution.  That being said, there are a couple books on here I'll likely review very soon, so there's hope for me yet!  I'm hopelessly lazy about writing my thoughts down after I read...I tend to wait...weeks...I will change this habit!  I will do it!  I'll do little mini reviews here to atone for my blogging sins.

So here's my June reading:

Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers - Grant Naylor: This was written in a similar style to Hitchhiker's Guide, but the humour tended to be more slapstick and dirty.  I liked it at first, but the humor got old very quickly and having two main characters, both men, and both not particularly likeable made it tiring to get through (especially such a short book).  Turns out it was based on a tv show, so that could explain some of the jokes I didn't get.

Golden - Jessi Kirby: I read this on Pulse It, and it was very enjoyable.  In my review of this I said it was like a less developed Sarah Dessen novel, but I mean that in every good sense, and I stand by that description.  Check out the review if you want to know more (since I wrote so few this month)

Storm Front (Dresden Files #1) - Jim Butcher: I've been meaning to delve into this series for ages, and luckily a friend owns most of the books, so he loaned me a few copies.  I loved it!  It's so pulp mystery fiction it's like Jim Butcher is cracking up the whole time.  It's like reading Magnum P.I. if Magnum was a wizard and lived in Chicago. 

Linked - Imogen Howson - If you read my TTT last week, then you know this was at the top of my list for favourite books.  Another book I read on Pulse It and I as soon as I scrape up some funds, I will be buying myself a hard copy of the book.  The only other book I reviewed this month (or rather that I reviewed AND read this month haha), check out why I loved it because I could not possibly squeeze all the reasons into this little space.

Jack the Giant-Killer - Charles De Lint:  I don't know if I've mentioned this on the blog yet, but I am OBSESSED with fairy tale retellings.  There's just something so interesting about a story that you already know the plot to, but with entirely new characters and situations.  This story was no different - set in the modern day, it was very creative with its setting and cast (for example, Jack is a girl).  I might end up rereading this and reviewing it someday in the future, I think it would be fun!

Razorland series - Ann Aguirre: I read the first two (and 1.5) of this and it was really good!  Post-apocalyptic setting, a leading female character who rivals Katniss in survival abilities, multiple advanced civilizations (who have no knowledge of each other).  It was an interesting look into how different societies evolve as well as what morality is and what purpose roles and structures serve, all wrapped up in the guise of teen badassery and romance!  I'll be reviewing this as a series, maybe when I get my hands on the third book if that doesn't take too long, or sometime soon while the thoughts are still fresh.

Headlong - Michael Frayne: Blegh.  I can't remember the last time I was so bored.  I almost stopped reading, because honestly I don't have time to read books I don't like, but with the exception of The Silmarillion (which I WILL get through one day.  Try number 4 is the magic number, right?) I've ALWAYS finished the books I start and my pride got the better of me.  I admire how well researched the book is, but pages and pages of art history alone aren't good enough for me and what on earth was that ending??

Katie Chandler/Enchanted Inc. series - Shanna Swendson: This is just such a fun chick lit read!  Other than Marian Keyes, I really don't read much chick lit, but this series is going to be added to my short chick lit must reads.  Features:  down to earth female lead, dark, brooding (shy) love interest,  magic in NY as a business enterprise, friends who have personality, and ADHD baddies!

The Weight of Silence -  Heather Gudenkauf: This wasn't as good as I was expecting.  The pacing and tension were GREAT, but it resolves a little too neatly and at the same time unevenly throughout the book for me.

Grave Peril (Dresden Files #3) - Jim Butcher: My friend told me to skip #2 as it wasn't necessary (I'm sure in part because he couldn't find his copy).  The opening was a bit abrupt and although I looked up what happens in book 2 and know Michael wasn't introduced until this book, I spent the whole time thinking I was supposed to as he is just sort of thrown in as if we already knew him which I found really distracting.  Other than that, this is just as fun to read as the first book and even gets rather dark towards the end.

And that's it for June!  As always this is your weekly reminder to head to Pulse It - this week's feature is How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski.