Monday, September 30, 2013

Top Ten Book Turn-Offs

1.  Absent/abusive/neglectful/general bad relationship parents when it serves no purpose in character development or plot and it is left unresolved or is sort of brushed over as if everything is ok.

2.  Insta-love (which is sort of a given, but there you are).

3.  Main character abandons her family, friends, and all common sense for a guy (or girl I suppose, but I've not seen any lead females do this for a girl, so there you are).

4.  Extreme lack of self confidence.  There is a point when the absence of self confidence is so lacking that it just becomes unbelievable, and it rarely serves a purpose in the plot.  I'm not saying my heroine needs to be self-assured like Celaena, in fact heroines like Mia Thermopolis are fantastic.   But then there are others who will not be mentioned who are just plain ridiculous and they piss me off.

5.  The lead doesn't think she is pretty enough to be with the guy she is with, and while she's got no self confidence about any of her abilities, it is particularly focused on being valued for looks.

6.  Hot, rich jerk.  In chick lit it seems to be ok for the guy to be an arrogant prick, but he's almost ALWAYS rich and hot.  He's at least one of them.  Don't get me wrong, I get sucked into it too, but would the lead let the guy treat her like that if he wasn't rich and hot?  Things to think about.

7.  The cardboard cut out best friend.  She serves no purpose other than as a sounding board about MC's love interest.  OR, even worse you're told she is the best friend, but she promptly acts like a backstabbing b*@#& the whole book, so we never understand why they were friends in the first place.

8.  Love interests unreasonably sticking together, even when the other is a danger to their life.  I can't really explain this well, since technically Katniss and Peeta would fulfill that requirement, and I totally love Katniss and Peeta.  It's more like Bella/Edward and I KNOW this will be an unpopular choice...but Mara/Noah.  Ah - that's what it is.  I need some sort of bond that is made before and outside of just romance for it to work for me - the others stink a bit of instalove.

9.  Slut shaming.  There is something particularly about the use of slut that really, really bothers me.  I briefly ventured out into contemporary YA earlier this year and literally every book I read during that brief foray involved some pretty serious name calling and bullying - but not in a way that I think exposes bullying as a problem.  This word more than any other in YA literatue really upsets me, and it bothers me a lot that it is so easily found.  It's not exactly the word itself (although it sort of is), it's that characters can so easily be painted as "sluts" and written off.  It's seriously the easiest was to disregard a character.   And it's just as offensive when the protagonist is the one being outcast as a slut.  It's just a particularly vitriolic word that I feel is hard to articulate exactly how...just lots of bad feeling come quickly to the surface.  To me it's more horrid to use against someone than b*#$@.  And I think part of the reason it really bothers me is that it is definitely a gender thing.  If a guy is called a slut in a book (or in life), it's usually in a joking manner.

10.  Possessiveness or guy acting in a dangerous way (like a vampire almost sucking girl's blood, etc.) being explained away because he didn't mean it.  Ok I'm sorry, but that is the first sign of an abusive relationship.  Sure it's in the paranormal world usually so it's not the guy beating on the girl or screaming at her, but the message is the same, and that's really not ok.  Plus the situation often gets a rapey sort of feel.  Seriously not attractive, guys.

Olivia Benson would not approve.

There are no pictures (I was originally going to post books that fit my list, but then it made me feel really catty so I decided against it) so this is a rather boring post :-/.  In other news, I am doing a giveaway for The Evolution of Mara Dyer to celebrate my 100th post on the blog, so go check it out!
That's it for my TTT this week, what's on yours?  Leave me a link below!  (And as always just a reminder...really leave a link or I won't be able to find your blog haha)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Giveaway and Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2) - Michelle Hodkin

I bought this at a bookstore, so this is all me here!

 This is officially my 100th post on the blog!  To celebrate I decided I'd give away a copy of The Evolution of Mara Dyer to one of my lovely readers (and also to protest that they moved the publishing date because I am DYING waiting for the third book!).


Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.
She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.
They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.
She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?


Oh my god.  Like seriously, excuse my french, but holy shit.  Whatever thoughts I had have been completely obliterated by the ending of this book.  I bow down to the power of your plot twists Michelle Hodkin.  And your suspense.  And your unreliable narrators.  I mind is sort of shattered by this ending.  I don't think I've been so...EVERYTHING about an ending before.  I suppose I should actually review the book now as I can't actually tell you about the ending but...OH MY GOD.  My brain is rejecting the madness that just happened!  Sorry.  I am going to try and focus right now.  I knew I should have waited until tomorrow to read this book!  Now I'm going to spend all night thinking about this damn ending!  I am so glad I waited to read this until now as the next book should be out fairly soon (next month? WHAT? I just looked it up and it's not expected to publish until June?! I thought was supposed to be out this fall.  AGGHHHHH).  Ok focus.  Really.  I'm going to do that now.

First, let me get the bad out of the way.  I'm going to put this out there and I'm sure it's going to provoke shock and outrage...but I'm not a Mara/Noah shipper.  Honestly I would have been way happier without any romance.  In fact, if Noah was Mara's bff I would TOTALLY be into this book Ok I already am...but...I would have no faults with this book if Noah was not Bella a person who continues to support someone who isn't even sure she herself is not crazy.  And when those options are either she's really, really insane, or her powers will kill you when she kisses you...shouldn't you be running far, far away?  I honestly skimmed the kissing because I just can't bring myself to care.  I can't remember if it was actually instalove in the first book, but considering how intensely into each other they are, it feels that way.  Luckily, romance in this book definitely takes a chill pill in comparison to the first

Onto the good.  Yay more Jamie!  I love Jamie!  And it looks like he's going to be playing a big role in the next book, which makes me happy.  I also love that despite Mara's issues and the strain it puts on her family, she's honestly from a good home and loves her brothers and parents, even when they don't understand her.  And they are really struggling to do right by her, to balance what she wants with what they think is best for her.  And when one of those decisions might mean putting your daughter in a mental institute, it is a really heartbreaking thing to go through.

Onto the insanely good.  This book...I don't think I've ever read a less predictable book (in a good way).  Part of this comes from Mara having an unstable mental state - she's missing time, and she's unreliable as a narrator.  I mean half the time I'm not convinced that Mara isn't crazy.  Like I seriously don't know if at the end of the series it's going to be this huge mind twist and Mara is actually insane.  YOU HONESTLY CAN'T TELL HALF THE TIME.  And it drives me nuts, but in all the right ways!  I know I've read books where the narrator isn't sure what's going on and it usually falls flat, but Michelle Hodkin seriously ratchets up the suspense and tension and mystery and EVERYTHING because it feels like you are slowly slipping into insanity reading this.  And there were some seriously creepy moments - like when she leaves a journal she doesn't even remember receiving on her brother's bed...and she had written help me help me help me over and over in the book.  And she didn't remember doing that either.  Or the fact that Jude is back and stalking her (or is she crazy?).  Or her grandmother's doll that appears to move on its own...and oh man I can't WAIT to find the mystery behind her grandmother...and things I can't tell you about! You. Need. To. Read. This. Series.  And then find me so we can go crazy on this together because I don't have any friends I can freak out about this to since they are all lame and don't read awesome things.

So, basically to sum this up:

It is terrifying.  Somehow it is more terrifying that Mara doesn't know what's real or not, if she's crazy or not, or if she can kill people or not.  And all the mysteries...and the doll...and that help me journal scene.  AND ESPECIALLY THE ENDING.  Read this with a friend.  Because when you finish this you are seriously going to need someone to explode with mind explosionness. 

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Friday Five (on Saturday again)

Sorry, I know I've been lax with my Friday postings lately!  But when you've got all day (and night) Friday rehearsals and cane to gouge, well things come before blogging.  I know, the life of an oboist is so glamourous!

1.  Last Saturday was one of the best days I've EVER had.  First, there was an apple festival where I live and it was awesome!  I got concord grapes (which I've not had in a couple years now) and some apples (honeycrisp I think?) and the most delicious apple pie ever!  It had fresh whipped cream delicious...

2.  That night I found out last minute that the Joffrey ballet was doing a reproduction of Rite of Spring so OF COURSE I decided to go see that instead of practice because that is a once in a lifetime experience!  For those of you who don't know, the Joffrey ballet made a restoration of RoS that is as close to the original as possible (costuming, choreography - everything).  Rite of Spring is famous to those of you not in the music world as a ballet written by Igor Stravinsky and choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, and the combination of the two was so far beyond what ballet audiences of the time expected that the audience actually rioted!  Audiences at the time expected ballets to be graceful - with extended arms and legs, fluidity, and pointed toes.  The choreography of this is very angular, hunched over posture - the exact opposite of what is expected.  Basically this ballet is one of the most influential and groundbreaking things we have in the history of ballet and music, and seeing it live like the original audience would have is pretty much like going to see The Beatles live.

I'd honestly recommend watching the whole ballet, it's only 30 minutes, but I know not everyone has time for this.  I'd skip to the 8:30 mark in this one (this starts the last third of the ballet).  It is sort of terrifying to me actually - it's by far one of my favourite scenes from the ballet and shows pretty well why the ballet was shocking to audiences of the time.  It starts the Glorification de l'√©lue part of the plot.

3.  What I didn't expect were the other 3 ballet scenes!  I know I should have expected something else since The Rite of Spring is only half an hour, but I was really surprised when I heard Tchaikovsky and not Stravinsky (it is like hearing Enya when you expected Metallica) haha.  I hadn't picked up a program so I didn't know!  So the first ballet was a Tchaikovsky, the second Khatchaturian, and the third Rachmaninoff (who I didn't even know wrote any ballets so that was pretty cool).

4.  What I really really didn't expect was the effect the Khatchaturian had on me.  It is the Adagio scene from his ballet Spartacus, and it was the most moving, expressive...just...EVERYTHING thing I have ever seen.  The choreography was just so much longing, and loving, and was everything I could have ever dreamed of seeing and everything that made me love ballet in the first place.  I actually found the Yuri Possokhov's (the choreographer) premiere of the the dance on youtube  and I've been watching it nonstop.  They've done some tweaks to the choreography since then - her entrance is a little more striking for one, and I much preferred their costumes and seeing them on a dark-lit stage as I did, but for the most part this is very similar to what I experienced.  Watching this on youtube doesn't capture just how magical it was live, but it's the best I can get (and show to you).  Honestly, this blew me away so much that Rite of Spring didn't register quite as much as I had expected to.

Skip to the 45 second mark, for some reason the beginning is just a bunch of rich people drinking wine.

5.  So I've been reading stories by Rezbratonna on fictionpress, and she is an amazing author.  All her stories are CRAZY different!  She's got a story about a female MMA, which is the first story I read, a trilogy about a zombie apocalypse (which is SCARY REAL) and is currently on her sequel about...paranormal stuff is the best way I can say it.  She writes really well, has totally pulse-racing plot lines, and believable romance!  Basically what I'm saying is you should go check her out because I can not for the life of me understand why she doesn't have many followers!  I would buy her books if she wrote them.  She didn't ask me to do this (you know, I've just realized that I'm not entirely sure she's a she, I just assumed), I just find it appalling that she doesn't have more followers especially as she's written so much.  And as a blogger, I know how it feels to post things and never have comments (not that I can complain anymore - I got almost 60 comments on my TTT! That's insane!  I've never had half that many before!).  So keep her inspired and writing and check out her crazy fantastic stories!

So basically that's my week.  I know it's only about my last Saturday, but honestly the rest of my week paled in comparison.  I'm going to go watch Possokhov's choreography of the Adagio...for the 500 millionth time...(have I mentioned he's my new favourite choreographer?  I love you Mia Michaels and Wade Robson, but you've been replaced for the time being).  How was your week?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) - Maggie Stiefvater


Goodreads:  An all-new series from the masterful, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

"There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve," Neeve said. "Either you're his true love . . . or you killed him."

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them-not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He has it all-family money, good looks, devoted friends-but he's looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys:

First Line: Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she'd been told that she would kill her true love.


I had read Maggie Stiefvater's Books of Faerie in the last year or so, and I wasn't very impressed.  They weren't awful, but they weren't all that great either.  The only reason I picked this series up is because everyone has been going absolutely MAD on the blogosphere for the series, so I decided to give Maggie Stiefvater another go.  I am so, so glad I did!  She's proven to me that I shouldn't write off authors entirely, because her writing has grown so much since she started with the Faerie books! 

From the very beginning it was clear that Maggie is on a whole new level - I mean look at that first line!  She really starts with a punch.  Right from the start you are thrown into Blue's crazy world.  I am such a huge fan of loving families in YA fiction because they happen so rarely.  In fact, I can't think of any books with families that had good relationships that I didn't like.  So from the first chapter I knew I was likely going to really enjoy this book.  Blue's relationship with her family is perhaps a little freer than we are probably used to reading (if the family factors in a novel at all).  This didn't bother me too much, because Blue's family situation is a little crazy to begin with.  Everyone except for Blue has some amount of psychic powers, and she lives with all sorts of aunts and cousins, all under the same roof!  But she loves her family, and even if they are a little unorthodox, they seem to work well together.

Then there was the whole lore.  I won't go into much here because I don't want to spoil any of the mysteries as that's a big part of the awesomness of the book.  It's basically a mix of many things you've probably come across over the years.  Ley lines are actually a thing, and are an explanation for some of the ancient mysterious places we have, like Stonehenge.  The sleeping Welsh king that Gansey is searching for (is it just me or do love interest always have the most ridiculous names?) is a theme that pops up through all sorts of mythology and folklore.  Merlin and King Arthur are both examples of the sleeping king under the hill motif.  The pocket of trees is reminiscent of all sorts of faerie stories where time and place is distorted.  I won't go into any more detail than that, and I know many of you could care less about this sort of thing, but as someone who is really interested in mythology and folklore I found the combination of all these things that are so familiar to us, but with Stiefvater's twists of course, were extremely interesting and easily one of my favourite parts of the book.

Now don't make frownie faces at me, but I'm not one of the huge Gansey fan girls out there.  I really liked all of the characters, and I'm not saying that I disliked Gansey, I'm just not a hard-core Gansey/Blue shipper.  In fact, I'm quite partial to Adam (who everyone else seems to hate).  I'd say of all the four boys, these two are the most fleshed out right from the start, which makes sense as they are posed as potential love interests.  Noah is extremely sweet, and we discover things about him throughout the book.  It's Ronan I don't get at all.  Why are there so many Ronan fan girls??  He's crass and aggressive!  I have never understood that sort of attraction.  Don't get me wrong, I love a bad boy as much as the next girl, but not when they're just being a bastard the whole time.  I get that there's a whole mystery behind his father's death and it factors into why Ronan acts like this, but that doesn't get delved into until the next book, so mostly he just looks like a jerk in this one.  I don't dislike him more than the other boys, he just seems a bit misunderstood, but I certainly don't understand his huge shipdom.  But I've gotten sidetracked haha. 

Ordinarily I'd be bothered by the lack of a strong best friend figure, but with such a big cast of main characters, it didn't bother me in this book.  Admittedly, I'm a fan of reverse harem I'm a little predisposed to enjoying have a female lead and four guys to make up the main cast. What I liked is that with four guy characters and the whole supernatural mystery, not too much time was focused on romance.  Sure it was there (again, look at the first line.  Clearly it's there for a reason), but with the so many secrets to discover (and Blue's common sense that warns her that if she kisses a boy he might die, and that's not a thing to mess with unnecessarily), it focuses on where the ley line is, how to find the sleeping king, what the woods are...and other things I can't tell you because they are spoilers.  I also appreciated that the love triangle isn't really a love triangle, *SPOILERS* as Blue isn't interested in Gansey at the moment, and doesn't really seem to be very interested in pursuing a relationship with Adam.  It's weird, nothing is really explicitly said or thought by the characters, and it seems to just fizzle out which I didn't even notice til the end.*SPOILERS*.

Would I recommend this book?

Absolutely.  Despite what I've said about it being light on the romance in this book, it's still there and will clearly be a focus in the later books so this will appeal to paranormal romance lovers as well as urban fantasy lovers or people like me who are generally interested in mythology/folklore.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Top Ten Best Sequels

This week's TTT prompts us to name our favourite sequels.  I'm going to limit myself to only sequels that I loved even more than the first book (sort of almost maybe) or I'd never end this list, particularly because EVERYTHING is a sequel these days.

This is by far one of the best books I read all year.  I didn't think it was possible to improve on Throne of Glass, but this book was AMAZING.  (I just looked at the goodreads rating - 4.58. The only thing with a higher rating that I've read is Calvin and Hobbes.  I'm sure this will change as it's only been out what...a week?  But still.  This book is amazing.)

Don't get me wrong, I loved Sabriel, but this is actually my favourite book in the series. I mentioned this in another TTT, but The Dog and Mogget are two of my favourite characters.  And my angsty teenager self totally ate up Lirael's character (I still love her now of course)

I mentioned on one of Amanda's Harry Potter discussions at I solemnly swear (which you should totally go check out because she has some really interesting things to say about the books) that I felt that this book really sets the tone for the rest of the series.  It also introduces one of my favourite characters, Sirius Black


I'm not sure why this is probably my favourite in the series, although I have a few guesses.  For one, it is the last time we have one of the original four children as main characters.  For two, it has Reepicheep (who is listed as one of my favourite characters on a TTT from last month).  I think a big part of it too is that this is the most adventurey of all the books.

Many of you probably don't know that I was a HUGE Martin the Warrior fan.  Actually I was straight up a huge Brian Jacques fan, I've read all of his books.  I was devastated when I'd found out he'd died :(.  Of all the Redwall books though, this one hit me the most.  Those of you who read it know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.  Martin the Warrior is also particularly important in the series  because he had been constantly mentioned in the previous books as an important hero in Redwall's history and plays a big part as a role model for many of our main characters throughout the series, so it was great to get his story!

This is sort of an odd choice as a sequel, as technically it is chronologically set before its predecessor, The Blue Sword.  I also must have read this a billion times before I even realized it wasn't a sequel.  (Maybe not a billion.  Because I've read The Blue Sword about a billion times as well and that math doesn't work).  And I don't love this more than the first book, it would be impossible to choose between the two.  I think my heart would break before I could do it.  But readers of this blog know that I love, love, LOVE Robin McKinley, and so she is on this list!

Ok so this is kind of cheating as well, as technically this isn't a sequel, it's the first book in a series.  BUT, it is a sequel to Tamora's first series, The Song of the Lioness Quartet, so I say it stands.  Also I am author of this blog and make the rules and I am challenging madbutmagic to a duel as to who can have the most TTT's with Tamora Pierce (they're already having a challenge on who out of their bloggers mentions Tamora Pierce the most, but I say I can beat them all!)

Like The Hero and the Crown, I didn't realize (although in this case I didn't realize for years) that Ring of Endless Light was not a stand alone book.  It is by far my favourite of the Austen series though!

Tom Sawyer was more than a bit of a prat, don't you think?  Huckleberry Finn has all the humour that Tom Sawyer does, but a bit more humanity and a lot of forward thinking for the time.

It's been a long, long time since I read these books, but I clearly remember loving Through the Looking Glass more than Alice in Wonderland.  You have the iconic Jabberwocky, as well as all the chess players in this one, and Humpty Dumpty as well.   You get more of the famous scenes in the first one (The tea party, the Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat, The Walrus and the Carpenter), so I'm not sure why I loved the second one more, I just know I did.

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

*Just a reminder to leave a link to your TTT!! If you don't I won't be able to find your blog as Disqus doesn't link me to it! (Unless you know of a way it does and wish to share that info with me as I am totally inept at new technology thingies)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern #1) - Shannon Hale


Goodreads:  Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her.

Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.

First Line:  She was born Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kilden ree, and she did not open her eyes for three days.


I never believed such a short story would hit me so hard!  This story was...oh it was painfully beautiful to read.  Not particularly how it was written - don't get me wrong, I love Shannon Hale, but it wasn't the prose that I'm talking about.  It was the story.  I don't really know how to explain what I mean.  I got sucked into this story in a matter of pages - sucked in so deeply that I could feel my heart racing, something that usually only happens at particularly dramatic parts of a story I absolutely love (for example, when Darcy confesses to Lizzie).  The whole book felt that way.  Shannon Hale is an expert story teller.  Some authors are great for action, others for their beautiful prose, or their world building.  Some have lively characters, some have heart-wrenching plots.  Shannon Hale is a story teller.  I don't have any other way to describe it.

I absolutely loved what Hale did with this story.  The Goose Girl is one of my favourite fairy tales.  I'd always wondered the plausibility of the servant girl tricking everyone.  I mean...I guess it wasn't that I didn't believe she could trick everyone, I just never understood how the details of this event would go down.  Hale explains everything!  And she makes it so much more real.  I mean, as often happens with fairy tales, the servant and the princess don't even have names in the original!  Hale not only fleshes out the story behind everything, but our characters are really brought to life, particularly Ani who I absolutely LOVED.  It gives everything in the story more impact - there is a particularly heart wrenching scene...I can't say anything because of spoilers, but she did something I didn't believe was going to happen (I don't know why...I mean it's been years since I read the fairy tale, but it's a fairly essential part of the original plot).  Also the fairy tale the horse is given a name, as is the goose boy, despite the fact that the servant girl is the antagonist and the princess is the protagonist.   I mean I know this is common with fairy tales, but it seems odd to me and maybe sexist?  I haven't decided if that's what I think it is.  In any case it has no bearing on this story since Ani's name is ridiculously long haha

My only complaint about this book?  I would have loved it was longer.   I loved that it was not romantic centric, choosing instead to focus on Ani and her confidence as a person and ruler, as well as her trust issues with friends, and her magic.  But I would have loved more time spent with the love interest, showing them falling in love, instead of it happening in a short time period in a fairly quiet way.  I don't have any issues with the quiet, it was more that you don't get more than a couple chapters (if that) with them.  It doesn't make the romance unbelievable - it doesn't feel like an instalove sort of situation, I just simply wanted more romance for me to swoon over!  I wouldn't change a single thing other than that.

Would I recommend this book?

Absolutely.  I think it is a great read for preteens as well as teens (although there may not be enough swooning for teens who love their romance in books).  Light fantasy readers, and of course fairy tale obsessors like me will also really enjoy this book!

Bechdel Test: 

A day in early summer when Ani was five, the two companions sat in an aspen's dappled shade on the edge of the garden swan pond.  Ani loved the birds that were as big as she and begged them to eat bread out of her hands.  When the bread was all gone, they shrugged their wings and shronked at her.
"What did they say?
"They wanted to know," said the aunt, "Was there more bread for the eating or should they go back to the pond."
Ani look  at the nearest swan straight in one eye.  "No more bread.  You may go."
The swan shrugged his wings again.
"What does that mean?"
"I don't think he speakd your language, duckling."  The aunt turned her profile and one eye to the swan and made a sound like the swan spoke, not quite a honk and almost a whine.  The swan padded back to the pond.

This is a conversation between a young Ani and her aunt. Luckily there are all sorts of conversations like this throughout the book since Ani is usually with a good mix of guys and girls.  It's a nice change, and the book isn't focused on the guys so much as her reclaiming her birthright and dealing with her fears at being caught speaking to animals.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Friday Five (except you know, it's Saturday and I'm reviewing Safe Haven instead)

This week has honestly been a blur because I've been so crazy busy.  I honestly can't remember many noteworthy things, although I remember thinking I should put some things in the Friday Five post, so things happened.  I just have no idea what they were haha.  So instead, let's talk about a movie I watched while reed making.

First, disclaimer I've not read the book this is based on or read any other Nicholas Sparks novels.  So I probably shouldn't judge the book by this movie...but I am really uninterested in reading any of his works, especially if they are anything like the movie.  It has EVERYTHING I hate in YA books!  I mean geez!

1.  Any family?  Nope.  Or at least none that are mentioned.  At least on blonde lady's side (I've forgotten the character names and don't feel this book merits me looking them up).  Or for that matter any sort of character development.  I mean sure we've got guy with the dead wife and girl who's running from some mystery past, but you don't really get who they are

2.  Female lead immerses life into said love interest and has no separate thing that is hers?  Check.  Unless you count waitressing.  Which I don't.  And she never works really.

3.  Crazy evil baddie with no explanation as to why they are crazy evil?  Sort of check.  I mean there is a sort of explanation, but it doesn't go any deeper than surface level explanation.

4.  Female best friend is a useless waste of space.  Oh man.  THIS.  This is absolutely the reason the movie became irredeemable.  I was pleasantly surprised to see Robin is in this movie.  And by Robin I mean actress who plays Robin on HIMYM whose name I absolutely can never remember.  But guess what?  SHE SERVES NO PURPOSE.  At least for the first hour and fifty minutes (Yes.  They made this movie two. whole. hours.)  I mean really.  She has like 15 second conversations with blonde girl and they are the most inane conversations I've had to listen to.  And I taught junior high school.  What does whoever wrote that script think women talk about?!?  Robin is either talking to blonde girl about love interest, or she drops gems like these:

"Ah what a beautiful day.  I love how the light comes through the trees"

"I like your curtains"

Yes these are actual lines.  And I saw that plot twist coming a MILE away. 

Redeemable qualities:  

- Blonde girl's hair.  I couldn't stop staring at her.  I want her hair.  
- Love interest guy is easy on the eyes
- Pretty scenery
- The child actors were PERFECT.  The boy plays his role as a 10 year old who lost is mother a few years ago perfectly.  Part brat, part sweet kid, it was excellent.  And the little girl is adorable.

I feel like enough people love Nicholas Sparks and his movie adaptions (none of which I've seen other than this one), but then a lot of people loved Twilight even when Bella's undead baby was trying to kill her and her best friend falls in love with her fetus, so I have a feeling a lot people are wrong about things.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2. A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about

Instead of doing this week's TTT, I decided to do a post to fulfill one of my challenges instead (although I can tell you the only books I care about coming out this fall - In the Age of Love and Chocolate, Untold, and Shadows).  

The second prompt for this challenge asks what book/series I wish more people were reading/talking about.  And this is so easy, and if you know me at all there is no question in your mind what I'm going to pick.  (Well ok, you probably have a couple books in mind, but I'm going to pretend you are all psychic)

I mean how could I not pick this series?  People talk about how amazing the world building is, or how original characters in a certain series are, or the plot twists.  Why are these books not at the top of everyone's list then?

The world building...don't even get me started.  You have NEVER seen world building like it is done here.  It is completely unique - there are 25 islands, all with their own culture, religion, and the people on all these islands are unlike anything you have ever heard described before.  Even better - there are paintings.  And I don't think it takes away from your imagination - it really enhances it.  I mean look at those paintings...can you even imagine a world with artwork like that?  All of these books have around 200 paintings that Clive Barker does himself and they are AMAZING.  I mean just look at those covers - that's ALL Clive Barker.  And it's a big part of the reason that the books have such huge gaps between them (and that gap is a big part of why I think it doesn't have a huge following).  These paintings are huge in real life - if you go to his site he shows a bunch of his artwork, some for this, some for general other things.  My picture on this blog?  That is a Clive Barker painting.  As is the picture for those who don't have a Disqus profile.

Many of you won't know Clive Barker's name, and that's because he's not usually a YA (although I would call this NA) author.  You will recognize him from other things though - he's the creator of Hellraiser for one.  He works in film, video games, comics, and he has a billion other series he works on.  Any of you who are fans of Neil Gaiman or Stephen King should check him out.  He writes horror/fantasy, and warning it can get quite graphic (and btw, Stephen King is a fan of his).

Depth of characters?  Incredible.  Christopher Carrion (pictured below with a painting of John Mischief and with Clive Barker himself)  is a villain that actually repulses you to your very core...and yet you pity him.  He's so lonely, and all he wants is to be loved.  Yet he's also truly evil.  He actually reminds me quite a bit of The Phantom, from Phantom of the Opera now that I think about it.  His mother (pictured in the dress made out of people's skins with the dead creatures following her) - now THERE'S a terrifying villain.  She is to Cora what Carrion is to Regina, if you watch Once Upon a Time.  Then there's the good guys, and they are as varied as you can get.  John Mischief, who has...7? 10?  brothers living on his head, Candy who is an ordinary girl (or so she seems from the beginning) from Minnesota, Malingo is like a leathery monkey... the list goes on and on.  Each character is really a person, not just good/bad character, etc.  They all have their own moral compasses, their own history.  And the diversity...clearly there's not an issue.  And falling in love isn't restricted to certain species or gender.  It's amazing and I love this world so much.  Speaking of - this world isn't fluffy and sparkly.  It's not like stepping into Hogwarts.  It's dangerous, and much of it is eat or be eaten. 
Honestly, it would be impossible to describe all the intricacies of the characters, let alone much about Abarat.  It's something you have to experience for yourself, and it is well worth it.  I guarantee you there it is nothing like anything you've read before.

Hopefully I've convinced at least one person out there to go pick up this series (in hardcover so you can get all the not so subtle hints with all the artwork here should have convinced you!).  I NEED SOMEONE TO COMMISERATE WITH ME ON HOW LONG YOU HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE BOOK! And how awesome everything is.  Go.  Buy.  This.  Book.  Series.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Death of a King - Andrew H. Vanderwal

I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.


From the publisher:   

One of history's most turbulent times comes dramatically to life in this big, broad adventure novel. Twelve-year-old Alex, determined to get to the bottom of his parents' disappearance, sets out on a quest to find them. An ambitious time-travel novel set in Scotland at the time of William Wallace, Death of a King explores the turbulence of the bloody late thirteenth century after King Alexander dies on his way to Kinghorn without leaving an heir to the throne. The country is thrown into chaos, and Alex must overcome many obstacles along his path. Full of humor, intrigue, bloodshed, battles, and suspense, Death of a King is a rollicking read told by a major voice in historical fiction.

Born in the Netherlands, Andrew H. Vanderwal was raised in Canada. A partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Andrew H. Vanderwal lives in Toronto with his wife and two sons. His first novel for young adults, The Battle for Duncragglin, was a great critical success.

First Line:  The torch cast a flickering light over the coarse stone walls as the squire hastily led a man and a woman up a spiral staircase.


First, let me say that this was an extremely well researched book.  Whether or not I always followed what was going on, it was clear that the events that took place really happened, (or that the details were changed enough so that if you knew the history that took place you would have seen clearly how the time travelers changed history.  As I'm not familiar with this setting and time period, I honestly can't say which it was).

I think my biggest issue with this book was that I simply don't know much about this period of time.  It felt like the events were described in a way that was sort a wink to the reader, but I never got the joke as I had no prior knowledge.  It's not as if we didn't get plenty of background on what was happening - I just felt like these were probably famous battles, and I think my enjoyment was hindered by my ignorance on the subject.

I also kept feeling like I was missing something.  I finally looked up the author when I finished this book and discovered there was a prequel.  To me a prequel is something that doesn't impact the series - you'll likely need to read the series to understand the prequel, and it might flesh out some information about the series.  But it doesn't work the other way around - you don't have to read a prequel to understand a series.  (Or at least that's my understanding of how it works).  I haven't read the prequel, so I don't know if this is the case or not, but the whole story felt like I'd jumped into the middle of a series and it was very disorientinh.  If you do read this novel, I'd highly recommend checking out the prequel first as it likely explains the whole premise of this book. 

I also felt like there were gaps between events in the book - for example, when did Alan become a good friend?  It sounded like he was kind of a scary guy who wasn't well known in the beginning, but again maybe he has some sort of role in the prequel that suddenly explains why they are buddy buddy.  And when did the modern kids suddenly decide to time travel to find Alex?  One of them was being bullied, and we jump back to the past to follow Alex for a bit, and when we returned to the modern day kids...they were in a cave activating the time travel device?  When did that plan come to place?  It's possible I missed a chapter, I suppose?  Because of this I also had a really hard time keeping track of who was who in the modern characters, and I didn't get a great feel for their individual personalities.

My BIGGEST pet peeve was the Scottish accent.  This is simply a personal thing.  I hate reading accents!  You know what I hated most about Wuthering Heights?  Joseph!  He was bloody well unreadable!  Reading accents really trip me up in a book and I have a hard time not getting distracted, so this may have also affected my inability to get really absorbed in the book.


All in all I felt like it was a very well researched book, and there's plenty of action, which I'm sure the targeted audience will love.  Despite that, I felt really disconnected from the characters and actions that were taking place. I feel like the gaps in my knowledge and the missing information in the book played a big role in that.

Would I recommend it?

I could take it or leave it.  If it was a book you were interested in, I'd say go for it because it's got tons of great history and action, but it isn't a book I'd go out of my way to recommend.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Friday Five

1.  In keeping with my updates on my beloved car, I've been informed that insurance will not be covering the damages as they have no idea what caused my car to mold.  On the upside, it will only cost a couple hundred bucks to fix everything.  Unless I have toxic mold.  Did you know that was a thing?  If I have toxic mold, I'm not entirely sure what happens.  But if I have to lose my car because of spontaneous molding, I will be FURIOUS.  Especially since insurance will not compensate me in any way.  AHHHH I don't even want to think about it.

2.  Last week my friend and I randomly decided to go busking and it was SO MUCH FUN!!  For those of you who don't know what busking is - you know those street musicians who play and have their case open or a hat out for change?  That's busking.  We only played for about 15 minutes as there's only so many duets we could sight read in the dark, but we made enough for train fare each, so that's good.  It really was lovely though, as quite a few people came up and thanked us for playing.  A couple ran to catch up with us while we packed up (they'd been eating at the restaurant next to the square) and the woman thanked us profusely for playing the music of her soul (or something along those lines).  All I was thinking inside was...


3.  I've been looking at the few reviews on Goodreads of Untold, the sequel to Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken AND I AM TERRIFIED.  None of them seem good!  It has to be good! I just pre-ordered it!  And Untold was my favourite book of the year...til I read Crown of Midnight  (I know I said that I didn't think anything could top it.  Buuuuut clearly I was wrong.  Although it's saying something about the quality of books I'm stumbling across).  But then I have to remind myself to calm down as I remember other books I loved with awful reviews (it's really mind boggling how different everyone's taste is sometimes!).  In aaaanyyyy case the books is coming out soon and I can't wait!

4.  I have been stress rereading.  This is what happens when I can't handle life.  I've already reread The Immortals Quartet, City of Bones, half of City of Ashes, Graceling, and almost all of Bitterblue.  That would be since...Wednesday when all the stress began.  I don't know how I manage to do it, I mean I know I'm a quick reader, but considering I don't have TIME to do it I don't know when this happened!

5.  Speaking of The Stress...I started school this week.  You may have noticed I don't have my normal Wednesday review up...folks it looks like I'm back down to one review a week until I can get my schedule under control.  I expected to be busy, but I didn't expect to be quite as busy as I am.  I am trying to think of it as flattering that I have so many responsibilities instead of moving straight to panic mode...but judging by my rereading streak, that isn't quite working haha.  I may need to stop posting altogether for a while, we'll see, but I think the blog gives me some healthy nonmusic things to do (instead of say, drinking my stress away instead).  And on that note, I'm off to run through some rep!

Anything fun happen in your week?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I'd love to see as movies (if movies didn't mostly get it wrong)

This week The Broke and Bookish asked what we'd like to see in film (with a perfect adaptation of course).  I'm amazed I limited myself to 10 this week (I originally had 25 or so, but I didn't have time to do justice to a list that long).  With no further ado, here's what I would most like to see!  

1.  The Song of the Lioness Quartet (or any other Tamora Pierce series)

I feel like all of these would translate well (except for maybe the Wildmage quartet since I can't see her transitions to animal form translating to screen well).  They've got loads of action, plenty of romance, and great comebacks!  All in all I'd love to see some female badassery on screen.

Other books I would have listed here for the same reasons:  Graceling, Throne of Glass (particularly Throne of Glass - can you imagine how AWESOME that would be?  You never know, with the trending YA movie adaptions, this wish might actually be granted!)

2.  The Fortunes of Indigo Skye (or any other Deb Caletti book)

Deb Caletti is a contemporary YA master.  Take any of her books and you've got a great main character, focus on a big issue (i.e. how you would change if you got a bunch of money, abuse, mental disorders, etc.), a cute boy who helps our heroine on her journey, and a beautiful story of growth and redemption.

3.  The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

First of all, who wouldn't want to see a movie set in 1940's Barcelona?  The novel is set in the aftermath of the Spanish civil war and is fraught with mystery and secrets and danger and if you haven't read this you should.  Out of all of the books I've listed this is the most like watching a movie in a book.

4.  A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray

Boarding school.  Dark, powerful magic.   Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in Victorian England but snarkier and with mysterious gypsy boys.  Again, what about this would you not want to see?

5.  Conjured - Sarah Beth Durst

 The writing of this was so vivid and I would love to see the dark magical realism on screen!  Especially the carnival scenes - I mean can you imagine?  If we could ever make it look real enough, it would be BEAUTIFUL.

6.  The Double Bind - Chris Bohjalian

Ok I can't say much about this without spoilers.  Just know it is one of my favourite books of all time and the suspense/mystery/the MAJOR twist at the end would keep you captivated!

7.  The Bridei Chronicles - Juliet Marillier

Set in Scotland, this follows the Pictish king, Bridei the 1st.  I didn't actually know he was based on a real character until fairly recently, so it isn't full of dry history.  This is a fantasy novel that I would love to see on screen, (but I am admittedly biased as I am enamored of both Pictish culture and Juliet Marillier).  And besides, if I made a list without any Abarat on it, I've at least got to have my weekly does of Marillier to substitute for it!

8.  The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox - Maggie O'Farrell

This is another of my all time favourites, and has appeared on my TTT before.  And it's another book I can't say too much about or it will ruin it (if you ever plan to read this book AND YOU SHOULD, the less you read about it, the better. Trust me!).  It's juxtaposed between 60 years in the past and more or less now and...gahhh I don't know what to tell you.  It's another mystery, but it's not action packed in quite the same way as The Double Bind? 

9.  The Year of Secret Assignments - Jaclyn Moriarty

You've heard me mention this book over and over in my TTT list as Finding Cassie Crazy.  This movie would be fantastic!  The antics these girls get up to are hilarious and it's got plenty of cute boys and poignant moments to choose from as well.  I honestly prefer this to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and that's saying something because I well and truly loved that series.

10.  The Riddles of Epsilon - Christopher Morton Shaw

Yet another gothic mystery juxtaposed across centuries, full of creepy magic and other wonderful things!  Clearly I am interested in a certain type of book at the moment...almost all of these were gothicish mysteries with lots of dark, scary magic!

And that's it for my TTT!  What made it onto your list?  Leave me a link below! (No really leave a link, Disqus won't send me to your blog otherwise)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Unspoken - Sarah Rees Brennan


Goodreads:  Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?


This book was SO SO funny.  Like completely different than I was expecting.  I loved the characters, and yay diversity, and YAY girl friends who aren't catty and awful and YAY EVERYTHING IN THIS BOOK.

Ok.  I can't even begin to organize my thoughts here.  I'm trying, I really am.  On the surface, it's a gothic mystery which would have been enough to make me love it already.  Kami is hilarious.  Like seriously laugh out loud funny.  I was reading this out in the square and I had to leave because I have a bad tendency to pull faces when I read, and laughing hysterically when you are sitting by yourself is a sure way to freak out all the parents who frequent the square.

This is what I imagine I looked like.

Beyond that, you've got two hunks sort vying for her attention and sort of trying to not be into her (it's weird, but it is one of the few love triangles I didn't mind very much).  So it's got eye candy for those of you who love your book boyfriends, but it's doesn't focus on the love triangle...ish thing that's going on or have instalove, for those of you who hate having to deal with that.  Her friends are awesome and they keep up their crazy banter up almost the whole time (until it gets life or death and serious).  Seriously, the dialogue here is so funny I don't know how anyone can read this without laughing out loud!

Sarah Rees Brennan tackles so many great girl issues with this book.  Kami and Angela have been best friends for the past 6 years and they clearly love each other, even though they're both a bit crazy.  Unlike Kami and Angela who have been besties for years, Holly joins the group during the book, and how Brennan deals with her is a big part of why I thought the book was so amazing.  Kami has assumed for years that Holly is a "floozy" because she hangs out predominantly with guys and is rather well endowed.  Jared (voice in head boy) points out that this might have to do with her being ostracized by girls because she developed young (age 11).  This totally happens in middle school and continues into high school, and Kami feels like she was a bit of a prat because Holly has never actually given Kami a reason to dislike her.  Once she realizes this, she takes Jared's suggestion to invite Holly to sit with her in class (or at lunch?) and Holly seems so happy that she was asked to hang out by a girl that Kami realizes that Holly doesn't hang out with girls  not because she doesn't want to, but because other girls snub her.  I love this because it deals with all the complicated relationships that girls have especially in middle and high school, but not in the way most YA contemporaries do (because really it seems to be only YA contemporaries or normal fiction books that deal with this).  It's significantly less angsty and it doesn't fall into the trap that most books I've been coming across do: you say she's your bff, but she acts like an unreasonable bitch.  Honestly, this whole situation is dealt with so quickly (I mean, it really isn't the point of the book, I just happen to love it)  and it's funny the whole way through.  Then there's an Angela's epiphany, and I can't say too much about this because, spoilers so proceed to the highlighted section with caution.

*SPOILERS*  We find out that Angela is a lesbian towards the end of the book.  And it is so not a big deal in an amazing way!  It's a surprise, but it's one Kami overcomes in the span of a paragraph (because let's face it, psychopathic magical beings who are about to kill said best friend are kind of a much bigger deal).  I also love that Angela isn't made into a lesbian cliche, and that her identity as a person is not defined by her sexuality.  I thought it was dealt with SO well.  And I have high standards on these things as I'd say probably half of my friends are out.  I'm so happy that I'm seeing more LGBT characters in literature, particularly in YA literature because that's the audience that is discovering their sexuality.  It is so, so important to not only have LGBT characters in the literature, it is important to have characters who happen to be LGBT, rather than characters whose sexuality defines who they are as people, rather than it being a by product of who they are.  I digress.  On to the book!  *SPOILERS*

I think what I love most about this story, and honestly that's saying something because I am so FULL OF LOVE about everything to do with this book, is that it follows the story of what you'd expect a paranormal YA book to be, but the characters are what separates it.  Kami is not a "strong female character".  She has legitimate martial arts training, but she's small, and while insatiably curious, she gets terrified.  She has a wide array of emotions.  AND she's got this awesome/weird mental/emotional bond with Jared.  But instead of making them have an instalove situation (as is expected in paranormal YA as far as I can tell), it makes things awkward.  I mean, imagine you've known someone your entire life - they know every single secret about you, even the kind of secrets you would never share with a single soul as long as you live.  You think they are an imaginary friend, and that maybe you're a little bit crazy.  Then you MEET them.  You've never seen this person, never physically interacted with them, but they know your deepest, darkest secrets.  Can you imagine how uncomfortable that would be?  How unsettling? In any other paranormal romance, it would be grounds for deep love bond yayyy.  But this bond forces the characters to feel a deep connection to  each other against their will.  I feel it is very important to note that.  It gives it a completely different feeling...sort of...mind rapey for lack of a better term.  It's a sort of...slavery, if you will.  Not being free to feel as you choose, to even think anything privately really.  They have to consciously put a mental block up to hide any thoughts and feelings from each other.  Honestly, it sounds exhausting. 

Of course, the whole book is focused on the mystery behind Kami's hometown, Sorry-in-the-Vale, and what role the Lynburns play in it, and not all these wonderful things I'm raving on about.  While it's not hard to guess there's something supernatural behind it, pretty much everything else you think is wrong.  Seriously, this book is amazing!  There's just enough familiarity in the subject material and genre to keep the suspense ratcheted up, but there's so many twists, and (really I'm not just saying this) they're really good twists.  Now some of you might be quicker to pick things up than I am, but I promise you will be genuinely surprised at some of the reveals.  This book is really unique because it is so familiar, but so clearly sets itself from other books I've read in this genre by how it deals with out expectations of characters and outcomes in a situation.  Honestly I know I'm talking in circles at this point but I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH.  And I'm running out of ways to say that differently haha. 

Here are some more reasons to love this book (but more concisely now, I promise):

1.  Diversity - you've not only got a half Japanese character, she's the main character.  Her dad is Japanese by race, but he grew up in this town.  I think people forget that just because you look a certain nationality, it doesn't mean that you ARE that nationality.  I don't remember if her dad was English born or not, but he's definitely an English native as he was raised there.  So that's already two awesome things
2.  Pro LGBT
3.  Strong female characters, but not strong female characters, very distinctive and different personalities.  And the secondary characters are so well done they almost don't feel like secondary characters, in the way that Ron and Hermione don't really feel like secondary characters.
4.  Great parental figures.  I know right?  It's completely shocking.  Kami's family is awesome!!  She loves them, doesn't always agree with them, and feels like an outsider at times, but they are actual people with separate characters!  And they love her unconditionally.  How many YA books can you name that even match ONE of those statements?
 5.  This book never stopped surprising me.

Seriously, every time I thought I had it all figured out, I was wrong!

When I got to the last paragraph I basically went...WHAT???? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME. HOW.  WHY. I;ALSDKA;SKDGH;ADKGH;ASDKHG;ASKFGA.  That being cliffhanger!!  My reaction wasn't because of a cliffhanger, if you've read it you know what it is.  But can I just repeat this?  NO CLIFFHANGER!!!  Praise the lord, alleluia. 

In the Ring of Endless Light post, I mentioned that I hadn't found books I could reread over and over the way I could with books I was a kid.  Well consider me wrong, this book definitely is going to get reread billions of times.  I can't believe I found this book two weeks before the new one comes out!!!! (Although I suppose by the time I post this it will have already been out for a while). 


Seriously, you have to read this.  I mean it.  There is not a single reason for you not to read this.  I honestly think this might be my favourite read of the whole year.  I don't think it's possible for me to read a book better than this one.  IT IS SO FREAKING GOOD!!!

Bechdel Test

...I forgot to check whether it passed or not before I returned it to the library, but since I'm planning on buying the book soon anyway, I'll update this when I get the book!