Jan 9, 2014

1984

Here's a quick review of the first book I finished this year:


19841984 by George Orwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As a fan of dystopian fiction, I felt I ought to read this book. It is the most well known of dystopian fiction, isn't it?

The world was excellent, well thought out and presented perfectly. As expected. It was appropriately horrible and disturbing.

Overall, although I didn't not enjoy it, I wasn't really enthralled with it. The politics and philosophies were really interesting, but the characters were flat and...not unlikable, but...boring. I didn't care about them. Winston and Julia...would they die? Would they live? Would they be caught by the Thought Police? I really didn't care either way. And because I didn't care about the characters, the story just didn't excited me.

Nearing the end, I just wanted it to be over.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it an Alright. I'm glad I read it, but only for the sake of having read it, not because I enjoyed it all that much.

View all my reviews

Jan 7, 2014

Pandemonium

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

This is book two in the Delirium trilogy. Read my review of book one here.

From Amazon: I’m pushing aside 
the memory of my nightmare, 
pushing aside thoughts of Alex, 
pushing aside thoughts of Hana 
and my old school, 
push, 
push, 
push, 
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

It's more or less a rule that book two in a trilogy is never as good a book one. Pandemonium breaks that rule. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's better than book one, it's hands down just as good as Delirium. 

It's written in a non-linear way, which I like. Jumping between 'Then', which picks up where the story left off in book one, and 'Now', a point in the near-ish future. It makes the story move along at quicker pace, without having to leave out all the slow bits of Lena getting from there to here. It works really well, because 'Then' can be a little slow paced, but it's important and only lasts a chapter and you're back in "Now" where things are getting...complicated. 

Julian...I'm not sure exactly how I feel about about Julian. I guess he grew on me...grew on me as his character grew as person. Even though he's basically a more repressed, richer, male version of Lena from book one. By the end, right up until the ending happened, I was really starting to get behind where things were going with this Julian fellow. But then the ending happened. 

THE ENDING. Glugghrg. That the sound my brain makes when it thinks about the ending. I spent the whole book thinking about this thing I was sure was going to happen. And I wanted it to happen. There were several opportunities for it to happen that it didn't happen. I had given up on it happening and in fact - didn't want it to happen anymore. And then at the very, very bitter end, it happened and I couldn't decide if I was happy or sad about it. And my brain melted a little bit. 

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it a Just Awesome, same as book one. I am pretty afraid of book three - can it possibly stand up to the greatness of it's predecessors? At the same time, I can not possibly get it into my hands fast enough.

Dec 31, 2013

Last post of 2013!

This is it! Last post of 2013. I wanted to write something epic and moving, but then I psyched myself out and couldn't write anything. So....Here's an adorable video.


Hope your New Year's Eve makes you as happy as this leopard kitten is. See you next year.

Dec 26, 2013

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy)

Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo

From Amazon: Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.

I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. Does it ruin a review if you already know at the beginning how the reviewer feels about it? Meh, too late now. I loved this book. I'm not sure why I ever thought I wouldn't. Young adult trilogy. Female main character. Kind of dystopia like, I guess? All check marks in the things I enjoy column. I think it's the magic thing. I'm really not interested in people who have magical powers, in general, I guess. But it had good reviews and sounded interesting enough. Plus the cover art is cool. So I checked it out of my local library.

And then I started reading it, and holy crap did I ever get drawn into it. Fast. Alina hasn't even discovered her powers yet, and I'm struggling to put it down to go to bed.

Lets talk characters.

Alina is kind of awkward, but also clever and sarcastic. Awesome main character. Love her. I have tons of cliche things to say about her underlying strength and whatnot, but I wont. She's just awesome.

The Darkling - there is a swoon worthy male character. Yes, it's kind of a stupid name, but it works in the book. Somehow. It adds to the mysteriousness of him, I guess. Giving him a real name like Viktor or Nicolai - it just wouldn't work. I know he does have a real name (there was an illusion to "when he gave up his name"), so I hope this isn't going to be like the Divergent Series, where when we found out Four's real name, and then Tris keeps calling him that even though it totally doesn't suit who he is now (as opposed to who he was before he became Dauntless). Anyway, The Darkling - I don't really know how to write about The Darkling without spoilers. But yeah. THE DARKLING.

Who I didn't feel super excited about was Mal. I get the concept of Alina's feelings for Mal - girl falls for best friend who doesn't see her that way. I get it. And I know Mal's supposed to be handsome and confident and all the girls love him - I know because Alina told us so. You know that old piece of writing advice, Show, don't tell? This is the opposite of that. I think it's that he didn't have enough page time at the beginning to show it, though, because the author can write an awesome character (see: Alina and The Darkling).

Lets talk story

Ok, so yeah, the story isn't super original, but it doesn't follow the exact same patterns of every other young adult trilogy I've read recently. And that's something. It never felt tired or old or boring. It never felt unbelievable or wrong.

Words I would use to describe it would include engaging, engrossing and incredible.

The worst part of this book was when it was over. The second worst part? Finding out the library doesn't have book two. And third worst is that book three isn't even released yet.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it an Incredibly Awesome. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who's a fan of young adult fiction, or magic, or just likes good books.

Dec 24, 2013

Carol of the Bells - Claymation Christmas

Claymation Christmas was my favorite Christmas movie growing up. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Dec 19, 2013

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

From Amazon: In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

I should have majorly loved this book. Dystopia (I guess? I'm not sure if it really fits that category, but I'm putting it there. If not, post-apocalyptic, for sure), female lead, young adult trilogy, ZOMBIES. If you were making a list of things I love, those things would be on it. Even so, I just didn't love this book. 

Don't get me wrong -  I didn't hate it or anything. I gave it three stars on Goodreads. I'm going to read book two. I'm just not as head over heals about it as expected. 

First of all, I prefer books written in first person narrative. Third person narration won't ruin a book for me, but it will lose points (that is, if I used a point system for rating books, rather than the arbitrary way I currently use). On top of that, the characters are a little flat. They were alright, but...yeah, flat. Oh, and Travis, love interest of main character Mary? Boring. When bad things happened to the main characters, I wasn't sad. I wasn't happy either. I was indifferent. 

Now, Mary...I found Mary pretty unlikable - selfish and kind of awful. Still, I wanted her to succeed and I wanted her to live. I wanted her to be happy. Actually, she was unlikable in the best kind of way - a way that made her real. Guess what? Teenagers are often selfish and awful - I know I was. In fact, I can still be selfish and awful, sometimes.  

The zombies were perfectly zombie like. They were the right amount of scary and didn't try to be something new or unique - they were just zombies, and if they bit you, you'd be one too. I really liked that the word 'zombie' is never, ever used in the book. Nor are they 'walkers' or 'walking dead' or any of the other popular zombie names. They are The Unconsecrated. They aren't zombies, but they are zombies. 

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it Perfectly Alright. I'll keep reading the trilogy, but I'm not really expecting much. 

Dec 17, 2013

PHILLIPS PUMPKIN PIE LIQUEUR

Today I'm going to review something that isn't a book. I know, insanity, right? Don't worry, there is another book review coming on Thursday. Order will be restored, rest assured.

Anyway.

Booze!
So I recently bought some Phillips Pumpkin Pie Liqueur. Strangely, the product doesn't seem to exist on Phillips' website, so here is a link to the product page on the NSLC.

I'd walked by it several times. I'd considered buying it, but passed. Eventually, I could resist no longer - I had to try it.

Now, I like pumpkin pie as much as the next girl, but it's not my favorite pie ever. That would be pecan. And blueberry. But pumpkin pie is pretty awesome. And I like pumpkin flavoured things - pumpkin beer, pumpkin spice lattes....etc. So yeah, I needed to try it.

This is the product description from the bottle: Fresh from the oven pumpkin pie taste with layers of pumpkin spice, cinnamon and a hint of light pastry crust. Just the way Grandma used to make it. Add to your favorite coffee drink or enjoy over ice. 

...that's a pretty tall order. You're telling me I'm going to taste a hint of pie crust? I was pretty doubtful. My assumptions were as follows - it will be sweet and tasty, and reminiscent of pumpkin pie, but there is no way it will taste like pie.

My husband tasted it first. "Does it taste like pumpkin pie?" I asked.
"It tastes like cinnamon hearts..." he replied, but moments later says, "No, wait, I guess it taste like pumpkin pie."

I took a sip of mine, and he was right - at first it tastes like very mild cinnamon hearts, but as it sits with you, it absolutely tastes very much like pumpkin pie. It even has that hint of crust that was promised. I am not joking. Also, have you ever heard someone talk about a drink's mouthfeel? It's usually from someone who takes wine tasting a little too seriously. If that's your experience, please don't roll your eyes. Mouthfeel of drinks is a real thing. Also, wine tasting should never be too serious. Anyway, the mouthfeel of this liqueur is...custard-y. Like pumpkin pie.

...in short, it was weird.

A good weird though. Not a bad weird like Jelly Belly Buttered Popcorn Jelly Beans. The jelly beans taste exactly like popcorn. Exactly. But, obviously, the texture is so wrong it makes them bad weird. This liqueur has a definite pumpkin pie like taste, but is different enough that it's not wrong that it's a liquid rather than, you know, a pie.

So yeah. Good, but pretty weird.

Would I buy it again? Probably not, unless I had a specific cocktail that required it . But I was not disappointed and would recommend you give it a try if you like pumpkin pie and weird food products. And booze.

Dec 12, 2013

Oi To The World

Lets get a little christmasy! But...not too christmasy, ok?




Dec 10, 2013

Delirium

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

From Amazon: They say that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever. And I've always believed them. Until now. Now everything has changed. Now, I'd rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie.

Although I read a lot of different kinds of books, I definitely have a type of book I'm drawn to. And that's Young Adult fiction set in a dystopia, preferably with a female lead character, preferably part of a trilogy. I may not fit the core demographic, but I'm not concerned. A good book is a good book, no matter who it's written for.

There are two ways to tell that a first book in a series is succeeding: first, when you're reading it, and you have to stop reading it, you want nothing more than to be reading it again (also known as you finish very quickly) and second, once you're finished you want to be reading book two immediately

Delirium passed both tests. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Lena is an excellent main character and I liked how sure she was about what was going to make her happy in life at the beginning. And (main love interest) Alex - although he could have stood to be a little more flawed, he served his purpose as the catalyst for change, and was sufficiently fan girl swoon worthy. The premise of love as disease great.

The biggest complaint I have is that nothing particularly surprising happened. Except the thing with the cows. I was surprised by that, I suppose. But I was not surprised by any of the major plot points. The overall pattern of things that happened was very familiar, if you happen to read a lot of young adult trilogies. Luckily, the particulars of the story, it's good characters and beautiful writing carried it to enjoyable heights, even with it's predictable patterns.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it a Just Awesome. I'm really looking forward to book two.

Nov 27, 2013

Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong

This make a whole lot of sense. It really does. "Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities."




Nov 20, 2013

Nov 15, 2013

Allegiant (Divergent Trilogy, Book Three)


Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I have written reviews of the first two books in the series: Divergent and Insurgent. I would recommend skipping the link to Divergent, as the review is just plain awful. It's hardly a review at all. It's mostly just me writing that I loved the book. There, I've summed the whole review up in one sentence, so lets move on.

From Amazon: What if your whole world was a lie? What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything? What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected? The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth's #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

I really wanted to be blown away by this book, you know? Divergent still stands as one of my favorite books ever. Insurgent was excellent, but not anywhere near as good as the first, so I hoped it would be a bridge between two phenomenal books. It didn't work out that way.

Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed Allegiant. I mean, I read it in a day. I wouldn't say that I couldn't put it down, but there were tons of things I could have done that day which didn't involve spending all day reading. It helps that YA novels are easily digestible - reading it all at once was not a strain. I at no point felt bored or like I had to force myself to keep reading. It was perfectly enjoyable. But it wasn't the magnificent third book I'd hoped for, that's all.

Tris is still an awesome character. I love, love, love that girl. In Insurgent, she was so broken, but she's managed to more or less put the pieces back together in Allegiant. She's much more sure of herself and...I don't know, leader-y now, which is a big change from Beatrice Prior from page one of Divergent. She grew as a character in a very real way. Roth did a great job on her.

The ending. No spoilers here - if you want that, just read the reviews on amazon. They are lousy with spoilers. So the main conflict part just kind of...ended. It was all action and excitement and then all of a sudden it was over even though nothing really significant happened to stop it. Also, the very very end was a little too...ThingsWorkedOutPrettyWell-TheEnd. It wasn't as if everything was perfect and happily ever after, but...yeah, I don't know. It was a little off. BUT. The big thing that happened that everyone thinks was wrong and just for shock? It wasn't wrong. It sucked and I hated but it was so right for that character. It was that character making the choice that they absolutely would have made, because of who that character is. It's ok to hate it, but that doesn't make it wrong.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it Pretty Excellent. The trilogy definitely started out on a high note and got progressively...I don't want to say worse, but...less awesome. Still, I'm glad book two and three exist. I'm a sucker for a trilogy, after all. And I'm glad I read the whole series. And I still recommend that everyone who has not read Divergent should go read it right now. That is all.

Nov 13, 2013

Canada - Keep Exploring

I love tourism videos. I don't know what it is, but I could watch these all day. Plus, you know, Canada is awesome.



Keep exploring.