Apr 29, 2012

The Graveyard Book


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Seeing as how the whole internet seems to love him, I felt it was about time I read a book by Neil Gaiman. I chose The Graveyard Book for no reason in particular.

From Amazon.com:
It takes a graveyard to raise a child.
Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy—an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family. 

Less then two pages into the book I thought, I'm not going to like this. Even though it started with a triple murder by a mysterious figure known as the man Jack - very exciting - the premise of the story - a boy raised by ghosts - seemed pretty silly. I gave it chance though, partly because I always try to give books the benefit of the doubt and partly because, in my head, Mrs Owens sounds like Mrs Potts from Disney's Beauty and The Beast.

I'm glad I kept reading. Although it wasn't my favourite book ever, I really did like it. The characters were enjoyable and the story was sweet but dark at the same time somehow. And the ending was neither good nor bad, but it was right, which is more important anyway. It was just the right way for this story to end.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it a Very, Very Good. I'd like to see it as a movie, as long as Angela Lansbury is cast as Mrs Owens.

A Science Fact



Via freetwitbg

Apr 28, 2012

The Name by which we call Noodles in Cheese-based Pasta Dishes


We all have those little things that just plain bug us. Tiny things that shouldn't matter, but do.

...but when you find out that the entire premise of your annoyance is based on an invalid belief? That's a bit of a kick in the teeth right there.

Mac and Cheese. I used to get really annoyed if someone called a pasta and cheese sauce dish that was made with say, shell shaped pasta. Pfft, I would think to myself, That isn't Mac and Cheese. MAC and cheese is made with MACARONI. I was so sure of this "fact" that I would have had long, drawn out debates on the subject, had someone engaged me in it.

It turns out, though, that although traditionally Mac and Cheese is made with elbow macaroni, the term macaroni has nothing to do with the shape of the pasta. It has to do with the dough.

From Wikipedia: Macaroni is a variety of moderately extended, dry pasta made with durum wheat. Macaroni noodles do not contain eggs, and are normally cut in short, hollow shapes; however, the term refers not to the shape of the pasta, but to the kind of dough from which the noodle is made.

I have no idea what those shells (or whatever noodle shape in question) were made out of. Who was I to say they weren't macaroni?

So, to all the people who I thought nasty, superior thoughts about when they called something like this (or this, or this) Mac and Cheese: I was wrong and I'm sorry.

Apr 26, 2012

Deadline (Newsflesh, Book 2)



Deadline (Newsflesh, Book 2) by Mira Grant

Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organization he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn't seem as fun when you've lost as much as he has.


But when a CDC researcher fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun has a newfound interest in life. Because she brings news-he may have put down the monster who attacked them, but the conspiracy is far from dead.


Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun. 
    -from Amazon.com

I knew, before starting this book that I wasn't going to like it as much as I liked Feed. I knew I'd like it, but I wasn't going to love it the way I loved that first one.

Over all, it had a lot of things going for it - a bigger conspiracy, more at stake and more zombies. One thing it didn't have was Georgia Mason as the narrator. I really liked Shaun Mason in book one, but I liked him a lot better through his sister's eyes. Also, like in the first book, there was this habit of reiterating facts in more or less the same way, much past the point that they need to be repeated. Like the fact that Buffy was a technological genius, and no one could hold a candle to her talents. It needed to be said once or twice, sure, but it seems like it was said every single time she was mentioned.

The repetition wasn't bad enough to ruin the book, nor was the narration from Shaun. They were just minor annoyances in an over all good book. While reading it, I had a pretty good idea of what my opinion of it was - good, but not great.

And then the ending happened.

Holy crap. The ending. It came out of nowhere and it's awesome and confusing. It made me sad that Blackout isn't released until the end of next month. I want to know what the hell is going on and how this insane event could possibly come to be. And I want to know now, damn it!

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it an Quite Great. Zombies, characters I already care about and an over all good book with an incredible ending. 

Apr 18, 2012

Reasons to Come to Nova Scotia: Wine

Nova Scotia is a pretty excellent place. It's not all fishing villages and farmers (although there is a ton of that, if you're into that sort of thing). There are lots of great reasons to visit Nova Scotia.

One good reason? Wine.

We have some awesome wine produced here, and lots of places to sample the.

So come! Tour a vineyard or 12.











For a lot more info on Nova Scotia wines, visit WinesofNovaScotia.ca

Apr 17, 2012

The Professionals

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.


The Professionals by Owen Laukkanen

Four friends, recent college graduates, caught in a terrible job market, joke about turning to kidnapping to survive. And then, suddenly, it's no joke. For two years, the strategy they devise-quick, efficient, low risk-works like a charm. Until they kidnap the wrong man.
Now two groups they've very much wanted to avoid are after them-the law, in the form of veteran state investigator Kirk Stevens and hotshot young FBI agent Carla Windermere, and an organized-crime outfit looking for payback. As they all crisscross the country in deadly pursuit and a series of increasingly explosive confrontations, each of them is ultimately forced to recognize the truth: The true professionals, cop or criminal, are those who are willing to sacrifice . . . everything.
A finger-burning page-turner, filled with twists, surprises, and memorably complex characters, The Professionals marks the arrival of a remarkable new writer. -Amazon.com


I know that, although I don't give every book I write about a glowing review, I have yet to write about a book that I didn't like. That must get pretty boring for people reading. Unfortunately for you, I'm not going to stray from that trend yet. I really enjoyed this book.

The story itself wasn't all that original. And the characters were a little one one dimensional, especially the kidnappers (the leader, the computer geek, the muscle and the girl. That basically tells you everything you need to know about them). But neither of that mattered. The story was still excellent. The characters were likeable. I found myself torn between wanting the kidnappers to get away with it and the cops to "get their man", so to speak. And that's the point, isn't it? For a book to make you feel something and care about the outcome. Also, a little entertainment and escapism. On those points, this book delivered.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it an Excellent. Could it have been better? Sure. But it didn't really need to be. It was just fine, as is.


Apr 12, 2012

Feed (Newsflesh, Book 1)

Feed (Newsflesh, Book 1) by Mira Grant

I have a thing for zombies. I know, this is shocking news. That being said, there is a lot of media - and I mean a lot - in the genre I really despise. Poorly written books filled with unoriginal content. Terrible movies filled with bad acting that are also full of unoriginal content. Awful, awful, awful. Even so, I'll give anything zombie related a chance to wow me. Or even just not make me stop watching/reading a few minutes/pages in.

Within the first few pages of Feed, I knew I wasn't going to hate it. That was very promising.

From Amazon.com: The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

NOW, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.

 

It turns out, I didn't just not hate it. I loved it. I loved the characters - they were interesting and varied. The zombie back story was interesting and bordered on originality without going too far (and thus becoming unbelievable). The future tech is not so far advanced that you can't imagine that we'd make those kinds of advances in 20 years, but still manages to be new and interesting. All in all - very well done.

It also gave me my new favourite insult - Bright as a Box of Zombies


I really only have one complaint, and it's a minor one. It's the description of Shaun's style of reporting from Georgia. Not the actual description, but the repetition of it. We get it, Georgia. Shaun likes to poke zombies with sticks. You've told us 12 times (note: not actually, but I believe this number to be close), and the book started out with Shaun poking a zombie with a hockey stick. The point has been made. Lets move on now.


Now, lets talk about The Plot Twist. Well I guess there were two plot twists. Not the first one. The one at the end, with Georgia. A good plot twist you don't see coming. A great plot twist you don't believe it's happening while it's happening. I found myself thinking, No. What they're implying is about it happen, is not going to happen. No way. There's going to be some kind of surprise trickery that makes it not happen. And then it happened anyway, and I had to come to terms with it. The funny thing is it didn't really change the main plot of the story. It ended more or less exactly how I thought it was going to end. But, at the same time, it changed...I don't know. Something. The tone maybe, or the dynamic. I don't really know how to describe it. It changed nothing, and it changed everything. And I absolutely did not like it. Not at all. I know I said I only have one complaint. This isn't really a complaint, per se, it's a..I don't know what it is. I guess it just makes me wonder if I'll enjoy the other two books in the trilogy as much, in light of The Plot Twist. 


Prove me wrong, Mira Grant. Prove me wrong. 


On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it an Awesome. If there are two things I'm a sucker for its zombies and a well written trilogy. I can't wait to start the next one.



Apr 10, 2012

Bloodman

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

Bloodman by Robert Pobi

FBI contractor Jake Cole deciphers the language of murderers by reconstructing three-dimensional crime scene models in his head, a talent that has left his nerves frayed and his psyche fragile. Jake returns to Montauk, New York, for the first time in a quarter of a century when his father, a renowned painter, lights himself ablaze and crashes through a plate-glass window. Once home, Jake is pulled into a gruesome local homicide investigation that echoes his mother’s murder three decades earlier.
As he sifts through the detritus of his father’s madness, Jake discovers thousands of seemingly meaningless paintings stacked in the studio – a bizarre trail of dust-covered breadcrumbs the painter left as he tumbled down the rabbit hole of dementia. Breadcrumbs that Jake believes lead to the killer.
With the help of Sheriff Dan Hauser – a man scrambling to prepare the seaside community for the arrival of a catastrophic hurricane – Jake Cole sets out to find the seemingly unstoppable force of malevolence known as the Bloodman.
A unique and disquieting thriller that redefines the genre, Bloodman will leave you reeling long after its operatic finale. -Amazon.com

I'll start off by saying that I enjoyed this book. I like crime novels (and tv shows. and movies.) and as far as they go this was a pretty good one. Not great, but enjoyable enough.

I found the characters to be...a little obvious. Starting with the main character - Jake Cole, tough FBI agent with a troubled past. His father - brilliant artist and alcoholic, now succumbed to the horror that is Alzheimer's. The small town Sheriff that's in over his head. Boring, boring, boring. And the thing with the storm - I know it was meant to bring a sense of urgency to the story, but instead it just got in the way.

The ending also left something to be desired. (Don't worry, no spoilers!) It wasn't that I figured it out before the big reveal - I did, but that doesn't really bother me. And it wasn't even that it's been done before. I don't really know what it was, really, just that I didn't like it for this book. It felt...wrong. I don't know.

All that being said - the book has a lot of redeeming qualities. Robert Pobi is a man that sure can paint a beautiful word picture. Even when describing a horrific murder scene. And the murders were truly horrific. Like, seriously twisted, sick and terrible. Exactly how I like my murder scenes. They're the kind of thing that really makes you hate the bad guys, ya know? It's the kind of story that really could have stood on it's own, without the storm to create extra drama.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it a pretty good. I don't regret reading it. I've certainly read worse crime novels. I'd recommend reading it, but if you've got other books on the old night stand, don't feel bad about putting this one to the bottom of the pile.

Apr 5, 2012

Mockingjay (book three of The Hunger Games Trilogy)



Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

In less then a week, I have finished all three books in The Hunger Games Trilogy. Mockingjay was an incredible end to an incredible trilogy.


Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins's groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year. -Amazon.com

 Read my review of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.

Now this book is what I expected of Catching Fire: aftermath, rebellion and fallout from The Hunger Games. That's not to say it wasn't fantastic, just a little more predictable the the first two books. Even so, it still managed to be surprising, eventful and filled with suspense. The ending was a mixture of happy endings and horrifying loss. In a word - perfect.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it a Just Awesome. Although a perfect wrap-up after the first two books, I loved it less then I love them.

Apr 4, 2012

Catching Fire (book two of The Hunger Games Trilogy)


Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
When I finished reading The Hunger Games, I knew I'd enjoy the second book. Good story, well written, characters I love and care about. But, after the first book, I didn't think Catching Fire would be anywhere close to as awesome as the first book. I mean, really, what could match the incredibleness of the arena at The Hunger Games?

So, here's the book description from Amazon.com: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

So, you can imagine what I pictured: all rebellion and aftermath. But HOLY CRAP. No spoilers, I promise, but if you don't know what's coming, it's a huge surprise. Insanity. Complete and pure insanity.

I loved this book as much as the first. On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it a Totally Awesome. As soon as I'm done typing, I'm starting Mockingjay. I'm expect it to be all the things I believed Catching Fire was going to be. I hope to be surprised again.

Apr 3, 2012

The Hunger Games



So, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. This is a book with a lot of hype surrounding it. So, let me start with this: Holy Crap. I now completely understand what the big deal is.

"In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games," a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed." - From Amazon.com

I'm a big dystopian future fan. I'm also a fan of strong, kick ass female leads. Those two things alone made me love this book. But it also has suspense, plot twists, surprises and more. If I'd had the time, I would have read the whole book in one sitting. I didn't though, but I did stay up an hour pasted my bedtime to finish it, and woke up an hour early the next morning, wanting nothing more the to start book 2, Catching Fire.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it a Totally Awesome. Yes, it really is that good.