Aug 30, 2013

Fateful

Fateful by Claudia Gray

From Amazon: Eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, troubled family she serves. It’s 1912, and Tess has been trapped in the employ of the Lisles for years, amid painful memories and twisted secrets. But now the Lisle family is headed to America, with Tess in tow. Once the ship they’re sailing on—the RMS Titanic—reaches its destination, Tess plans to strike out and create a new life for herself.
Her single-minded focus shatters when she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets of his own. He’s in a hurry to leave Europe, and whispers aboard the ship say it’s because of the tragic end of his last affair with the French actress who died so gruesomely and so mysteriously. . . .
Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves exist and are stalking him—and now her, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over.
In Fateful, New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray delivers paranormal adventure, dark suspense, and alluring romance set against the opulent backdrop of the Titanic’s first—and last—voyage.

I bought this book from the $10 or Less table at my local mall book store when I was out shopping for a coffee maker. I needed a non-digital book to read between calls at work (one of the few perks of call centre life), because our electronics policy prevents me from using my kindle on the call floor. I know, it's a hard life. The story seemed vaguely interesting - historical teen romance on the Titanic, mystery boy with a dark secret...Sounds ok. I did not, no mater what my husband says, buy it just because the book jacket was shiny. Although that didn't hurt.
So, this might be a spoiler, but not really because it's all over the internet in every review everywhere - this is not just a historical teen romance on the Titanic - this is historical teen romance on the Titanic with werewolves. Oh, yes. Sounds terrible, right? Like, the kind of epic terribleness that could make the book awesome or could bomb miserably.  


Also, I would like to note that I do not, regardless of appearances and reviews of Hemlock Grove, have a werewolf obsession.


It's not that it's really that great of a book. I mean, obviously I enjoyed it enough to read it in two days. It wasn't wholly original (a lot of reviews point out it's basically Titanic but with werewolves) and not particularly surprising or suspenseful. I could pretty much see where things were going, more or less, the entire time. 


So, figured I'd get a week or more worth of work reading out of this. Instead, on the day I started it, when I came home from work, I thought, I'll just finish this one chapter that I'm in the middle of. And then binge read well over half of the thing, right up until the time I had to force myself to stop and go to bed. I only stopped to cook and eat supper. I might need to work on my impulse control. I polished off the rest during my shift the next day. 

Still, I read the whole thing in two days. I mean, I'm not a slow reader, but still. Two days.

I spent a good chunk of time trying to hate all of the characters. This was set on the Titanic, so obviously everyone was going to die. This may or may not have actually come to pass by the end of the book. I figured, probably main character Tess gets to live, but everyone else is going to die so I better not get attached to anyone. Unfortunately, all of the characters that you're supposed to like are absolutely likable, and the characters you're supposed to hate are jackasses and monsters. Not overly complex, but easy enough to get into. 

I'm going to make some Divergent comparisons now. Divergent is on my list of favorite books ever, and although this book doesn't rank anywhere close to that, there are some strong parallels between the main characters and their love interests, which might explain how I got pulled into this book so completely. Parallels that start at the very coincidental fact that one is named Tess and the other is named Tris. Coincidental, but still. Also they are both so much stronger, smarter and capable than they realize. Love interests Alec and Four are both mysterious and broody, at least at first. Not sure where exactly I'm going with this paragraph. Interesting similarities, is all. 

The ending. I hated the ending. Even if it did end in Halifax. How to do this without spoilers....Ok, so sometimes you really want something to happen in a story, but you know it can't happen because it's wrong. It's just the wrong ending for the story. So no matter how much you want it to happen, it can't. Well, in this book, the thing I wanted to happen but shouldn't happen, happened. I was reading along, and this other thing happened, and I was like, Oh god. Really? Really, Claudia Gray? You are really doing this. And then it happened. The end. It didn't ruin the book, and it wasn't a bad ending, but it was wrong. Oh so very wrong. 

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give Fateful an Almost Excellent. A fun, quick, albeit unoriginal read with a not great ending. And werewolves. 

Aug 28, 2013

Bulldog tries to sit in a box that's too small for him

Ah, dogs. So silly.



"I mean, you can sit there if you want, but...You're ridiculous."

Aug 26, 2013

All Employees Are Marketers

All Employees Are Marketers by Richard Parkes Cordock

From Amazon: All Employees are Marketers: Real-life, Proven, Employee-driven Strategies to Get More Customers... Get More Referrals... Get More Revenues... and Get More Profits! 

This book has been sitting on my kindle for quite some time now. I'm pretty sure that it was free when I got it. As of this writing, it is $1.93. I wouldn't pay that much for it. 

I shouldn't say that. It's not a bad book. It's pretty well written and the author probably put a fair amount of work into it. It also had hardly any unnecessary exclamation marks (a common problem I've noticed in free/cheap ebooks) which I appreciate. Had I paid two dollars for it, I wouldn't have felt ripped off, per sey. I would have felt exactly the same way I feel about it now - Underwhelmed. 

There is nothing about it that is particularly groundbreaking. It all seems like common sense. Every employee should be concerned with customer happiness, retention and acquisition, whether or not they their job title says they should be. The customer pays their salary, directly or indirectly. Not only that, if you have a good product and happy employees, they will tell people about it, bringing in more customers. 

I know, right? Earth shattering revelations.  You also get some good examples, including personal anecdotes, of companies that get this right. 

...and that's it. There's no talk of how exactly you're supposed make this happen. That's the problem. The reason you don't see this taking place at more companies isn't because owners and managers don't know it. It's 'an easier said than done' kind of thing. 

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful I'd give All Employees Are Marketers a Meh. If you're looking for solutions, you won't find them here. 

Aug 23, 2013

On female purity, ending slut shaming and a pile of kittens: Three links and a photo

I'll wait here

Female 'Purity' is Bullshit - We teach girls that they need to be sexually desirable, but not ever have sex - lest they be thought ruined for evermore. This is dangerous and wrong on so many levels. You are worth something, regardless of how much or little sex you have or have had in the past. Period.

No 'Slut's Allowed: Why Slut-Shaming Need to Stop - This is along the same lines as the last link. Slut-shaming does more than just hurt one's self-esteem, which should be reason enough to stop it, but it also leads to a culture that allows for victim blaming in instances of sexual assault and rape.

And now, A Pile of Kittens.

Aug 21, 2013

MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS - SAME LOVE feat. MARY LAMBERT

Cute video, good song, great message.


We have had marriage equality in Canada for TEN YEARS. It just seems so baffling and backwards that gay marriage isn't legal everywhere, still. Love is love, people. Get over it.

Aug 19, 2013

Hemlock Grove: A Netflix Original Series

Hemlock Grove is a Netflix original series about murder, werewolves, gypsies, rich people who have mind control powers, weird genetic experiments and high school. Well, I guess it's not really about high school, but the bulk of the main characters are in high school. Also, angels impregnating teenage girls.

Sounds...confusing? Yeah.

Here's the synopsis from Netflix: The mangled body of a teenage girl is discovered outside a rusted Pennsylvania steel town, where every resident harbors a dark secret. Suspicions and accusations mount as a manhunt for the killer intensifies, even as evidence mounts that the suspect is not a man at all. Famke Janssen and Dougray Scott star in this terrifying series from horror director Eli Roth ("Hostel") and novelist Brian McGreevy, nominated for two 2013 Emmy Awards.

After binge watching Orange is the New Black (loved it, by the way), Netflix was all, Hey, you liked that? Maybe you'll like this other original series we have: Hemlock Grove. And I was like, Netflix, that show looks kind of terrible, but I'll give it a try if you say so. I'm pretty trusting when computer algorithms tell me what to do, I guess. 

Oh god, this show. It's just...so...yeah. I want to say it's awful. I really do. But I loved it. I really, really did. And when season 2 comes out, I'll be watching. Probably non-stop until all of the episodes are gone, just as I did this season. I watched two or three episodes a night, every night for a week-ish. I guess the fact that I loved it doesn't mean it wasn't also awful. Awful, but also captivating and awesome.

...this is exactly why I should not review things. 

There is a lot going on in the show. There is a werewolf that is killing people and the police are more or less clueless (or possibly in denial). A werewolf that is definitely not main character Peter (seriously, did his name have to be Peter?), even though he's also a werewolf and the killing started right after he and his mom moved into his dead uncle's rundown trailer for some reason. I guess because they're gypsies and that's what gypsies do? I don't really know anything about gypsies. There are also a few appearances of Peter's cousin who is a psychic, a prostitute and does magic. Gypsies are magic, I guess.

Peter teams up with new friend Roman to hunt this other werewolf. Roman is a rich kid with no real friends, so it only makes sense that he befriended Peter - a poor gypsy with no friends. Roman is from a very influential and hated family, and has an unhealthy obsession with his cousin. A quote from this spoiler filled link: "you can't tell who Roman loves more: his friend Peter or his cousin Letha." So epicly true. There are also some gifs that illustrate this point perfectly. There is crazy sexual tension between Peter and Roman. Roman is a vampire (or, sorry, Upir - Russian Vampire) but doesn't know it. Peter and his family know, though, because gypsies are magic. This vampirism give Roman mind control powers. More on his family: His sister died when she was a baby, but was somehow brought back to life, now horribly deformed, with skin that glows when touched and when she's upset the lights flicker. His mother, who is kind of a drug addict and an all around asshole, is sleeping with his uncle.  His cousin thinks she was impregnated by an angel. Yeah.

Also hunting the wolf are the police (who think it's a regular wolf), and they've teamed up with (fake?) Fish and Wildlife agent - Dr. Clementine Chasseur. Who actually is a monster hunter for the church. Main police guy - Sheriff Tom - seems to know they're after a werewolf, but doesn't want to admit it. He has twin daughters who's best friend goes crazy after finding one of the corpses.

There is also some kind of super secret...something...going on at Godfrey Institute - Roman's family's company which I guess is some kind of medical research biotech lab? None of this is really explained.

I think that's everything, but I'm sure I'm missing something.

So you've got this plot, which RedEye's review accurately described as "a rambling, nonsensical mess". Even with all of that going on, it often seems like nothing is happening. It is not a fast paced show. On top of that, a lot of the writing is really bad. Some of the acting is really bad. And sometimes both the acting and writing are so bad you can't tell which is worse. All of which is why I want to say that it's awful. But I still can't bring myself to say that. Because I loved it too much.

I guess the big question is, should you watch? That's the whole point of reviews, right? And the answer is...I don't know. There are certainly worse things to watch on television. No. I'm going to take a stand and say yes: check it out. Enjoy it's convoluted terribleness, and love it for what it is: Entertainingly awful.

Note: the following trailer is rated for mature audiences only.

Aug 14, 2013

5 Historical Misconceptions Rundown


I love CGPGrey. His video are not only entertaining and well made, but also incredibly informative. Meaning watching them will make you smarter. Knowledge!




Aug 12, 2013

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

From AmazonThis beautifully written, heartfelt memoir touched a nerve among both readers and reviewers. Elizabeth Gilbert tells how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different cultures, Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy and the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali. By turns rapturous and rueful, this wise and funny author (whom Booklist calls “Anne Lamott’s hip, yoga- practicing, footloose younger sister”) is poised to garner yet more adoring fans.

When I came into possession of this book, I was not going to read it. I wasn't interested in the least. I'm neither religious or spiritual. I don't believe in astrology, I roll my eyes at most new agey-ness and I don't believe in god. There was nothing about this book that appealed to me.

So why did I read it? I really don't know. I probably felt like being annoyed that day. Do you do that? Read things that you know are going to make you angry, just for the sake of being angry? I do. Obviously.

I had every intention on hating it. I was going to be good and annoyed. Afterwards, I would write a review on how stupid and awful it was. I had a plan.

And then I started reading. Imagine my surprise when I found myself enjoying it. Right from the beginning. Despite the talk about praying and god. The writing style was charmingly conversational. And not preachy. That's something, right there. It's hard to talk religion and spirituality without being preachy. Or at least I assume it must be, because most people can't keep the preach out of those conversations. 

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give Eat, Pray, Love a Pretty Enjoyable. It wasn't the best thing I've ever read. I didn't find it life changing. Most of the part that took place in Bali was a bit tedious. But the author was likable, it felt honest and was an interesting, easy read.