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.