Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Wizarding World Book Club - Week 0 - a Pottermore event & Book Bub's Summer Reading Challenge

A very Harry Book Club

I am so stupidly excited about Pottermore's latest offering that it's not even funny. I really am a rabid, rabid Potterhead. So far everything Pottermore has done has not failed to excite me and they haven't let me down. They've created a Harry Potter book club! It started today and the book club will eventually read and discuss all 7 books. Both Angie and I are very excited about participating in this.

There will be Twitter chats for the club - the first one being this coming Friday. I am simultaneously excited and anxious about this. I run a bi-weekly Twitter chat (#LISprochat) - I KNOW how hectic and hard it can be to follow the streams of conversations in a session and our chats usually have fewer than 25 attendees. A Twitter chat made of HP fans talking about HP? It will be an AWESOME vibe, and I am sure there will be GREAT convos. I am terrified that it will become completely unwieldy and impossible to follow. But that's not going to stop me from trying.

These chats will be themed, and I already am planning to write a blog post to publish here on each theme. There's no theme this week - those start next Monday. Time to crack out Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone again. Haven't decided yet if I'm going physical re-read or if I'll listen to the audiobook again. We'll see how long it takes me to finish the audiobook I am currently listening to on my tablet and whether or not Audible discovers the fix for the problem I am having with their app on my mobile.

BookBub's Summer 2017 Reading Challenge

My student assistant, Sophia, suggested that she, me and my co-worker, Mel, try and do Bookbub's Summer reading challenge. Little did she know I have been dying for an adult summer reading list/challenge to try because I never got to do a summer reading program as a kid. It wasn't something my schools did and as far as I am aware it wasn't something the Toronto Publis Library did in the 90s either. So when she offered I was all over it, especially once I saw that some of the categories overlap with some of the other challenges I am doing this year. Even more so when we agreed to our challenge start date as being from June 6th on, which means that I can already check 4 items off the challenge list. I've been on a bit of a reading streak lately. Since coming back from England I have read 7 novels, 4 graphic novels and a novella.

Needless to say, I, of course, have decided I'm going to be ambitious (masochistic?) about this challenge and aim for the level 3 goal of 36 books. Sophia is going to aim for the same, but realistically both of us will probably be more likely to hit the level 2 goal of 24 books.

I'm sure now you want to know what the challenge categories are. Well, I've included the image, along with my current progress, below a jump cut because it's a VERY large image.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Musing Mondays - SURPRISE!Canadian vampire author, yelling at books, and books v. chocolate

Musing Monday, June 12, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I’m currently reading…

Blood Prophecy (Drake Chronicles #6)
by Alyxandra Harvey 

I finished the last book I was reading, The Invisible Library, yesterday. I was browsing my too be read shelves trying to decide what I wanted to read next. I'm trying to remember to read my books that have been on there for awhile as well as the more recent purchases. To try and balance that out I try and go: old books, new book, library/borrowed book, lather, rinse, repeat. It doesn't always work out that way but I try and keep it as close as I can. It would probably help if I didn't keep bringing library books home from work. Especially graphic novels. I've been doing graphic novel weekends every few weeks for the last couple of months.

Anyway, that is a total and complete digression. So I was looking for my next book - I really couldn't decide what I was in the mood for. What I really wanted was the next book in the Invisible Library series, but I borrowed it from my friend, and the library's only copy was an ebook already checked out and with another hold. This book had been grabbing my eye the last couple of times I've looked at the shelves though. I knew I needed to get around to it because it's the final book in a series. That being said I regret not rereading the first 5 books because I was kind of perplexed when I started this one, there was a little bit of "Wait what the hell is going on here?" through the first few chapters. But given that it's been sitting on my shelves since 2013, and that I read the 5th one in 2012, I would say that's to be expected.

What really ended up surprising me about this though, is that the author is Canadian! Not just Canadian but from southwestern Ontario which is my neck of the woods. I had no idea this was a Canadian authored series and that also just makes me want to reread the whole series, so maybe I will before I go on reading the last book. Here, have a summary:

In the thrilling conclusion of the Drake Chronicles, love and loyalties will be tested ... and proven once and for all.
Solange Drake has been officially crowned Queen of the Vampires, fulfilling the centuries old prophecy that foretold the rise to power of a daughter born to an ancient vampire line. Except Solange's thoughts and actions are no longer her own—she's been slowly being possessed by the spirit of Viola, the first daughter born into the Drake line, since her bloodchange. And instead of uniting the vampire tribes under the rule of an ancient daughter as the prophecy predicted, Viola would rather destroy them all and enslave humans in a personal vendetta for the devastation both wrought to her life centuries ago. Can Solange break her hold in time to save everyone she loves from a vampire civil war, hunter attack, and each other? Not everyone will survive the prophecy . . . perhaps not even her..-- via Goodreads

        LAST WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Have you ever read a book where you needed more answers to the story? Where maybe the ending was just way to open ended and you wanted to yell a the author about it? What book was it?

You may have noticed that I didn't post last week. I had a crazy, hectic Monday last week and didn't actually get the chance to! I only had a few hours between getting home from work and when Angie went to bed/when I went out to see Wonder Woman so I was just focused on hanging out with Angie. I was planning to do the post when I got back from the film but a coworker and I decided to have a double feature and see Pirates of the Caribbean as well (it was my second time seeing it because Angie and I saw it on opening day when I went to visit her). Because Wonder Woman ran longer than I was planning/expecting I even ended up missing the Twitter chat I was supposed to be hosting. Luckily my co-host is awesome and covered for me, I owe her big time for that.

The next morning though I did see this question when I was catching up on my RSS feed over breakfast. The minute I saw this question I was so annoyed that I hadn't answered it. So I decided I would answer it this week in addition to answering this week's question.

This kind of thing actually happens to me pretty frequently when I read a book. It's similar to what happens when I watch a movie. I find plot holes, like I am like a blood hound for plot holes and problems and continuity errors, whatever, if there's a snag of any time my brain latches onto it. Angie can testify how annoying this can be because I kind of don't shut up about them sometimes. So yes, there have been a great many times where I have shouted questions at a book because I can't yell at the author, sometimes it doesn't even take until the end before it happens because the problem is just so big and I am so angry at it or in utter disbelief that I have to throw the book aside until I am emotionally able to read it for the answer. The most recent book that caused me to be shouting questions was probably Three Dark Crowns and I really can't say what the questions I had were because they'd be very spoiler-y.

        THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Which would you rather live without? Books or chocolate.

I could easily give up chocolate if it came down to a choice between chocolate and books, and my diet would probably thank me for it. Chocolate is one of the only treats that I have a really, really hard time turning down. But if you're making me choose one or the other I will choose keeping books over keeping chocolate.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Calendar Girls - June 2017 - best Shakespeare play - #CalendarGirlsBooks

Calendar Girls is hosted by bloggers, Flavia the Bibliophile and Melanie Noell Bernard – both have amazing blogs full of fun, bookish posts. Calendar Girls is a brand new monthly blog event inspired by Neil Sedaka’s 1961 song Calendar Girl. Just like in the song, we decided to use a specific theme for each month and choose a book based on these themes! The event is meant to incite discussions with other bloggers about books we’ve read and loved, is meant to help bloggers meet other bloggers, and also for bloggers and readers to find out about blogs which they normally may not have come across! Want to know more? Click on the links above! And it’s not too late to jump on the Calendar Girl train! Join now!

Best Shakespeare play

As a former English major in University, I have spent a LOT of time with the Bard and his plays over the years. In high school, we studied a different Shakespeare play each year in English class. Then in Undergrad, I took 2 dedicated Shakespeare courses and studied Shakespeare in part in at least 5 others. I've seen stage plays, movie and tv adaptations, and in 2005 I even went to a production of The Tempest at the actual Globe Theatre in London. That particular play turned out to be my absolute worst experience with Shakespeare, The Tempest has a cast of 19 characters, in 2005 the Globe put on the production with exactly 3 actors to share all those roles. I got so lost and had such a hard time keeping track of who was who when that I just gave up on the play and started watching the pigeons instead. When I had to study The Tempest a few years later in one of my classes I couldn't bring myself to actually read the play because that production had just put me so off of it.

Out of all Shakespeare's plays I am probably most familiar with the comedies and the tragedies, I don't recall ever having to study any of the historicals so I haven't read them yet, but I do plan to do so, I do after all own a copy of the complete works of Shakespeare. In addition to The Tempest which I mentioned above, I've studied, seen stage plays of and seen film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night and Macbeth. I've studied A Midsummer Night's Dream, As you Like it, The Winters' Tale, Hamlet (I've read the spin-off play of this too, haven't seen the film version of that yet though), King Lear (which I also read a novel adaptation of) and Much Ado About Nothing. I've seen stage plays and film adaptations of The Taming of the Shrew, the stage play I saw was done as a Western which was just epic, there were bustles EVERYWHERE. And I've seen film and tv adaptations of Othello, Macbeth and Hamlet.

Now, after all that, it's time to see which play I chose:

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Musing Mondays - current reads & where I like to read

Musing Monday, May 22, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I’m currently reading…

The Hidden Past (Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice #3)
by Jude Watson 

When Angie and I were packing up for our weekend of adventure in London on Friday night I decided I wanted to take a book along just in case since my apps were acting up on the airplane ride over. So I raided her bookshelves and saw that she had a 19 book YA series about Obi-Wan Kenobi's life as Qui-Gon Jinn's Padawan learner. They're under 200 pages each making them novellas, so I figured I would try and get through as many of them as I can while I am here.

Since they're so short I figured I better take 2 along just in case, so I did I took Rising Force and Dark Rival with me. I ended up finishing Rising Force in the hotel room before bed on Saturday night after our tour of the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio. And then on Sunday on the coach ride back up north, I started and finished, Dark Rival.

This morning I grabbed books 3 (Hidden Past), 4 (Mark of the Crown) and 5 (Defenders of the Dead) off of her shelves and started reading number 3. The goal is still to see how many of the 19 books I can finish before I go home next week:

After Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn are hijacked to the planet Phindar, they find themselves trapped in a world gone mad. The ruling Syndicat controls the people by erasing their memories. The planet's only hope lies with a band of thieving rebels.

Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are caught in a mind war. And if they're not careful, their own pasts will be wiped out forever.-- via Goodreads

City of the Lost (Casey Duncan #1)
by Kelley Armstrong

Since I finished Dark Rival while we still had about an hour and a half left on the coach (see the video on Angie's Youtube channel for more on that) I decided to give my apps another try and see if any of them would play nice. And the Kobo app did! Which meant I could read some more Kelley Armstrong! I did not read the blurb for this book before I bought it. Armstrong is one of my favourite authors, I have yet to meet one of her books that I didn't enjoy so I bought this one without finding out anything about it. So far that's working out well for me because I was sucked in from minute one. The main character admits that she murdered someone in the first paragraph! It's almost like a Superhero origin story. 

I have of course read the blurb now and I'm really glad I did because it is such an interesting story. This book was originally serialized as 6 volumes in ebook format. The edition I'm reading is new, the first time all the volumes have been published as a single novel. I have to admit I was kind of ignoring this book when it had been released as volumes and I am glad I did that because I wouldn't have enjoyed waiting in between volumes at all. It's hard enough to wait for sequels to get published!

Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows that someday this crime will catch up to her. Casey's best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana's husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it's time for the two of them to disappear again.

Diana has heard of a town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you're accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, and living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council's approval. As a murderer, Casey isn't a good candidate, but she has something they want: She's a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn't the only secret Rockton is hiding—in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.

-- via Goodreads

        THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What is your favorite place to read in?

I really don't have a "favourite" place to read. I am an equal opportunity reader. I will read anything, anytime, anywhere. Preferably somewhere comfortable obviously. Most of the time I read sitting at my computer while I talk to Angie. But I also enjoy curling up on the couch, or laying stretched out on my stomach on either the floor or my bed to read. I'll read in a moving vehicle (as a passenger only obviously haha), or listen to an audio book while working away at something else. I used to read in class, I vividly remember one time in grade 8, the final year of Primary school in Canada, I was in French class and I was really into the novel that I was reading, so since I was in the back row I pulled it out and started reading it during the lesson. Well I must have been totally and completely absorbed because the next thing I know all my clasmates are looking at me, some are snickering, and my very intimidating french teacher is looking at me sternly. I'd been caught, and apparently she'd been trying to get my attention for 5 minutes to answer a question. Needless to say she took my book away from me, which meant I had to get ahold of another copy in order to finish my book report.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Musing Mondays - up next on my reading list & travel reading

Musing Monday, May 15, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

Up next I think I’ll read…

Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir (Star Wars Disney Canon Graphic Novel)
by Jeremy Barlow & Juan Frigeri 

I got an unexpected email last night, a holds notification from the Kitchener Public Library. I had a hold available for pickup, this book. Until I saw that I had totally forgotten that the week I was off sick last month I put a hold on this after watching the Darth Maul arc in Star Wars Clone Wars. It's a good thing it came in yesterday and not later this week or I wouldn't have been able to get it.

Thankfully though it's short enough that I can most definitely get through it before I leave on my trip on Wednesday and then while I am away my mum can take it back for me. It's not due back until June 6, and I'll be back before that, but I'd still much prefer to read it before I go.

So this book is based on the uncompleted Darth Maul story arc on teh Disney cartoon Star Wars Clone Wars, which is fantastic, if you like Star Wars I highly recommend it. All 6 seasons are on Netflix if you subscribe. I'm still working my way through the last season, which is called the Lost Missions. Apparently if the show had gotten a full 6th season this story would have been resolved on screen, I'm glad they chose to finish it out as a comic because it's a really compelling story arc. I tried to see if I could buy it at first because I would love to own it, but it was impossible to find when I looked, so it must have gone out of print. Maybe I'll try at a comic shop, that was the one place I didn't try. Any way I searched every library around and finally found it at the KPL, it was checked out so I put my hold on it and waited, and now I am rewarded for my waiting:

Getting cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi and being rejected by his former Sith master Darth Sidious isn't going to defeat Darth Maul. In fact, it only makes him mad enough to take on the galaxy--with an army of Mandalorians!

After forming the Shadow Collective--a criminal organization composed of the Hutts, Black Sun, the Mandalorians, and the fearsome Nightbrothers--Maul wages war against Darth Sidious and his generals, Count Dooku and General Grievous! 

Adapted from unproduced screenplays for Season 6 of The Clone Wars television show, this is the final chapter planned for Darth Maul's saga!-- via Goodreads

        THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: How do you review your books? Do you review them right away as soon as you finish reading them? Or do you let them wait a bit and do you ever fall behind? We already did that one recently I remember so I will substitute one of my own: How do you read when you travel?

My question is more pertinent to my current situation since I will be travelling to England on Wednesday night to spend two weeks with Angie. We're both mega excited for it. For this trip, I am changing up my reading habits from past trips that I have taken. In the past, I always just stuffed my suitcase, carry-on and messenger bag with as many books as I thought I would get through on the holiday - usually between 3-6 depending on the length of them. But I would inevitably never get through them all due to being busy, which meant they'd just have taken up valuable real estate and added unnecessary weight. This is especially true because without fail I always end up coming home with at least 1 more book than I left with. Even when Angie and I went to Disney with my mum last year, I came home with like 5 books that I didn't have when I left. It's just the way I work.

So like I said, for this trip to see Angie, I am changing it up. I am not taking any physical books. I am going to get by solely on audio books and ebooks. Between audio book apps and ebook apps, I have 6 reading apps on my phone. On the flights I plan to listen to audio books, I can probably get through 2 shorter ones or one longer one because I listen to them at 2x speed, and play video games on my DS and tablet. Then if I want to read at any point while I'm at Angie's (I usually read for a bit in the mornings because I am usually up before her) I will read the many ebooks in my Kobo and Kindle apps. The only thing I'll miss is graphic novels but if I want a fix, I'll just reread the Questionable Content archive again haha.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

I'll Be There For You - A look Back at F.R.I.E.N.D.S

Three boys, three girls, New York City, a coffee shop and lots of laughs.  F.R.I.E.N.D.S was a huge phenomenon in so many countries.  I always seem to remember a time when it was on, even now it’s constantly on repeat and it’s nice sometimes to just turn on the tv and catch a random episode.  It’s like coming home to family, remembering the crazy antics of Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Monica (Courteney Cox), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Ross (David Schwimmer), Joey (Matt LeBlanc) and Chandler (Matthew Perry).

Everyone had their favourite Friend, the one they either related to or just found the funniest.  I always considered Chandler to be my favourite, his one liners were legendary and he always found something funny to say or in some cases it was funnier when he didn’t say anything, just because you expected him to.  However once I watched every episode (yes I have the box set and yes I watch it from start to finish) I found myself with a new favourite Friend.  For me, Chandler became less funny once he started dating Monica and eventually got married. He still had his one liners but he grew up, he became normal, or as normal as one can be living with Monica.  I still have a soft spot for early seasons Chandler but my favourite Friend has to be Joey Tribbiani.  He’s the struggling actor, the womaniser, the food fanatic.  He comes up with so many madcap ideas that you just have to love him for it.  He was kind and caring towards the others, he was always there for them in a tight spot, and although he was less intelligent than his peers, he knew the important stuff. His character remained pretty steady throughout the whole ten series, the only time he ever changed was when he fell in love with Rachel and even then I wanted that relationship to happen, they were just so sweet together.  

The other four characters whilst all funny in their own way just have flaws that drive me crazy.  Rachel is too self centred, but she does mature as the series go on especially when she becomes a mother but even then it’s all about her and her baby.  Phoebe is just crazy, I mean it’s funny to start with but after a while she kind of gets on your nerves.   Monica, she’s probably my least favourite character, her funniest scenes are the flashbacks when she was a fat high school girl.  Ross is better when he’s not in a relationship.  Whether it’s Rachel, Emily, Elizabeth, Mona or Charlie, he’s just annoying. He is a good character however when he’s just Ross, not Ross and whoever.

The series featured many locations but the primary locations were Monica’s apartment, which became the meeting place for most of them, Joey’s apartment across the hall which all six characters lived in at some point during the series. The other primary location is Central Perk, the local coffee shop where they all hang out and somehow seem to snag the main couch more often than not.  In fact it’s even highlighted as a joke when they all walk in chatting away then see another group of people all sitting there so they turn and walk out again.  There are other locations, we do see Ross’ apartment regularly either his first apartment after his divorce from Carole, or after he moved into Ugly Naked Guy’s apartment across the street from Monica’s building.  We also see Phoebe’s apartment occasionally especially after Rachel moves in following Chandler moving in with Monica.

Apart from the main cast of six, there are notable recurring character such as Carole (Ross’ ex wife) and Susan (her new wife), Jack and Judy Geller (Ross and Monica’s parents), Janice (Chandler’s most annoying ex girlfriend), David (Phoebe’s scientist boyfriend), Richard (Monica’s most serious relationship before Chandler), Mike (Phoebe’s boyfriend and then husband) and Gunther (the manager of Central Perk).

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Musing Mondays - Lords of the Underworld & reading while sick

Musing Monday, May 1, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I’m currently reading…

The Darkest Torment (Lords of the Underworld #12)
by Gena Showalter

I've been waiting to get my hands on this since it was first announced in 2015. So why am I only getting to it now? Well first, I had to wait for it to get released in paperback which took absolute ages after it was first released. And then I made the mistake of reading the blurb on Goodreads and became very unsure because of the female protagonist.

See, I've been daydreaming up my own story for Baden since I first read the fourth book, The Darkest Whisper back in 2013. My story that I'd written in my head was massive and super involved and evolved with each subsequent book I read in the series. In other words I had a mental fanfic going, that maybe I will actually commit to writing one day haha. Needless to say - I like the story I had in mind for Baden and I was now a little wary of seeing his actually story after having built my own up so much. Oh the life of a fangirl haha. But I did finally buy the book at some point, and then for the last couple of weeks it's just been calling to me from the shelves to finally read it. I had to wait until I'd worked my way through The Gunseller though so I wouldn't feel guilty about setting it aside a second time. I did finish it on the weekend, so then I immediately picked up Darkest Torment.

I'm up to page 152 as of this morning. Here's the summary:

Can Beauty tame her Beast? 

Driven to his death by the demon of Distrust, Baden spent centuries in purgatory. Now he's back, but at what cost? Bound to the king of the underworld, an even darker force, he's unable to withstand the touch of another and he's quickly devolving into a heartless assassin with an uncontrollable temper. Things only get worse when a mission goes awry and he finds himself saddled with a bride just not his own.

Famed dog trainer Katarina Joelle is forced to marry a monster to protect her loved ones. When she's taken hostage by the ruthless, beautiful Baden immediately after the ceremony, she's plunged into a war between two evilswith a protector more dangerous than the monsters he hunts. They are meant to be enemies, but neither can resist the passion burning between them and all too soon the biggest threat is to her heart.

But as Baden slips deeper into the abyss, she'll have to teach him to love or lose him forever.-- via Goodreads

So far, I am still not 100% sold on Katarina as Baden's love interest but she is growing on me a little. I still absolutely adore Baden though, and not just because he's a redhead even though redheads are totally my weakness. He's probably the most complex and even most sympathetic of Showalter's Lords, which is saying something because they have ALL been complex and sympathetic so far.

        THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Do you like to read when you are feeling under the weather?

 I was just sick in mid April there. Super-duper sick. Like off work for a a week, drag myself into the doctor to get meds, couldn't breathe properly, actually went back to bed in the mornings sick. I got hit very, very hard with a nasty sinus infection. It made my nose become about 99% non-functional for a week, and it took about 2 weeks before the pressure finally cleared from my ears. During this time I was trying to read The Gunseller because I had it on loan from the library, but I found it near next to impossible to concentrate on reading due to my lack of being able to breathe properly. I wanted very much to be reading though because reading does help me feel better. That was why I ended up picking up Stardust finally/ I love to read while I'm sick but when I'm as ill as I was a few weeks ago what helps is reading something where I don't have to focus/think as much/hard. Stardust fit the bill because it's short, simple, and I was already familiar with the story because Angie and I watched the film together during one of my previous visits. What I mostly did during those sick days though was plow my way through 5 out of 6 seasons of Star Wars Clone Wars on Netflix.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

#Review - The Handmaid's Tale (Audible original, special edition) - audiobook narrated Claire Danes

The Handmaid's Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood
Edition: Audible Original, special edition
Narrator: Claire Danes
Publisher: Audible Studios
Published: April 4, 2017 (book originally published 1985)
Runtime: 12 hours and 12 minutes
Genres: science fiction, speculative fiction, dystopian fiction, feminist fiction
Awards: Man Booker Prize Nominee (1986), Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (1986), Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel (1987), Audie Award for Fiction (2013), Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction (1986), Prometheus Award Nominee for Best Novel (1987), Governor General's Literary Awards / Prix littéraires du Gouverneur général for Fiction (1985), Commonwealth Writers' Prize Nominee for Best Book in Caribbean and Canada (1987), CBC Canada Reads Nominee (2002)
Date read: Friday, May 4, 2017
Number of times read: 1


"Are there any questions?" The final line in Margaret Atwood's modern classic, The Handmaid's Tale, has teased and perplexed fans since the book's original release more than 30 years ago. Now, in this Audible Original production, listeners get some of the answers they've waited so long to hear.

Featuring an all-new interview with Professor Piexoto, written by Atwood and performed by a full cast, The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition is a must-listen for both fans and newcomers alike. Emmy Award winner Claire Danes (Homeland, Temple Grandin) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, where the message (and the warning) is now more timely than ever. In addition to rich sound design that honors the audio origins of Atwood's classic, the special edition also includes a brand-new afterword from the author and an introduction written by author Valerie Martin (Mary Reilly, Property).

After a violent coup in the United States overthrows the Constitution and ushers in a new government regime, the Republic of Gilead imposes subservient roles on all women. Offred, now a Handmaid tasked with the singular role of procreation in the childless household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost everything, even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life for mere glimpses of her former freedom, and records her story for future listeners.

Whether you're a fan of the original novel or someone who has recently discovered it, The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition will shock, impress, and satisfy all those who listen. -- via Goodreads


I have been wanting to read this book for about 2 decades. Seriously, since I was about 15/16 when people I knew were assigned it in high school English classes. See, being Canadian, getting assigned a Margaret Atwood novel in high school English, at least when I was growing up, was somewhat mandatory, but our teachers had a choice of which one they assigned us. Most people I knew were assigned either Alias Grace, The Handmaid's Tale or Cat's Eye. All of which I had heard of before, my class, however, got assigned one I had never heard of: The Robber Bride. It was interesting and engaging, especially being set in Toronto, which is where I went to high school. But we were teenagers and the main character were all middle-aged women, so it wasn't a book I could relate to at the time. Plus it wasn't my usual genre, it was contemporary fiction, which isn't something I often select by choice. So those two things combined to put me mentally off Margaret Atwood for a few decades. Even though I liked it I wasn't sure I wanted to read more of her.

But my mind had always kept coming back to her stuff, specifically The Handmaid's Tale. So last year I saw that the library I work at had one copy that was in, so I snagged it and brought it home where it has been sitting on a shelf for about the last six month. I flipped through the first few pages, wasn't sure about the style of the writing, and set it aside again. But after reading, and loving, The Penelopiad and Angel Catbird v.1 I started thinking about it again. Then the hype for the new Hulu tv adaptation really started in earnest and I couldn't stop thinking about it. And then I heard about the Claire Danes narrated audiobook and decided that since I like Claire Danes - I may as well try listening to the book instead of reading the physical copy. So I used my April audible credit to get it.

I am SO glad that I made the decision to read this book in the audiobook format - especially this particular edition of it. Once I started listening, I kind of had a hard time stopping, which is why I listening to the entire thing in one day. Caveat, when I listen to audiobooks I listen to them at 2x-2.5x speed (in this case 2x) because I find the narration way too slow at anything less. In the case of this book, I actually think listening to it at double speed really added another layer of complexity to the story. It's revealed in the historical notes section at the end of the novel that the story came to light in the form of tape recordings found in a chest after the fall of Gilead. To me then, listening to the story, and listing to it at the furtive almost frantic double speed, makes it feel authentic in that context.

This book is terrifying - especially now, in 2017 after the election of Trump. It's terrifying because it's so eerily possible like things that happen in this book are actually happening in the States right now and that's heartbreaking. That's one of the aspects of dystopian fiction that has always fascinated me, seeing what parts of the dystopia I can see in the world around me. But The Handmaid's Tale is almost too on the nose which is what makes it scary. But also what makes it an amazingly good novel. The new Afterword by Margaret Atwood that is included with this edition does a much better job of talking about that than I could. She discusses the context in which she wrote the book compared to now, and why the book is so timeless, but so incredibly relevant and important right now.

If you've never read The Handmaid's Tale before now really is the time. If you have, you should consider doing it again. I wholeheartedly recommend this edition to first-time readers and re-readers.

Overall Rating

5 bolts

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Musing Mondays - Nelvana of the Northern Lights & fiction vs. non-fiction

Musing Monday, May 1, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I’m currently reading…

Nelvana of the Northern Lights
by Adrian Dingle, Hope Nicholson (editor), Rachel Richey (editor)

This is yet another book that I came across while perusing the comic/graphic novel/manga collection at the library where I work. I've probably been sitting on the book for about a year. I have term loan privileges at work, so if something catches my eye I check it out and bring it home and then just kind of horde it until I get around to reading it on my own, or until someone puts a recall on it and I get spurred on my having to read it before it's due back.

It caught my attention for a few obvious reasons. First being that it's a superhero comic, I love superhero comics! Secondly because not only is it a superhero, it's a CANADIAN superhero which is just rare enough to ALWAYS be exciting. And lastly because I had never, ever, heard about it before and the best way to find out more is by reading it!

I decided to start reading it this weekend in particular because I got on a bit of a comic kick again. I'm still trying to get through The Gunseller, which I've ended up having to renew because I had no brain capacity to read it the week I was sick, but it's going slowly because while I like it, I don't like it enough to not let myself be distracted by other things. So I'm being distracted by other books, but I don't want to commit to a second novel at the moment. Enter me trying to renew all my books from work on Friday and finding out that I couldn't renew Guy DeLilisle's Jerusalem because someone had placed a hold on it. That meant I had until May 15th to read and return it. So I decided to just read it this weekend. On Friday night I finished DeLilisle's Shenzen which I had started on the previous Sunday and then left sitting on my desk all week. Then on Saturday, I spent most of the morning, and a bit of the afternoon starting and finishing Jerusalem (which is, REALLY good!). After that, I decided since I was on a role I might as well finally finish off the last volume of Akira so that I could finally take it back to work too (that one ended weirdly to me...). Once I hit that point I just decided to turn the whole weekend into a comics weekend again and grabbed Nelvana off the shelf where I keep my library books:

Nelvana of the Northern Lights returns from the lost pages of Adrian Dingle's Triumph Comics! Nelvana was one of the world's very first superheroines, predating Wonder Woman by several months, and is among the ranks of the first Canadian superheroes to emerge after Canada placed an embargo on US luxury goods during WWII. First appearing in 1941, Nelvana was tasked with protecting Canada's northern lands. Using the powers of the northern lights, Nelvana could fly at incredibly fast speeds, become invisible, and even turn into dry ice! She used her great powers to ward off Nazi invaders, shady fur traders, subterranean mammoth men, and interdimensional ether people. For the first time since her story ended in 1947, Nelvana's complete adventures have been collected and reprinted in one single volume, with over 320-pages of artwork by her creator Adrian Dingle. Also featured is an Introduction by editors Hope Nicholson and Rachel Richey, and a Foreword/Afterword by Dr. Benjamin Woo and Michael Hirsh.-- via Goodreads
So far, at the time of pre-writing this part on Sunday morning, I've read the editors introductions and the foreword, and those three things have got me primed and excited to read the actual comics!

        THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?

Fiction, oh gods fiction. I have always preferred fiction to non-fiction. Especially genre fiction. I've always had a hard time getting into non-fiction. Some notable exceptions to that are trivia books and collections short anecdotes/cases like this one book floating around my house with profiles of evil dictators. I keep saying I'm going to try and get into more non-fiction but every time I try it doesn't work. Lately, though I have discovered one area of non-fiction that I do enjoy: graphic novel memoirs. I've read most of Guy DeLilisle's and also Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Calendar Girls - May 2017 - best sequel - #CalendarGirlsBooks

Calendar Girls is hosted by bloggers, Flavia the Bibliophile and Melanie Noell Bernard – both have amazing blogs full of fun, bookish posts. Calendar Girls is a brand new monthly blog event inspired by Neil Sedaka’s 1961 song Calendar Girl. Just like in the song, we decided to use a specific theme for each month and choose a book based on these themes! The event is meant to incite discussions with other bloggers about books we’ve read and loved, is meant to help bloggers meet other bloggers, and also for bloggers and readers to find out about blogs which they normally may not have come across! Want to know more? Click on the links above! And it’s not too late to jump on the Calendar Girl train! Join now!

Best sequel

When the found out that this month's category was the best sequel I got a little overwhelmed. Most of what I read is series - which means I read A LOT of sequels and sequels to sequels. Which means a lot of choices. I'm never sure how to choose when I have such an abundance of choices. My contrariness always makes me want to pick something that I don't think anyone else is going to pick. So I thought to myself, okay let's try and find a way to narrow down the options. What is the actual definition of a sequel? Can it be ANY book in a series or does it have to be the second book specifically? After crapping out with a dictionary of literary terms - which I had been sure would have a definition of sequel, but didn't - I turned to dictionary.com to see what it would tell me. Here's the definition that pertained most directly to literature:

A narrative or dramatic work complete in itself but designed to follow an earlier one. Through the Looking-Glass is a sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. -- via The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition

That is a great definition, but it doesn't at all help narrow down my choices. Although it does make it clear that It's more correct to say, for example, Specials is the direct sequel to Pretties and a subsequent sequel to Uglies rather than just Specials is a sequel to Uglies. Sure, they're part of the same series, and Specials does follow the story of Uglies, but it was designed to follow directly the storyline that takes place in Pretties.

Now, after all that let's see which sequel I chose:

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Musing Mondays - Star Wars & reading to remember

Musing Monday, April 24, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I bought the following book(s) in the past week…

by Kevin J. Anderson & Rebecca Moesta

A few years back I bought my cousin Ian the first 6 books in this series as a Christmas gift because like me, he is a Star Wars nut and he was the perfect age for these books. So when I was talking to him at our family's Easter dinner on the 15th we got into an in-depth discussion about Star Wars as per usual. In the course of the conversation, it came up that he really did love the 6 books I had bought him which thrilled me. I immediately him that I would set about trying to get my hands on the rest of the series for him. I remembered that they seemed to be kind of tricky to get my hands on but I was determined. I ended up getting all of them used through Amazon, I only ordered "Good" and "Acceptable" copies so hopefully, they'll be in good shape when they arrive. Because there are 8 of them my Mum and I are planning to dole them out to him over the course of multiple gift seasons. In buying these I also realised I only own the first 3, so I think I need to get off my butt and buy the rest for myself too.

Here's the summaries for them all from left to right top to bottom:

Shards of Alderaan (Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights #7)
Jacen and Jaina set off for the Alderaan system, determined to salvage a piece of the shattered planet as a gift for their mother. But amid the ghosts of a dead world, the twins are in for a lethal surprise--some ghosts still live. A long-lost enemy of the Solo family is about to return. -- via Goodreads

Diversity Alliance (Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights #8)
When a fellow Jedi student, who holds the key to a New Republic secret coalition, turns up missing, the young Jedi Knights race across the galaxy to find him and are forced to confront a deadly enemy. Original. -- via Goodreads

Delusions of Grandeur (Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights #9)
As the young Jedi Knights continue their search for Raynor Thul's father, they turn for assistance to a dangerous resource, the reprogrammed assassin droid IG-88, a fearsome bounty hunter that the young Jedis may or may not have under control. Original." -- via Goodreads

Jedi Bounty (Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights #10)
Lowbacca has left the Jedi academy and traveled to the planet Ryloth, headquarters of the Diversity Alliance, to see what the Alliance is really all about. On Yavin 4, Jacen, Jaina and the other young Jedi Knights have already discovered one truth about the Alliance--once you go to Ryloth, you either join, or you die. Lowie is in great danger, and they must rescue him. But what can a small group of humans do against a planet full of hostile aliens? -- via Goodreads

The Emperor's Plague (Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights #11)
Bornan Thul's secret is out: he's protecting a deadly plague that could devastate the galaxy if released. And the evil Nolaa Tarkona -- leader of the Diversity Alliance -- knows where it is hidden.Now Jacen, Jaina, and their allies must race against time. As a massive battle rages between New Republic soldiers and the forces of the Diversity Alliance, the young Jedi Knights must find and destroy the plague before it can be released.

But first they must face Nolaa Tarkona. And her very lethal hired hand, Boba Fett... -- via Goodreads

Return to Ord Mantell (Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights #12)
Berkley's new imprint for young adults is off and running with the first novel in a new trilogy starring the young Jedi Knights! 
As the "New York TImes" bestselling series continues, a devastating secret could mean disaster for the entire Solo family... 
STAR WARS is hotter then Ever!
Over 3 Million Young Jedi Knight Novels in Print! -- via Goodreads

Trouble on Cloud City (Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights #13)
Lando Calrissian offers the twins a rare opportunity--a vacation on Cloud City. They jump at the chance, as long as their mysterious new friend Anja Gallandro can come along. Anja is happy to be included. But little do the twins know that they are actually helping Anja hatch her sinister plan. A plan that goes far deeper than simple revenge... -- via Goodreads

Crisis at Crystal Reef (Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights #14)
Anja Gallandro planned to destroy the Solo family. But now she fights an intense inner battle -- against her increasing spice addiction, and her growing friendship with Jacen and Jaina. In desperation for spice, she steals a ship and flees the Jedi academy.The young Jedi Knights follow her from the spice mines of Kessel to the dangerous beauty of Crystal Reef -- where an even more sinister plan is hatching... -- via Goodreads

        THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: When someone in your life passes do you pick up a book they liked or one that reminds you of them to read?

I never have in the past, but it's an intrigung idea. I've toyed with reading books I know my dad liked over the years since he passed, but he and I had very different tastes in books. He was very much a Tom Clancy fan and I've not yet found any of his Tom Clancy books interesting, actually I don't even know if we moved them with us from Toronto.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Musing Mondays - reading Neil Gaiman & favourite time of day to read

Musing Monday, April 17, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I’m currently reading…

by Neil Gaiman

I'm still working on The Gunseller but I needed a genre shift over the weekend. So I picked up Stardust from where it sat on my to be read shelves. It's been calling to me for a couple of weeks now on its own, but when my coworker Melanie was over one night she commented on it and said I should read it because it's good and it reads quickly. This is exactly the kind of book I was looking for this weekend, so it got started on Friday and I've been reading it in fits and starts.

I've been wanting to read it for several years now, either since 2009 or 2013, or maybe 2014. I can't remember which trip for sure it was that Angie and I watched Stardust but that was what made me want to read the book, her showing me the film. The only previous experience I had had with Neil Gaiman at that point was with Coraline because I'd had to read/watch it for a class. I really enjoyed Coraline and the film version of Stardust, so I have high hopes for the novel.

I tried Sandman in the past but couldn't get into it, although I now regret not trying that harder so I may try it again sometime this year, we have most if not all of it at work I think. Here's the summary of Stardust just in case you don't already know what it's about:

Stardust is an utterly charming fairy tale in the tradition of The Princess Bride and The Neverending Story. Neil Gaiman, creator of the darkly elegant Sandman comics and author of The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, tells the story of young Tristran Thorn and his adventures in the land of Faerie. One fateful night, Tristran promises his beloved that he will retrieve a fallen star for her from beyond the Wall that stands between their rural English town (called, appropriately, Wall) and the Faerie realm. No one ever ventures beyond the Wall except to attend an enchanted flea market that is held every nine years (and during which, unbeknownst to him, Tristran was conceived). But Tristran bravely sets out to fetch the fallen star and thus win the hand of his love.-- via Goodreads
I'm up to page 154 and so far the pace seems slower than the movie, and I don't remember Tristran being this doltish in the film. It has been several years since I saw the film though so I'll have to rewatch it when I finish the book for an accurate comparison.

        THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Do you have a favourite time of day to read?

I'll read any time of the day or night, happily! That being said the time of day that makes me happiest to read is first thing in the morning. A lot of people use coffee as their tool of choice for waking up and starting a day off right. For me, it's 15-30 minutes of reading - or about 1-2 chapters if they're long chapters! This wakes up my brain and primes me for the rest of the day. On days where I can't work reading in first thing in the morning I find myself feeling sluggish and tired throughout the rest of the day. Reading anywhere from 2-5 chapters first thing, depending on their length, has the added benefit of letting me start off my day feeling accomplished which I think really helps my morning productivity. Second favourite time is about 8-10pm after I get home from work and hang out with Angie but before I'm ready for bed.