Friday, 30 May 2014

"Blood Red Road" | Book Review

"Blood Red Road" book cover
Everything Saba loves is taken from her one fateful day: the day when four horsemen show up and abduct her twin brother, Lugh. In order to get him back, Saba must navigate not only the harsh desert landscape, but also the brutal, drug-addled people she encounters. With the help of comrades she meets along the way, will Saba reach her brother in time?

Blood Red Road has action from beginning to end - just when you think the characters are finally safe, there's another onslaught of action or a barrier they must overcome. This novel keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout, and you never know what's going to happen next.

The style of writing Moira Young uses is, I think, perfect for the story she is telling. The first thing you notice about the words themselves is that they're written phonetically - that means they are spelled out exactly the way they sound. Most of the characters in the novel have accents, so this is a really authentic way of being more immersed in the world of Blood Red Road. Personally, it took some getting used to at first, but I quickly adjusted - it's fun reading with an accent!

Another interesting point about the writing style is that there are no quotation marks used to indicate dialogue. I find this so interesting because sometimes we don't know if we're reading what someone's saying or if we're hearing Saba's internal monologue. Without quotation marks, we as the readers are right in her mind; it's abundantly clear that we're seeing things from Saba's subjective perspective and must sometimes question her opinions and the conclusions she reaches.

Saba, our protagonist, is a fascinating character. She is by no means perfect - in fact, she's often very frustrating. This is realistic though, especially because we're right inside her mind; when we spend time with someone, we see what they want us to see, but the fact that we're in Saba's head means we see all her imperfections and cruel thoughts and opinions.

Having said that, Saba's character development from the beginning to the end of this novel is spectacular, especially concerning her relationship with her little sister, Emmi, who she blames for Ma's death. Character development is a big deal to me, and I'm really impressed with how it's done in this novel. When I went to Moira Young's book signing, she gave some really great advice on the subject, saying "you have to make the stakes high; that's how the characters grow as people".

The world-building in this story is fantastic as well; it takes place post-apocalypse, but there are some really cool references to our current civilization - they call us "Wreckers", which is incredibly appropriate, seeing as we're wrecking the planet. There are several references to our civilization and it's often funny to read about the seemingly outlandish things we take for granted from the perspective of a character who's never seen them in use.

I absolutely love Blood Red Road, it's one of my favourite books. It's an action-packed and thrilling read, and I'm eager to read the next books in the trilogy!

Have you read Blood Red Road?

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Top First Sentences | Top 5 Wednesday

Today marks my first week participating in Top 5 Wednesday, a Goodreads group where every week, you post your Top 5 of the week's theme. This week's topic is "Top First Sentences".

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."

As a kid, I read those words and was immediately intrigued because I knew there was some strange stuff coming, stuff I'd never read about before. Like many people of my generation, Harry Potter was a big part of my childhood and that first sentence will stick with me for a very long time.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

It's a classic. Those opening words have become iconic in identifying this Jane Austen novel.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab
"Victor readjusted the shovels on his shoulder and stepped gingerly over an old, half-sunken grave."

What!? Instantly, you know stuff is going down. A sure way to get me interested is to open with someone digging up a grave!

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."

I love that Holden Caulfield interacts with the reader; in the very first sentence, we get a glimpse at what kind of person he is. It immediately draws you in!

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
"When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home."

Part of what I like about this sentence is that you can promptly figure out the setting, without the author actually saying it. To me, the fact that the protagonist calls a movie theatre a "movie house", along with the fact that he's watching a Paul Newman film, screams "the '60s".

What is one of your favourite first sentences?

Monday, 26 May 2014

"Neighbors" Review | Movie Monday

"Neighbors" Theatrical Release Poster
Neighbors follows Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) as they face parenthood and the reality of a fraternity moving in next door. Everything goes well at first with the fraternity's President, Teddy (Zac Efron), seeming compliant with the couple's requests to keep the noise down; but when things go wrong and the Radners call the cops, all hell breaks loose.

This movie is pretty funny from the get-go, but it really hits its stride once the pranking and sabotage begin. There are many laugh-out-loud moments, including a few scenes involving airbags. In terms of humour, this film is pretty much what you expect when you see a film starring Seth Rogen - frequently stupid humour, and always gut-busting.

Among all the comedy, there's also a heartwarming aspect to Neighbors. Mac and Kelly have a rough time dealing with Teddy and his fraternity, but ultimately the experience makes them a stronger family unit. There was also a sense of brotherly love among the fraternity brothers, particularly between Teddy and Pete (Dave Franco), whose relationship is also tried among all the sabotage.

Zac Efron usually plays the "nice guy", so it was nice to see him in a different role, although Teddy is frequently a douchebag.

I really enjoyed this film - it had me laughing a lot. If you usually like Seth Rogen movies, you'll definitely enjoy this!

Sh*t, I Have Too Many Books | Day 7 Progress...and that's a wrap!

And another great read-a-thon comes to an end. "Sh*t, I Have Too Many Books" was more low-key than "Bout of Books", but I enjoyed each of them. They've really encouraged me to read more and I hope to keep up the pace I've got going. Here's my day 7 progress/wrap-up of the week:

Book I'm Reading: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Blood Red Road by Moira Young
The Superman Chronicles, Volume 2 by  Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Pages Read Today: 134

Total Pages Read: 699

I just calculated that - one more page, are you kidding me?? But in all seriousness, I'm happy with my overall progress; I finished two books I started during "Bout of Books", and I got a good chunk of the way through a new one!

How was your progress for "Sh*t, I Have Too Many Books"?

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Sh*t, I Have Too Many Books Read-a-thon | Day 6 Progress

I got a lot of reading done today! I finished TWO books, which I think is awesome; I'm really pleased with my day 6 progress.

Book I'm Reading: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Blood Red Road by Moira Young
The Superman Chronicles, Volume 2 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Pages Read Today: 208

Pages Read Thus Far: 565

Keep an eye out for reviews of books I've finished!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

"Waiting for Godot" | Play Review

The plot is simple. Two men, Vladimir and Estragon, are waiting for a man named Godot. We never find out exactly why, although the protagonists seem to think it's an important matter. But Godot never shows.

Written by Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot is a play that makes you constantly question what is happening - in a good way. The change from friendly conversation to "why are we here?" happens quickly and often, and leaves the reader as confused as the characters. Beckett has a knack for witty dialogue that results in frequent laugh-out-loud moments.

Waiting for Godot is a bizarrely funny play; I recommend it if you'd like some laughs and don't mind being a bit confused.

Sh*t, I Have Too Many Books Read-a-thon | Day 5 Progress

I'm pleased with my progress for day 5 - I did a lot better than on the first few days!

Book I'm Reading: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Pages Read Today: 109

Pages Read Thus Far: 357

I'm getting really close to the end of this book, and it has wowed me all the way through. There's so much action!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Sh*t, I Have Too Many Books Read-a-thon | Day 4 Progress

I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house today, so I didn't get too much reading done, but here's my progress from day 4:

Book I'm Reading: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Pages Read Today: 30

Pages Read Thus Far: 248

How is your progress for this read-a-thon?

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Sh*t, I Have Too Many Books Read-a-thon | Day 3 Progress

I got a fair amount of reading done, especially considering I had a busy day!

Book I'm Reading: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Pages Read Today: 105

Pages Read Thus Far: 218

I'm continuing to enjoy Blood Red Road - the story and characters are truly intriguing. I want to know what happens next!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Sh*t, I Have Too Many Books Read-a-thon | Day 1 & 2 Progress

Sh*t, I Have Too Many Books, which is a painfully accurate title, is a low-key read-a-thon being hosted by Regan from Peruse Project; it's taking place from Monday to Monday (May 19 - May 26).

Just as with Bout of Books, I'll be writing progress posts to track my reading during this read-a-thon. I decided I'd combine day 1 & 2's post, seeing as I only read 16 pages on day 1.

Book I am currently reading: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Number of pages read thus far: 113

I started Blood Red Road for Bout of Books and then read a few other things in its place, but today I've really gotten further into the story. I love that there's already character development happening, and the current predicament the characters are in is really nerve-wracking, so I want to know what happens next!

Monday, 19 May 2014

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro" Review | Movie Monday

Today I'm starting a new segment on my blog, entitled "Movie Monday". Getting straight to the point, I watch a lot of movies. I figure that because I watch so many, there are bound to be some I've seen that others haven't heard of. In the hopes of exposing you to films you might not have heard of otherwise, I'll be posting movie reviews on Mondays. It may not be every Monday, but movie reviews will be posted on this day. Without further ado, here is my very first Movie Monday review.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" Theatrical Release Poster
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 sees Andrew Garfield return as Peter Parker; Peter is dealing with high school graduation and possibly having to say goodbye to Gwen (the amazing Emma Stone...yes, I did that on purpose) as they go on different life paths. Aside from his real-life problems, he also has to battle not one, but two villains in this film.

Jamie Foxx stars as the film's main villain, Electro. I'm a big fan of Jamie Foxx and I think he did a great job as Electro's needy, lonely counterpart, Max Dillon. However, I found Electro's lines really awkwardly delivered; this could have been an issue with the writing, as opposed to the performance, but either way it felt cheesy and strained to me.

I was also not a fan of the makeup for this incarnation of the Green Goblin. He was in the in-between stages of human and full-on Goblin, I get it, but it just looked really muddled and hastily put together.

On the plus side, sassy Spider-Man is back in full force for this sequel. Some of my favourite parts of the film involve his snarky remarks! Here are a few of my favourite scenes:

  • Peter trying to get out of the Spidey Suit before Aunt May comes into his room, then explaining away his filthy face by saying he was cleaning the chimney. "Peter, we don't have a chimney." "Whaaaa-?"
  • Peter and Aunt May arguing over who'll do the laundry - both are hiding their uniforms/costumes from each other.
  • Peter cleverly distracting bad guys so Gwen can get onto the elevator.

*potential spoilers ahead*

And of course, how could I review this film without mentioning it: the scene every Spider-Man comic book reader has been waiting for and dreading. I won't specify what it is in case anyone doesn't know what's coming, but if you've read the comics, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It happened, and it was heartbreaking.

There were definitely some things lacking in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but if you love the building-swinging visuals and witty Spider-Man, you'll probably enjoy this!

Have you seen The Amazing Spider-Man 2? What are your thoughts on it?

Day 7 Progress...and That's a Wrap! | Bout of Books 10.0

I can't believe Bout of Books 10.0 is already over! It went by so quickly, but it was definitely a blast. I loved all the challenges I participated in, and there were other really cool ones that I didn't end up doing as well. I wasn't sure what to expect from this read-a-thon because this was my first time doing it, but I certainly enjoyed learning and participating with my best friends Christine and Michelle. This is my progress for Bout of Books day 7, followed by a wrap-up of the week:

Books Completed Today:
"Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett
Pages Read Today: 125


Total Readings Completed: One graphic novel, one audiobook, one play, and eight comic book issues
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) audiobook by Mindy Kaling
  • Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  • Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #002
  • Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #003
  • Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #004
  • Loki: Agent of Asgard #002
  • Loki: Agent of Asgard #003
  • Loki: Agent of Asgard #004
  • The Walking Dead #127 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
  • Teen Titans Go! #1

Additional Readings (incomplete):
  • Blood Red Road by Moira Young
  • The Superman Chronicles, Volume 2 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Total Number of Pages Read Overall: 594 and an audiobook (equal to 222 pages)

Challenges Completed: 5

How I did with my goals:
  • My tentative reading list involved two novels, two graphic novels, a play and an audiobook; I got through the audiobook, play, one graphic novel and part of a novel, but didn't read through my whole list.
  • I wanted to participate in at least one Twitter chat, but unfortunately they were held on days/at times when I couldn't get onto Twitter, so I wasn't able to do any. Better luck next time!
  • I also wanted to participate in at least two challenges, a goal I surpassed by participating in FIVE challenges!
  • As per my hopes, I succeeded in making daily progress posts.
  • I wanted to read at least an hour a day for this week, and with the exception of one day, I did just that.
Bout of Books

Despite not getting through my whole reading list, I think I did fairly well during Bout of Books. The whole point of the read-a-thon is to read more than you normally would, and I definitely succeeded at that so I'm happy with my results! This has been a really fun experience, especially participating with friends; I can already feel myself going into withdrawal so I'm looking forward to the next Bout of Books! :)

What did you think of Bout of Books? Did you reach your goals?

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Retitle Your Current Read | Bout of Books 10.0 Challenge

Today's Bout of Books challenge is hosted by Oh Magic Hour and requires you to retitle your current read.

At the moment I'm reading multiple books, but I'd like to retitle "Waiting for Godot". The play centres around two characters who are - you guessed it - waiting for Godot, a man who never actually shows up. The play is rife with funny moments, many of which are a result of confusion. With that in mind, I would rename this play "No One Has Any Idea What's Going On or Why They're Here".

Did you participate in this challenge? Let me know in the comments!

Bout of Books

Bout of Books 10.0 | Day 6 Progress

Today was cleaning day so it cut drastically into my reading time - our house takes forever (ok, maybe just a really long time) to clean. Despite the cleaning, I got more reading done, which I'm happy about.

Number of Books I'm Reading: 3

  • Blood Red Road by Moira Young
  • Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  • The Superman Chronicles, Volume 2 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Books Completed Today:
Teen Titans Go! #1

Pages Read Today: 83

Progress Thus Far: 469 and an audiobook

How was your progress on day 6?

Bout of Books

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Bout of Books 10.0 | Day 5 Progress

I got a lot of reading done today! Here's my progress for day 5:

Number of Books I'm Reading: 2

  • Blood Red Road by Moira Young
  • Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Books Completed Today:

Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? (And Other Concerns) audiobook by Mindy Kaling

The Walking Dead #127 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley

Pages Read Today: 156 and 60% of an audiobook

Progress Thus Far: 386 pages and an audiobook

How was your progress on day 5?

Bout of Books

Friday, 16 May 2014

Rainbow of Books Challenge | Bout of Books 10.0

One of today's Bout of Books challenges is to create a Rainbow of Books. This is a fun challenge and I think it creates a really pretty image!

Rainbow of Books

These are the books I chose, from the bottom up:
  • I am Legend by Richard Matheson (white)
  • Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz (red)
  • World War Z by Max Brooks (orange)
  • When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman (yellow)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (green - even the pages are green!)
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (blue)
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau (indigo)
  • Glass by Ellen Hopkins (violet)
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green (black)

Bout of Books

What did you think of the Rainbow of Books challenge? Did you participate?

Bout of Books 10.0 | Days 3 & 4 Progress

I didn't read at all for Day 3 because the vast majority of the day was spent either in a car or waiting in a parking lot for Tom Hiddleston.

But for Day 4 I got quite a lot of reading done, especially in terms of comics I've been eager to catch up on (*ahem* Loki: Agent of Asgard *ahem*).

Number of Books I'm Reading: 3

  • Blood Red Road by Moira Young
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? (And Other Concerns) audiobook by Mindy Kaling
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley

Books Completed Today:
Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #002
Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #003
Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #004

Loki: Agent of Asgard #002
Loki: Agent of Asgard #003
Loki: Agent of Asgard #004
Pages Read Today: 167

Progress Thus Far: 230 pages and 40% of an audiobook

Bout of Books

How was your progress today?

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Spell It Out Challenge | Bout of Books 10.0

Today's Bout of Books 10.0 fun is the Spell It Out Challenge. Participants spell out a word using the first letter of a few book titles. I chose to spell out my birth month, November!

Not only does this list show books that I've read and loved, but this list is also a pretty accurate representation of the range of genres and types of writing I enjoy.

Bout of Books

Did you complete this challenge?

I met Tom Hiddleston!

Today was pretty trying, but ultimately, it was rewarding. My day started off pretty early; Christine and I woke up pretty much at the crack of dawn because we had something very cool planned. We were going to go to the Hamilton set of Tom Hiddleston's new movie, Crimson Peak.

We drove almost two hours to Hamilton and when we arrived, we went to "base camp", which is where most people had reported meeting the cast, only to find that there were no trailers set up. Slightly discouraged but still very hopeful, we continued on to the Scottish Rite, where they were scheduled to be filming.

To be sure we weren't wasting our time waiting when the cast wouldn't be coming out, we asked a crew member if we were in the right place. He assured us that "he" (which we assumed meant either Tom Hiddleston or Charlie Hunnam) would come outside and that he was very nice. We were also told to stay on the outside perimeter of the property, which we of course respected.

So we waited around for about 45 minutes and a crowd of fans gathered, but after seeing hardly any activity going on, we were becoming skeptical as to whether anything was actually going to happen at the Scottish Rite. Christine decided she'd try to ask a couple of crew members if they knew when filming would start today, and she was told that no one would be filming there today - the crew was only setting up. They told her that filming was, in fact, taking place in Toronto, right by the university I used to go to.

We jumped in the car and got back on the road. When we got near the film set, we saw signs directing the way and our inner fans started taking over. But we quickly contained ourselves and got into place; we stood with the security guard and kept our distance from the trailers.

At one point, we saw Tom come back to the trailers for a break but we didn't try to say hi because he was still working. A little later, Tom's personal assistant came over to talk to us and tell us he'd let Tom know we were there, which was really nice.

Then came the rain. We were feeling dejected for a little while because it was an absolute torrential downpour, but our waiting paid off. Tom and his PA came out and waved us over to their car. Tom got in and as Christine and I stood under our umbrella, he said "I've got some headshots, is that ok?" And that was ok. That was very ok. He shook my hand and asked our names and personalized the photos, which was awesome. We talked to him for a bit and he was really lovely and kind.

I couldn't be happier with how the day turned out; this was my first-ever visit to any movie set-type thing, so I'm so glad Tom was so lovely and did that for us. I'm really happy that I got to meet Tom with Christine - I know it meant as much to her (if not more!) as it did to me.

Click here for Christine's account of the day.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Bout of Books 10.0 | Day 2 Progress

During day 2 of Bout of Books, ChristineMichelle and I had a tea party, which was lovely. Later in the day, I was able to get some reading done.

Number of books I picked up: 1

Title: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Pages Read Today: 83

Total Pages Read: 146 and 40% of an audiobook

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Bout of Books 10.0 Challenge | 10 Books that have been sitting on my shelves for ages that I'm looking forward to reading

One of today's Bout of Books challenges is to write a list of ten books you're looking forward to reading. Well, I have masses of books on my shelves that I've never read before, so I figure what better time is there to make a list of books on my shelves that I want to read?

1. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I've wanted to read this for so long, but I haven't gotten to it yet. Once Bout of Books is over, it's the first book I'm going to read. The story is so intriguing to me; the cover is incredibly creepy yet beautiful, and the fact that there are more strange pictures inside is very cool. Everything I know about this novel appeals to me!

2. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

I was supposed to read this for school, but in spite of it being really cool, I didn't get very far into it. It's a futuristic novel where technology is all-pervasive - there's pretty much nothing that isn't in some way affected by technology. I feel like although the thought of this happening is somewhat disturbing, it's actually quite plausible.

3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

...I was supposed to read this one for school too. This is a dystopian novel and it takes place in a world where books are banned; the firefighters' jobs are to burn any books they find. Seriously, what a cool and absolutely horrifying concept.

4. The Shining by Stephen King

*Sigh* Ok, there were a lot of books I was supposed to read for school but didn't. But I'm trying now, I really am. Twice, I've gotten partway through this novel and it's really good, but for some reason I haven't been able to finish it. It's not because it's too scary for me or anything, although there's this great sense of foreboding throughout. I want to finish this creepy novel, once and for all.

5. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Honestly, I picked this up at a garage sale because it was 25 cents and looked really old and worn. I loved Cat's Cradle, which is also by Vonnegut, so I figured I'd give this a try. Plus, I've heard great things about the satire within.

6. The Archived by Victoria Schwab

If you've read my review of Vicious, then you know I love Victoria Schwab's writing. Christine, who introduced me to Schwab's writing, gave me this book. I'm especially excited to read this because from what I understand, the dead in the novel turn into "Histories" (aka books!!) and are archived. How cool would that be? Also, apparently the author had David Tennant's Doctor in mind while writing this. My inner Whovian is exploding to read this.

7. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

This is the second book in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. I want to continue the series because Hitchhiker's had me laughing out loud constantly - the satire is done so incredibly well. It's one of the funniest novels I've ever read. To give you a tidbit of what I mean, there are five books in this trilogy.

8. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

This is a post-apocalyptic novel that follows a father and son as they travel the barren landscapes that follow a global catastrophe. I've seen the movie and it was spectacularly done, but now I want to read the book that inspired it.

9. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

I'm not sure if you're sensing a pattern here, but dystopian/post-apocalyptic/futuristic novels are my kryptonite. 

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Yes. I know. I haven't read the last book in the Harry Potter series. I don't know why. I love the whole series but for some reason, I just haven't read the last one! 

What books are you looking forward to reading?

Monday, 12 May 2014

Bout of Books 10.0 | Day 1 Progress

My very first day participating in Bout of Books was certainly an interesting one!

I got a decent amount of reading done, given the day I had. You may have read my earlier post about attending Moira Young's book signing - much of the day was spent travelling there and then waiting in Chapters for the event to begin.

Given all that, here is the progress I made today:

Number of books I'm currently reading: 3

  • Blood Red Road by Moira Young
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? (And Other Concerns) audiobook by Mindy Kaling
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley
Progress thus far:
  • 63 pages and about 40% of an audiobook

Bout of Books

So far, I'm really enjoying Blood Red Road; I think the way it's written is unique, and although it took me a while to get used to the style of writing, I'm quite enjoying it now. The story is so intriguing. Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me (And Other Concerns) is hilarious and often quite relateable -Mindy Kaling is so funny. Batman: The Dark Knight Rises is the typical broody goodness you'd expect from a Batman graphic novel, so I'm quite enjoying that so far as well.

How much progress did you make on Bout of Books Day 1?

Moira Young Signing!

Moira Young and I
I had a wonderful time at Moira Young's Brampton book signing today.

She began the event by telling us the process of writing the first novel in The Dustlands Trilogy, Blood Red Road. She explained that the process was a gruelling one that involved three and a half years of writing and then realizing the story was not what she wanted it to be. After seeking help from a friend, she was told: now you're ready to tell the story. This resounded with me because it's so interesting and so realistic - after so much trial and error, and writing a story that doesn't turn out the way you want it, you start to realize what you do want in your story. I imagine it would have been a frustrating thing to hear, that you would have to start all over again after so much time and effort - but ultimately that's a really important piece of advice to receive.

Moira also emphasized the importance of giving your characters obstacles and making sure the stakes are high for them. If your characters don't have something at stake, then your interest in the story will fade - this applies to you, the writer, as well as readers. This emphasis on high stakes is something you'd think would be obvious, but there are a surprising amount of novels out there that don't adhere to this principle.

I'm so happy I went to the signing, because Moira was so lovely. While she was signing Blood Red Road for me, we had a more in-depth discussion on the importance of obstacles to character development, and it was really helpful. All the stories she told and advice she gave made me want to write.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

"Avenue Q" Review

"Avenue Q" posters
I had the pleasure of seeing Avenue Q today.

The play involves puppets and tells the story of Princeton, a young man who has recently graduated from college and is now trying to find his life's purpose. On his way to discovering himself, he moves to Avenue Q, where he meets a variety of hilarious characters.

I was initially hesitant to go see this because of my automatonophobia (according to Wikipedia, "the fear of anything that falsely represents a sentient being")/ pupophobia (fear of puppets). But after hearing so many good things about the production, I decided to face my fears for the sake of the play's purported hilarity.

And boy, was it worth it. Avenue Q is full of catchy songs and what most people would probably consider inappropriate humour - several times, it leaves you simultaneously laughing and thinking "oh my god, they really went there". The play is often brutally honest about everyday issues; listen to the songs "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" and "Schadenfreude", and you'll know exactly what I mean.

The cast at the Lower Ossington Theatre was incredible - I'm really impressed by every cast member's ability to act, sing, dance AND manipulate a puppet (sometimes more than one!). The audience involvement was really fun to see as well - the actors were great at improvising humorous responses.

This play tells the story of my life in several ways, so I found myself laughing not only at the lyrics, but also at how relateable it is. Seriously, "What Do You Do with a B.A. in English" is a gloriously accurate song.

I had an incredible time watching Avenue Q - it hits all the right notes, in more ways than one.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Bout of Books 10.0 Goals & "To Be Read" List

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I'm doing Bout of Books 10.0! As there are only a few days left before the awesomeness begins, I decided it'd be a good idea to post my goals for the read-a-thon, as well as my "To-Be-Read" list.

I'm doing Bout of Books with two of my best friends, so I know I'll have plenty of support and encouragement; not to mention the fellow participants I'm sure I'll be meeting!

  • Read two novels, two graphic novels, one play and listen to one audiobook
  • Participate in (at least) one Twitter chat (I've never done Bout of Books before, so I'm not really sure what to expect for these)
  • Participate in two challenges (again, I've never done this before so I'd like to try different things)
  • Make daily progress posts
  • Read at least one hour per day (although I'm hoping to do more than that)

To-Be-Read for Bout of Books
  • John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars" (I'm also participating in the Chapters/Indigo book club, and TFIOS is this month's book)
  • Moira Young's "Blood Red Road: Dustlands 1" (I'm going to a signing for Moira on Monday, so I might start a bit early on this one)
  • Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley's "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns"
  • Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's "The Superman Chronicles: Volume 2"
  • Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot"
  • Mindy Kaling's audiobook "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)"

And of course, this list is tentative; if I feel more inclined to read a different story or (*GASP*) I finish my list with time to spare, I'll choose something else to read.

Are you participating in Bout of Books? What are you reading?

Bout of Books

I'd like to give a big thanks to Christine, who introduced me to and has been showing me the ropes of this read-a-thon!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

"Only Lovers Left Alive" | Movie Review

"Only Lovers Left Alive" movie poster
"Only Lovers Left Alive" stars Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as two lovers, who both happen to be vampires.

The film follows the daily life of the couple, who have been together for centuries. It's interesting to see a new take on the vampire genre: instead of seeing lots of action and battles, we're shown what goes on in their day to day lives, including the ways they obtain their blood supply.

Tilda Swinton's Eve is an excellent character, one full of adventure, charm and love for her husband. The two seem to be almost polar opposites, as Tom Hiddleston's Adam is a brooding, moody musician. I'd be remiss not to mention Mia Wasikowska's performance as Ava - she is spectacular as Eve's impulsive younger sister. Her interactions with Adam were some of my favourites in the entire movie. All are excellent in their roles; Tom and Tilda have especially wonderful chemistry and do a great job of portraying a couple who have been together for a very long time.

I love the little things in each of their costumes that remind them of each other. Adam and Eve have their own colour schemes - Adam in all-black and Eve in all-white; Eve wears a black bracelet that represents Adam, and Adam wears a white one for Eve. These small things that you might not necessarily notice at first are part of what makes this film so lovely to watch.

Music plays a huge role in the film, with Adam being a collector of all kinds of instruments. The soundtrack to this film is absolutely incredible, I love the haunting music - it goes perfectly with "Only Lovers Left Alive".

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie - I recommend it to anyone looking for a new take on a vampire film!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

I'm doing Bout of Books; Picture-a-Day #126

I'm doing Bout of Books 10.0!

Bout of Books is a biannual read-a-thon that starts next week; it encourages participants to read more than their usual. I'm really excited to be doing a read-a-thon again, because I haven't done one since I was a kid. My local library always held events during the summer and the kids who read the most books got prizes. Ah, those were the days.

For those of you who are interested in joining the read-a-thon, here's Bout of Books' official description:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Bout of Books

Bring on the books!

Are you participating in Bout of Books?

Learning Portuguese...

"O Inglês sem Mestre"
I've been wanting to become fluent in Portuguese for a long time now.

I took Saturday lessons growing up and was able to form simple sentences with really good pronunciation, but after a few years of similar lessons over and over, I didn't feel like they were helping me learn anymore.

Over the last 10 years I've noticed that I've pretty much lost the ability to formulate a sentence in Portuguese, although I can still understand bits and pieces of a conversation.

I've wanted to find some sort of program that teaches me how to write in and speak the language, but Rosetta Stone is way out of my price range. A few weeks ago, I found Duolingo.

Duolingo is a website where you can learn how to speak several different languages, including Portuguese. They provide bite-sized lessons that feel like fun - you don't even realize how much you're actually learning. The website tracks your progress in terms of words learned and levels passed, and also records your daily streak (how many days in a row you've done lessons). All of this, for free. They also have a free app, which is really well designed - the people over at Duolingo developed a great learning tool, as opposed to having an app for the sake of saying they have an app.

I'm excited about my progress, and so I told my grandparents (who are Portuguese) that I was learning the language. The next time we visited them, my Grandpa handed me the pictured book, "O Inglês sem Mestre" ("The English Without a Teacher"). He told me that this is the book he used to learn English. I think it's so cool to be able to hold something that at one point was a really important book to my grandpa. It means a lot that he would give it to me.

I'm so glad that I'm learning Portuguese now, and I can't wait for the day when I'm fluent and can easily have a conversation!

Do you speak multiple languages? If so, which ones?