Tuesday, September 30, 2014

oh, September

It's the last day of September so I guess I'll throw something up onto this blog.

First, I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe this month, and IT IS THE BEST BOOK I'VE READ THIS YEAR. Granted, I don't read many books, but trust me, this one is such a gem.

Second, school is back and a-rolling. Good luck to my fellow uni friends out there, hang in there! I'm graduating in June so that's pretty...erm...terrifying. But I'm loving the majority of my courses, which is nice.

Third, I'm starting to feel as if I'm getting sick, which sucks :(

Fourth, if you look onto my left sidebar over there, I've updated it so it now shows my favourite book of each year. And yes, I do realize there's an inordinate amount of Melina Marchetta books on that list, I didn't even realize it until I was actually writing it.

Fifth, what TV shows are you guys watching?? I'm a TV fiend, I'm currently trying out some new shows-- Gotham, Scorpion, Selfie, A to Z, The Flash.. I'm doing my best not to get roped into too many new shows this year. I'm really curious about How to Get Away With Murder as well, but I'll probably wait until Christmas break and watch like ten episodes.

That's it! Hope your guys' Septembers were beautiful and full of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. May the pumpkin-ness infest your Octobers as well!


Sunday, August 24, 2014

BR: The Lies of Locke Lamora

by Scott Lynch
Gentlemen Bastards sequence; book I

The moment I saw the summary for this book months and months ago, I wanted to read it. Wait, scratch that. The moment I saw it described as Robin Hood meets Ocean's Eleven, I needed to read it. Patrick Rothfuss' glowing recommendations certainly helped, too, especially since I am quite unfamiliar with the genre and the gems within it.

Summary (goodreads):

The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a friend to the poor, a ghost that walks through walls.

 Slightly built and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny. All of Locke's gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves. The Gentleman Bastards.

 The capricious, colourful underworld of the ancient city of Camorr is the only home they have ever known. But now a clandestine war is threatening to tear it apart. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends are suddenly struggling just to stay alive...

My Thoughts

First, let me tell you, it's not really Robin Hood nor Ocean's Eleven.

But that's okay. Because it's freaking awesome.

There's two stories to pay attention to, the first is the present-day, where Locke and his gang of Gentlemen Bastards are about to pull off a con. And then the second, where you learn about how Locke got to where he is today. If I had one critique, it'd be how the beginning is pretty slow and it was hard to grasp what was really going on without itching to get to the exciting bits, but it's okay, just power through and you'll be dandy. Oh, and sometimes the pacing gets a little muddled and the descriptions a bit too much, but it's not too overwhelming.

In terms of writing, The Lies of Locke Lamora is not a breathless, fast-paced action book, but it's written in a style that makes you appreciate each sentence, should you choose to pay that much attention. Sometimes my brain stumbles ahead and just the general idea of a sentence will register, but Lynch is a talented writer who will reward those who read carefully, not by dropping hints but by employing lovely turns of phrase. I feel this isn't exactly out of place in most fantasy novels, but it is a welcomed change of pace, especially since it enhances the world-building ten-fold.

Which brings me to the world-building, and it is marvellous. Inspired by the renaissance era, Lynch has masterfully plopped readers into a setting that's endlessly entrancing, from the architecture to the unique set-up of the canals and the towers (again, rewarding careful readers*). I loved the descriptions of food, clothing, weapons, societal hierarchies, currency (I have a fondness of fantastical currency, I think), dukes, religion, and history.

And then of course, we have these wicked, witty, and loveable characters. Locke Lamora is kind of like Tony Stark, and pushes all the right buttons for me. He's too clever and too cocky for his own good, and that gets him into a boatload of trouble. But gosh, I adored these characters, and gosh, Lynch sometimes rips your heart out. I did not see that coming**.

I underestimated this book. I thought it would be in the same vein as The Name of the Wind, and it's not-- not really (well, if you try hard enough, you'll find some parallels). It stands its own, and it's exciting, has great twists, great stakes, crafts an immersive world and has a stunningly charismatic main character that you'll want to stick around to watch.

Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: Fans of The Name of the Wind, those looking for an awesome fantasy book that feels a bit YA-ish but also has some adult crossover
Acknowledgements: 3/5


*I myself may not have fully absorbed the awesomeness, but I did recognize it as awesome when it was floating through my brain.
**you bastard

source: bought
author blog / twitter / website

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

happy Canada Day!

I know, I know, I missed the June blog post. ARGH. MY BAD.

Firstly, Happy Canada Day to my fellow humans! Canada is the true north strong and free and simply the best place to live ever ever ever. For realsies, why don't you believe me? If you don't believe me, believe Patrick Ness:

I always loved that tweet ;)

Anyway, while you're here, I might as well give you some life updates to make up for my two month absence.

I've started a new job at a lab for the summer, and it's going really well. The best part so far has been the fact that everyone (including me) is obsessed with the World Cup, so for the past two weeks, there's always been a game on and it's exciting, fun, and hilarious. I'm cheering for Argentina and France because I bet 5 bucks that they'd make it to the finals (before this year, I had no interest in soccer whatsoever, ha!). If you're in Canada, CBC has FANTASTIC coverage (huzzah, Canadians!), they streams all the games for free online and even on mobile/iPads/etc.

Which of course, brings me to the next point: the World Cup!!! WAY TOO EXCITING. WHEEEE ZERO PRODUCTIVITY! Huzzah for rain + white jerseys = distinctive abs ;)

I went skydiving on Saturday! It's a lot of fun, but I wish there was a more intense "freefall" sensation, because it felt like as soon as I jumped, the air resistance was pushing me up... I know this might be an unpopular opinion but I liked bungee jumping a bit more, just because there was more time of falling. Skydiving was a blast though.

I've watched a ton of movies last month, and I'd REALLY recommend Edge of Tomorrow, even if it includes Tom Cruise. It's entertaining as heck, has a great plot, character arcs (yes, they exist!), and excellent action. Definitely underrated but trust me, it's really good! How To Train Your Dragon 2 was also a bundle of fun (god, I want a dragon so bad), and 22 Jump Street was everything it promised to be. So yeah, if you're bored, go watch movies :) If you have any recommendations for movies that are out on DVD right now and are really good, I'd LOVE to know.

In terms of books read, I most recently finished Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour. I think LaCour is an author I can count on for solid four-star reads-- there's nothing really detracting about the book, it's quite enjoyable but not quite on the favourites list. So yeah, recommended. The book I read before that was Raging Star by Moira Young, which sucked so bad it makes me angry thinking about it. And before that was We Were Liars by E. Lockhard, which was well written. I know, I'm so descriptive, right?

I'm not sure what I'm reading next, I want to get around to The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch but I haven't been in a fantasy mood recently. As usual, I'll say follow me on goodreads, it's where I update most frequently in regards to reading. You can also observe my failure to read a hefty number of books.

Courtney Summers is releasing an e-novella sequel to This is Not A Test!! It's called Please Remain Calm and I AM ANYTHING BUT.

My mum sent me pineapple cakes from Taiwan and they are delicious.

OKay, I think that's all for now. Again, apologies for not updating last month... oops. Life, am I right?

Friday, May 2, 2014

BR: Open Road Summer

by Emery Lord

I can’t believe I’m writing a review, I swear it is really only because Goodreads is down at the moment and I had a lot of thoughts.

Summary (goodreads):

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

My Thoughts

I’m not exactly sure what drew me to the book initially, maybe it was the Taylor Swift-ness, the promise of female friendships, or the very specific vibe set by the cover, but I borrowed it from the library and gave it a shot. And was very disappointed.

So like, 70% of it is an “it’s not you, it’s me” type of deal. Because while it certainly has many redeeming qualities I’ll discuss later, the biggest deal was that I just didn’t have the patience to deal with Reagan, the main character and narrator. It boiled down to me not giving a shit about her, to put it bluntly, so while her life escapades might be exciting (but I liked Dee’s more), I just wasn’t into it at all. The only reason I finished was because I’ve already read like 200 pages and I wanted to know how it would end.

I found the writing clunky and not to my taste, I remember a few years ago when first-person POV was my favourite because it made everything feel so much more intimate, so I’m not sure if this is an isolated case or I’ve “grown out of it”, but Reagan’s narration seemed really expositional and I just felt like I was constantly hit over the head with things I ought to know, like, I get it—you’re ~edgy~, please, do bring it up every 10 pages just in case I forgot. I can appreciate the how Reagan’s a girl with flaws, but it manifests in a way that I just find super annoying and shallow, her bitchy act and hate for other females was just grating and incessant.

Another thing— I felt absolutely nada for Matt, the love interest. So. Boring. Well, I'll give him a few points because I really like Bob Dylan and guys who are nice to their moms. BUT... boringly charming is how I’d describe it, the type of cookie-cutter love interest that just feels unrealistic, unattainable, and an amalgamation of what an ideal boy should be like. Bleh. And because of that, scenes between Reagan and Matt always fell into either the forced-sassy territory, or eye-rolling because of the “cuteness that unfortunately I did not find cute” area.

The bright spot was the friendship between Reagan and Dee, which I found hit most of the right notes and was more interesting to read about. The music lyrics were also cute in the rhyming department.

Rating in HP Terms: Poor
Recommended for: I dunno, One Direction fans? People looking for books about friendship?
Acknowledgements: 2.5/5

6.8/10 – because I had originally rated it a wee bit higher but writing this just made me realize that I really didn’t enjoy this book that much at all. The characters weren’t my thing, the narration was really not my thing, and the bright spots didn’t make the read feel worthwhile. So yeah, sorry for a mini-rant, blame the fact that goodreads is down. But some last words from this old hack—it’s a decent summer read and it’s got a pleasant vibe if you’re in the mood, so if that sounds like your thing, give it a shot.

source: library
author website / twitter

Sunday, April 27, 2014

several mini-Reviews + misc things.

Hello, lovelies!

Firstly, I finished third year of university! My last exam was on Friday and then I went to Wonderland (Canada's super-duper awesome amusement park) on Saturday, and now I'm finally relaxing and celebrating the end of the semester. I really, really enjoyed this term (well, most of the time), I took some fantastic courses and really just felt like I was learning things that I wanted to learn, which was a great feeling. Plus I'm happy with my marks, and the fact that those hours and hours of studying paid off. But now I'm so ready for summer, except my summer will mostly be consisting of working full time with some down-time in August, so fingers crossed that the job goes well. I don't think I've ever mentioned this on my blog-- you can follow my Instagram where I'll probably post more regularly than once every two months. If you want. No pressure.

I fully intend on spending my free time between now and mid-May catching up on TV, watching Breaking Bad (maybe? because I've been talking about it/meaning to watch it for YEARS), reading more books, and waiting around for actual decent movies to come out.

Also, I actually read books in April! Crazy, right? Some mini-reviews:

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (7.7/10)
-click for summary-
I've heard of this one quite a bit, and there was quite a healthy mix of critique-- I've read both raving reviews and very critical ones. I wasn't going to pick this up originally, but I was wandering around a bookstore one day and decided to try this one out.
I liked it, mostly. I thought the plot was interesting, the characters were pretty good, the action was well-written... but everything felt kind of forgettable. I read this maybe two weeks ago, and I can probably only tell you the bare-bones of the plot and the fact that there's a love triangle and the main character is very perfect (but I must add a disclaimer that I have a terrible memory for books nowadays). Throne of Glass entertained, but just never stuck with me. If I get around to continuing this series (in which there'll be six, yes SIX, books, I can just hope it gets better. I've heard great things about the sequel, but it seems like only hardcore fans of book 1 end up reading book 2, so that says something).

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (8.8/10)
-click for summary-
Honestly, if Eden didn't feature a giveaway of this book and mention in passing how much hype it has gotten, it would have completely slipped under my radar (my hype radar is really defective, okay? It picks up everything TFIOS and nothing else, to my great dismay). I read her review and a few others on goodreads, and while I remained a bit skeptical about the plot and the themes, it piqued my interest.
These days I really just look for books that I can escape into, and The Winner's Curse satisfied all my expectations and more. I was thoroughly entertained throughout, I thought the world-building was well done, the characters were engaging, and the fact that 'big plot things' happen (plus we see the aftermath, not just end on a cliffhanger) was a bonus. I don't really rate or discuss books objectively, but subjectively, I really enjoyed it.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (7.9/10)
-click for summary-
Look, an adult book! I'm not exactly sure where I first heard of this one, but once again, I was wandering through the bookstore and saw an empty seat. I can't just sit down without a book, so I grabbed The Rosie Project and started flipping through it.
This book caught me by surprise because it was more fun than I expected, plus it was a really easy read. The main character, Don, provides a unique narration (someone compared him to Sheldon Cooper), and albeit I liked Rosie, I never really loved her. I thought their connection, while cute, felt a bit stale at times (Rosie often just seemed like a well-constructed foil), but there's some laugh out loud moments, and I enjoyed the subtle tint of science. Not the most brilliant book ever, but a fun vacation read.


Alright, I think that's all for now.
If you have any book recommendations, I'd love to know! Something fast-paced and action-packed, preferably... these days I'm not so into reading about serious issues.

Sunshine and more sunshine,