Thursday, December 18, 2014

a Holiday wishlist

Dear Santa,

For Christmas, I want:

A Quentin Tarantinto-esque YA novel (this is very important, Santa. I've been thinking about this a lot). Must include: twisted off-kilter protagonists, dark but funny dialogue, unexpected character deaths, suspense for the ages, violence (preferably not hypersexualized, though), and someone I can visualize as Christoph Waltz.

A ticket for The Hobbit 3 (to be cashed in tonight).

Sarah Rees Brennan to finish writing a her parodies of The 100 (they are brilliant and got me through watching the entire series). In other news, The 100 is not terrible and has complex female characters and a boatload of grey-tinged morality (the best colour for morality, I say!). It also has a boy named Bellamy and a girl named Clarke who need to get married already.

More time to read books. Or, more motivation to do so. And please make Scarlet (from Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen) not annoying, I'm only a few chapters into the book and I really want to like it but I'm worried it's going to veer into mind-numbingly-frustrating-heroine-slash-love-triangle territory.

A good TV show to watch. The Americans? Broad City? True Detective?

Some tiramisu cake from Costco (let's face it, it's the best dessert ever created).

Winter by Marissa Meyer

My TV shows to come back from hiatus.

Someone to write my best-of list because I'm pretty lazy (hint: you can just put one book for all the categories because it is the best)


So... what's on your list?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

November! where'd you Go?

Just poking my head in this abandoned blog to lament the end of November. When did this happen? Where did my month go??
Some quickie life things:

-finishing up the semester! Four more "big things" left, so the countdown begins. I've really loved the classes I took, which is a huge bonus

-I'm loving Season 3 of The Newsroom! Also keeping up with The Walking Dead, Arrow, Brooklyn 99, New Girl, Scorpion, Elementary... and sometimes The Flash and The Mindy Project. Hey now... I've cut like 4 or so shows this season! (I stopped watching Gotham, SHIELD, Selfie, and Greys... they just were not doing anything for me) What shows have you been hooked on?

-I'm looking for a fun airplane read! I have a Neil Gaiman book and a Patrick Rothfuss book I want to get around to finishing over the holidays, but I always think plane reads should be fun and action-packed and awesome. Any recommendations? Maybe The Infinite Sea... hmmm...

-CHRISTMASSSSSS. I get to enjoy it while I'm in Toronto, since when I go back home, there's like zero Christmas spirit, ha.

-Two of the most-played songs this month: Railroad Track by Willy Moon, and Monsters by Angus Powell.

-I watched Mockingjay and thought it was awesome! It's a little unnecessary to split it into two parts, but I liked how faithful it was to the book, and the acting is great. I'd love to watch Part 1 and 2 back to back, because it's like a 6 hour adaptation of a book that could actually work on some level (since the first part is, admittedly, not super super exciting)

-Also I LOVED INTERSTELLAR ugh so much. Nowhere near a perfect movie, but boy, I still loved it.

Alright, that's it for now! I can't wait for December though, because that means BEST-OF lists and I LOVE THOSE THINGS. I can gather more book recs because it's like getting the cream of the crop :D What's the best book you've read this year? Best movie?

Monday, October 27, 2014

BR: Catalyst

by SJ Kincaid
Insignia trilogy; book III

Guys, I LOVE the Insignia series. Ever since I got tired of reading deep, depressing YA contemporary books, I've been looking for "quick fix" type books that are perfect escapes and full of action and humour-- and this series is exactly what I'm looking for. I was so thrilled to have won an ARC from the author and even more delighted to see what lay ahead.

Summary (goodreads):

**May contain SPOILERS for previous 2 books**

This exhilarating, explosive, and heartrending conclusion to the Insignia trilogy brings Tom and his intelligent, passionate, and brave young friends stunning tests and dangerous confrontations and through to an impossible future they could never have predicted.

Tom Raines and his friends are eager to return to the Pentagonal Spire to continue training for the elite Intrasolar Forces, but they soon discover troubling changes: strict new regulations and the revelation that the Spire is under new military control. What begins as an irritating adjustment soon reveals a dangerous shift in reality. Those now in control are aligned with corporate sponsors and their ruthless agendas. And when the military academy begins welcoming new cadets with suspicious neural processors, the first step in a plan with horrifying worldwide ramifications, Tom is desperate to stop it, even if that means keeping secrets from his closest allies.

Then a mysterious figure, the other ghost in the machine, begins fighting against the corporations, but with methods even Tom finds shocking. And when the enemy comes for Tom, how much can Tom endure in the battle to save himself? He must decide if he can still fight when the odds of success seem to be sliding from his grip.

My Thoughts

Gosh, I love this series. I don't finish a lot of series, but boy am I glad to have finished this one.

It's a bit slow to start, and it takes some time to get used to the characters, storyline, and terminology again... but it didn't take too long to get up and running again. I LOVED the way Kincaid has evolved her young, exciting action series into something more mature, thought-provoking, darker, and ominous. She went dark, man, I didn't expect it but I really appreciated it anyway. She managed to up the stakes and deal wonderfully with character development.

Although we saw less of Wyatt, there were a few significant moments that I thought were just perfect. She's always been an underdog favourite of mine, and I love her character arc. Blackburn was always a wild-card (though I'll admit, I have forgotten a lot about his role in the earlier books) but I loved that he's a really complex, ambiguous character that I couldn't pinpoint. Vik and Yuri's dialogue was once again pitch perfect; they were unique and so entirely them. And of course, Tom. Tom Raines, I can't say enough good things about you, you wonderful character. Infinite hugs for you. His storyline was just beautifully done, which is kind of difficult when you feel caught up in a Transformers-movie-esque action scene, but still. Harrowing and heartbreaking at times, his progression in this entire series is marvellous. Kincaid gave us a sympathetic character who had to grow into his own, and undoubtedly succeeded.

I liked the plot, although the ending was a bit too tidy for my liking, but the ride was so worth it. I had no idea how they'd get out of this mess, and the resolution was wholeheartedly satisfying. I liked how we ventured a lot further from the Spire and into the 'real world', away from pranks and into murders, villains, and the struggle for humanity.

It's an imaginative series with broad appeal that has great characters, writing, pacing, and heart. As a picky reader, I'm not easily impressed... I'll be sitting here urging you to pick this series up.

Thank you, SJ Kincaid.


Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: people looking for something fun, readable, Harry Potter-esque main character/vibe, a technology-heavy futuristic world

source: author
author website / twitter
goodreads for book 1, book 2 (seriously pick them up!)

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